What is Percocet?
Percocet, the American trade name for the Oxycodone & Acetaminophen (aka Paracetamol) combination drug, is one of the most common medications prescribed to provide pain relief for severe acute pain, like that which is the result of surgery or severe injuries. The oxycodone part of the combination is an opioid, which is a highly addictive pharmaceutical. The Acetaminophen a pain reliever and a fever reducer. These two drugs in combination make Percocet a commonly abused drug.
Drug tests also work differently for how soon after first use they can detect opioids. A blood test will detect opioids mere minutes after they are taken. A urine test, however, will usually take close to two hours before it can detect opioids in the system. And a hair test may take a day or more, depending on how slowly the follicles absorb the drug.
As is true for most drug types that are commonly abused, opioids are one of the more common drug types that are tested for during standard drug tests, including those performed for work, schools, obtaining various government clearances, and as part of strictures applied to people on probation.
How Long Does Percocet Stay In Your System?
As is true with every single drug on the market, the dosage of Percocet necessary to provide intended benefits (pain relief) and the duration it remains potent in the body differ based on metabolism, body weight, and other chemical interactions.
In general, in an average sized adult with a healthy liver, Percocet has a half-life of 3.5 hours. This means that roughly half of the drug is removed by the liver every 3.5 hours. Assuming no more of the drug is taken, it will usually take about 5 – 6 half-lives (roughly 19 hours) for the drug to be removed fully from the system.
However, it is important to note that the standard prescription for Percocet involves taking one dose every four hours, which means that once all prescribed doses are taken (usually 2-4 for most sources of acute pain), it should actually take about one more half-life (just shy of 24 hours) to fully clear the body.
Drug Testing and Percocet
Most people might think that the above information means that Percocet can’t be detected by a drug test after about 24 hours. That would be true for the average blood test. However, it isn’t true for other types of drug tests.
For blood tests, once the drug has left the system, the blood is clean.
However, for the more common urine test, traces of waste that are specific to opioids are detectable within the urine for at least 48 hours, potentially longer.
For heavy users of opioids, the liver simply can’t work fast enough to clear the body of the drug. When this happens, fatty tissues in the body collect trace amounts of the drug. These trace samples produce a positive result for opioids in a urine test and may take days to fully clear, even after drug usage is stopped, especially if the liver is not particularly healthy.
Hair Test for Percocet
While much rarer, there is another type of drug test that can detect trace amounts of opioids in the body for up to 30 days after drug use. This type of test, the hair test, is pretty rare, and usually is only administered by law enforcement or in rehabilitation centers. The reason it can detect opioid use for so long is because the drug builds up in follicles and only leaves the body when the follicles shed naturally.