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How long does Percocet stay in your blood, urine, hair, saliva, breastmilk

Last reviewed by Editorial Team on August 28th, 2018.

How long can Percocet be detected in your blood, urine, hair, saliva, breastmilk

Percocet is a prescription drug that contains oxycodone and acetaminophen. Oxycodone is an opioid while acetaminophen is a mild analgesic drug. The combination of the two drugs produces the combined effects of the individual drugs. Percocet is used in the management of mild to severe pain.

The addictive effects of Percocet are induced by the oxycodone, which compels the user to take larger doses in order to produce the same effect. Therefore, this drug is one of the highly abused prescription drugs. It is widely abused for its anxiolytic properties and its ability to cause a state of euphoria.

The metabolites of Percocet, the oxycodone in particular, binds to the body fat. Therefore, it takes longer for the Percocet to be completely eliminated from the body. In the frequent users of Percocet, it takes longer to be cleared than it does in non- frequent users.

The average elimination time for Percocet is up to 19 hours but takes up to several days for frequent users. Larger doses of the drug will take longer to clear from the system because more of the metabolites will bind to the body fat.

However, excretion of Percocet can be prolonged in chronic users and heavy users. This is because the opioid component of Percocet is absorbed by the fats in the body. It takes longer for the traces of Percocet in these tissues because they have to be unbound from the fats.

Excretion routes of Percocet

Percocet can be detected in the body via the urine, blood, saliva, sweat and hair follicles.

  • The elimination of Percocet from the urine is enhanced by an acidic diet, as well as frequent hydration. It remains detectable in the urine for up to 48 hours. Detection of the drug in the bloodstream can go up to days.

  • The drug can remain detectable in the hair follicles for up to 30 days from ingestion of the last dose.

  • Another route of elimination is via the saliva. The oxycodone appears in oral fluid within 15 to 30 minutes after oral administration of Percocet. The extended release Percocet takes longer to appear in saliva, thus it has a longer detection time.

  • The appearance of oxycodone in the blood also takes about 15 to 30 minutes from the time of oral ingestion. Traces of its metabolites can also be found in breastmilk. Reports on the time it takes for the drug to be detected in breastmilk have not been well documented. However, it can be safe to assume that it takes about the same amount of time for oxycodone to appear in breastmilk, as it does in the blood and urine. It must be noted that oxycodone is not ideal for ingestion in breastfeeding mothers because trace amounts of the drug can be ingested by the baby and induce a drug dependency.

Clearance of Percocet from the system

In urine tests, traces of Percocet can generally be detected for 48 hours, with peak plasma concentrations being detectable within 2 hours after ingestion of the first dose. The active metabolites of Percocet can be detected in the blood for up to 2 days. The urine and blood tests are more reliable indicators for Percocet ingestion. The urine test is commonly used for the detection of Percocet metabolites.

The hair test provides an indication of when the last dose of Percocet was taken. The oxycodone component of Percocet is detectable in the hair follicles for up to 30 days from ingestion f the last dosage.

Percocet has an average elimination half- life of 3.5 hours. The half- life refers to the amount of time it requires for half of the drug to be eliminated from the body. Therefore, total clearance of Percocet takes about 19 hours from ingestion of the last dose.

However, it should be noted that for larger doses, as well as chronic users, the Percocet will take longer than 19 hours to be cleared from the system. The concomitant use of drugs that inhibit the enzymes that act on the Percocet will also mean that the drug will take longer to get cleared from the body.

This means that if you would like to eliminate Percocet from your body at a faster rate, you need to ingest drugs and foods that will enhance the activity of the enzymes that area responsible for the metabolism of Percocet into its metabolites. Conversely, if enzymatic action is inhibited, this means that larger quantities of the metabolites are detectable in the bloodstream than can be detected in the urine.

The average detection time of oxycodone is 5 to 12.5 hours in the urine. The peak concentration of oxycodone metabolites is seen within 3 to 9 hours post ingestion. However, it should be noted that these elimination and peak plasma concentration timeframes are averages and they tend to vary from individual to individual, depending on how the variables affect each individual.

These variables include renal function, age, dosage and frequency of use of the drug. For example, a frequent user of Percocet will have larger amounts of the metabolites accumulating in the system, meaning that it will take longer for the drug to be eliminated from the body.

Percocet is detectable in urine samples within 2 hours from ingestion. The detection time can go up to 2 days after taking a single dose. The Percocet metabolites remain at high detectable levels for up to 19 hours, and then begin to subside over a period of 2 days, following the last ingestion. In the bloodstream, the drug can be detected within 15 to 20 minutes from the time of ingestion.

The concentration reaches its peak within 1 hour but remains detectable at a steady concentration for up to 1 day. The metabolites of Percocet can also be detectable in hair follicles for a period of up to 1 month, sometimes even up to 3 months. Detection using the hair test is quite expensive and reliable for routine drug tests. The drug is also detectable in saliva. It appears in oral fluids within 15 to 30 minutes from the time of ingestion.

