Percocet Detox

  • Generic Name or Active Ingridient: Oxycodone Hydrochloride And Acetaminophen

Percocet detoxification brings someone to a drug-free state after his body became dependent on one chemical in Percocet. Percocet is a brand name preparation containing oxycodone and acetaminophen. Anyone who uses oxycodone for more than a few weeks may become dependent on this drug and require Percocet detoxification. Acetaminophen is not associated with dependence but long-term use may cause dangerous health hazards and complications during Percocet detoxification.

Doctors routinely prescribe Percocet and other products containing oxycodone to relieve moderate to moderately severe pain. In 2010, U.S. pharmacists dispensed 58.2 million prescriptions for drugs containing oxycodone, including Percocet. While most patients take Percocet as prescribed and stop taking this drug when they no longer need it for pain, some take it for non-medical reasons to get high or to treat a condition other than the one the doctor had intended to treat when he prescribed Percocet. About 5 million Americans use painkillers including Percocet for non-medical use every year.

Oxycodone is an opioid pain reliever that drug makers synthesize from codeine derived from the opium poppy plant. Oxycodone acts similar to morphine, another opioid drug made from the poppy plant. Oxycodone and other opioids work with the central nervous system, or CNS, to change the way the brain perceives pain signals. Among other CNS effects, Percocet causes relaxation, sedation, and a pleasant sense of euphoria.

The neurological effects of Percocet changes the way a person thinks, feels, and behaves. With chronic use, some of these CNS changes become more permanent and adversely affect his ability to work, go to school, take care of family, and interact with others.

Opioids also work on smooth muscle groups, such as the intestinal muscles that propel stool through the digestive tract, the muscles inside blood vessel walls that control blood pressure, those in the eyes that dilate and constrict pupils, and skin muscles that cause goose bumps.

Anyone who uses Percocet regularly for more than a few weeks may grow physically dependent on it, requiring a certain level of oxycodone to feel “normal.” When oxycodone levels fall suddenly, the opioid-dependent body struggles to regain chemical control and recover from the toxic effects of opioids. Doctors refer to this as Percocet detoxification.

The opioid-dependent person experiences Percocet detoxification through unpleasant withdrawal symptoms involving those body systems affected by oxycodone, such as agitation and other neurological disturbances, stomachache, vomiting and diarrhea, changes in blood pressure, dilated pupils, and goose bumps. These withdrawal symptoms begin a few hours after the last dose of Percocet and may continue for five or more days. Left uninterrupted, these symptoms with subside as the individual completes the detoxification process and do not return unless the person relapses to an opioid-dependent state.

According to results from a 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 1.9 million people in the United States are dependent on prescription painkillers including the oxycodone in Percocet. This number has gone up a bit since 2004, when there were 1.4 million opioid-dependent Americans.

Acetaminophen does not generally cause dependence but long-term use can cause extensive liver damage. Acetaminophen overdose is one of the most common poisonings worldwide and is the leading cause of acute liver failure in the United States. Exceeding the maximum dose of 4 grams per day can be fatal. Acetaminophen overdoses kill about 500 deaths per year in the United States, with about half of these deaths associated with accidental overdose rather than suicide.

Acetaminophen causes liver problems by producing small amounts of the toxic metabolite, NAPQI, which binds to proteins that the liver easily removes from the body. If the liver cannot clear this metabolite quickly enough, however, NAPQI levels rise to cause damage to liver cells. The liver has a difficult time removing large amounts of NAPQI quickly after acetaminophen overdose. Alcohol intake interferes with the uptake of NAPQI, causing levels to increase enough to cause liver damage or death. The extent of liver damage is dependent on the amount of toxic metabolites and the ability of the liver to remove this metabolite before it binds to the liver proteins. The antidote to NAPQI poisoning is acetylcysteine.

Percocet detoxification can also refer to the medical process of lowering opioid levels and addressing withdrawal symptoms through medications. Percocet detoxification can take place at home, through an outpatient clinic or an inpatient treatment facility.

