How Long Does Percocet Stay in Your System? Percocet Detection Time and Half-Life

Last Medical Review On: June 24, 2024
Updated On: June 24, 2024
4 min read
Written by:

Amanda Stevens, B.S.

Medical Review by:

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu, M.D., M.S.

How Long Does Percocet Stay In Your System?
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    What you will learn

    • Percocet is a combination of the opioid oxycodone and the pain reliever acetaminophen.
    • Percocet has a half-life of 3.2 hours for oxycodone and 1.25 to 3 hours for acetaminophen. While the half-life estimates how long it takes for the concentration of the drug to be reduced by half, the actual time Percocet remains detectable in the body depends on various factors, including dosage and frequency of use.
    • Despite its half-life, Percocet is detectable in urine tests for 4 days, saliva for 2 days, and hair for up to 90 days.
    • Percocet has considerable potential for abuse and addiction. Quitting suddenly after regular use can lead to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

    Percocet is a combination of the opioid oxycodone and the analgesic acetaminophen, which is the active ingredient in Tylenol. This drug is used to treat moderate to severe pain that hasn’t responded to other treatments, but it has a high risk of abuse and addiction.

    Because of Percocet’s abuse and addiction potential, the prescriptions are restricted, and employers, law enforcement, medical professionals, and doctors may rely on urine, saliva, and hair drug tests to detect the drug. Find out how long Percocet stays in the system and the Percocet detection window.

    What Is Percocet?

    Percocet is the brand name for a combination medication that contains the opioid oxycodone and the non-opioid analgesic acetaminophen. Oxycodone works in the brain to change how the body perceives and responds to pain, aided by acetaminophen. It’s used to treat moderate to severe pain.

    Like other opioids, Percocet is a highly addictive drug that may be misused for its euphoria and relaxation effects. Oxycodone attaches to and activates the brain’s opioid receptors to moderate pain signals, which also increases the dopamine activity in the brain’s reward centers – reinforcing its use.

    Percocet Half-Life and How Long it Stays In Your System

    Percocet often comes in an immediate-release tablet for pain. The rate at which a drug is eliminated from the body is the half-life, which is the time it takes for the active ingredient to be reduced by half. Immediate-release oxycodone has an average half-life of around 3.2 hours, while acetaminophen has a half-life of 1.25 to 3 hours.[1]

    Oxycodone typically stays in the urine for 4 days, saliva for 2 days, and hair for up to 90 days. It can take about a day for a dose of Percocet to leave the bloodstream, but it may still be detectable on a drug test.[2]

    Keep in mind that the drug’s half-life and elimination can vary according to your age, weight, kidney or liver function, other substances you take, medical conditions, and individual genetics. Percocet taken at high doses or for longer periods may stay in the system longer.

    What Drug Tests Look for Percocet?

    What drug tests look for Percocet?

    Oxycodone is typically not a routine component of urine drug tests, such as pre-employment basic urine tests. It is required in expanded urine tests requested by the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for employment.[3]

    Other drug tests, including saliva, blood, hair, and sweat, may check for Percocet, though these tests are less common. Many drugs, including Percocet, can be detected in hair samples for 90 days or longer.

    Percocet Withdrawal

    If you’re concerned about Percocet showing up on a drug test, it’s important to avoid stopping the drug suddenly or trying a “rapid detox” product. Opioids rapidly produce tolerance, so people usually need increasing amounts of Percocet to achieve the same effects. This quickly leads to dependence, when your body becomes accustomed to a drug to function. If you quit suddenly, withdrawal symptoms can occur.

    Percocet withdrawal symptoms may include:[4]

    • Agitation
    • Anxiety
    • Increased tearing
    • Muscle aches
    • Insomnia
    • Runny nose
    • Sweating
    • Yawning
    • Abdominal cramping
    • Diarrhea
    • Dilated pupils
    • Goosebumps
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting

    Opioid withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable, but it’s not usually life-threatening. The symptoms typically begin within 12 hours of the last dose but can vary by individual.

    Percocet Addiction

    Percocet is a prescription opioid and a drug of abuse. Some of the people abusing or addicted to Percocet began with a legal prescription for a legitimate medical condition, which led to misuse and addiction. Misuse is taking a drug to get high, using someone else’s prescription, taking the opioid in a dose other than prescribed, or taking an opioid by a route other than prescribed, such as crushing a pill to snort it.

    For others, Percocet began as illicit drug abuse. Regardless of its cause, Percocet addiction is a serious concern that can lead to many adverse health effects, including a potentially fatal overdose and long-term health problems.

    A Percocet addiction is classified as an opioid use disorder according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The criteria include:[5]

    • Taking opioids for longer periods or in larger amounts
    • Being unable to stop opioid use
    • Spending a lot of time obtaining, using, or recovering from opioids
    • Experiencing intense cravings for opioids
    • Failing to fulfill obligations at work, home, or school because of opioid use
    • Continuing opioid use despite interpersonal problems
    • Giving up activities once enjoyed because of opioid use
    • Using opioids in dangerous situations
    • Continuing substance use despite physical or mental problems
    • Developing a tolerance for opioids
    • Suffering from withdrawal from opioids

    Percocet Withdrawal and Addiction Treatment

    Though Percocet withdrawal isn’t fatal like withdrawal from other drugs, it’s still extremely uncomfortable and lasting. Relapse is a risk during withdrawal to relieve the symptoms, as well as potential complications.

    You should never try to quit Percocet on your own. Medical detox is the best choice to go through withdrawal from Percocet under medical supervision to keep you as safe and comfortable as possible, minimize withdrawal symptoms, and reduce the risk of relapse.

    Detox is a great first step, but it’s not a treatment. You will need to address the emotional, psychological, and social aspects of addiction, which requires a comprehensive treatment program with behavioral therapies and counseling, either in an inpatient or outpatient setting.

    Seek Help for Percocet Addiction

    Percocet stays in the system for about a day after last use, but it may be detectable on certain types of drug tests for anywhere between 3 days and 90 days. If you take Percocet regularly and you’re concerned about a drug test for Percocet, it’s important not to “rapidly” detox or stop taking Percocet suddenly. Doing so can cause intense and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

    Our Bethesda addiction treatment guide will direct you toward our individualized care plans, designed to help you overcome addiction. Reach out to us for more information on how we can support your recovery process.

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    Frequently Asked Questions About Percocet


    How Long Does It Take for Percocet to Work?


    In general, the pain-relieving effects of Percocet at a dose of 5 mg immediate-release oxycodone and 325 mg acetaminophen will begin to work in about 20 to 30 minutes. It reaches its peak effects about 1 to 2 hours after taking it and lasts about 4 to 6 hours.


    What Happens If I Test Positive for Percocet But Have a Prescription?


    Positive drug test results explained by a legitimate medical condition and valid prescription will usually not affect your ability to get a job or get into legal trouble. However, this can change if your opioid use – legitimate or not – affects your ability to do your job, drive a vehicle, or perform other activities safely.


    Can an Employer Not Hire You Because of a Medication?


    The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from engaging in prescription drug discrimination. Employers can’t inquire about your medical condition or prescription drug usage unless it clearly connects to your ability to perform your job duties safely, such as operating a vehicle or heavy machinery.


    [1,2,3] How long does percocet stay in your system?. (n.d.-i). Retrieved from on 2024, June 21.

    [4] U.S. National Library of Medicine. (n.d.-b). Opiate and opioid withdrawal: Medlineplus medical encyclopedia. MedlinePlus. Retrieved from on 2024, June 21.

    [5] Opioid use disorder. – Opioid Use Disorder. (n.d.). Retrieved from on 2024, June 21.

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