It is crucial to keep yourself and your loved ones safe during the COVID-19 outbreak. Yet addiction may pose even a higher danger than the virus.

Learn about recovery during the pandemic:

Percocet Mechanism of Action: How Long For Percocet To Kick In?

asking about percocet moa

Important InformationThis information is for educational purposes only. We never invite or suggest the use, production or purchase of any these substances. Addiction Resource and it’s employees, officers, managers, agents, authors, editors, producers, and contributors shall have no direct or indirect liability, obligation, or responsibility to any person or entity for any loss, damage, or adverse consequences alleged to have happened as a consequence of material on this website. See full text of disclaimer.

Percocet mechanism of action has an influence on the brain, changing how the user responds to varying levels of pain. Just as with any other drug, the timeline of response and the overall effectiveness of Percocet depends on different factors. Find out how long does it take for Percocet to work, how it got metabolized in the body system, and how long does Percocet last?

Help Line Woman

Hope Without Commitment

Find the best treatment options. Call our free and confidential helpline

Most private insurances accepted

Marketing fee may apply

Table of Contents

Percocet Mechanism Of Action?

To understand how Percocet works, it is essential to mention that Percocet is a combination drug. Its active ingredients are as follows:

  • Oxycodone-hydrochloride: a painkiller with a similar mechanism of action to morphine.
  • Acetaminophen: a pain reliever that works for mild cases.

Percocet Mechanism of Action in the Brain

The recent study has shown, that most synthetic opioids such as Percocet or Vicodin have a quite similar mechanism of action. They work by supplying opioids to the neurotransmitter opioid receptors in the brain. If one takes a Percocet pill, it works by dissolving in digestive tract and then transferring into the bloodstream through a channel all the way to the brain.
Asian female doctor with young couple in clinicWhen the dissolved ingredients make their way into the brain, they bind with the aforementioned opioid receptors, significantly reducing the feeling of pain in the body by lulling the mind into a sense of pleasure. Opioids do not work on the pain a user is feeling. Percocet mechanism of action is to trick the brain by blocking its sensitivity to pain – making it believe that the body is not in pain.
On the flip side, in a large doses Percocet mechanism of action may do more than block pain receptors in the brain. These doses have been known to lead to a Percocet high similar to drugs such as heroin.
Symptoms may be exhibited in these cases include:

  • Feelings of euphoria
  • An extreme level of relaxation and calm
  • A heightened sense of pleasure
  • High blood pressure

Percocet Metabolism

How is Oxycodone Metabolized?

The point of drug metabolism is to make the components hydrophilic so it can easily be passed out as excretion, mostly in the urine form. According to the study published on NCBI, all metabolism for opioids take place in the liver.
There are general patterns that can be seen with most users, and these usually involve two significant phases.
Phase one of oxycodone metabolism involves subjecting the pill to hydrolysis or oxidation, and step two involves attaching the drug to substances that are hydrophilic (such as glycine or glutathione). The order of the phases may vary according to the system of the user, but the expected result is the same. When the painkiller becomes sufficiently hydrophilic, then it is excreted from the body.

How is Acetaminophen Metabolized?

Due to the study on the metabolism of acetaminophen, it also takes place in the liver. The first phase of metabolism is called sulfation in which the ingredient binds to a sulfate molecule and then a glucuronide molecule (glucuronidation). Consequently, it is then expelled from the body by the liver.
If the liver contains an excessive amount of acetaminophen from Percocet, it can saturate the glucuronidation and sulfation pathways. In that situation, the ingredient has to be processed through a different pathway – the cytochrome P-450 system. This system forms a toxic, intermediate metabolite which is consequently disarmed by yet another pathway – the glutathione system.

How Long It Takes For Percocet To Kick In?

Woman looking at her smart watchDue to Percocet mechanism of action, the length of time it takes for Percocet to work in the system varies according to the individual and the strength of the dosage of Percocet in the system. Different people require different dosage strengths to deal with varying levels of pain, so there is no “set in stone” timeline. Usually, a physician would recommend a patient to start with the smaller doses, for example, Percocet 5/325mg, and increase dosage strengths only if it doesn’t work. This will help to keep the side effects at a bare minimum while making sure it remains effective work for its purpose.

Oral Use

Regarding the question of how long it takes for Percocet to kick in, another major influencing factor is the manner of ingestion. Typically, the pill is used orally and should kick in within 15 to 20 minutes. Then, it reaches maximum levels of concentration in the bloodstream within the first 30 to 60 minutes.
For a patient who has been using the painkiller for a while, they may experience a sort of delayed kick in. It means the body has become accustomed to prescribed Percocet dose and need an increase to keep the drug effective. However, such a patient still needs to check with a qualified doctor before deciding to increase the dosage strength of Percocet.

Smoking, Snorting, and Injecting

People are known to choose the path of any one of these options instead of the traditional, recommended method of swallowing drugs in which the painkillers usually act. They are inadvisable and may cause adverse reactions in the body. Additionally, the timeline during which the drug begins to kick in is different when the patient smokes or injects it. The drug acts instantaneously, but side effects are generally more prominent, especially in the stronger doses.

Factors Influencing The Timeline

Some key factors will affect Percocet work inside the system include:

  • Age: blood concentrations of oxycodone is 15% higher in patients over the age of 65 than in younger adults.senior man suffering from pain in back
  • Gender: blood concentration levels are more elevated for healthy females than in males.
  • Liver function: the half-life of Percocet is longer in people who have liver dysfunction. This means the drug will remain in their systems for a longer time than the average.
  • Kidney function: the average half-life of Percocet also increases in people with kidney problems.
  • Length and regularity of ingestion: the longer (or more regularly) a patient has been taking Percocet, the longer it will take for the body to get rid of it completely.
  • Alcohol: the effects of Percocet with alcohol are a lot stronger than is usual. It can lead to a Percocet overdose even with fatal circumstances.
  • Other medications: Patients need to be wary of other medications that interfere with Percocet. Combining Zoloft and Percocet, for example, can cause serotonin syndrome in the patient.
  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding: Using Percocet during pregnancy can be tricky because a lot of nursing mothers may be on some other drugs and their mechanism of action could cause an adverse reaction when contacted with Percocet in the bloodstream.

How Long Does Percocet Last in the Body?

The duration of a drug’s presence in the bloodstream of a patient can be measured by calculating the half-life of the drug. Typically, it takes a couple of half-lives for the blood to be completely rid of the drug. The half-life life of Percocet is just over three hours, while the extended-release formulations last between four and a half to five and a half hours. In most people, the blood will be completely rid of the drug within 24 hours, although traces of it can be found in the saliva, hair or urine for longer than that.

If one feels the need to use Percocet, remember that self-medication or switching from Percocet to alternatives can be dangerous, and the best way to go is to speak to a professional first. If a person mentions that the painkiller doesn’t work as before or any signs of Percocet addiction, he should call or visit a rehab center. Do not attempt to make decisions on your own.
Help Line Woman

Hope Without Commitment

Find the best treatment options. Call our free and confidential helpline

Most private insurances accepted

Marketing fee may apply

Medically Reviewed By Michael Espelin APRN
Roger Weiss

About Author

Roger Weiss, MD

Dr. Roger Weiss is a practicing mental health specialist at the hospital. Dr. Weiss combines his clinical practice and medical writing career since 2009. Apart from these activities, Dr. Weiss also delivers lectures for youth, former addicts, and everyone interested in topics such as substance abuse and treatment.


Leave a comment

  • Brad McSwain
    Thank you so very much. I thought I could stop on my own but was totally wrong. Four years post neck surgery and leg amputation.