Medical Percocet detoxification reduces the occurrence and severity of withdrawal symptoms in a way that makes it easier for the individual to complete the detoxification process and achieve an opioid-free state. Detoxification facilitates the patient’s entry into rehabilitation where he receives counseling and behavior modification that teaches him how to live without drugs. Detoxification helps him remain in rehabilitation long enough to reverse some of the neurological changes caused by chronic drug abuse, clarifying his thinking, restoring healthy behavioral patterns and improving his emotional state. Percocet detoxification promotes abstinence and reduces the frequency and severity of relapses when they do occur. Detoxification and rehabilitation restore the patient to as much of his former life as possible, returning him to work, family responsibilities and personal relationships with friends and family.

Types of Detox

Everyone experiences the onset of opioid dependence in a unique way, with some people becoming dependent after using Percocet to treat chronic pain and others developing opioid-dependence after non-medical use. Each person feels the effects of opioid dependence differently too; some people are able to function while opioid-dependent, going to work and taking care of family, while other opioid-dependent people sink into unemployment, homelessness, ill health, divorce, or even death.

Percocet detoxification is also highly personal, with some experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms along with dangerous complications while others barely feel ill. Sometimes the individual will have to repeat Percocet detoxification and experience different withdrawal symptoms each time. Consequently, there is no single treatment plan that works for everyone, and a patient may have to participate in several approaches to treatment before completing Percocet detoxification.

Of the millions who need treatment for opioid dependence, only about 10 percent got it in a specialty facility, such as an inpatient hospital, outpatient clinic or mental health facility. Everyone else engaged in self-help, contacted a private physician, got help in an emergency room or quit while incarcerated in prison or jail.

Self Detox

When it is time for a patient to stop using Percocet, her physician will typically recommend she wean herself this drug by taking smaller doses each day - just enough to cover withdrawal symptoms - until she is no longer dependent on oxycodone to feel normal. This tapering method works well for most patients who have been opioid-dependent for only a short time and who have no underlying medical conditions or co-existing substance abuse issues that could complicate the detoxification process.

Cold turkey

Lingering withdrawal symptoms prevent some people from tapering Percocet, so they quit cold turkey by discontinuing Percocet abruptly. Someone who quits cold turkey is likely to suffer prolonged and severe withdrawal symptoms, but it does bring the patient to an opioid-free state.

Natural remedies

Some people use natural remedies to strengthen the body and reduce withdrawal symptoms during Percocet detoxification. Many people try acupuncture, meditation, yoga, and massage to reduce anxiety and keep the body’s juices flowing well. Others try an herbal approach, using ginger or peppermint to soothe nausea, for example, or chamomile or cayenne to stop diarrhea.

Some individuals create a homemade treatment plan that combines prescription and non-prescription drugs to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. One well-known remedy is The Thomas Recipe, which calls for a benzodiazepine such as Xanax or Librium to calm nerves and help with sleep, Imodium for diarrhea, vitamin B6 and supplements along with hot baths for restless leg syndrome and achy muscles, and L-Tyrosine for a burst of much-needed energy late in the detoxification process.

Medical Detox

Medication-assisted detoxification, sometimes called medical detox, is a professional approach to Percocet detoxification that incorporates powerful prescription-strength opioid or non-opioid drugs to control withdrawal symptoms.

Outpatient clinics offer medication-assisted detoxification using opioid drugs, such as methadone and buprenorphine. These drugs can be used as part of a drug maintenance program that delays the detoxification while the patient participates in rehabilitation. Once the patient learns how to live without drugs, he weans himself from the replacement drug.

Patients may also use these drugs at home to reduce withdrawal symptoms during the tapering process. The outpatient will take high doses for the first few days during the induction phase then take consecutively smaller doses each day until he completes Percocet detoxification. Doctors normally start patients on 10 to 15 mg of methadone, increasing dosages by 10 mg each day until the patient no longer experiences withdrawal symptoms. Once the physician determines a safe and effective induction dose, he decreases subsequent doses by 10 mg each day until the patient is no longer dependent on Percocet.

Outpatient detoxification is appropriate for patients who have been dependent on Percocet for more than a year and who have been unable to complete self-detoxification. Outpatient detoxification is convenient


A German chemist first synthesized methadone in 1939 in his effort to find an inexpensive, safe and effective pain reliever. Physicians around the world still use methadone as an analgesic although it has faded in popularity as a pain reliever in the United States.

In 1964 doctors used methadone as a weapon against a heroin epidemic sweeping across New York City. The FDA approved methadone for use as treatment of opioid dependence in 1972. Currently, about 100,000 Americans use methadone as part of a drug maintenance program.


