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Percocet Abuse and Addiction

Last Updated: October 25, 2022

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Percocet is an opioid with a high risk of abuse, addiction and dependence – but recovery is possible.

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People experiencing moderate to serious pain may be prescribed Percocet to help manage their symptoms. Although Percocet is effective for treating pain, it has a high risk of misuse, abuse and addiction. Learning the effects and dangers of Percocet can help with appropriate use or identify when medical treatment or rehab might be needed.

What Is Percocet?

Percocet is a brand name for an oxycodone and acetaminophen combination and a strong painkiller that blocks pain receptors in the brain. Oxycodone is an opioid, and acetaminophen is commonly sold as Tylenol. Percocet is also sold illegally on the street and is often called “percs” or “oxy.”

What Does Percocet Look Like?

Knowing what Percocet looks like can help people identify the drug dose. Percocet comes in tablet form but is made in different colors to represent the medication’s strength. Percocet images show 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:

  • Pink: 2.5 mg oxycodone and 325 mg acetaminophen
  • Blue or White: 5 mg oxycodone and 325 mg acetaminophen
  • Orange: 7.5 mg oxycodone and 325 mg acetaminophen
  • Yellow: 10 mg oxycodone and 325 mg acetaminophen

Is Percocet Addictive?

Percocet carries a high risk of addiction, abuse and dependence as a Schedule II controlled substance. 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 that can impact a person’s behavior and health. Some of the signs of Percocet addiction can include:

  • Drug-seeking behavior
  • Exaggerating your symptoms to get Percocet
  • Going to multiple doctors (“doctor-shopping”) or attending appointments right before a clinic closes
  • Traveling to out-of-state pharmacies to try to get Percocet prescriptions
  • Attempting to buy Percocet from the pharmacy with cash because your insurance says it is too early for another prescription
  • Obsession with finding Percocet without care for the consequences

People can misuse Percocet in many ways. While some people will take the drug by mouth, others may crush Percocet and attempt to snort, smoke or inject it to get high.

What Does Percocet Feel Like?

When first taken, Percocet often leads to a general sense of well-being. Anxiety, aggression and tension are relieved, and the person may experience euphoria. These effects are due to the drug’s actions on the brain’s reward circuit and can cause you to keep wanting to take the drug. Over time, this can lead to addiction and/or overdose.

Signs of Percocet Abuse

When a person begins to rely on Percocet, signs or symptoms of the growing addiction often become evident. Friends, family and colleagues often notice changes in the person’s behaviors. 

Signs of Percocet addiction include:

  • Taking more Percocet than intended or for a longer time than you meant to
  • Trying to cut back or stop Percocet without success
  • Spending a lot of time trying to obtain Percocet, taking Percocet or recovering from the drug’s effects
  • Percocet cravings
  • Inability to meet obligations at work, school or home due to Percocet
  • Interpersonal problems linked to Percocet use
  • Cutting back on other activities due to Percocet
  • Taking Percocet even when it is physically hazardous to do so
  • Taking Percocet despite knowing the drug is harming you
  • Needing to increase your Percocet dose to achieve the same effects you did at first
  • Withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop taking Percocet

Side Effects of Percocet Abuse

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

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Mood swings
  • Confusion

Percocet Addiction Statistics

Statistics on the scope of Percocet use are not available. However, in 2020 alone, 415 Ohioans died from an overdose of a prescription opioid like oxycodone, representing about 8% of Ohio overdose deaths that year.

Percocet was prescribed to more than 2.7 million Americans in 2020 alone, making it the 69th most commonly prescribed drug that year. Misuse of prescription opioids like Percocet is a risk factor for developing an opioid use disorder: 80% of those who take heroin started their addictions with prescription opioids.

Treating Percocet Addiction

A Percocet addiction can be challenging to overcome alone. Addiction reinforces powerful drug cravings, which can be difficult to subdue without help. Fortunately, a medically supervised detox program can help cleanse your system of Percocet and offer medically assisted treatment with Suboxone as appropriate.

Following medical detox, you can continue your recovery journey through rehab, learning new coping skills to help you surmount your opioid addiction. With help at The Recovery Village Columbus, you can put yourself on the path to a Percocet-free life. If you’re ready to find out more information about our treatment programs, get in touch with a Recovery Advocate today 


Our Recovery Advocates are ready to answer your questions about addiction treatment and help you start your recovery.