Percocet Addiction: Effects, Withdrawal & Treatment

Percocet (acetaminophen and oxycodone) is a medication prescribed to treat moderate to severe chronic pain. This article will discuss the basics of Percocet, its uses, how the drug can be misused, signs of addiction, and treatment options for a Percocet use disorder.

What Is Percocet?

Percocet is a combination of two pain-relieving drugs: acetaminophen and oxycodone. Percocet is available in several strengths, all with 325 mg acetaminophen and with different dosages of oxycodone: 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 7.5 mg, and 10 mg.1

Acetaminophen is:

  • The main active ingredient in Tylenol.
  • Often given to treat pain.
  • Useful in treating fever.
  • Not a controlled substance.

Oxycodone is:

  • A prescription narcotic and one of many  opioid drugs synthesized from the opium poppy.2
  • Similar to drugs such as morphine, heroin, codeine, etc.
  • A controlled substance and considered a Schedule II drug by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, indicating that it has a very high potential for dependence and abuse despite its medical use.3

The acetaminophen in Percocet is similar to other over-the-counter painkillers, such as ibuprofen and aspirin. It enhances the pain-relieving effects of oxycodone. Although it does not contribute significantly to the abuse potential of Percocet, acetaminophen can cause liver toxicity if it is taken in large doses over a long period of time.

The oxycodone in Percocet is responsible for both the euphoric effects that individuals experience when taking the drug and the physical dependence and abuse potential of the drug.

What Are the Effects of Percocet?

A large number of potential side effects have been listed for Percocet. The most common side effects of Percocet include:4,5

  • Constipation.
  • Nausea.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Blurred vision.

The short-term effects of Percocet will typically last 4–6 hours.

Some rarer but more serious side effects include:

  • Confusion.
  • Extremely shallow breathing.
  • Significantly slowed heart rate.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Ringing or buzzing in the ears.
  • Fainting spells.
  • Itching (may indicate an allergic reaction).
  • Seizures.

Signs of an allergic reaction to Percocet include hives, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the lips, tongue, throat, or face. Allergic reactions to acetaminophen are sometimes displayed as a skin rash that spreads and causes peeling and blistering.

Allergic reactions are rare; however, if one suspects an allergic reaction to Percocet, contact a physician immediately.

Percocet Overdose Risks & Symptoms

It’s possible to overdose on Percocet. An overdose occurs when a person takes too much of a drug like Percocet and life-threatening symptoms, such as slowed or stopped breathing, arise.6

The main signs or symptoms of an opioid overdose are:7

  • Unconsciousness.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Bluish or purple-colored fingernails or lips.
  • Pinpointed pupils.

Using illicitly obtained opioids (i.e., purchased on the street without a prescription) or taking them in combination with other substances, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines, is dangerous and can increase the risk of overdose.7

Percocet Dependence & Addiction

Long-term use or misuse of Percocet may lead to dependence and drug addiction. As mentioned above, the oxycodone component of Percocet is a controlled substance with a high potential for abuse and one that can produce significant physiological dependence in users.4–6

Developing dependence on a drug can be a symptom of addiction (substance use disorder); however, it is neither necessary nor sufficient to have a physical dependence on any particular drug in order to abuse it or have an addiction to it.8

Signs of Percocet Misuse

Some signs a person may have lost control of their Percocet use or that their use has become problematic include:9

  • Obtaining Percocet via illegal means, such as buying it from someone on the street or getting it from someone who has a prescription.
  • Using the drug for reasons other than pain control.
  • Using up a prescription early, asking for more Percocet, or “doctor shopping” to get more than one prescription to the drug.
  • Spending a significant amount of time using Percocet or recovering from Percocet use.
  • Taking Percocet in conjunction with other drugs, such as alcohol, marijuana, other painkillers, benzodiazepines, or stimulant medications.
  • Needing more Percocet to get the same effect that it used to give (i.e., tolerance).
  • Becoming very defensive about Percocet use.
  • Continuing to use Percocet despite experiencing very clear negative effects as a result of use, such as issues at work (unexplained absences or poor performance), school, or home.
  • Appearing drowsy, slurring speech, displaying problems with motor coordination or reflexes, etc.
  • Continuing to use Percocet in dangerous or risky situations, such as while operating machinery, caring for children, driving, etc.
  • Experiencing periods of restlessness, irritability, flulike symptoms, or prolonged bouts with constipation.

Percocet Withdrawal Symptoms

If someone has been using or misusing Percocet for a prolonged period, they will likely experience withdrawal when they suddenly stop or cut back their use.4,7

Percocet withdrawal symptoms may include:7,8

  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Abdominal cramping.
  • Watery eyes.
  • Runny nose.
  • Severe anxiety.

Although withdrawal from an opioid like Percocet can be very uncomfortable and unpleasant, it is rarely life-threatening.7

Percocet Detox & Rehab

There are a number of treatment options for Percocet addiction. A professional medical detox program can help manage the acute symptoms of opioid withdrawal and keep patients as safe and comfortable as possible.

But detox alone is rarely enough to help a person fully recover from addiction. Following detox, most patients benefit from entering a comprehensive treatment program where they can address the underlying issues that drive substance use.

These inpatient or outpatient programs generally include evidence-based therapies with individual and group counseling specifically focused on drug abuse and addiction. Additionally, treatment for any co-occurring mental health disorders should be also available.

Percocet Addiction Treatment Near Tampa

Choosing to go to treatment for a substance use disorder is a big step toward recovery and sobriety. If you or a loved one is ready to take that step, River Oaks might just be the right fit for you.

Our inpatient rehab near Tampa offers different types of rehab and personalized treatment plans designed to meet the individual needs of each patient. Our admissions navigators are available around the clock to answer your questions about paying for rehabusing insurance to pay for rehab, and more.

Call to start the admissions process and begin the path to recovery today.

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