For people experiencing moderate to serious pain, they may be prescribed Percocet to help them manage their symptoms. Percocet is a combination medication and includes oxycodone, an opioid, and acetaminophen, commonly known as Tylenol.

Percocet is an effective way to treat pain but has a high risk of misuse, abuse and addiction. Learning the effects and risks of Percocet can help with appropriate use or help to identify when medical treatment or rehab might be needed.

Article Overview:

  • Percocet acts on opioid receptors in the brain and body to block pain
  • Percocet is usually prescribed in tablet form and taken approximately every six hours
  • The appropriate dose of Percocet depends on many factors and should be directed by a doctor
  • Some of the side effects of Percocet include drowsiness, nausea and headaches
  • Percocet is an addictive drug and abusing Percocet can lead to overdose or death

What is Percocet?

Percocet is a strong painkiller that works to block pain receptors in the brain. Percocet is a brand name for an oxycodone and acetaminophen combination.

The ingredients of Percocet include the generic drugs oxycodone and acetaminophen. Oxycodone is an opioid and acetaminophen is commonly sold as Tylenol. Percocet is also sold illegally, and is often referred to as “percs,” or “oxy.”


As a combination medication, Percocet belongs to two drug classifications. Oxycodone is an opioid, a group of drugs derived from the opium poppy plant. Acetaminophen is not an opioid but is known as an analgesic or a pain reliever. Acetaminophen (also known as paracetamol) can increase the effects of oxycodone.

What Does Percocet Do?

Percocet is used to address moderate to severe levels of pain and can also help to reduce fever. It’s often prescribed following severe illness or injury. What Percocet does as an opioid is acts on opioid receptors in the brain and body. By acting on these receptors, opioids like Percocet can help people feel relaxed and can block pain signals.

Percocet is used for medical purposes but can be misused without a prescription to relax or get high. Because Percocet relaxes the body and brain, there can be risks when using it without a prescription and medical supervision.

Dosage and Administration

The usual Percocet dosage is one to two tablets every six hours, but this can depend on the strength of the tablet and a person’s tolerance. Taking Percocet does come with some risks and side effects, and should be taken as prescribed by a doctor.

Percocet should be dosed according to how the patient responds to the medication and the severity of pain. As a drug that is frequently abused, prescribing Percocet is done carefully and cautiously. Doctors aim to use the lowest possible dose to treat pain in order to reduce the risk of dependence or addiction.

See More: Commonly Abused Drugs

Prescribed Methods

Percocet is usually prescribed and ingested in pill form and is taken once or twice per day. Percocet tablets come in different colors that signify the dose of the pill and will come with instructions on how and when to safely take the prescribed dose.

Abuse Methods

When Percocet is abused, the methods of consumption are often different than when it is medically prescribed. Tablets are often crushed for quick and easy consumption. This use typically leads to quicker absorption, meaning the drug produces a high faster. These methods include:

  • Smoking
  • Snorting
  • Chewing

What Does Percocet Look Like?

Knowing what Percocet looks like can help people to identify the dose of the drug. Percocet comes in tablet form, but are made in different colors to represent the strength of the medication. Percocet images show various round, oval or capsule-type tablets, usually with “Percocet” and the dose (i.e., 5 mg) imprinted on either side.

Pink tablets represent the lowest dose tablets of Percocet, and yellow is the strongest. Percocet comes in a range of colors, including:

  • Blue
  • Pink
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • White

Brand Names

Percocet is the brand name for a drug that includes oxycodone and acetaminophen. There are other brand name drugs that include the same combination as Percocet, including Xartemis and Xolox.

Other Names and Street Names for Percocet

Oxycodone and acetaminophen are sold as combination drugs, but can be sold and consumed separately. Oxycodone is commonly known as “oxy,” and acetaminophen is commonly known as Tylenol. Other names or street names for Percocet can include: percs, perks, roxi or paulas.

Side Effects of Percocet

Although Percocet can help reduce pain, it can also cause unpleasant side effects, especially when first starting the drug. These Percocet side effects can include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Extreme moods

Side effects can be monitored by a doctor and minimized by starting at a low dose of Percocet and building up to the necessary dose slowly.

How Long Does Percocet Stay in Your System?

The exact length of time Percocet stays in your system depends on the person, how long they’ve been taking the drug and their overall health. The pain-relieving effects of Percocet usually lasts between four to six hours, and are normally taken a couple times per day.

Even though the effects of Percocet wear off within hours, the drug can stay in your system for slightly longer. On average, it takes about 24 hours or less for Percocet to leave your system.

Percocet Half-Life

Percocet’s half-life, or the time it takes for half of the drug to leave the system, is about 3.5 hours. This length means it can take approximately 15 hours for Percocet to leave the system, but this can extend to 24 hours or beyond depending on the dose taken.

The amount of time Percocet can be detected by drug tests varies. The detection times for Percocet-detecting drug tests include:

  • Blood: Approximately 24 hours.
  • Urine: Up to three days.
  • Hair: Up to three months.
  • Breastmilk: Passed from mother to infant through breast milk almost immediately after consumption and for up to three days after.

Is Percocet Addictive?

If Percocet is used for a long time, even if it is by prescription, the body can become dependent on the drug. Once someone is dependent on Percocet, they need the drug to function and must take higher doses to get the same effect. This can contribute to a Percocet addiction.

Percocet is a highly addictive substance that can impact a person’s behavior and health. Some of the signs of Percocet addiction can include:

  • Drug-seeking behavior
  • “Doctor-shopping” or attending appointments right before a clinic closes
  • Obsession with finding Percocet without care for the consequences

People who are addicted to Percocet are at risk of overdose or death. There are many treatments available that can help you through your recovery.

If you or someone you love is suffering from a Percocet addiction, reach out to The Recovery Village Columbus today to discuss treatment options.


Rouen, David; Dolan,Kate; Kimber, Jo. “A Review of Drug Detection Testing and a[…]r, Saliva and Sweat.” National Drug and Alcohol Research Center, 2001. Accessed August 9, 2019.

Food and Drug Administration. “Percocet.” Endo Pharmaceuticals, November 2006. Accessed August 8, 2019.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Prescription Opioids.” June 2019. Accessed August 8, 2019.

University of Michigan Medicine. “Acetaminophen and oxycodone.” November 28, 2018. Accessed August 8, 2019.

Mayo Clinic Laboratory. “Opiates.” 2019. Accessed August 8, 2019.

National Library of Medicine. “Oxycodone.” Drugs and Lactation Database, 2006. Accessed August 8, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a 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 provider.