Percocet is a painkiller that combines acetaminophen (the generic name for Tylenol) and oxycodone. Oxycodone is part of the opioid family, which means you need to be careful with how you quit or reduce your dosage.
Opioids can cause a user to feel withdrawal symptoms because the body starts getting used to having opioids bind with chemical messengers that relieve pain. This is called dependency, and this process is directly responsible for uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal. Most people can benefit from a gradual reduction in their Percocet dosage to give their brain and body time to recover while also preventing symptoms of withdrawal during detox.
Table of Contents
If abuse of Percocet has been long term, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) may be used.
The withdrawal timeline varies according to various individual factors. If MAT is not used, detox will generally be complete in about a week or two.
Percocet is a medication that contains the lab-made opioid oxycodone, according to a 2018 CNN report. It also contains acetaminophen to soothe the pain.
Percocet is often overprescribed and is easily misused.
Like opioids such as heroin, Percocet binds to receptors in the brain to block pain signals. This induces a feeling of relaxation that makes life easier for people with chronic pain who truly need assistance.
Pain relief from Percocet also affects the brain. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains that addictive behaviors cause people to feel a sense of accomplishment when their pain subsides as a result of using a prescription painkiller or other drug. This is why people become dependent on opioids like Percocet and why some people become addicted to the medication.
Unfortunately, prolonged use of Percocet makes it less effective over time. This means your body becomes tolerant and starts to need more Percocet so that it can continue to feel pain relief.
As the Mayo Clinic reports, it is best to only take opioid painkillers for up to two weeks to prevent tolerance and dependency.
Timeline for Withdrawal Symptoms
A 2012 case study from Pain & Therapy highlighted the case of a patient who experienced withdrawal symptoms after three weeks of opioid use for pain relief. The patient tried to decrease her Percocet dosage on her own but fell victim to withdrawal symptoms.
She wanted to go from 20 milligrams (mg) of Percocet three times daily to taking the same dosage two times per day. When she sought assistance from her physician, she was placed on a tapering schedule using a medication called ondansetron for 10 days.Keep in mind that every person is different, and a schedule for dose reduction will vary according to the individual.
Common Withdrawal Symptoms
Symptoms for withdrawal will differ from person to person. The intensity of symptoms depends on the various factors, such as how long the opioid was taken. Withdrawal symptoms often include the following:
- Difficulty sleeping
People have reported feeling as if they have a bad cold or the flu. The most serious symptoms of withdrawal last between five to seven days.
In some cases, people may experience additional symptoms up to six months after quitting Percocet. This is referred to as protracted withdrawal.
Symptoms of protracted withdrawal can be even more pronounced and include the following:
- Difficulty focusing or memorizing new information
- Trouble dealing with stress
- High levels of irritability
Seek professional advice if you want to stop taking Percocet. Reach out to these people and programs for help:
- Your doctor
- A detox center
- An addiction treatment center
- Doctors who are licensed to prescribe buprenorphine
- A licensed psychiatrist
Quitting Percocet: Best Practices and What You Can Expect
In an addiction treatment program, you can expect to engage in the following services:
NIDA mentions that detox is a crucial first step in dealing with withdrawal. It is especially important for people to completely rid themselves of Percocet if they have become dependent.
Therapy can assist you in accepting life with chronic pain while also being a source of moral support. Therapy can include group sessions or individual counseling.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states that several medications have been approved to prevent withdrawal symptoms in those who want to stop taking Percocet. These medications include:
- Naloxone. This option is used to treat people who experience an opioid dose of any kind. It is injectable and considered a key drug in decreasing the number of deaths caused by overdose.
- Methadone. This medication has proven effective in curbing cravings for opioids. It can only be taken at special clinics. One major obstacle is that people must visit these clinics every day for their dose. It allows your body to believe you are receiving opioids but does not produce a high.
- Buprenorphine. An opioid, buprenorphine decreases and prevents symptoms of withdrawal. Many doctors can prescribe Suboxone, a brand name for a medication with buprenorphine and naloxone that can be taken at home.
- Naltrexone. Unlike buprenorphine and methadone, naltrexone can block the effects of opioids, even if a person relapses. This can prevent further misuse associated with relapse.
- People must be at least 18 years old.
- People with sickle-cell anemia, who are receiving cancer treatment, or who are in pain after surgery are to receive special consideration.
- Doctors are not to condone suddenly cutting off the use of any opioids to prevent withdrawal symptoms that are difficult to manage.
- Every person’s situation is unique.
- People who misuse opioids of any kind are eligible to receive medication-assisted treatment to better address the situation.
The CDC further recommends that doctors should:
- Work closely with those who want to taper from opioids.
- Attempt to use non-opioid treatments whenever possible.
- Make sure patients are aware of the risks of taking opioids at high doses.
- Anticipate a patient’s challenges in receiving care that is not based around opioids.
- Gain a better understanding of the repercussions of prescribing opioids to prevent overprescribing.
- Use additional resources, such as motivational interviewing, to assist patients who are having difficulty dealing with chronic pain.
Depending on your needs, you may also consider additional treatment.
(April 2019) Medication and Counseling Treatment. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved April 2019 from from https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/treatment
(April 2019) How Long Does Percocet Stay in Your System? Verywell Mind. Retrieved April 2019 from from https://www.verywellmind.com/how-long-does-percocet-stay-in-your-system-80306
(July 2018) What is Percocet? Drug facts, side effects, abuse, and more. CNN. Retrieved April 2019 from from https://edition.cnn.com/2016/05/05/health/what-is-percocet-opioid-painkiller/index.html
(December 2012) Alleviating Symptoms of Withdrawal from an Opioid. Pain & Therapy. Retrieved April 2019 from from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4107861/
(January 2018) Tapering off opioids: when ahd how. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved April 2019 from from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/prescription-drug-abuse/in-depth/tapering-off-opioids-when-and-how/art-20386036
(February 2019) How Long Does Withdrawal From Oxycodone Last? Verywell Mind. Retrieved April 2019 from from https://www.verywellmind.com/oxycodone-withdrawal-4178972
(April 2019) CDC Advises Against Misapplication of the Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved April 2019 from from https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2019/s0424-advises-misapplication-guideline-prescribing-opioids.html