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Tolerance to Percocet

Is your body Percocet-tolerant?

Are you having to take more Percocet (oxycodone) in order for it to work? Does Percocet no longer work when you take it? If so, you may have developed a tolerance to Percocet.  But does this mean that you should start to treat Percocet addiction… and how is increased tolerance to Percocet different than Percocet dependence?  Plus, do you have to go through Percocet detox to change the way your body reacts to oxycodone?

In this article, we take a close look at what Percocet tolerance is, how long it takes to develop tolerance and who develops tolerance. We invite questions about Percocet tolerance (which we answer) at the end of this article.

Developing tolerance to Percocet

If you take Percocet daily, doctors expect your body to become dependent on oxycodone for normal functioning. But over a period of time, tolerance may also start to develop. This may mean you have to up your doses or take Percocet more often in order to feel is therapeutic effects. Most people develop a tolerance to Percocet with time. Others may have a natural tolerance to oxycodone and not be able to take Percocet from the beginning. But how do you know if you’re tolerant to Percocet effects, or not?

Percocet tolerance symptoms

There are two common symptoms that can indicate a developed tolerance to Percocet.

1. When you take Percocet, no therapeutic effects occur. The pain relief you are supposed to feel is not present. Likewise, if you are taking Percocet recreationally, increased tolerance would manifest as no euphoric effect.

2. Your physician has to increase doses amount or frequency in order to maintain the opioid effect of pain relief.

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If you are finding that these symptoms apply to you, don’t worry. This doesn’t mean you are addicted to Percocet. Instead, these are only indicators that the effects of Percocet no longer work for you. While tolerance, dependence, and addiction can be present simultaneously, each condition is a separate and different entity.

Percocet tolerance: How long?

Percocet tolerance is different for everyone. But, because of the potency of opioid analgesics, you can develop a tolerance to Percocet over the course of 2-3 weeks of continual use. If you are using Percocet for recreational purposes, this pathway to tolerance may be significantly shorter. If your Percocet tolerance continues to increase or if you already have a high tolerance to Percocet, you may want to talk to your doctor about switching to another pain medication alternative to mitigate breakthrough pain you may experience.

High tolerance to Percocet

According to Percocet labels, adults should not exceed 12 immediate-release Percocet tablet pills per day. If you are taking more than 12 tablets a day under prescription, you have a high tolerance to Percocet. But keep in mind that at times, doctors may prescribe higher doses than normally considered. Therefore, these numbers are a rough estimate for high tolerance.

How to lower tolerance to Percocet

You can lower your tolerance to Percocet but it is important to note that you cannot lower tolerance to your original base level. In other words, there will always be a level of maintained tolerance as long as you are taking Percocet. If you want to lower your tolerance, the best way to do so is to seek a doctor’s supervision. Then, you can cut back on the amount and/or frequency with which you take Percocet. Some call this a “medication holiday”. That is, they stop taking Percocet for a while to give the body time to lower its tolerance.

Additionally, some people may have a naturally high tolerance to Percocet and have a more difficult time lowering their tolerance to the medication. This can be difficult because when you stop taking Percocet or lower your does the presence of the symptoms it was treating may arise. Or withdrawal can occur. Keep a line of open communication with your doctor during times when you want to make Percocet more effective. MDs can help you figure out the best possible situation for your pain and examine possible alternatives.

Building up tolerance to Percocet questions

Some worry that as they start to develop a tolerance to Percocet, this means they are becoming addicted. This isn’t the case. Tolerance simply means that your body has adapted to the presence of oxycodone and does not react to its chemical cues. That can render Percocet ineffective or lower its therapeutic effects. You can develop tolerance simply by taking Percocet over a length of time or by having a natural tendency to tolerate oxycodone in the system.

Do you still have questions about Percocet tolerance? Please share your questions and experiences with Percocet in the comments below.

Reference Sources: FDA: Percocet 
NCBI: Cellular neuroadaptations to chronic opioids: tolerance, withdrawal and addiction

Photo credit: Drug Enforcement Agency

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30 Responses to “Tolerance to Percocet
kay
2:50 am September 24th, 2013

If you’ve developed a tolerance to percocet, does that affect how much you can drink? Like, if I have built up a tolerance to percocet (but no longer take it), does it make more alcohol to make me drunk?

