How Long Does Percocet (Acetaminophen/Oxycodone) Stay in Your System?

Percocet in Your Blood, Urine, Hair, & Saliva

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Percocet is a pain reliever that's prescribed for people with moderate to severe pain. It contains the narcotic oxycodone, an opiate analgesic medication, and acetaminophen (Tylenol), a non-narcotic pain reliever and fever reducer.

Percocet is a Schedule II drug, meaning it has a high potential for abuse, potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.

Knowing how long Percocet remains in your system can help prevent an accidental overdose caused by taking your next dose of medication too soon, or by interactions with other medications you're taking.

How Long Does Percocet Stay in Your System?

Blood: Up to 24 hours

Saliva: Up to two days

Urine: Up to four days

Hair: Up to 90 days

How Long Does It Take to Feel the Effects?

Percocet is mostly known for pain relief but it also makes some people feel relaxed and even sleepy. The pain-relieving effects of Percocet can typically be felt about 20 to 30 minutes after taking the drug.

Common side effects of Percocet include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion or muddied thinking
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness or sleepiness
  • Headache
  • Itching
  • Nausea
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting

When taken in large doses or misused, Percocet can cause the following side effects:

  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Flushing or sweating
  • Low blood pressure
  • Mood swings
  • Problems with coordination
  • Slowed breathing
  • Trouble concentrating

How Long Does Percocet Last?

The half-life of a drug is how long it takes, on average, for half of the initial dose to be metabolized and leave your system. It takes several half-lives to completely eliminate the drug from your system. Understanding the half-life of Percocet can help you avoid an overdose.

Percocet has a half-life in your blood of 3.5 hours, but that varies depending on your liver function. This means that it will take an average of 19 hours to eliminate all Percocet from your system. In urine tests, traces of Percocet can generally be detected for 24 to 48 hours, starting 2 hours after the initial dose.

The average half-life of immediate-release oxycodone is about 3.2 hours in your bloodstream. Oxymorphone, a metabolite of oxycodone, further metabolizes in the liver as noroxymorphone before it passes out of the body through urine.

For many people, Percocet is out of the bloodstream within 24 hours, but it's traceable in your saliva and urine for up to 4 days and your hair for much longer.

Percocet can be detected in:

  • Blood for 24 hours after the last dose is taken
  • Saliva for up to two days after the last dose is taken
  • Urine for up to four days after the last dose is taken
  • Hair for up to 90 days after the last dose is taken

False Positive Testing

If you take a urine drug screen while taking Percocet, it will be positive for opioids, so let the clinic know what you're taking ahead of time. It's also always a good idea to disclose any drugs and supplements you are taking to the testing agency, in case they can trigger a false positive.

Factors That Affect Detection Time

Drugs stay in people's systems for different amounts of time due to a multitude of factors, including metabolism, age, other medications you're on, how long you've been taking the drug, and overall health.

  • Age: Adults over the age of 40 have been study-proven to clear the oxycodone in Percocet from their systems at a slower rate than younger adults.
  • Duration of use: Percocet can build up in your body, so if you have been taking it for pain for some time, it will be detectable for a longer period of time after your last dose.
  • Kidney and liver function: People with impaired kidney and liver function metabolize Percocet at a slower rate.
  • Metabolism: The faster your metabolic rate, which can be influenced by age, hydration, and physical activity, the quicker your body will excrete the drug.

How to Get Percocet Out of Your System

While drinking lots of fluids or exercising may help dilute your urine or speed up your metabolism slightly, these are not proven methods to get Percocet out of your system more quickly.

Your best bet is to stop taking the drug—but never without first talking to your doctor. Because Percocet can lead to physical dependence, you may experience unpleasant symptoms of withdrawal if you stop cold turkey.

Symptoms of Overdose

The risks of overdose from Percocet come both from the oxycodone opiate and acetaminophen. If you take Percocet and get to the point where it feels like it's no longer controlling your pain, don't increase your dose on your own—call your doctor and discuss the problem.

Be sure to check that you aren't taking multiple medicines that contain acetaminophen. Because acetaminophen is used in a large number of combination medications, an overdose can happen when you don't realize that you're taking it in more than one medication.

Combination drugs like Percocet are now limited to 325 milligrams of acetaminophen per tablet, capsule, or other dosage unit to help prevent these dangerous overdoses.

If you suspect you have taken more than 4,000 milligrams of acetaminophen in 24 hours, contact your doctor immediately, even if you feel well and don't have any symptoms. An overdose of acetaminophen can result in irreversible liver damage and death.

Some of the symptoms of Percocet overdose include:

  • Blue color of skin, fingernails, lips
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Fainting
  • Slowed or stopped breathing
  • Limp or weak muscles
  • Loss of consciousness or coma
  • Slow or stopped heartbeat

If you suspect someone has overdosed on Percocet, call 911 immediately. First responders should be able to revive the overdose victim by using a medication called Narcan (naloxone) if they're notified quickly.

Dangerous Interactions

When oxycodone is combined with alcohol, other opioids, benzodiazepines, or other central nervous system depressants like certain cold or allergy medicines, it can result in profound sedation, breathing suppression, coma, and even death. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about how other medications you may be taking could interact with Percocet.

Oxycodone can also interact with the following medications, creating a potentially dangerous increase in the level of oxycodone when they're taken with Percocet or discontinued while using Percocet.

  • Antibiotics
  • Antifungal agents
  • CYP3A4 and CYP2D6 inhibitors

Let your doctor know about all of the over-the-counter and prescription medications, herbs, and supplements you're taking so they can be monitored and adjusted.

It's also important to tell your doctor if you have a history of breathing problems like bronchitis or asthma. The oxycodone in Percocet can produce serious or life-threatening breathing problems, especially after you've first started the prescription or when you're increasing the dosage.

Getting Help

Stopping Percocet suddenly can cause extremely unpleasant opioid withdrawal symptoms that can begin 6 to 30 hours after taking the drug. For most people, symptoms of withdrawal should markedly improve within 5 to 7 days. If your symptoms are lingering or getting worse, it’s important to seek medical help.

Symptoms of Percocet withdrawal include:

  • Appetite loss
  • Chills
  • Cramps
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Feeling irritable and/or anxious
  • Feeling restless
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Muscle or joint aches
  • Nausea
  • Problems sleeping
  • Rapid breathing
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Yawning

If you want to decrease or stop taking Percocet, your doctor can help you taper off the drug safely and prescribe other medications and lifestyle modifications to help manage your pain and discomfort.

Be honest with your healthcare provider if you think you may have developed a dependence or addiction to the drug. You may need long-term recovery support to cope with the physical and psychological effects of opioid use disorder. Addiction treatment may include maintenance medication, outpatient or inpatient treatment, as well as a support group like Narcotics Anonymous or SMART Recovery.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area. 

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

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Article Sources
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