Various factors affect how long the opioid painkiller Percocet will stay in your system, including what is being tested, your physiology and the drug’s half-life. Percocet is likely to stay in your system up to 20 hours, but depending on the type of drug test it can still be detected up to 90 days after use.

Percocet is a commonly-prescribed opioid painkiller made from a combination of short-acting oxycodone and acetaminophen. It’s used as a pain-relieving drug to manage acute and chronic pain issues, such as back pain, post-surgical pain or pain due to an accident. However, it is an addictive drug classified as a Schedule II controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

People often wonder how long Percocet lasts in the body and how long it can be detected in routine drug tests. Understanding how long Percocet stays in the system depends on what is being tested, your overall physiology and factors like the drug’s half-life.

What is Percocet’s Half-Life?

Half-life is a term that refers to the amount of time it takes for a substance to reduce to half its initial amount in your body. For example, if you take a substance like Percocet, the half-life refers to how long it takes for the concentration of the substance in your body to decrease by half. Percocet’s half-life may also be helpful to estimate when withdrawal symptoms may occur.

Because the oxycodone component of Percocet is a short-acting, immediate-release drug, its half-life is estimated to be between 3.2 and 4 hours. Similarly, the acetaminophen component of Percocet has a half-life of around three hours. However, Percocet’s half-life range varies and may increase if you have poor kidney or liver function.

Generally, it takes about five half-lives for a drug to be completely removed from your system. Based on a half-life of 4 hours, Percocet is likely to stay in your system for about 20 hours.

Factors That Influence How Long Percocet Stays In Your System

There are individual factors that can determine how long Percocet stays in your system:

  • Physiological Factors: A person with poor kidney or liver function may clear Percocet slower than a person with healthy kidney and liver function, leading the drug to last longer in their body.
  • Drug Interactions: Percocet has some drug interactions that can make the body clear it more quickly than expected, including anti-infective rifampin and the seizure medications carbamazepine and phenytoin. Some medications can make the painkiller stay in the body longer than expected, including antibiotics like erythromycin, the antifungal ketoconazole and the HIV medication ritonavir.
  • Dosage: The higher the Percocet dose you take and the more often you take it, the longer it may take your body to clear the drug.

How Long Do Percocet’s Effects Last?

When you take Percocet, your gastrointestinal tract initially absorbs it, and peak levels of oxycodone in your blood are reached within two hours. Pain relief starts more quickly, within 10 to 15 minutes after taking Percocet, largely due to the oxycodone component. Peak pain relief is often felt between 30 minutes and 1 hour after taking a dose. The effects are felt for four to six hours, so the medication is usually prescribed to be taken every four to six hours. However, it may show up on a drug test for significantly longer than that.

How Long Will Percocet Show on a Drug Test?

Drug tests do not routinely test for acetaminophen. However, the oxycodone component of Percocet may show up in drug tests for varying amounts of time, depending on what is being tested.

Urine Test

In urine tests, the oxycodone component of Percocet, as well as its breakdown product noroxycodone, can be found for up to 3 days. Urine sample tests are common for oxycodone due to their convenience and relatively long testing window.

Blood Test

Percocet can be found in the blood and plasma. The half-life of oxycodone in plasma is between 3 and 6 hours, so oxycodone and its metabolite noroxycodone are present in blood for between 15 and 30 hours. Blood samples may be used if a person is unconscious or unable to provide a urine sample.

Saliva Test

Opioid-containing drugs like Percocet can be found in saliva for up to 2 days. Some police departments may utilize saliva tests due to the convenience of roadside testing.

Hair Test

A one-inch sample of hair can show oxycodone and its metabolites can be detected for up to 90 days after the last use.

Related Topic: How long do opioids stay in your system

Know the Risks

If you are having concerns about oxycodone showing up on a drug test, it can indicate a struggle with the drug. Oxycodone is a highly addictive substance. If you need help cutting back or controlling your intake of Percocet, help is available. Contact our addiction experts at The Recovery Village today to learn more about treatment options that can help you live a healthier, drug-free life.

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Editor – Melissa Carmona
Melissa Carmona puts years of writing and editing experience to work helping people understand substance abuse, addiction and mental health disorders. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD
Dr. Jessica Pyhtila is a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist based in Baltimore, Maryland with practice sites in inpatient palliative care and outpatient primary care at the Department of Veteran Affairs. Read more

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LabCorp. “Oxycodone and Metabolite.” Accessed December 9, 2020.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.