9:01 am September 24th, 2013

Hi Kay. This is a good question. I think that tolerance is drug-related. In other words, alcohol tolerance only affects drinking. And opioid tolerance (Percocet) affects only the opiate class of drugs. But it would be worthwhile to run this question by a pharmacist or licensed medical professional. We research addiction but are not medically certified.

kay greene
6:32 pm December 28th, 2013

I take 1 or 2 5/325 percocet daily for pain. If i have aday i can possibly skip, i think i might feel w/d symptoms. I am curious to know if i have a dependence for the med.

9:48 pm January 15th, 2014

Hi Kay. Missing a dose is one way to determine whether or not you’re dependent on Percocet, or not. Have you tried doing so? What does your prescribing doctor say? Be sure that any planned withdrawal is supervised by a medical professional to avoid unnecessary discomfort.

venus
4:23 am July 14th, 2014

Hi, I have been on oxycodone for about 3 years 10 mg 3-4 × day at first it made me feel drunk but after a few months that side effect went away. Now 3 years later I am starting to feel that drunk feeling again, as strong as it used to be years ago. I’m confused and a bit curious as to why this is happening. I know your tolerance increases over time however I’ve never heard of it decreasing without a change in dose or frequency. Any input would be greatly appreciated thanks.

1:56 pm July 24th, 2014

Hello venus. The clinical term for the symptom you describe is called “sensitization”; speak with you prescribing doctor about it and bring a record of the symptoms on a calendar to help facilitate the discussion.

stefanie
6:47 pm October 22nd, 2014

so glad to be done with that cr*p

denise
10:27 pm November 16th, 2014

My Dr started me on percocet 10 \ 325 in July of this year and it worked OK for a while. Flash forward to November and I now have to take twice the amount for it to even touch my pain. I need to know why this is happening to me. Each month it is a struggle to make my Rx last the full 30 days which it never does since I have to take twice the amount I’m supposed to. Please help?

1:11 pm November 17th, 2014

Hi Denise. It’s called tolerance to a medication. You see, the initial doses used to treat the pain because your organism wasn’t used to the presence of the medication. But, after continuous use, the tolerance levels grow and the effects from Percocet diminish. In time, the body needs continuously increased doses to feel the same effects as in the beginning.

Lee
5:36 am February 6th, 2015

I have lupus and have constant pain. I was prescribed percocet about 15 years ago. I started at 30 5/325 once a day for awhile then I developed a tolerance. 15 years later I am taking 7,5/325 4 times a day. I was described 10/325 but there was no difference in my pain management. I was told to continue taking these meds even when my hip..which is fractured due to avasculitus neurosis isn’t hurting in order to keep my pain managed throughout the day. I have a terrible tolerance. I take up to 4-6 pills in one dose at times and the effects last for about an hI our no effect if I eat first. I feel like a bottomless pit. How long do I have to reduce how many pills I take and how long will it take to reduce my tolerance. I keep hearing 2 weeks reducing my pills at 2..then eventually going to 1 day for a week and then not taking any for 2 additional weeks. I would be willing to go through the pain I have for that amount of time in order for 1 pill to work again. Will this actually reduce my tolerance if I do this? Please let me know what I can do and for how long to reduce my tolerance?

6:31 pm February 10th, 2015

Hi Lee. It’s best and safest to talk over this with your doctor. It’s not a small amount and not a short period of time. S/he can give you best guidance how much and how often you’ll need to reduce doses, while monitoring your general physical state and may also give you meds to lessen the withdrawal symptoms. Your tolerance level will decrease with the doses, and after a while you’ll be able to feel effects as you once did. Only thing is, tolerance will again tend to get higher as you continue using the med.

Shelly
3:32 am February 26th, 2015

I have been taking Oxycodone for over 5 months in order to get rid of severe arthritis pain in my lower back. At first I was able to get good results taking only 1 or 2 a day, Then it became 2 or 3 a day. Then, instead of the relief lasting 8 or 12 hours, it started lasting only 6 hours, then 4 hours, then 3 hours. At that point my doctor switched me to Oxymorphone which is less effective than the Oxycodone was when I was taking only 1 or 2 a day. The plan is to stay off Oxycodone long enough to get rid of the tolerance and then start taking it again. How long does it normally take for the tolerance to disappear?

1:16 pm March 2nd, 2015

Hello Shelly. I cannot provide an accurate answer to your question, since different individuals tend to form tolerance at different rates. The same is also true for the time it takes for the tolerance to a medication to disappear. I’d suggest lowering doses slowly and gradually instead of suddenly stopping use. This will help your tolerance to decrease slowly, and spare you from the severe, uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Even as you lower your doses, the higher dosages you used to take will start producing better effects. Of course, consult a doctor and follow the specific medical advices s/he provides for best success.

