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How Long Does Percocet Stay in Your System?

Percocet is the brand name given to a medicine composed of two main drugs, Oxycodone and Acetaminophen. The drug was first introduced as an intravenous formulation in Germany. It was widely used for the treatment of the pain of World War I victims. In 1976, the drug got officially approved and oral tablets were manufactured for the management of moderate to severe pain. Percocet acts on the opioid receptors in the central nervous system. This leads to a reduced level of cAMP and increased level of neurotransmitters like dopamine, acetylcholine, norepinephrine, and GABA. Effects such as elevated mood, euphoric feelings, and mental relaxation, get initiated. The long-term use causes the development of tolerance, dependence, and addiction. Furthermore, the abuse leads to the depletion of body’s endorphins. The adverse effects sustain as long the person continues to abuse the drug and Percocet particles stay within the body system.

How long does Percocet stay in your system?

It is suggested to discontinue Percocet under a medical supervision. After a prolonged abuse, stopping the drug at once can produce many uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. They can also prove to be fatal, in case a person is not properly monitored by a trained medical personal.

Percocet is composed of two main ingredients, Oxycodone and Acetaminophen. The estimated half-life of Oxycodone is 3.51 +/- 1.43 hours. On an average, the drug will take 19 hours to get eliminated from the body. In comparison, the half-life of Acetaminophen is about 3.1 hours. So the time taken by Acetaminophen will be 17 hours. Some sources have established a shorter half-life of Acetaminophen, about 2 hours. This way, the excretion gets completed in 11 hours. Considering both the components together, Percocet gets cleared from the body in about 24 hours. Rarely, it can extend up to 48 hours. This may be due to Oxycodone, which can sometimes take up 2 days for elimination.

Factors that influence how long Percocet stays in your system:

There are many factors that determine how long the drug stays in the system.

Individual Factors: A person’s age, BMI, food consumption, urinary pH, and metabolic rate affect the rate of excretion of drug from the system.

  • Age: It plays a major role as the elderly people have a poor metabolism due to ill physiological health in comparison to the younger people.
  • BMI: A person having a tall height and heavy weight can process the drug more efficiently as compared to a person with short height and a light weight.
  • Genetics: Genetics also play a major role in the metabolism process. Some people have copies of CYP2D6 alleles that translate into enzymes that boost up the metabolic rates. Such people are said to be fast metabolizers. Other people are the slow metabolizers, who metabolize the drug at even slower rates than the average population.
  • Glutathione levels: Acetaminophen gets metabolized by the liver through the CYP450 enzymes. A toxic metabolite ‘NAPQ1’ is formed. It is detoxified through the process of conjugation with the glutathione. Frequent ingestion of drug can lead to the depletion of Glutathione levels. This can slow down the metabolic process and can cause accumulation of toxic metabolites in the body.
  • Food intake/ Hydration: The absorption is more efficient on an empty stomach. The food stuff like grapefruit juice can decrease the first pass metabolism. This adds to the clearance time taken by the drug. An optimally hydrated body has faster metabolism and excretion rates than a less hydrated individual.
  • Liver and kidney function:Liver/kidney impairment can significantly slow down the clearance rate of the drug since both these organs are involved in the clearance process.
  • Metabolic rate:A greater metabolic rate results in a rapid breakdown of exogenous substances. This, in turn, results in faster elimination of the drug from the body systems.
  • Urinary pH: The acidity and alkalinity also determine the rate of excretion of drug from the body. The more the pH is towards acidic side, the more the reabsorption of drug from the tubules gets halted. This prevents the recirculation of Percocet in the body.
  • Co administration of the drugs:There are many medicines and supplements that can alter the functioning of hepatic enzymes. It is important to consult a doctor if someone is taking some other medicines for any concomitant medical disorder. Rifampicin and Dexamethasone act as the inducers of CYP2D6. Drugs like Amiodarone, codeine, celecoxib, SSRI’s and yohimbine act as the inhibitors of enzymes.

Frequency: People consuming frequent doses have accumulated an excessive amount of drug in their bodies. This leads to a slower metabolism and excretion.

