Percocet is a brand-name medication prescribed for moderate and chronic pain and is made up of two key ingredients: acetaminophen and oxycodone

  • Oxycodone is part of the opioid classification of medicines, and, like all other opiates, oxycodone chemically attaches itself to specific receptors in the central nervous system to ease or neutralize pain signals. 
  • Oxycodone is predominantly beneficial in the pain-maintenance regimens of cancer patients.
  • Though dependence or substance use disorders are virtually nonexistent with acetaminophen, the drug does come with inherent dangers to the liver if used excessively.
  • Acetaminophen is a common over-the-counter medicine used to treat pain, headaches, fevers and colds, and most people know it as Tylenol. 
  • When combined, acetaminophen and oxycodone enhance the effects of the other.
  • In 2016, more than 14,000 people died from opioid overdoses. This number only accounts for prescription opioids like Percocet — even more deaths were attributed to opioids as a whole. 

More than ever, life-saving treatment and rehabilitation services have emerged to combat the opioid crisis. Whether by necessity, desire or some combination, finding help for a Percocet addiction is easier than you may think. Overcoming opioid use is often difficult, but tapering off Percocet can be done with support.

What Is Percocet Tapering or Weaning Off Percocet?

Like all detoxification approaches, a taper aims to remove the drug from the body. The timeframe in which this is accomplished is what separates detox methods. Percocet taper schedules are intentionally gradual, allowing the person to accomplish two things: avoid withdrawal and adjust to life after Percocet.

  • Overcoming withdrawal is the most important function of tapers.
  • Objectively, opioid withdrawal is among the most difficult types of withdrawal anyone can experience. 
  • Percocet withdrawal symptoms range in severity, given a patient’s prior scope of use or misuse. 
  • The withdrawal symptoms during the first few days are typically the most physically grueling, with psychological distress. 
  • If patients can get past the first week, their chances of a successful recovery greatly increase. 
  • Withdrawal symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, constipation, lack of sleep, cramping, muscle ache, flu-like symptoms, depression, anxiety or panic attacks.

How to Taper off Percocet

While not recommended, it is possible to taper off Percocet at home. However, stopping on your own has several risks, like lack of accountability, little-to-no safeguards and many more. This is not to say it is impossible. Many have done it and will in the future, but medical settings offer unparalleled structure and safety.

Stopping Percocet in an accredited rehabilitation center provides structure and security. You will be supervised around the clock to ensure you are safe while monitoring for withdrawal symptoms that might be treated with medicine. 

Types of Percocet Tapering Methods

Direct Tapering

Direct tapering is where a healthcare provider crafts a Percocet taper schedule to suit a patient’s specific needs. This is usually a slower dose decrease over time, and adjustments can be made along the way. There is no reason to rush; time for the patient to self-reflect and the body to self-correct is part of the process. A typical Percocet taper involves a dose reduction of 20% per week. Higher reductions are possible, but anything over 50% at a time is inadvisable. Once a healthy and sustainable regimen is established, a person can be well on their way to lasting recovery.

Substitute Tapering

Subsitute tapering involves stopping Percocet and substituting it with another medication — usually buprenorphine, methadone or naltrexone. These medications provide FDA-approved alternatives to Percocet to reduce cravings and are typically used long-term. These medications are tapered down over time — sometimes months or years, depending on your specific situation — until you reach a maintenance dose or can safely quit. 

Titration Tapering

Titration tapering is never recommended. Titrations involve diluting drugs in water to reach smaller and smaller concentrations; however, there are several safety concerns, and it should never be done without speaking to a healthcare provider. 

Why Consider Tapering vs. Stop Percocet Cold Turkey?

Stopping opioids cold turkey, including Percocet, should never be attempted. Tapering off Percocet is about being slow and steady — going cold turkey is anything but. Cold turkey is the most dangerous means of quitting drug use, especially alcohol or opioids. The withdrawal a patient could otherwise avoid with a Percocet taper is experienced at its most intense when going cold turkey. Quitting cold turkey can result in serious withdrawal symptoms or even death. Tapers offer the perfect Percocet middle ground where a person has made the conscious decision to quit but in a safer way than doing it immediately.

Common Percocet Withdrawal Symptoms

Depending on your usage, Percocet withdrawal symptoms can be very mild to severe. In general, the higher your use or longer you have been using, the more severe your withdrawal can be. Percocet withdrawal symptoms can include

  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Yawning
  • Sweating 
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Tremors
  • Drug craving
  • Severe depression
  • Vomiting
  • Increased heart rate 
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Chills 
  • Flushing 
  • Excessive sweating

Side Effects of Percocet Tapering

In general, you should have fewer side effects from tapering Percocet than you would by quitting any other way (especially cold turkey). If you experience symptoms, they should be milder and may include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle aches
  • Increased tearing
  • Insomnia
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Yawning

Percocet Withdrawal Timeline

Withdrawing from Percocet will differ between people and depends on how much you use, how long you have been using and whether you have other medical conditions. However, most will begin to feel symptoms within hours. The Percocet withdrawal timeline is divided into early or late withdrawal symptoms. In early withdrawal, you may start to feel symptoms within hours, and this phase can last up to several weeks. The time is often much shorter for late withdrawal symptoms — lasting one to two weeks. 

