By Naomi Carr

Last updated: 09 February 2024 & medically reviewed by Morgan Blair

Percocet is a brand-name medication used for severe pain relief, containing the opioid analgesic oxycodone and non-opioid analgesic acetaminophen. Oxycodone is a Schedule II controlled substance due to its abuse and dependence potential. Percocet is highly addictive and can cause mild to severe opioid withdrawal symptoms when discontinued, especially if it is stopped abruptly. [1]

Key takeaways:

Common Percocet withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Fever symptoms (shaking, sweating, etc.)

  • Mood changes including irritability and anxiety

  • Restlessness

  • Fatigue, insomnia

  • Joint pain

  • Muscle aches and pains

  • Nausea, vomiting, stomach pain

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure

  • Cravings

Percocet Withdrawal Symptoms

Does Percocet cause withdrawal symptoms?

It is common for Percocet to cause withdrawal symptoms, especially following prolonged and heavy use or abuse. Withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on the duration and amount of Percocet use and can range from mild to severe. Abruptly stopping Percocet can increase the risk of withdrawal symptoms so a gradual dose reduction is recommended. [1][2]

Individuals taking Percocet can quickly develop tolerance and dependence. Tolerance causes the effects of the medication to be reduced and can lead to increased amounts or frequency of use. Dependence causes the body to become reliant on the substance, leading to the onset of withdrawal symptoms as the effects of the medication wear off. [3]

Dependence is more likely to develop with prolonged and heavy Percocet use, although it may begin to develop within several days or weeks of prescribed use. Taking larger doses of Percocet than prescribed or using the medication without a prescription can increase the associated risks. [4]

Also, individuals who have recently used an opioid such as Percocet may experience withdrawal symptoms if an opioid antagonist is administered, such as Naltrexone or Naloxone. These medications block the effects of opioids, which can cause the onset of withdrawal symptoms. [5]

Percocet withdrawal symptoms

When discontinuing Percocet, it is common to experience mental and physical symptoms, including: [1][2][3][4]

  • Sweating

  • Shaking

  • Anxiety

  • Low mood

  • Irritability

  • Dilated pupils

  • Restlessness

  • Yawning

  • Teary eyes

  • Runny nose

  • Chills and hot flashes

  • Fatigue

  • Insomnia

  • Joint pain

  • Weakness

  • Muscle aches and pains

  • Decreased appetite

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Stomach pain

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure

  • Cravings

Severe Percocet withdrawal symptoms

In some cases, Percocet withdrawal symptoms can be severe or even life-threatening. Severe withdrawal symptoms can include: [1][2][6]

  • Persistent vomiting or diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration and cardiac issues

  • Seizures

  • Extreme changes in mood and behavior, such as severe depression, suicidal thoughts and attempts, or aggression

Percocet withdrawal timeline

Often, Percocet withdrawal symptoms emerge within 12 hours of the last dose as the substance leaves the system and increases in severity within the first three days to a week, after which they gradually reduce in severity. [4]

For many individuals, these symptoms will last around a week or two before alleviating. However, some people might experience ongoing withdrawal symptoms for several weeks or months, including persistent changes in mood. [2][6]

Those who have used large amounts of Percocet for a prolonged period may be more likely to experience longer-lasting and more severe withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, the duration and severity of withdrawal symptoms may vary depending on the physical and mental well-being of the individual as well as any additional substance use. [2]

Percocet cessation timeline

As with other opioids, safe Percocet cessation will vary from person to person and depends on their requirements. Some individuals may be able to taper off the medication within several days or weeks, while others might require much more gradual tapering over several months. Prolonged and heavy Percocet use often leads to more severe withdrawal symptoms and requires a more gradual cessation. [1]

Typically, it is recommended to reduce the daily dosage by 10-25% every few days or weeks. For example, someone taking 8 tablets per day might reduce their daily dose by one tablet each week. It may be necessary to make smaller reduction increments as the daily dose reduces, before reaching complete cessation. [7]

Reductions in dosage can be slowed or altered as required to manage withdrawal symptoms that occur. Some people, particularly those with long-term Percocet use and physical dependence, are likely to require small and gradual reductions, such as 10% reductions every three weeks. However, others might manage more rapid tapering, such as those who have used low doses for a short period. [4][7]

Is Percocet safe to withdraw from at home?

Some people may manage to withdraw from Percocet at home, particularly following short-term use. However, many people will experience withdrawal symptoms that require treatment, so it is not recommended to withdraw from Percocet at home without professional advice. [3][4]

Professional support can help manage physical and mental withdrawal symptoms and can be received through outpatient treatments if individuals wish to remain at home during this process. [3]

It is advised to inform friends or family about Percocet discontinuation, particularly if this takes place at home, as they can assist with physical or practical needs and help monitor for dangerous withdrawal symptoms that may require treatment.[4]

Percocet detox treatment

Individuals taking Percocet on prescription will receive regular medication reviews with their prescribing doctor, who can advise on safe cessation when it is necessary to end treatment. Often, the dose will be gradually reduced before discontinuation, which can help prevent withdrawal symptoms. [1]

In some cases, it may be recommended to utilize opioid replacement medications, particularly if the individual has developed dependence or addiction and is unable to reduce Percocet use safely. These treatments can be provided via outpatient services, such as clinics or appointments with a doctor. In the case of more severe addiction, it might be appropriate to utilize inpatient treatment, such as a rehab or medical detox center. [5]

Medications used in Percocet detox include: [2][4][8]

  • Opioid replacement: Methadone, an opioid agonist, and buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist, can be used to replace Percocet during medical detox. They can both help to reduce withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and euphoric effects and may be prescribed for short-term treatment or as a long-term maintenance therapy.

  • Clonidine or lofexidine: Although they cannot reduce opioid cravings, medications such as clonidine and lofexidine can be helpful in the detox process as they reduce several withdrawal symptoms, such as increased blood pressure and heart rate, irritability and anxiety, and sweating.

  • Symptom management: Antidepressants, benzodiazepines, NSAIDs, and loperamide can be prescribed for short-term management of withdrawal symptoms such as mood changes, insomnia, nausea, diarrhea, and pain.

  • Naltrexone: Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist that is often used to prevent relapse. However, it can cause the onset of withdrawal symptoms if given shortly after opioid use. As such, it cannot be used during detox treatment but can be commenced after 7-10 days of Percocet abstinence.

During and following Percocet detox, it can be beneficial for individuals to receive psychological treatments, such as therapy, psychosocial interventions, and group support, physical health treatments, such as pain management, and holistic therapies, such as mindfulness and exercise. These interventions can help prevent relapse and improve the recovery process. [3][4][8]