Dosages: Higher doses require more time to undergo the whole elimination procedure. Larger quantities put a greater burden on the liver. Furthermore, the body develops a physiological adaptation to the continuous presence of drug in the body. This slows down the metabolism to a significant extent. Many instructions about doses are written on the product details. Exceeding those limits put a stress over the body and leads to a poor metabolism and excretion.

Percocet absorption, metabolism, and excretion:

After ingestion of Percocet, acetaminophen and Oxycodone are swiftly absorbed through the gastrointestinal linings. The peak levels are reached within one hour of Percocet ingestion. The analgesic effect is initiated within 15 minutes. It starts to rise and peak effects are attained in 60 minutes. The effects last for about 4 – 6 hours.

About 60-90% of Oxycodone enters the systemic circulation after the ingestion. It undergoes N-demethylation by CYP3A4/CYP3A5 to form Noroxycodone. The O-demethylation of Oxycodone by CYP2D6 results in the formation of Oxymorphone. The CYP2D6 isoenzyme plays a major role in the breakdown of Oxycodone into its metabolites, Noroxycodone, Oxycodone, and Oxymorphone.

Kidneys are mostly responsible for the excretion of Percocet. About 8-14 % of dose gets excreted as free Oxycodone form within 24 hours of the last dose. Oxymorphone and Noroxycodone have longer half-lives as compared to the Oxycodone. To quantify the metabolites present in urine; 19% is Oxycodone, 50% is conjugated Oxycodone, and 14% is conjugated Oxymorphone. Acetaminophen component of Percocet gets metabolized by CYP450 enzymes. Approximately, 85% of acetaminophen gets conjugated with sulphuric acid, cysteine, and glucuronic acid.

After conjugation in the liver, about 90% Acetaminophen is excreted in the urine within 24 hours. Oxycodone has a half-life longer than Acetaminophen so it takes more time to get eliminated out of the system. The metabolites of Oxycodone are also excreted via the kidneys.

Different types of Percocet drug tests:

There are a variety of testing modalities to detect the presence of Percocet.

  • Urine Tests:

Percocet becomes detectable in urine within 2 hours and remains detectable for about 48 hours. Peak concentrations of Oxycodone, as well as the metabolites, are reached within 4 hours. Both the free-forms and conjugated forms of Oxycodone remain easily detectable as high quantities are present in the urine. Oxymorphone is identifiable in urine for longer durations due to a long half-life. The cut-off level of Oxycodone for urinalysis is 50 ng/mL. The test results can be confirmed with EIA, ELISA, and GC/MS.

  • Blood tests:

The peak blood levels of the drug are reached within an hour. Percocet becomes detectable in about 20 minutes and stays in the blood for about 24 hours after the last dose. The window of detection is shorter than urine tests. Blood samples are more useful in hospitals or when the person is in a comatose state. Blood tests are also done in the cases of an overdose.

  • Hair Tests

About 20-50 hair follicles are collected from the head. Most of the follicles must be at least 3 cm in length. Hair tests are capable of detecting Percocet for longer durations, about 30 days. However, the results are not so accurate. A level of 100pg/mg of Oxycodone, Noroxycodone, and Oxymorphone is very difficult to get picked up on hair analysis. Hair tests are more useful in chronic users, consuming higher amounts of Percocet.

  • Saliva Tests:

Salivary samples are also taken for testing Percocet. They yield quick results so are mostly preferred over the hair tests. They are also non-invasive. Furthermore, the Oxycodone salivary concentrations are similar to the blood levels. The salivary samples are also used to detect the cases of Percocet intoxication.

Tips to clear Percocet from the system faster:

There are some strategies that can be applied to achieve a faster clearance rate of the drug from the body.

  • The first step is to stop the intake of drug.
  • There are various medicines or supplements that increase the functioning of CYP2D6 enzymes. Using them can speed-up the process of clearance. They must be checked with a medical professional before using them.
  • Acidify the urinary pH. The higher alkalinity of urine is associated with a slower excretion.
  • Proper hydration can ensure a faster excretion of Percocet.
  • Eating a nutritious diet can supplement the lost nutrients and provide the antioxidants that also help in the excretion of the drug.
  • Regular exercise can improve the blood circulation and help to speed up the metabolism and clearance of drug out of the system.