Last Updated: January 24, 2023
Although Percocet addiction can be hard to overcome on your own, treatment can help you quit Percocet and stay off the drug for good.
People experiencing moderate to serious pain may be prescribed Percocet to help 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 dangers of Percocet can help with appropriate use or help to identify when medical treatment or rehab might be needed.
What Is Percocet?
Percocet is a strong painkiller that blocks pain receptors in the brain. It is FDA-approved for use in moderate to severe pain. Percocet is a brand name for a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen. Oxycodone is an opioid, and acetaminophen is commonly sold as Tylenol.
Percocet is often prescribed following severe illness or injury. The opioid component of Percocet acts on the brain’s mu opioid receptors. As such, Percocet can help people feel relaxed and 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. Percocet is also sold illegally and is often called “percs” or “oxy.”
Is Percocet Addictive?
Percocet is an addictive medication. As a Schedule II controlled substance, Percocet has a high risk of abuse, addiction and dependence. For this reason, even though the medication can be used for legitimate medical purposes, it should only be taken as prescribed by a doctor and used very cautiously.
How Is Percocet Abused?
When Percocet is misused, the consumption methods 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 faster high. These methods include:
Signs of Percocet Abuse
Percocet addiction rarely goes unnoticed over the long term. When someone struggles with Percocet, signs are often apparent to family and loved ones. Although not everyone will have all signs of a Percocet addiction, common symptoms include:
- Taking more Percocet or for a longer time than intended
- Unsuccessful efforts to cut back on Percocet
- Spending a lot of time trying to obtain, use or recover from Percocet
- Having cravings for Percocet
- Failure to fulfill roles at work, school or home due to Percocet
- Social or interpersonal problems caused by Percocet
- Giving up other activities due to Percocet
- Using Percocet in situations where doing so is dangerous, like before driving a car
- Using Percocet even though you know it is harmful to you
- Needing more Percocet to achieve the same effects as before
- Withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit Percocet
Side Effects of Percocet Addiction
Percocet addiction can cause different short and long-term consequences. Some effects are physical and directly harmful to your health, while others are interpersonal and social effects that can be harder to quantify. Some of the consequences of Percocet addiction can include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Pinpoint pupils
- Slowed breathing
- Liver damage
Social and behavioral side effects like:
- Interpersonal problems with family, friends and colleagues
- Trouble holding down a job
- Problems meeting obligations
- Legal problems
Long-term effects like:
- Chronic constipation
- Bowel obstruction
- Sleep-disordered breathing, like sleep apnea
- Cardiovascular disease
- Hormonal problems
- Sexual dysfunction
- Immune system suppression
When you take Percocet regularly, your body adapts to its presence, changing its chemistry because it now expects the drug. For this reason, if you suddenly stop taking Percocet, your body will struggle to adjust, leading to withdrawal symptoms as your brain and body recalibrate. Percocet withdrawal symptoms include:
- Muscle aches
- Runny nose and eyes
- Enlarged pupils
- Abdominal cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
Risk of Overdose
Percocet has a high risk of overdose, especially when the medication is not taken as prescribed. Risk factors for an overdose include:
- Taking more Percocet than prescribed
- Taking Percocet more often than prescribed
- Taking Percocet that has not been prescribed to you by a doctor
- Mixing Percocet with other depressants like benzodiazepines
A Percocet overdose is a medical emergency. If you think someone has overdosed on Percocet, call 911 immediately and give them naloxone (Narcan) if available. Signs of a Percocet overdose include:
- Pale or clammy skin
- Limp muscles
- Blue or purple fingernails or lips
- Vomiting or gurgling sounds
- Slowed or stopped breathing or heartbeat
Treating Percocet Addiction
A Percocet addiction can be hard to overcome on your own. However, support can help you quit Percocet and stay off the drug long-term. Medically supervised detox helps cleanse your system of Percocet and may offer options like medication-assisted treatment (MAT) as appropriate. Following medical detox, the hard work of rehab begins, where you participate in intensive therapy sessions to explore why you started to rely on Percocet.
If you or a loved one struggle with Percocet, help is available. Our Percocet addiction experts at The Recovery Village Columbus can help put you on the path to a Percocet-free life. Don’t wait: contact a Recovery Advocate today to learn how we can help.
Our Recovery Advocates are ready to answer your questions about addiction treatment and help you start your recovery.