Percocet withdrawal generally involves unpleasant symptoms, such as body aches, headache, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, and sleep issues.
If use of Percocet is stopped altogether, withdrawal symptoms generally peak within a couple days and resolve within a week or two. Oftentimes, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is used, so people can avoid the bulk of withdrawal and instead focus on recovery work in therapy.
Percocet is a pain reliever that contains the opioid oxycodone, which can be habit-forming. It also contains acetaminophen, an over-the-counter pain reliever that is commonly sold as Tylenol.
Consumption of Percocet for an extended period of time can quickly result in physical dependence. Because of this, Percocet is generally only prescribed for short-term use as needed.
But people often abuse Percocet, taking the drug for longer or in higher doses than prescribed. People can also buy Percocet on the street and mix it with other substances of abuse.
What Is Percocet Withdrawal?
Once use stops after dependence has form, withdrawal will set in. This is a syndrome that occurs after the body has adapted to the presence of the drug. Withdrawal from Percocet occurs due to the presence of oxycodone in the medication, not acetaminophen.
Withdrawal from Percocet involves uncomfortable symptoms that reach a peak within a couple days. They tend to resolve within a week or two.
What Causes Withdrawal From Percocet?
Withdrawal is caused by the brain´s central nervous system and its neurochemistry adapting to the presence of an opioid in its system and then having that drug suddenly removed.
Because large doses of oxycodone in the bloodstream and within the brain are not natural, counterregulatory measures occur to adapt and achieve a state of homeostasis and equilibrium. Chemical and structural changes occur in hormone and neurotransmitter levels, and these greatly affect how you feel.
When oxycodone is no longer consumed, the body must once again adapt to achieve homeostasis, thereby affecting bodily systems and producing symptoms that are generally undesirable during this adaptive period. Once the body again reaches a state of balance, withdrawal symptoms clear.
What Are the Common Symptoms of Percocet Withdrawal?
In addition to vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea, some of the most common symptoms of withdrawal from Percocet include the following:
- Body aches
Loss of fluids from sweating, vomiting, and diarrhea can cause dehydration, which has its own cluster of symptoms and can exacerbate many of the symptoms that already occur with Percocet withdrawal. Therefore, it is critical to hydrate adequately following discontinuation of Percocet use.
Ideally, you’ll have medical supervision during withdrawal to ensure your safety and comfort throughout the process.
Factors That Determine the Intensity of Withdrawal Symptoms
The intensity and duration of Percocet withdrawal symptoms are highly variable based on many factors. Two of the most impactful factors are the amount of Percocet you have taken regularly and the timeline over which you have taken the drug.
In general, withdrawal symptoms are more severe as the dosage and duration of use increase. The reason for this is simple. Withdrawal symptoms are correlated to the amount of oxycodone that has accumulated in the body.
Higher doses and more prolonged use allow for more of this drug to accumulate and a more significant physiological adaptation. Accordingly, the severity of symptoms will be higher as the body works to reestablish homeostasis when the drug is discontinued.
Additional factors that can impact the intensity of withdrawal symptoms following Percocet discontinuation include the following:
- Age: In general, withdrawal symptoms are more severe as you age, and it takes longer for the drug to process out of your body
- Body mass: Larger people require more time to eliminate oxycodone from their bodies, leading to more severe and prolonged symptoms.
- Genetics and metabolism: Your basal metabolic rate can influence your ability to eliminate oxycodone from your system as well as your organ functioning. Health conditions can also influence how your body metabolizes drugs.
- Consumption of other substances: If you have also abused another substance along with Percocet, such as alcohol, withdrawal symptoms will likely be more severe than if you had consumed just Percocet. Polysubstance abuse can greatly complicate withdrawal, so medical detox is needed.
How Long Does Withdrawal Last?
The duration of withdrawal depends on the amount of the active ingredients of a drug in your system and the drug’s half-life, or the amount of time needed for the concentration of the drug in the bloodstream to be reduced by half. In the case of Percocet (oxycodone), withdrawal symptoms will most likely emerge within five to eight hours after a heavy dose or prolonged use.
Most of the withdrawal syndrome will be completed within five to seven days.
Percocet Withdrawal Timeline
Symptoms likely reach their peak level of severity after 24 to 48 hours. You may feel like you have the flu during this stage.
By the third to fifth day, your symptoms will likely begin to decline, though intense cravings for the drug and some discomfort will still be present. If you successfully discontinue use for at least one to two weeks, the symptoms will most likely diminish completely.
How to Safely Detox From Percocet
Withdrawal symptoms can be severe and extremely unpleasant from both a physical and psychological standpoint. Many people relapse when they experience withdrawal because they believe that is the only way to eliminate their state of discomfort.
Withdrawal symptoms are essentially signals from the body that it needs more Percocet to maintain its current state of equilibrium. This is why it’s so important to have support during detox.
MAT is often chosen for detox from an opioid like Percocet since it largely eliminates the discomfort of withdrawal, thereby greatly increasing the likelihood that you can get through detox and maintain ongoing recovery. In a professional setting, you can also receive treatment for specific symptoms of withdrawal, such as intravenous fluids (if needed) or medication to address anxiety.
In some cases, a tapered approach to withdrawal may be recommended. A doctor will prescribe decreasing doses of Percocet or another opioid until you are no longer taking any. If you have a history of opioid abuse, it’s unlikely this tapered approach will be recommended since it will require you to carefully dose a medication you have been abusing.
No matter what method is chosen for Percocet withdrawal, therapy should be part of your treatment program. The bulk of your recovery work will take place in therapy, ensuring you have a good foundation of support, so you don’t return to Percocet abuse in the future.
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