Dangers of Percocet Addiction

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What is Percocet?

Percocet is a prescription painkiller containing oxycodone (a semi-synthetic opiate) and acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol). It provides relief for moderate to severe pain and lasts up to 3 to 5 hours, depending on the formulation. However, misuse of this medicine can cause addiction, overdose, or death. Given that, recognizing that someone has a Percocet addiction could help save their life. Not only is it an expensive and debilitating addiction, but overdose from this drug is also potentially deadly.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (FDA) [1] has classified Percocet as a Schedule II drug. This means it has a high potential for misuse and severe addiction, but it still has some accepted medical uses.

Oxycodone can be abused like other opioid agonists, legal or illicit. Percocet is an opioid, which means it is derived from the same source as drugs like morphine and heroin. Moreover, opioids act on receptors in the brain to block out pain and release neurotransmitters associated with feelings of happiness and euphoria.

Percocet Addiction
Percocet Addiction: Physical dependence occurs when the body develops a tolerance to the drug, requiring more of it to achieve a certain effect.

It can be both physically and emotionally addictive. Because if it’s taken extensively for long periods of time, the brain and body can grow dependent on it. As a result, when the person stops taking the drugs, the body needs time to recover. Consequently, this causes withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal from Percocet can occur any time long-term use is stopped or cut back.

It can be difficult living with an OxyContin addiction. Struggling with such an addiction can be life-consuming. Moreover, those who are addicted can lose themselves to constantly seeking their drug, “doctor shopping” and living in fear.

Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Percocet

Even when under a doctor’s supervision, Percocet can cause different side effects. If a person experiences these side effects, they should promptly contact the prescribing doctor. In various situations, mild side effects will subside after a few days. However, the supervising physician must be made aware of all issues.

Acetaminophen may cause a severe skin reaction that can be fatal. This could occur even if you have taken acetaminophen or Tylenol in the past and had no reaction. Oxycodone can slow or stop breathing, and death may occur. Provided that, a person caring for the user should seek emergency medical attention if slow breathing with long pauses, blue-colored lips, or hard to wake up occurs.

Mild Side Effects include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Blurred Vision
  • Dry Mouth
  • Constipation
Percocet Addiction
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Severe Side Effects include:

  • Fever
  • Extreme Fatigue
  • Chest Pain
  • Hypothermia
  • Increased Thirst
  • Hypotension
  • Shallow Breathing
  • Slowed Heartbeat
  • Feeling Lightheaded or Fainting
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin)
  • Problems with Urination
  • Gastrointestinal Problems
  • Visual Disturbances
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Depression

Elderly individuals, those with head injuries, asthma respiratory impairment, and incapacitated individuals have an increased risk for respiratory depression when taking the drug.

In addition, individuals struggling with an alcohol use disorder are at an increased risk of experiencing acute liver failure due to the acetaminophen component of Percocet. Because if a person takes too much acetaminophen or combines its use with alcohol, it puts too much stress on the organ, often leading to long-term damage or failure.

Percocet Overdose

An individual can overdose on Percocet if the drug is taken more often than prescribed, if tablets are crushed or chewed, or if it is combined with other sedatives, such as alcohol or sleeping pills. Overdose is considered a medical emergency. Without prompt treatment, serious health effects and even death can occur. Oxycodone may also cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in a newborn if the mother has taken Percocet during pregnancy. In addition, fatal side effects can occur if a person uses Percocet with alcohol or with other drugs that cause drowsiness.

Signs and Symptoms of Percocet Addiction

A person with a Percocet addiction may do anything they can to get the drug. Since Percocet requires a prescription, they might take drastic measures to get more of it.

Behavioral Symptoms of Percocet Addiction

  • Attempting to obtain a fraudulent prescription for Percocet, or to acquire the drug through another illicit means
  • Abusing Percocet even after prior use has resulted in negative effects
  • Social withdrawal
  • Taking Percocet in greater quantities or for a longer period of time than intended
  • Attempting but being incapable of reducing one’s Percocet use
  • Trying to borrow or steal Percocet
  • Trying to borrow or steal money
  • Abusing Percocet when it is clearly dangerous to do so, such as when also ingesting other addictive substances or when operating a motor vehicle

Physical Symptoms of Percocet Addiction

  • Sleep problems, including insomnia
  • Shallower than normal breathing
  • Exhaustion
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Dramatically slowed heart rate
  • Withdrawal symptoms when not using Percocet
  • Sleep problems, including insomnia
  • Slurring speech
  • Problems with balance, coordination, and motor skills
  • Losing weight