The salivary accumulation of the Percocet’s active metabolites is detectable for up to 1 day, but can go up to 3 days, depending on the individuals’ variables such as frequency of use, as well as dosage. The higher the dosage, the longer it takes for the drug to be completely eliminated from the body.

Elimination time of Percocet from the system

Percocet is excreted from the body via the kidneys through the urine. Its metabolites are also excreted via the blood and hair follicles. Other excretion routes are through the sweat glands and breast milk for lactating mothers.

Percocet has a short half- life of 5 to 12.5 hours. This means that it does not stay for long in the blood. It is completely cleared from the system within 2 days. The peak plasma concentrations of the drug are seen within 3 to 9 hours, meaning that detection of the drug in the bloodstream is highly likely during this timeframe.

In the urine, Percocet is detectable for a maximum of 2 days. It may be detectable for up to a week in chronic users and when taken in higher dosages. The detection time of Percocet is longer for people that have renal impairment. This means that the kidneys cannot excrete the metabolites of Percocet effectively. Therefore, it takes much more time for exceretion to be achieved.

In the hair follicles, Percocet can remain detectable up to 3 months from the time of ingestion of the last dose. The hair test is not an accurate method of determining how much Percocet is circulating within the system. However, the detection of Percocet in the hair gives a clear indication of how long a person has been on the drug.

Variables influencing excretion of Percocet

Several factors can influence the excretion rate of Percocet from the system. These include individual factors such as age and body weight, frequency of ingestion and the dosage.

The individual factors are factors that are present in different individuals and determine that person’s ability to clear the drug. For example, the younger individual has a much faster clearance rate than an elderly one due to efficiency of the kidneys in elimination of the drug. In persons with a high body mass, Percocet will clear Percocet at a much faster rate due to increased metabolic rate.

In order to enhance the elimination of Percocet from the system, several steps can be followed. These include acidifying the diet, frequent hydration, frequent exercise and ingestion of drugs that induce the enzyme CYP2D6.

A diet rich in acidic foods such as oranges and lemons, will acidify the urinary pH and thus potentiate the excretion rate of the drug. Frequent hydration will increase the excretion rate of the kidneys, thus increasing the amount of Percocet being eliminated from the system.

Frequent physical exercise will help to increase the metabolic rate and subsequent elimination of the metabolites of the drug via the sweat. However, physical exercise is not as effective as acidification of the diet and frequent hydration. Certain drugs that induce the enzymes that metabolizes Percocet, CYP2D6, will help to excrete the Percocet much faster.

However, these inducers should not be abused but should only be taken advantage of if one is already on them via prescription and on supervision by a medical practitioner.

Clearance of Percocet from the system is slow when taken with food because this tends to slow down the absorption of the drug and subsequent elimination from the system. Certain foods also inhibit the first pass metabolism of the drug, meaning that it will take longer for the drug to be broken down into its metabolites.

The hepatic function influences the rate at which Percocet is cleared from the system. The acetaminophen contained in Percocet is primarily metabolized in the liver. This means that persons with renal impairment will have diminished and subsequent clearance time will be increased by up to 2 days because the liver will not efficiently metabolize the drug.

In addition, the acetaminophen present in Percocet puts heavy users of the drug at risk of hepatic impairment. Consequently, the liver will not effectively metabolize the Percocet, making it linger within the system for longer periods. When this happens, the user risks their health and in extreme cases, this can be fatal.

The acidity or alkalinity of the urine also influences the rate at which Percocet is excreted. The more acidic the urine is, the faster that the drug is eliminated from the system. Therefore, taking a diet rich in acidic foods will influence the rate at which the drug is cleared. Conversely, a diet rich in alkaline containing foods will slow down the excretion time of the drug by the kidneys.


Percocet is a drug that has a combination of the opioid oxycodone and acetaminophen. It is used for its analgesic effects. It is one of the widely abused drugs and can cause addiction. It is eliminated from the body by saliva, urine, blood and sweat. The excretion time of Percocet varies depending on some factors that influence its excretion rate such as, body weight, urinary pH, hydration and acidic content of the diet.

Evidence of clearance of the drug from the system is seen within 5 hours of ingesting the drug. 50% of the drug is detectable in the urine, saliva and blood within this timeframe. Elimination of the drugs via the urine, blood and saliva can take up to 2 days. Total elimination from the hair follicles can take up to a month.

  1. Semple D, Smith R et al. Oxford Handbook Of Psychiatry (2005) 1st Edition, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.
  2. Hahn RK, Abers L et al. Psychiatry (2003-2004 Edition). Current Clinical Strategies Publishing. California, USA.
  3. Ron R. Flegel. Oxycodone and Hydrocodone: Detection in Urine, Oral Fluid, and Blood (June, 2014), Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration.

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