Someone might take buprenorphine as part of a drug maintenance program or as a way to reduce symptoms during the tapering process. A patient places a buprenorphine tablet under her tongue where it dissolves and enters the bloodstream. There is no set tapering schedule but most patients complete Percocet detoxification in as little as one week, spending the first one to three days in the induction phase and tapering during days four through seven. Buprenorphine is available under the brand name, Subutex.


Some individuals abuse buprenorphine intravenously by dissolving the tablet before injecting it into a vein. Drug makers deter this abuse by adding naloxone to the brand name preparation, Suboxone. When used as directed under the tongue, naloxone has very little effect but when taken intravenously this drug counteracts the effects of buprenorphine. Intravenous administration of naloxone prevents the patient from getting high and causes withdrawal symptoms in opioid-dependent consumers.

Inpatient Percocet detoxification provides the greatest protection against withdrawal symptoms and complications. Hospital physicians typically administer potent non-opioid, anti-withdrawal drugs to make Percocet detoxification easier. The usual inpatient treatment plan might contain hydroxyzine or promethazine to ease nausea, Loperamide for diarrhea, and clonidine for watery eyes, sweating, restlessness, and other symptoms. The physician may administer naltrexone to lower opioid levels and initiate the detoxification process. Nurses monitor the patient closely and respond immediately to any complications that may arise.

Inpatient treatment is appropriate for anyone who wishes to benefit from anti-withdrawal drugs and close supervision. Anyone who has not responded to less restrictive treatment approaches should participate in inpatient Percocet detoxification.

Inpatient Percocet detoxification is necessary for those who are at high risk for severe withdrawal symptoms or complications or suffer from co-existing conditions that make outpatient care unsafe. Anyone who is recovering from a Percocet overdose or who cannot receive treatment safely in an outpatient setting must complete the detoxification process in an inpatient care facility. Patients with severe psychiatric problems, especially acute psychosis or depression with suicidal thoughts, should engage in inpatient Percocet detoxification, as should anyone who exhibits behaviors that could potential endanger the patient or others.

Rapid Opiate Detox

Rapid opiate detox is a safe and efficient approach to Percocet detoxification, bringing the patient to an opioid-free state in hours rather than days, weeks, or months. During rapid detox, anesthesiologists sedate and anesthetize the patient before administering the standard detoxification drugs so that patients doze in a comfortable “twilight sleep” during the procedure. Patients awaken a few hours later, refreshed and renewed.

Our detox center: Who we are and what we do

We are a group of board-certified anesthesiologists and other dedicated professionals who deliver compassionate and effective care to opioid-dependent individuals. We have helped thousands of patients become opioid-free since opening the doors of our fully accredited hospital more than a decade ago.

We prescreen patients in our accredited facility to discover any underlying illnesses or co-existing substance abuse issues that could complicate Percocet detoxification and develop a personalized treatment plan that often includes rapid detox. After we bring the patient to an opioid-free state, she may continue her recovery in our qualified aftercare facility.

Detox Comparisons

It is often helpful to compare the various approaches to Percocet detoxification when trying to decide which treatment is best.

Without the expense of anti-withdrawal medications or professional care, self-detoxification is the least to achieve an opioid-free state but, without those amenities, self-detoxification is the most difficult to complete. Additionally, the patient may not be equipped to deal with complications associated with acute liver failure caused by toxic acetaminophen levels.

Outpatient detoxification usually includes medications to ease the detoxification process and provides professional prescreening and monitoring to reduce the risk for complications, especially acute liver failure and other conditions caused by Percocet abuse. These measures make outpatient Percocet detoxification safer and sometimes easier to complete than self-detoxification. However, outpatient detoxification can sometimes fail, leaving the individual in an opioid-dependent state as she remains on methadone or buprenorphine for months or years.

Inpatient care provides the highest degree of patient prescreening, testing and supervision as compared to outpatient care and self-detoxification. Inpatient care usually includes the strongest anti-withdrawal medications to bring the patient to an opioid-free state quickly and efficiently. Inpatient care is typically shorter than outpatient treatment, with the average inpatient detoxification visit lasting only 4 days, compared with 197 days for medication-assisted therapy.

Of all treatment approaches, rapid detox provides the most efficient and humane treatment currently available. Rapid detox brings the patient to an opioid-free state in only one to two hours, rather than days, weeks or months. Rapid detox also frees the patient from the demoralizing and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, improving his chances for completing Percocet detoxification and moving into rehabilitation.

