Percocet Addiction & Abuse

Understanding Percocet Painkillers, and Recognizing Abuse

Addiction to Percocet

Rates of prescription drug abuse have soared since the turn of the century. Prescription opioids, stimulants, sedatives, and benzodiazepines are being abused in numbers so substantial that it is considered an epidemic in the United States. Percocet is the brand name of a prescription pain relief medication that combines Oxycodone, a narcotic opioid painkiller, with Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in many over the counter pain relief medications. Percocet is usually prescribed to patients for short-term pain relief to recover from severe trauma caused by injury or surgery.

Percocet has similar effects to heroin and morphine, depressing the central nervous system and modifying the brain’s opioid receptors to change the way the brain perceives pain. The drug also causes the brain to have a dopamine response. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for feelings of pleasure and reward. The dopamine response combined with the pain relieving effects of the drug causes users to feel a euphoric high when they take the drug, as well as feelings of being calm and relaxed.

Percocet is highly addictive, and a user can become addicted even when taking it under the care of a physician. If you or a loved one is struggling with Percocet abuse, seek professional help immediately.

Effects of Percocet Abuse

Percocet abuse can lead to addiction and dependence. Even before addiction has set in, prescription pain killer abuse can result in some dangerous side effects and symptoms including:

  • Damage to the liver and liver failure
  • Kidney damage
  • Urinary retention
  • Withdrawal symptoms such as fever and nausea
  • Fatal overdose

Due to the risk of permanent organ damage and death, you are encouraged to seek help immediately if you or a loved one is abusing Percocet.

Identifying Percocet Abuse

Because Percocet is often prescribed by doctors for legitimate medical use, determining that someone you know is abusing Percocet can be challenging. Any use of pain killers without prescription or outside of a physician’s instructions is considered abuse. One way to detect abuse is to look for some of the common side effects of the drug. Among these are:

  • Drowsiness
  • Slow breathing
  • Sweating
  • Headaches
  • Vomiting
  • Small pupils
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth

Percocet Overdose

Percocet overdose is extremely dangerous and often fatal. The oxycodone in the drug depresses the central nervous system, which may lead to a heart attack following respiratory arrest. Also, the acetaminophen in the drug is toxic due to the enzymes in the liver that metabolize it, which may cause liver failure.

Any person abusing Percocet is at risk of having an overdose, which can be acute or fatal. Symptoms that somebody is overdosing on Percocet include:

  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Fainting
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing or respiratory failure
  • Blue skin, fingernails, or lips
  • Skin that is cold to the touch

If you think someone might be experiencing a Percocet overdose, get emergency medical treatment by calling 911 immediately.

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Percocet Withdrawal

A person who has developed a physical dependence to Percocet will experience the following symptoms when not under the influence of the drug:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Cold sweats
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability and agitation
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Muscle, joint, and body pain
  • Seizures

These symptoms vary in length and severity depending on the user’s history with the drug. Generally, the longer the drug was abused without stopping, the more severe these symptoms will be. For cases of severe withdrawal, it is recommended that a recovering Percocet addict undergoes medically supervised detox to ensure their safety.

Heightened Abuse – Pairing Percocet with Other Drugs


Because alcohol also depresses the central nervous system, combining alcohol and Percocet is very dangerous, and can lead to a fatal overdose with much smaller amounts of Percocet needing to be present in the system. As both drugs affect the central nervous system, respiratory arrest can occur leading to a fatal heart attack. Also, the side effects of the alcohol are greatly enhanced when also under the effects of Percocet, such as loss of motor function, visual impairment, and memory. The Acetaminophen in the Percocet also causes adverse reactions when combined with alcohol. These include irreversible or fatal liver damage, ulcers, intestinal bleeding, and acute abdominal conditions.

Other Drugs

Combining Percocet with any other narcotic or prescription drug without a recommendation from your doctor may greatly increase the risk of fatal overdose due to cardiac or respiratory arrest.

Percocet Statistics

  • In 2015, 1.6% of the US populating 12 and older used Oxycodone without a prescription
  • According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network, 29% of drug related emergency room visits involved prescription painkillers in 2011
  • The 2013 National Survey on Drug Use showed that people between the ages of 18-25 were most likely to report abusing oxycodone

Percocet Addiction Treatment

Percocet addiction is difficult to overcome, but there are programs and facilities that are ready to help you or your loved one overcome the addiction and begin your journey toward a healthy and sober lifestyle.

Take The First Step

Our experienced, compassionate admissions staff at Riverside Recovery of Tampa will guide you through every step of the admissions process. Many of them have gone through recovery themselves or are experienced in the mental health and substance abuse field. From your initial contact with our center, to your intake assessment, the admissions staff will bring you through our doors and on your way to recovery.