Wondering
12:22 am July 24th, 2015

I take Percocet 10/325 5 @ day and have for the last 6 years do I need to change pain meds to give my body a break for awhile?

Corey
1:24 am September 9th, 2015

hi, i have been clean for 16 months now and my tolerance is still the same? i thought tolerance decreases in time? or does it take years? i used for 7 months

Leelee
3:58 pm October 7th, 2015

This is hard to express. I just tried to read over what I wrote and found it confusing to read.
A simple way to shed light on it is to talk about the situation I am in. I am taking opiates for pain, and to make it simple, I will say that I am taking “Percocet.” So, here is what’s going on.
I’ve been taking x amount of Percocet for x amount of time. (Total time on opiates, 10 years) So, for the past one year, I have been on Y amount (“dose”) Recently, this Y dose has been relieving my pain less as the time for my next dose has gotten closer, and I also feel some withdrawal symptoms as it gets closer to the time for the next dose. Along with more pain, I get this slightly achy feeling in my joints all around my body, (I call it “hurting around the edges) and I don’t feel like eating, I get sniffles and blow my nose, I feel restless and lethargic (not drowsy, but less interested in the things I like to do in my life—my hobbies, my cat, and being in touch with family and friends.) I get hot and cold feelings during that time, especially at THIS time of year with the temperature always changing in my house and outside. I’ll get a layer of sweat which will turn into ice, sort of!
I’ve been seeing this doctor for about five years, and he’s let me go up on my dose a couple of times when this has happened. But I think he didn’t understand that I was feeling withdrawal. He seems to have his own model of what happens with pain and opiates, and he is very busy. Now he seems alarmed and says that if I keep going up on my dose, the outcome will be bad. I don’t blame him for thinking that, because everything you read seems to indicate that. But I’m 74 years old, and IF I went up on my dose 5 mg per year in case I need it to maintain true comfort (i.e. no withdrawal), how high would that take me? I do not think I am going to live to be 125 years old. God forbid.
Anyway, he says that it is not possible that I could be feeling withdrawal. I try to explain what I said it my first post, that if tolerance happens with continued taking of a certain dose, and that creates the inability of that dose to cover your pain, at the same time it is going to create withdrawal symptoms. Not enough opiate in an opiate tolerant person creates withdrawal symptoms. It happens when you go down on your dose and it happens when discontinuing taking an opiate. I have been looking and looking online to try to find something to show my doctor to explain this, and I find that no one writes about it, on any of the websites supposedly providing complete information about opiates and pain treatment. This is something I’ve always known. I don’t remember exactly where I learned it, but I worked in the field of addiction treatment for many years.
Can anyone help me with this? Am *I* actually wrong and I’m NOT feeling withdrawal and it’s all in my imagination? My doctor said he thinks that I am feeling anxiety because I think that I am not on enough opiate, essentially, “it’s all in your imagination.” That is, I’m imagining I’m feeling withdrawal, but what I’m really feeling is anxiety. However, I have been an anxious person most of my life, and these symptoms don’t feel anything like anxiety to me. He says he fears now that I am treating a mental health disorder. But I already have a psychiatrist and take a satisfactory anti-depressant. I’ve been on an antidepressant for about 17 years, and have also tried other psych meds, plus have also had tons of therapy. I think I’m okay in that department. I think he lacks information, and since he doesn’t know that becoming tolerant on your opiate dose creates withdrawal symptoms, he is trying to imagine what it REALLY is. I have a hard time explaining things, and last time I wrote out some things to read to him and he was only able to tolerate listening to one page. You would have thought he was on a medieval torture rack, or being drawn and quartered!. (well, I am rather wordy) That’s why I’m trying to find out an accurate model of opiate tolerance and what it is associated with it.

Oh, and he had me provide a cheek swab and sent it out to find out if genetically I am a rapid metabolizer. I wouldn’t guess that I am, but we’ll see.

OMG, I was just waiting to this to get “submitted,” and I saw (below) that this is called “Addiction Blog.” I am not thinking that I’m dealing with “addiction,” —but still, I hope that you will have the knowledge to be able to educate me correctly in this matter.

Thanks,
Leelee

Dylan
2:20 am October 16th, 2015

I have just been inna motorcycle accident. I was given morphine in the hospital, they let me administer it myself with a remote control. Once every five minutes I could press it, in two hours I had pressed it twenty-two times to administer twenty-two milligrams (22mg) of Morphine directly into my veins.

I felt completely unimpaired and my pain was affected slightly.