Detox Possible Complications

While Percocet detoxification is not normally a life-threatening process, acute liver failure and other pre-existing conditions, co-existing substance abuse problems, severe drug abuse and pregnancy can cause dangerous complications, especially during the detoxification process.

Relapse is the primary complication associated with all forms of opioid detoxification. The individual may relapse during detoxification, possibly to stop the pain of withdrawal, or return to drug abuse after completing Percocet detoxification.

Relapse during detoxification or immediately afterwards increases the risk for fatal overdose. The detoxification process reduces the individual’s tolerance to Percocet, making him more sensitive to the effects of oxycodone. This lowered tolerance and increased sensitivity means it is possible for someone to overdose on a smaller amount than he used to take before experiencing even minor withdrawal symptoms for a short time. Overdoses from Percocet and other prescription painkillers claimed 14,800 American lives in 2008, killing more people than cocaine and heroin overdoses combined.

Acute liver failure is a complication unique to Percocet and other opioids containing acetaminophen. An overdose of acetaminophen causes a spike in NAPQI levels. If the liver cannot clear this metabolite from the blood quickly, it may cause hepatotoxicity, a type of acute liver failure caused by drugs. Symptoms of hepatotoxicity may not appear until the disease has advanced.

Self Detox Possible Complications

Without professional guidance, many people focus on detoxifying the body from the effects of oxycodone without considering acute liver failure and other complications associated with chronic acetaminophen use. Since the symptoms of acute liver failure do not appear right away, someone attempting self-detoxification may not realize he is developing a serious complication and delay medical help. He may also continue drinking alcohol during Percocet Detoxification, not knowing it causes NAPQI to rise to potentially hepatotoxic levels.

Even in the absence of acute liver failure, anyone attempting self-detoxification without the use of anti-withdrawal drugs may face uncontrolled withdrawal symptoms that can result in complications. This is especially true for those with underlying illnesses, substance abuse issues, alcoholism, and a history of severe drug abuse.

Withdrawal symptoms and other effects of Percocet detoxification may worsen other underlying conditions, or these ailments may enhance the discomfort of detoxification. Without professional support, a worsened illness can lead to unexpected and serious complications.

Percocet detoxification may affect blood pressure, pulse and other cardiovascular responses that can aggravate underlying heart conditions. Anxiousness and agitation associated with Percocet withdrawal can worsen pre-existing anxiety disorders. Percocet detoxification causes pain to return in individuals who take this drug to relieve long-term pain resulting from an ongoing chronic illness, such as arthritis or cancer.

Uncontrolled withdrawal symptoms can cause complications during self-detoxification. Long bouts of extreme vomiting and diarrhea can result in dehydration and imbalances in sodium, potassium and other electrolytes.

Outpatient Care Possible Complications

Because it uses opioids to control the onset or severity of withdrawal symptoms, outpatient Percocet detoxification presents its own complications. The patient may become dependent on methadone or buprenorphine and have trouble tapering its use.

Methadone is not entirely safe; even though it accounts for only 2 percent of sales on the prescription painkiller market, methadone overdoses account for about a third of opioid pain reliever deaths. The number of methadone overdoses is rising. In 2009, there were 5.5 times as many deaths associated with methadone as there were in 1999.

Buprenorphine is also associated with abuse, although the addition of naloxone reduces this risk. Death is possible, especially when combining buprenorphine with benzodiazepines like those used in The Thomas Recipe.

Inpatient Detox Possible Complications

The use safe and effective anti-withdrawal drugs coupled with professional medical care reduces the risk for complications associated with inpatient care, but it is still possible to suffer complications as an inpatient. For example, the patient may suffer an allergic reaction to the medications used in Percocet detoxification. The patient may abuse alcohol, increasing the risk for complications due to acute liver failure. Withdrawal from multiple substances, especially alcohol, benzodiazepines, sedatives and anti-anxiety drugs increases the risk for complications dramatically.

Rapid Detox Possible Complications

Rarely, a patient may suffer an allergic or hypersensitivity reaction to the medications used in rapid detox procedures. Strong sedatives may cause breathing difficulties and problems with blood pressure and heart rate in some individuals. A patient may experience bruising, inflammation or infection at the anesthesia injection site.

