Percocet is a prescription medication used to treat pain and consists of a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen. However, this medication carries a high risk of abuse and addiction and, as a result, is classified as a Schedule II medication under the Controlled Substances Act. In addition, dependence on this medication can begin after a few days of consistent use, even when taken as prescribed. If you plan to quit taking Percocet, medical detox may be necessary to reduce the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that can result when stopping the medication.
Can You Quit Percocet Cold Turkey?
Opioids like oxycodone in Percocet can cause dependence after just a few days of consistent use. After taking this medication regularly, if you cut back or stop too abruptly, you can experience withdrawal symptoms. While these withdrawal symptoms are not usually life-threatening, they can be very uncomfortable. Often, this discomfort is too much, driving you back to taking Percocet for relief.
Opioids, like Percocet, mostly work in the brain on mu-opioid receptors. Over time, these receptors become over-stimulated by the regular use of Percocet, and the brain begins to compensate. The body attempts to create balance leading to developing tolerance. When you stop taking Percocet abruptly, your brain does not have enough time to counteract this, and you can experience many different withdrawal symptoms.
Percocet Withdrawal Symptoms
If Percocet is stopped too quickly, you may experience different Percocet withdrawal symptoms. In general, withdrawal can feel like the flu and last several weeks. The type of symptoms and how long withdrawal lasts can vary by person and depend on the starting dose and severity of Percocet abuse. However, several physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms are common.
The physical symptoms of Percocet withdrawal can include:
- Upset stomach
- Joint aches
- Nausea or vomiting
The psychological impact of stopping Percocet use can result in changes in mood or behavior. Some of the common psychological Percocet withdrawal symptoms are:
Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) can also be called protracted withdrawal symptoms. This syndrome can be viewed as a long-lasting withdrawal process and can last weeks or months. PAWS can have similar symptoms to a mood disorder, and people experiencing PAWS might be depressed or anxious. The symptoms can include difficulty concentrating, irritability or depression.
Can You Die From Percocet Withdrawal?
While it is unlikely that Percocet withdrawal itself would be life-threatening, there can be complications from withdrawal symptoms. Factors like dehydration or imbalanced electrolytes can significantly increase the risk of severe side effects or death during Percocet withdrawal. These serious side effects can include slowed breathing or heart rate. Therefore, abruptly stopping Percocet can be dangerous and should always be guided or supervised by a healthcare professional.
How Long Does Percocet Withdrawal Last?
Percocet withdrawal is highly variable from person to person and can depend on your starting dose. How long the withdrawal symptoms last can also depend on your overall health and whether you are using any other substances or alcohol. There are different ways to manage withdrawal to make it as comfortable and safe as possible.
Stages of Withdrawal
There are several stages of Percocet withdrawal that can begin as early as several hours after stopping the drug and peak within two to three days. These usually include intense drug cravings, anxiety and slowed breathing. Later, withdrawal can include tremors, fever and nausea. Some of the symptoms can persist at a low level for months.
Factors Affecting Withdrawal Duration
Several characteristics can influence the length and severity of withdrawal symptoms. Some people can process and adjust to life without Percocet quicker than others. Factors like age, gender, overall health and whether Percocet use was short- or long-term can influence this process.
How To Wean Off Percocet Without Withdrawal
You can wean off Percocet in several settings, but it is most challenging at home. Weaning off at home would require a robust support system, and it is recommended to taper off Percocet very slowly.
You can also undergo a medical detox from Percocet at a rehab facility where medical professionals regularly monitor you for signs of withdrawal and can treat them with medications if they happen. Finally, those with very severe withdrawal can sometimes detox in a hospital or detox facility where you stay until you are medically well and can transfer to a rehab facility.
In any setting, it is essential to monitor for signs of withdrawal and slow the Percocet taper, if needed. Slowly tapering off Percocet allows your body time to adjust and minimize these symptoms. Unfortunately, stopping Percocet cold turkey could result in the most withdrawal symptoms and the highest risk for complications from withdrawal.
Detoxing From Percocet
Medical detox is typically the first step in stopping a drug like Percocet. During this time, you are medically supervised, usually in an inpatient treatment facility or hospital. Healthcare professionals monitor you for withdrawal symptoms and can treat these as clinically indicated. The goal is to minimize complications like aspiration, where vomit is accidentally inhaled and can cause pneumonia or electrolyte disturbances resulting from vomiting or diarrhea.
Knowledgeable professionals also support you during this time. Medical detox can set you on a path towards sobriety without guessing what to do at each crossroad.
Finding a Detox Center for Percocet Withdrawal
If you or a loved one are suffering from Percocet addiction, The Recovery Village Columbus can help. Our compassionate and knowledgeable medical professionals can provide the care you need to quit Percocet safely. We offer a continuum of treatment programs ranging from medical detox and inpatient rehab to outpatient programs that support you on your path to a healthier life. Call ustoday!
U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Opiate and opioid withdrawal.” MedlinePlus, May 10, 2020. Accessed July 17, 2022.
Drugs.com. “Oxycodone Monograph for Professionals.” Reviewed March 29, 2021. Accessed July 17, 2022.
Kosten, TJ and O’Connor, PG. “Management of Drug and Alcohol Withdrawal.” New England Journal of Medicine, May 1, 2013. Accessed July 17, 2022.
UCLA Jane & Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior. “Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS).” 2022. Accessed July 17, 2022.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.