Percocet is a popular pain relief medication that contains the opioid oxycodone. Oxycodone works in the brain by binding to opioid receptors that are responsible for regulating the pain response in the body. Percocet is more potent than the body’s own opioids (endorphins), which makes it useful in treating moderate-to-severe pain symptoms. However, Percocet comes with several adverse effects, including itchiness, constipation, and dependence.
Prescription opioids can cause chemical dependency and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when it’s used for too long or when it’s abused. Withdrawal can be a significant barrier to treatment for people with substance use disorders. However, it can be treated. Learn more about Percocet withdrawal and safe treatment.
Percocet withdrawal will likely cause symptoms that are similar to the flu. Severe cases may be more comparable to a particularly bad case of the flu with vomiting and fever. Along with symptoms, you will also feel powerful drug cravings that may be hard to resist on your own. Other symptoms might include:
Your individual experience with Percocet withdrawal will depend on your history with the drug. Long-term and heavy use are likely to cause withdrawal symptoms to appear sooner. The tapering process may stave off early symptoms, but it can also prolong the withdrawal period. Though your withdrawal period may vary, it may resemble the following timeline:
Your first symptoms will probably show up within 24 hours of your last dose. Early symptoms may appear sooner if you’ve been taking a high dose for a long time. Withdrawal may start with general discomfort, runny nose, and excessive yawning. You may also start to have drug cravings.
Withdrawal symptoms will get worse until they reach their peak within five days. The worst of the symptoms may include vomiting, fever, and diarrhea. After your symptoms reach their peak, they may start to go away.
Acute withdrawal symptoms may begin to ease up by the end of the first week, but some symptoms might continue. Psychological symptoms like depression and anxiety often linger after the acute phase has ended.
Psychological symptoms and cravings that last for a month or more may continue unless they are addressed in addiction treatment. In some cases, these symptoms can lead to relapse and need to be treated.
Medical detox is the first level of care for many people who seek addiction treatment. It’s designed to treat people with high-level medical needs, especially people who may go through dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Opioid medications like Percocet can cause extremely uncomfortable symptoms, but they usually aren’t life-threatening. However, bad cases of withdrawal can lead to some complications.
Because it can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and excessive sweating, Percocet withdrawal can lead to dehydration. If you don’t have easy access to clean water or if you can’t keep liquids down, dehydration can lead to dangerous complications. Detox may also be necessary if you have medical conditions that need to be treated alongside withdrawal. Speak to a doctor about safely quitting Percocet to find out if you might need detox.
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American Psychiatric Association. (2017, January). What Is Addiction? Retrieved from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/addiction/what-is-addiction
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016, February). 8: Medical detoxification. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction/section-iii/7-medical-detoxification
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019, November). 8: Definition of dependence. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/neurobiology-drug-addiction/section-iii-action-heroin-morphine/8-definition-dependence
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). Opioids. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids
Scheve, T. (2019, July 25). What are endorphins? Retrieved from https://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/emotions/endorphins.htm