Cognitive Symptoms of Percocet Addiction

  • Problems with memory and judgment
  • Loss of ability to focus and or concentrate

Psychosocial Symptoms of Percocet Addiction

  • Mood Swings
  • Agitation
  • Anger and Aggression

Percocet Addiction Withdrawal

When the body becomes dependent on the drug, an individual can experience mental and physical symptoms if stopped taking the drug abruptly. These are called withdrawal symptoms. Physical dependence can occur even when you take oxycodone or Percocet as directed. Becoming physically dependent on a drug is not the same as having an addiction, but physical dependence often accompanies addiction.

Addiction to Percocet should always be treated with the help of professionals.

While opioid withdrawal is not generally considered life-threatening, it can be very uncomfortable, often resulting in relapse as the person simply takes more Percocet in order to combat the painful withdrawal symptoms. As a result, medical detox, often with the use of replacement medications, is usually recommended.

Withdrawal Symptoms from Percocet Addiction may include:

  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Upset Stomach
  • Cold Sweats
  • Cravings for Percocet
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Tremors
  • Agitation and Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability and Anger
  • Problems with Concentration
  • Mood Swings
  • Muscle and Joint Pain


Symptoms experienced during the initial phase of withdrawal are largely physical, with some emotional components. Acute withdrawal symptoms generally peak between the first and third days after the last use of the drug. However, emotional withdrawal symptoms and lingering physical symptoms may last for weeks or even months.

Percocet Addiction and Co-occurring Disorders

Those who become addicted to Percocet might also be at increased risk for suffering one or more co-occurring mental health conditions, such as the following:

  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Bipolar Disorders
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Depressive Disorders
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder
  • Other Substance Use Disorders

Percocet Addiction Treatment

Like other opiates, Percocet has significant withdrawal symptoms when detoxing without medical supervision. Most professionals agree that while Percocet (oxycodone) withdrawal is uncomfortable. There are several treatments available for Percocet addiction. The first stages of treatment include detoxification. This involves safely helping the person to stop taking a drug.

The best way to get through withdrawal from this drug and reduce the chances of relapse is with therapy, support groups, and medication. Provided that, an inpatient rehabilitation center is often the best place to receive all of these treatments in an environment conducive to a successful recovery.

Therapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), is an evidence-based treatment that has been proven effective for many mental, behavioral, and substance abuse issues. Co-occurring Disorders Research further indicates that CBT for co-occurring psychiatric disorders such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, and bipolar has as much benefit in the short term and an even more significant lasting benefit.

We Level Up Inpatient rehab provides 24/7 care and support from both medical and therapeutic staff.
We Level Up Florida Inpatient rehab provides 24/7 care and support from both medical and therapeutic staff.

Behavioral Therapy or Counseling for Percocet Addiction

This type of treatment can be performed by a psychologist, psychiatrist, or addiction counselor. It may also occur individually or in a group setting. Goals of treatment include:

  • Developing methods to cope with drug cravings
  • Working on a plan to prevent relapse, including how to avoid drugs or alcohol
  • Discussing what to do if a relapse does occur
  • Encouraging the development of healthy life skills
  • Covering issues that may involve your relationships or job as well as Addressing other mental health concerns

Find the Right Primary Mental Health Treatment Plan with Secondary Co-Occurring Addiction Diagnosis

The inpatient treatment approach works best as it aims to change the person’s behaviors. Also, help them establish social support systems and better methods of coping with stress. A person will likely experience many different side effects from Percocet addiction.

These side effects may be emotional, physical, or mental. For example, someone in withdrawal will likely experience many uncomfortable feelings and negative thoughts about life during the process of detox. Unfortunately for those with dependency, detox is an unavoidable first step towards recovery.

Inpatient medical detox and residential primary addiction treatment may be available at our affiliated facility at Level Up West Palm Beach Rehab. For some primary behavioral health treatment clients, medical detox and or addiction rehab may be required first.  If you have a co-occurring severe substance abuse diagnosis, please contact us prior to beginning inpatient mental health therapy. Treatment services may vary. Please call us to learn which treatment options are most suited for your individual needs.

Sources

[1] FDA – https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2006/040330s015,040341s013,040434s003lbl.pdf

[2] Percocet Addiction » Drug Alcohol Addiction RehabWe Level Up