Percocet is considered a combination medication, as it contains both the over-the-counter medication acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, and the opioid painkiller oxycodone. It is a prescription medication dispensed to treat moderate to severe pain.

The prescribing information for Percocet explains that the drug is meant to be taken every six hours as needed to manage pain. Percocet can remain active in the bloodstream for up to 12 hours, and it often takes about 24 hours to fully process out of the body.

Part of what determines how long a drug remains active in the system is its half-life, which is half the duration of time the drug is actively working. Since Percocet is a combination medication, both of the two active ingredients need to be considered when talking about half-life and how long it takes for the drug to exit your body.

The first is acetaminophen, which has a half-life of about two to three hours, U.S. Pharmacist explains. This means it stops being active in the bloodstream in about four to six hours and processes out in about 12 hours. The journal Clinical and Translational Oncology report that oxycodone has a half-life of between three and five hours, meaning that it generally stops working actively in about six to 10 hours and processes out of the body in about 24 hours.

Several factors can influence how long it takes for the body to metabolize and purge Percocet.

How is Percocet Stored in the Body and For How Long?

Both acetaminophen and oxycodone are mostly processed out of the body through the liver and, in part, excreted through the kidneys and urine. Oxycodone is metabolized into both oxymorphone and nor oxycodone, which are not detectable on typical federal workplace drug testing, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) publishes.

As a semi-synthetic opioid, oxycodone typically needs to be tested for with immunoassay (EIA) methods that use a cutoff of 300 ng/mL. To prepare for a drug test, it is helpful to know what type of drug test is going to be administered. Primary ways that drugs are tested for include:

Types Of Drug Tests

  •  Urine
  •  Saliva
  •  Hair
  •  Blood

A urine test is one of the most common forms of drug tests. In general, Percocet is likely to be detectable in urine within about two hours of taking the drug and up to three or four days after the last dose.

Saliva tests tend to detect the drug more quickly, but potentially for not as long as a urine test. Percocet may be detectable in saliva within the first 15 to 30 minutes of taking it and for about one to four days after the last dose.

A blood test is generally only able to detect oxycodone for the first 24 hours after taking it, while hair testing typically provides the longest detection window. Blood drug tests are not done very often, as they are considered highly invasive and able to pick up on drug use only for a fairly short window of time.

A hair drug test can often track drug use for as long as 90 days; however, drug use typically has to be fairly heavy for Percocet to show up in hair. Hair tests are considered the most noninvasive and can provide a good indicator of regular drug use, but they do not typically show intermittent use of drugs, the journal Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America publishes. A hair drug test can typically show what drugs are used regularly and provide a three-month drug record.

Percocet is a combination medication, containing between 2.5 mg (milligrams) and 10 mg of oxycodone per tablet. The more oxycodone that is in the dose you are taking, the more likely it is to show up on a drug test.

“In general, intermittent use of Percocet is liable to show up on a drug test for a few days (except for a hair drug test). In a chronic and heavy user, it may be detectable for up to a week or so.”

To be safe, when taking a urine, blood, or saliva drug test that checks for oxycodone metabolites, you should stop taking Percocet at least a week before the test. Drug tests will not be able to tell the difference between drug misuse or necessary medicinal use, so be sure to take that into account.

Since oxycodone cessation can come with intense withdrawal symptoms, do not stop taking it suddenly if you have been taking it for a prolonged period. You should consult a physician who can devise a safe tapering schedule or refer you to a medical detox program.

Factors Influencing Percocet Detox

Detox involves processing drugs out of the body. In the case of Percocet, detox can come with some uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. As such, it is not a drug that is recommended to stop suddenly as the physical flu-like symptoms, emotional lows, sleep disturbances, drug cravings, thinking problems, and mood swings can be significant.

Oxycodone is a powerful opioid drug that is very habit-forming. With regular use, the body and brain get used to the way it interacts with brain chemistry, leading quickly to drug dependence. Once you are dependent on Percocet, withdrawal can be difficult when you stop taking the drug. Withdrawal symptoms begin right as the drug stops working in the body, so in as little as 12 to 24 hours.

Percocet misuse can increase drug dependence more rapidly and, therefore, intensify and prolong withdrawal. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), nearly 4 million people in the United States misused a prescription painkiller containing oxycodone in 2016.

Percocet is meant to be swallowed and metabolized through the gastrointestinal system. If the drug is crushed and then snorted, injected, or smoked, it enters the bloodstream differently, which can affect how it is metabolized and how long it will take to process out of the body.

Drug metabolism can vary from person to person as well. Various factors can, therefore, impact how long it takes Percocet to fully exit the body.

  • Age: Metabolism slows with age.
  • Sex: Men tend to have faster metabolisms than women.
  • Biological and genetic factors: Certain genes and biological components, like body mass, can impact drug metabolism and excretion. Some races have genes that do not metabolize drugs at the same rates.


  • Medical conditions: Damage to the liver or kidneys, for example, can impede drug metabolism and means that Percocet may stay in the body longer.
  • How much Percocet was taken and for how long: Repeated and long-term use of a drug can cause it to be stored longer in your body, and it may not process out as quickly.
  • Concurrent use of other drugs: Drugs can interact with each other, this can play a role in how long it takes for them to process out of the body.
  • Food and drink intake: Certain foods or beverages, such as grapefruit juice, can impact the way that opioids are absorbed and metabolized in the body.
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