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Percocet: Uses, Side Effects & Addictive Qualities

Written by Thomas Christiansen

& Medically Reviewed by Kanika Sharma-Mittra

Medically Reviewed

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This article was reviewed by a medical professional to guarantee the delivery of accurate and up-to- date information. View our research policy.

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Last Updated - 12/29/2022

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Updated 12/29/2022

Key Takeaways

  • Percocet is prescribed for pain relief in cases where traditional medicines did not yield effective results
  • Depending on the dosage, the analgesic effect of Percocet can last up to six hours.
  • Consequently, when trying to wean off Percocet, the withdrawal symptoms are severe, including headaches, vomiting, difficulty breathing, insomnia, etc.
  • Percocet addiction treatment can happen as an inpatient or outpatient program, depending on the severity of the addiction.

Percocet, an opioid-based drug, is made up of oxycodone and acetaminophen. It is prescribed for moderate to severe pain but has a high potential for abuse.

Is Percocet Addictive?

Yes, Percocet is an addictive drug and is one of the most commonly misused prescription drugs. The addictive properties are attributed to the presence of oxycodone as one of the active ingredients. Oxycodone tricks the brain into a false feeling of euphoria by increasing the “feel-good hormones” such as dopamine and serotonin.

The common observable signs of Percocet addiction are:

  • Social awkwardness
  • Loss of focus
  • Abrupt weight loss
  • Excessive exhaustion and lethargy
  • Insomnia
  • Aggression and mood swings
  • Cognitive impairment

The addictive nature of Percocet can lead to an array of risks and it is imperative to seek help if you begin to show signs of addiction.

Related Topic: Percocet Addiction

How Addictive is Percocet?

Is Percocet addictive at small doses? Yes, it can be. The oxycodone in Percocet has the ability to quickly induce dependency in the person consuming it. If monitored properly, small doses can yield the desired pain relief with minimal side effects. However, prolonged use or the consumption of higher doses, even while following a proper regimen, can bring about an increased risk of dependency and addiction.


Percocet is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance. This classification means that it has a high potential for abuse. It falls in the category of opioid analgesics, which reduce pain by blocking pain signals through the central nervous system and simultaneously induce euphoria and calmness.

Long-Term Percocet Side Effects

Percocet abuse can lead to several undesirable side effects. Side effects may be physical or behavioral, ranging in intensity from mild to severe.

Physical Side Effects

Itching – Percocet consumption can result in opioid-induced chronic itching. The exact cause is not known. Histamines are thought to be involved in itching caused by Percocet.

Fatigue – Fatigue is a common side effect of Percocet. The calming effect of oxycodone can result in sleepiness and general fatigue.

Constipation – Just like all opioids, Percocet causes constipation. This result is due to the fact that opioids directly interact with the central nervous system, which also controls bowel movements.

Headache – Percocet can cause medication overuse headaches (MOH).

Rash – Sometimes, drug interactions with oxycodone can result in hives and rashes

Liver problems – Prolonged consumption of acetaminophen has been linked with liver-related issues

Sexual side effects – Prolonged consumption of Percocet can impact sexual health. Opioids can result in an overall decrease in sexual health, including erectile dysfunction, irregular menstrual cycles, and infertility.

Behavioral Side Effects

Long-term Percocet abuse can result in changes in the social outlook and behavior of an individual.  Long-term behavioral side effects of Percocet use include reduced focus, aggression, mood swings, cognitive impairment, lethargy, social withdrawal, discord in relationships, and an inability to function at maximum efficiency.

Percocet Overdose Symptoms

Percocet overdose can occur as a result of snorting, smoking or chewing the tablet, or ingesting higher than the recommended dose of the drug. This practice can result in serious and sometimes fatal consequences.

Percocet overdose symptoms include extreme difficulty in breathing and weak respiratory function, drowsiness and fatigue, cyanosis (blue lips and nails), low blood pressure and blood sugar, fainting, coma, and seizures.