Stage 1: Early withdrawalStage 2: Late withdrawal
Symptoms can include:
– Agitation
– Anxiety
– Muscle achesIncreased tearing
– Insomnia
– Runny nose
– Sweating
– Yawning
These symptoms often include:
– Abdominal cramping
– Diarrhea
– Dilated pupils
– Goosebumps
– Nausea
– Vomiting

It is important to find support to maintain a life without Percocet during this time. For most people, this includes counseling and psychosocial support. 

Medications Used When Tapering off Percocet

Several medications are used when tapering off Percocet. Some shorten medical detox; others can be used later in your process to reduce cravings and for maintenance. 


Methadone is often used during Percocet detox and continued long-term as maintenance therapy, as it can reduce cravings. Each case is unique, with some people only taking methadone for weeks or months and others taking it for several years. 


Buprenorphine is similar to methadone because it also reduces Percocet cravings. Buprenorphine can shorten medical detox and, like methadone, can be continued long-term as maintenance therapy. 


Sublocade is an injectable form of buprenorphine. For your healthcare provider to consider using Sublocade, you must take buprenorphine for at least seven days to ensure you can tolerate it. Then, your healthcare provider can administer Sublocade monthly. 

Narcan (Naloxone)

If naloxone is given as an injection or into the nose as a rescue medication, it can save lives by preventing opioid overdoses. However, when combined with buprenorphine, naloxone can prevent misuse because it is inactivated in the stomach. 


Suboxone is a combination prescription medication used for opioid use disorder (OUD) or pain treatment and contains buprenorphine and naloxone. The buprenorphine component helps to prevent Percocet cravings, while the naloxone component ensures Suboxone will only be taken by mouth and would be ineffective if injected. 


Naltrexone must be used after medical detox because it can cause sudden and severe withdrawal symptoms if you still have Percocet in your system. Naltrexone can help reduce cravings and be used long-term to prevent relapse. 


Vivitrol is a long-acting injectable formulation of naltrexone. Once you know you can tolerate naltrexone, your healthcare provider can administer Vivitrol monthly. 

Can Tapering Your Percocet Intake Reduce Withdrawal Symptoms?

Tapering Percocet can reduce withdrawal symptoms, especially compared to other unsafe quitting strategies, like stopping cold turkey. If you taper off Percocet too quickly, withdrawal symptoms are more likely. However, this can be minimized with proper medical direction. 

How The Recovery Village Uses Percocet Tapering

The skilled healthcare team at The Recovery Village will provide you with a customized whole-body approach to treatment. Here, our healthcare providers will evaluate you to determine whether Percocet tapering or medical detox is safest for you. From there, we will provide the support you need to stop Percocet for good. Contact us today.

We offer several levels of care, including: 

  • Intensive inpatient services, including 24-hour monitoring by trained medical staff 
  • Partial hospitalization programs, including individual, group and family therapy and daytime services like yoga and acupuncture 
  • Intensive outpatient services where you would still regularly see physicians, psychiatrists and therapists during blocks of time in the evenings or weekends. Many can continue working and attending school while getting the support they need
  • Outpatient services, structured as telehealth, offer the most convenience while continuing to support you on your journey. 

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Editor – Theresa Valenzky
Theresa Valenzky graduated from the University of Akron with a Bachelor of Arts in News/Mass Media Communication and a certificate in psychology. She is passionate about providing genuine information to encourage and guide healing in all aspects of life. Read more
Medically Reviewed By – Leila Khurshid
Leila Khurshid is a clinical pharmacist based in Denver, CO. After graduating from Regis University with her Doctor of Pharmacy, she completed a PGY1 Pharmacy Residency at St. Mark’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, UT where she continued to practice for a number of years. Read more

US Food and Drug Administration. “Information about Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)“>Informat[…]eatment (MAT).” May 23, 2023. Accessed June 17, 2023. 

Department of Justice/ Drug Enforcement Agency. “Drug Fact Sheet: Narcotics“>Drug Fac[…]et: Narcotics.” April 2020. Accessed June 17, 2023.  

MedlinePlus. “Opiate and opioid withdrawal“>Opiate a[…]id withdrawal.” Reviewed April 30, 2022. Accessed June 17, 2023. “Naloxone Drug Monograph for Professionals“>Naloxone[…]Professionals.” Reviewed March 30, 2023. Accessed June 17, 2023. “Sublocade Drug Monograph for Professionals“>Sublocad[…]Professionals.” Reviewed June 1, 2022. Accessed June 17, 2023. “Vivitrol Drug Monograph for Professionals“>Vivitrol[…]Professionals.” Reviewed April 4, 2023. Accessed June 17, 2023.

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.