Detox Myths

Despite decades of medical research and clinical information gained from thousands of real doctors and opioid-dependent patients, myths obscuring the facts about Percocet detoxification prevent many people from seeking the treatment they need.

Self Detox Myths

Myth: Self-detoxification from Percocet is always safe.
Fact: The acetaminophen in Percocet may damage the patient’s liver, resulting in complications during detoxification especially in the absence of professional medical care.

Myth: Using prescription and non-prescription drugs, as called for in home remedies including The Thomas Recipe, makes self-detoxification safe.
Fact: Combining prescription and over-the-counter medications may result in dangerous drug interactions, especially in the presence of acute liver failure.

Outpatient Detox Myths

Myth: Tossing drug addicts into jail saves more money than treating them.
Fact: A year of imprisonment costs about $24,000 per prisoner whereas that same year of methadone treatments would have cost only $4,700 per patient.

Myth: Methadone rots your teeth.
Fact: Methadone may cause a dry mouth that can lead to plaque, tooth decay, and gum disease. Methadone consumers should increase fluid intake and improve oral hygiene to reduce the risk for dental problems.

Inpatient Detox Myths

Myth: It is useless to hospitalize drug addicts, as they always relapse back to Percocet abuse.
Fact: Substance abuse is a chronic illness. Relapse rates among drug addicts are similar to those of other chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or asthma.

Myth: Pouring money into treatment is like throwing valuable resources down a hole.
Fact: Experts estimate that every dollar a community spends on drug treatment returns a yield between $4 and $7 in reduced drug-related crime rates and criminal justice costs. Add in healthcare costs and this return leaps to $12 gained for every dollar spent.

Rapid Detox Myths

Myth: Pain and suffering are important features of Percocet detoxification - they teach people a lesson about abusing drugs.
Fact: Pain and suffering are never part of any humane treatment plan and can even interfere with the patient’s attempts at recovery. Rapid detox helps the patient achieve an opioid-free state without the uncomfortable and demoralizing withdrawal symptoms that prevented him from completing Percocet detoxification in the past.

Myth: Complete detoxification takes weeks or months to perform correctly.
Fact: It takes a reputable expert one to two hours to perform rapid detox, bringing the patient to a completely opioid-free state.

Detox and Pregnancy
Opioid dependent women are more apt to suffer certain ailments, such as blood infections, cardiovascular disease, anemia, mood disorders including depression, pneumonia, and hepatitis. These women are also at higher risk for infectious diseases including sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis.

These conditions can complicate pregnancy to cause harm to the mother and unborn baby, including blood sugar levels that fluctuate wildly during pregnancy, hemorrhage and bleeding, inflammation or separation of the tissue shared by mother and baby, premature labor and delivery, spontaneous abortion, and fetal death. Methadone reduces complications and is currently only approved approach to treating opioid dependence in pregnant women.

Self Detox and Pregnancy

Self-detoxification may be dangerous for pregnant women. Expectant women should consult with a physician before attempting self-detoxification from Percocet.

Outpatient and Pregnancy

A pregnant woman may start methadone maintenance as an outpatient. Her physician will likely start her on 10 to 20 mg of methadone and adjust dosage based on her response to treatment, with a maximum daily dose of 60 mg.

Babies born to women on a methadone maintenance program will remain under close observation in the hospital for 72 hours after delivery.

Inpatient and Pregnancy

An opioid-dependent woman may find it more convenient and safe to start methadone maintenance treatments at an inpatient facility so she can receive around-the-clock care for herself and fetal monitoring for her baby. This inpatient stay typically lasts three days.

Opiate detox symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms associated with Percocet withdrawal usually appear in two waves, with the first set of symptoms beginning a few hours after the last dose of Percocet. Initially, the patient may feel agitated, anxious and have trouble sleeping. He may complain of muscle aches, watery eyes and a runny nose, and he may sweat or yawn excessively.

Later, he may develop stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. His pupils may grow large and he may get goose bumps on his skin. These symptoms fade as he completes the Percocet detoxification process.

What is the best method to detox from this drug?
The best method of Percocet detoxification depends largely on individual need. The opioid-dependent person should assess her own ability to refrain from drug use and her need for support then choose a form of treatment that reflects these capabilities and needs. She should opt for the least restrictive form of treatment that is still likely to bring her to an opioid-free state.