How to Get Off Percocet

It can take anywhere from a few weeks to months to get off Percocet. Self-realization is the first step in any addiction treatment process. Once an addiction is recognized, there are several treatment options, each tailored to the requirements of the patients.

  • Detox. The first step of any treatment strategy includes getting rid of any residual drug from the system. Percocet addiction retrains the brain to a different state of reality. Percocet detox results in severe withdrawal symptoms including hallucinations, muscle weakness, fatigue, tremors, and nausea.
  • Residential. There are many facilities that provide residential treatment. Patients can stay at Percocet rehab centers to undergo therapy and participate in group activities to improve their overall well-being. Also, at treatment centers, withdrawal symptoms are closely monitored by medical professionals.
  • Outpatient. In this case, a patient regularly visits a facility for treatment appointments, but the overall process happens at their own home. Outpatient treatment options are riskier in nature. The patient’s determination and family support play a huge role in this method.
  • Dual Diagnosis. Dual Diagnosis refers to when an individual has a substance use disorder and a co-occurring mental health disorder. Both conditions should be treated to increase the chances of a successful recovery.

Percocet Abuse Facts and Statistics

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that in 2016, approximately 11.1 million people misused prescription opioids. Out of these, approximately 3.7 million people misused oxycodone-based drugs including Percocet.

The main reasons behind prescription misuse were:

  • 62.6% wanted to relieve physical pain
  • 13.2% wanted to “get high”
  • 8.4% wanted to relax

Additionally, people misused prescription drugs for emotional support, insomnia, to experiment and to relieve symptoms of other drugs.

  • Prevalence in Men. In 2016, approximately 5 million men reported misusing prescription pain medications. The most likely reason for opioid addiction in men is social pressure.
  • Prevalence in Women. In 2016, approximately 4 million women were reported to misuse prescription pain medications. Women are more sensitive to pain and are more likely to abuse painkillers. Also, they possess a stronger tendency to develop a dependency on drugs.
  • Teen Abuse. In 2017, approximately 214,000 teens reported abusing painkillers including oxycodone. In a future trend study conducted by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, prescription oxycodone usage fell from 3.6% to 2.3% in 12th graders between 2015 and 2018.
  • Senior Abuse. Approximately 7.2% of women aged 65 years or more have been reported to misuse pain medications including oxycodone, as compared to 2.8% of men.

Percocet Abuse & Treatment Trends in South Florida

The Florida Medical Examiners Commission reported that 8,572 people used prescription opioids for non-medical reasons in 2016. It also reported that between 2015 and 2016 there was a steady increase in the number of deaths caused by prescription oxycodone.

The National Forensic Laboratory Information system reported approximately 2.7% of total drug reports were on oxycodone usage.

FAQs About Percocet & Percocet Abuse

What is Percocet?

Percocet is the brand name of a pain reliever combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen. It is manufactured by Endo Pharmaceuticals. Opioids are substances that resemble natural products derived from the opium poppy. The oxycodone component of Percocet is a semi-synthetic opioid, meaning it is derived from a naturally occurring opiate; in this case, thebaine.

What Does Percocet Do?

Percocet is used for managing moderate to severe pain. The oxycodone in Percocet binds to a mu-opioid receptor, which is a type of protein found on the cell surface. The binding does not let pain signals reach the brain. The drug also increases levels of dopamine, serotonin and other associated hormones, resulting in feelings of calmness, pleasure, and satisfaction. Acetaminophen is said to enhance the effect produced by oxycodone.

How is Percocet Prescribed?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that the number of Americans suffering from pain-related issues is higher than the combined number of people living with diabetes, heart disease, and cancer patients. Many pain medications are available to people through prescriptions and as over-the-counter drugs. Percocet, a combination drug is a prescription medicine for acute pain resulting from surgery, illness or trauma.