Now I’m at home and I have been prescribed oxycodone. Right now I have five milligrams (5mg) tablets in controlled release form. At first my family physician told me to take one at night or when I need it. But quickly my mother went back to ask the physician if I could take two tablets at a time, he said yes and that I should finish the bottle and come back.

I now have taken four tablets equalling twenty milligrams (20mg), two in the morning, and two in the evening. I don’t feel much of any pain relief in my wound, and I still feel completely unimpaired.

I am going to return to the family doctor when it comes to my dosage, but what puzzles me is that I seem to have a naturally occurring tolerance to opioids when I never ever use them.

Is this normal? Is there something I can do about it?

I only wiegh 130lb, although I am 185cm

6:16 pm November 4th, 2015

Hi Dylan. Yes, opiate resistance does occur (unfortunately) and the problem may very well be genetic. I suggest you and your doctor search for non-opioid pain relievers. I was able to find this list online and I hope it helps: http://www.pharmacytimes.com/publications/health-system-edition/2013/july2013/pain-management-non-opioid-medications

Alex
5:04 pm December 8th, 2015

If you have built up a tolerance to percocet (oxycodone) does that mean you will automatically have a tolerance built up to Vicodin (hydrocodone) having never taken Vicodin bedore?

4:41 pm December 9th, 2015

Hi Alex. They are both opiate drugs, so being tolerant to either one actually means you have a level of tolerance to opiate medications.

Lee 7258
9:52 pm January 1st, 2016

I have been on percocet 10-325 …1 pill 4 times a day for about a year now,, but the effectiveness is starting to wear off ,,its not giving me the same pain relief as it did before,, is that normal,, what should I do,, I have constant headaches in my right eye and the pain is unbearable ,,

Carol
11:38 am January 3rd, 2016

I currently take a 5mg tablet of percoset every 6 hours but find now that I need to take my next dose at 5 hours lapse instead of 6. My legs get restless and they can’t be still and I feel the withdrawal……..half an hour after I take my dose, the symptoms disappear. I would like my doctor to up my dose….he says I should feel no withdrawal because it is still in my system…I know what I feel and he is hard to talk to. I hate pain-management. Help??

Rickey
7:18 pm February 25th, 2016

If I work out and build more muscle, would that effect my tolerance? Just noticed that I no longer feel the euphoric effect that I one did before I started to work out.. It takes a little more to get me there

Shaneac1
4:36 am March 4th, 2016

I was on 40mg a day oxycodone and I took a 7 day med vacation when I went back on oxy I had to play a guessing game for the correct dosage for relief of my pain is their am easier way to go about this as I waste pills doing this taking a little waiting and then taking more till I get relief.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
3:56 pm March 4th, 2016

Hi, Shanaec1. I suggest you consult with your doctor or a pharmacist for the correct medication dosage.

Gabriel
11:01 am March 28th, 2016

About how many days should I stop taking the Percocet in order for it to work like it did when I first started them? I been off them for a week already.

Coleen
12:06 pm March 28th, 2016

I have been taking Percocet for 11 years. The last several years I have noticed a significant decrease in the relief from pain. I have had 3 back surgeries, the last one just 2 weeks ago) to correct the issue I have from my back. It has helped, but there is still significant pain. Possibly that will disappear in time (hopefully). My biggest issue is that the Percocet causes chronic constipation for me, which is almost as bad as the pain from my back. I come from a small rural area and many people (include some loved ones in my family) believe that because I have not been able to reduce the 4 Percocet a day due to the pain I am a drug addict addicted to Percocet. I am heartbroken. I know my pain is real, but sometimes I wonder if it isn’t all in my head. Please advise what I can do. Even my dr. refuses to increase my dosage, which is fine with me, but nothing is being offered to replace it. I am at my wit’s end!

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
3:41 pm March 30th, 2016

Hi Gabriel. Tolerance starts to drop when the use is discontinued. It happens slowly, but with a different pace pace in each individual. It happens gradually, but with a different pace in different individuals.

Diane
9:39 pm June 4th, 2016

For constipation I take something called Calm Me which is a powder which you can mix with juice to hide the taste. It is a mixture of Magnesium and Calcium. I need the Calcium for my bones but you can just buy it with Magnesium in it. You have to work out how much you can take in case it causes diarrhea but it works. Magnesium can get rid of the constipation. I also drink a hot drink with it and eat plenty of grapes for breakfast.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
5:12 pm June 8th, 2016

Thanks for sharing, Diane. Your comment could really help others!

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