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How Long does Percocet Stay in Your System

How Long does Percocet Stay in Your System

A combination drug containing oxycodone hydrochloride and acetaminophen, Percocet is a prescription painkiller. This Buzzle write-up explains the concept of half-life, along with the duration for which Percocet could stay in your system after the last use.
Smita Pandit
Did You Know?
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, over 300,000 individuals were admitted to the emergency department for Percocet overdose by 2008.

A short-acting combination drug, Percocet comprises oxycodone, which belongs to a class of drugs called opiates, and an over-the-counter non-narcotic analgesic and antipyretic called acetaminophen. This drug is available only as a prescription drug, due to the presence of oxycodone, which is a Schedule II Controlled substance that is regulated by the Drug Enforcement Administration of the United States owing to its high potential for abuse. Percocet is prescribed in case of individuals affected by moderate to severe pain. The effect of oxycodone is very similar to that of heroin and morphine. It works by binding to the opioid receptors in the central nervous system, thereby blocking the pain signals and increasing tolerance for pain. It can cause feelings of euphoria, relaxation, or a high, if the tablet is crushed and administered in a way other than the way it should be administered for medical reasons. This is due to the fact that crushing or cutting the tablet interferes with the slow time release of oxycodone, which in turn can have an adverse effect on one's health.

Half-life of Percocet

The term 'half-life' refers to the duration required for the drug in the body to be reduced by 50%. The half-life of a drug is usually considered in relation to the amount of the drug in plasma. In general, it takes about 4-5 half-lives for most drugs to get completely eliminated from the body. Percocet is a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen. The half-life of the former ranges from 3 to 4.5 hours, whereas the half-life of the latter ranges between 2 and 3 hours. Thus, taking the half-life of oxycodone into account and multiplying it by 5, we can conclude that Percocet might stay in the system for 3 to 4 days. However, there are times when the drug might show up on a urine test up to 7 days after its last use. While it can be detected in the urine for 3-4 days, it can be detected in blood for 24 hours. It can be detected in the saliva for 1-4 days. However, if a hair sample is used, it can be detected three months after the last use.

While some drugs are eliminated after being metabolized, some of the drugs are eliminated unchanged. Most of the drugs or their metabolites are mainly eliminated by the kidneys in urine, but there are other ways through which the drugs might be eliminated. Some drugs might be excreted in bile and saliva. Small amounts might be excreted in sweat, breast milk, and exhaled air. Certain characteristics of the drug can affect the kidneys' ability to excrete them. The time taken by a drug to be completely eliminated from the body can also depend on factors such as age, overall health, fluid intake, metabolism, etc. For instance, the drug or its metabolite needs to be water soluble and should not be tightly bound to proteins in the blood, for it to be excreted by the kidneys in the urine. If a person's kidneys are not working properly, the drug might take longer to be eliminated from the body. Medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and recurring kidney infections can affect the kidney function. One's diet could affect the acidity of urine, which in turn might affect the rate at which the kidneys excrete some drugs. Percocet is mainly excreted through urine and sweat. The drug can show up on specific drug tests. Oxycodone and its metabolites can be detected with the help of chromatographic techniques, which help in distinguishing oxycodone from other opiates.

Side Effects

Percocet tablets are available in 6 doses that include:

➠ Percocet 2.5/325 mg and Percocet 5/325 mg tablets (These should not be taken more than 12 times a day.)
➠ Percocet 7.5/325 mg and Percocet 7.5/500 mg tablets (These tablets can be taken up to 8 times per day.)
➠ Percocet 10/325 mg and Percocet 10/650 mg tablets (These can be taken up to 6 times per day.)

The best way to take this medicine is to follow the guidelines given by one's healthcare provider regarding the dosage. This is to prevent the development of drug dependence or addiction. Given below are some of the common side effects associated with the use of Percocet:

➠ Nausea
➠ Vomiting
➠ Constipation
➠ Lightheadedness
➠ Dizziness
➠ Drowsiness
➠ Difficulty in urinating

Seek medical help, in case you experience the following symptoms:

➠ Shallow breathing
➠ Bradycardia
➠ Cold or clammy skin
➠ Apnea
➠ Hypotension
➠ Circulatory collapse
➠ Confusion
➠ Seizure
➠ Respiratory arrest

Moreover, acetaminophen can also cause liver-related problems in case of an overdose. Therefore, consult a doctor, if you experience the following symptoms:

➠ Nausea
➠ Abdominal pain
➠ Loss of appetite
➠ Dark urine
➠ Clay-colored stool
➠ Yellowing of eyes and skin

Percocet should not be taken by anyone who is allergic to the ingredients of the drug. It should also be avoided by anyone affected by respiratory depression. Unfortunately, Percocet is one of the most commonly abused prescription drugs. Pharmaceutical companies have changed the formulation, making the drug harder to crush. This step has been taken to prevent the patients from crushing and snorting the drug, which destroys the intended slow-time release.

Since Percocet is a habit-forming drug, its long-term use could cause the users to develop physical and psychological dependence. Therefore, it must be taken in prescribed doses for a duration suggested by one's healthcare provider. Do not take this drug in any way other than it was prescribed. Don't discontinue it abruptly, as that could cause severe withdrawal symptoms.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.