Percocet is available in four different formulations in the form of a tablet for oral administration. The different Percocet dosages are:

– 2.5 mg oxycodone/325 mg acetaminophen
– 5 mg oxycodone/ 325 mg acetaminophen
– 7.5 mg oxycodone/ 325 mg acetaminophen
– 10 mg oxycodone/325 mg acetaminophen

Usually, the adult dosage is limited to one tablet every six hours, depending on the severity of the pain. The physician decides the maximum adult dosage of Percocet depending on the requirements and tolerance ability of the patient. The maximum daily dosage for acetaminophen should be less than four grams.

Administration methods

Percocet is available in tablet form for oral administration. The common methods used for taking Percocet are:

Ingesting. The recommended method of taking Percocet pills is through oral ingestion. This method is the proper method and results in the desired effects for pain management with minimal, immediate side effects.

Smoking. Smoking Percocet is considered Percocet abuse. People smoke the drug because it is the fastest way for oxycodone to reach the brain and produce feelings of pleasure and calmness.

Snorting. Crushing and snorting Percocet is another method used to feel the effect of oxycodone quickly. Snorting through the nose results in immediate absorption of the drug into the bloodstream. Crushing and snorting Percocet is also considered misuse.

Chewing. Chewing Percocet is another administration method that results in fast absorption of the drug in the bloodstream. Chewing the drug is considered misusing it.

What Does Percocet Look Like?

The shape and color of Percocet pills vary depending on their strength:

– Strength 2.5/325 mg is an oval, pink Percocet tablet, with 2.5 stamped on the surface
– Strength  5/325 mg is a round, blue Percocet tablet, with 5 stamped on the surface
– Strength 7.5/325 mg is an oblong, orange Percocet tablet, with 7.5 stamped on the surface
– Strength 10/325 mg is an oblong, yellow Percocet tablet, with 10 stamped on the surface

Brand names

The other brand names of Percocet are Endocet, Magnacet, Narvox, Perloxx, Primalev, Roxicet, Roxilox, and Xartemix XR.

Other names and Street names for Percocet

Apart from being recognized by its commercial brand names, Percocet has other names that are mostly utilized by drug dealers and people buying the drug illicitly.

Some street names for Percocet are O.C., Oxycet, Oxycotton, Oxy, Kickers, Hillbilly Heroin, Percs, Blue dynamite, and Percodoms.

What are Percocet’s Side Effects?

Since Percocet is an opioid-based analgesic, its long-term use or improper use can trigger many side effects. Addiction is one of the leading side effects of Percocet ingestion. The reason many people get addicted is that they start using successively higher doses to achieve the same feeling of pleasure and calmness.

Other side-effects related to the use of Percocet are constipation, skin rash, dehydration, tremors or seizures, miosis or pupil constriction, nausea, sleepiness, headache, abdominal pain, trouble breathing, fast heartbeat or palpitations, necrosis, metabolic disturbances, including low blood sugar, and liver damage.

In the case of breast-feeding mothers, small amounts of oxycodone can pass to the baby through breast milk resulting in sleepiness, breathing issues and death in some cases.

How Long Does Percocet Stay in Your System?

Percocet can be detected in several different tests. The type of sample taken will determine how long Percocet is detectable. In general, Percocet can be detected:

– In a blood sample for up to 24 hours after intake
– In a urine sample for up to four days after intake
– In a hair sample for up to 90 days after intake
– In breast milk for up to 24 hours after intake

How long a drug stays in the body depends on various factors including the dosage consumed, how healthy organ systems are, the person’s age and most importantly, the drug’s half-life.

A half-life is the time it takes for half of the drug to metabolize out of the body. In the case of Percocet, the half-life of oxycodone is approximately three to five hours and thus on average, it would take 24 hours to be completely flushed out of the body.

If you or a loved one struggle with Percocet addiction, help is available. Contact The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health to speak with a representative. Learn how addiction treatment can put you or your loved one on the path to a healthier future, call today.

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