Percocet Addiction and Abuse

The abuse of opioid prescription painkillers is a serious problem affecting every facet of modern society. There are an estimated 36 million people globally battling addiction to opioids. Sadly, most won’t get the help they need.

What is Percocet?

Percocet is an opioid prescription painkiller. It contains pain reliever (Oxycodone), opioid (narcotic) and Paracetamol (Acetaminophen). Paracetamol reduces fever and Oxycodone changes the body’s perception of pain. Unlike plant-derived opioids like morphine or heroin, Percocet is synthesised in a lab.

You should not take Percocet if you have recently used tranquillisers, sedatives, alcohol or other opioid medicine, and you should only take the dose prescribed by your doctor and consume orally to avoid abuse and overdose.

Various Forms of Percocet

Percocet tablets are available in four strengths of oxycodone and include 325 mg of acetaminophen. Each form has a different maximum daily dose and appearance. Do not take more than 4000 mg of paracetamol per day, because of its liver toxicity.

Oxycodone Hydrochloride, USP 2.5 mg: contains 325 mg of paracetamol, with table number 2.5, oval-shaped and pink colour.

Oxycodone Hydrochloride, USP 5 mg: contains 325 mg of paracetamol, with tablet number 0027, round shape and blue colour.

Oxycodone Hydrochloride USP 7.5 mg: contains 325 mg of paracetamol, with tablet number 229, round shape and peach colour.

Oxycodone Hydrochloride, USP 10 mg: contains 325 mg of paracetamol, with tablet number M2A4, round shape and white colour.

Like other drugs acting on the central nervous system, Oxycodone produces respiratory distress when it interacts with brain stem respiratory centres. Initial treatment starts with a 2.5/325 dose. One or two tablets are taken every six hours, according to severity of pain, but daily dosage shouldn’t exceed 4 grams.

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Percocet Addiction and Abuse: What is it?

When taken in large doses, Percocet produces similar reactions to heroin, characterised by feelings of relaxation, calm, euphoria and heightened pleasure. Percocet targets opioid receptors in the brain to stimulate response from dopamine neurotransmitters, responsible for the brain’s reward system. Therefore, when you abuse Percocet, you’re encouraged to keep using, because an influx of dopamine reinforces behaviour that led to dopamine release.

After a while, you’ll find that your normal dose won’t work and feel the need to increase the dosage to experience the original effects of the drug. The potency of Percocet makes it easy to graduate from tolerance to dependence, within a short-time. Dependence is both physical and psychological. It’s important you recognise the signs, before you find yourself in the midst of a serious addiction.

What Causes Percocet Addiction and Abuse?

In the past, painkiller addiction was considered a problem for affluent people, who used drugs to cope with stress and other problems. Today, people with opioid misuse disorder can be found in classrooms, hospitals, pharmacies, street corners, medical professionals and law enforcement.

The first reason why people abuse drugs is because they enjoy the euphoric ‘high’ that accompanies the pain reduction factor of Percocet. Dopamine makes you feel good, relaxed and also ‘high’. The pleasurable feeling is addictive. You don’t want to ever stop feeling this way, so you take the drug more frequently than prescribed. When dependence sets in, you start ‘doctor shopping’ to acquire more of the drugs instead of informing your doctor, because you’re afraid of the effects of withdrawal symptoms.

The euphoric ‘high’ produced from taking Percocet is the same reason individuals with substance misuse disorders abuse opiates. They don’t take the drug orally, but crush the pill to snort, smoke or inject to increase the potency of the desired ‘high’.

Other reasons for Percocet abuse include:

  • Using to cope with boredom
  • Self-medication for mental health disorder
  • Escaping problems
  • Improving self-confidence or ‘cool’ factor
  • Rebelling or attention- seeking

How Percocet Addiction and Abuse Affects the Brain and Body

Oxycodone binds to opiate receptors in the brain, spinal cord and entire body. The effects are euphoric and analgesic. When you abuse opioids for a long time, it slows production of natural chemicals and prevents the body from naturally relieving pain, due to the super-abundance of narcotic chemicals in the brain. Most of the reduced chemicals include regenerated dopamine that makes you feel pleasure from simple activities you might enjoy.

To feel pleasure or perform basic functions, you’ll need to keep increasing your dosage of Percocet, because you’re experiencing chemical dependency, which mostly leads to addiction when your body stops producing natural chemicals to relieve pain. The brain is designed to naturally seek pleasure. When you take large quantities of Percocet, the brain is fooled into thinking it needs it to function and encourages you to continuously flood it with dopamine.

Who Becomes Addicted to Percocet?

Legitimate users who require round-the-clock pain relief, as well as sports stars dealing with injury, post-surgery patients and those for whom other opiate medication hasn’t proved effective are not exempt from Percocet addiction. Scientists are yet to fully understand why people become addicted to prescription painkillers, even when they strictly follow doctor’s orders, but research suggests addiction risk factors might have a large role to play.

Finally, dual diagnosis patients (diagnosed with bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, PTSD and other mental health disorders) use opioids to self-medicate and keep any problems at bay.

Short-Term Effects of Percocet on the Body

The short-term side effects of Percocet abuse are similar to those of other opioids. You’ll feel sleepy, lightheaded and constipated. Your pupils will be pinpoint, your body itchy and your breathing slows down.

Other short-term side effects of abusing Percocet include:

  • Sedation
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Euphoria
  • Calmness
  • Pain relief

Long-Term Effects of Using Percocet

When you abuse Percocet for long periods, it creates psychological changes in the brain and damages organs such as the liver and kidneys. Continuous flooding of opioid receptors makes the brain less responsive and you’ll require higher doses of Percocet to fill the receptors and achieve the euphoric ‘high’.

Other long-term effects include liver damage, severe constipation, tolerance, urinary retention, osteoporosis, reduced testosterone levels, physical and psychological dependence and low immunity against diseases.

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Physical Signs and Symptoms of Percocet Abuse and Addiction

Percocet is a fast-acting opioid that works to relieve moderate to severe pain in patients. It blocks pain receptors and has a direct impact on the central nervous system, altering how the brain and body responds to pain signals.

When you abuse Percocet, you’ll experience symptoms such as dry mouth, fatigue, confusion, headache, vomiting, sweating, slow breathing and constipation.

Psychological signs and symptoms of Percocet Abuse and Addiction

Psychological symptoms of Percocet abuse include:

Paranoia: feelings and thoughts related to an imagined threat caused by changes to brain chemicals when you take large quantities of Percocet.

Confusion: when you abuse Percocet, there’s an overflow of dopamine in the brain which leads to confusion and loss of cognition or ability to concentrate.

Hallucinations: some people report seeing colours, lights and things that don’t really exist. You might see sounds or smell feelings or feel colours, as your senses become blurred.

Signs of Percocet Withdrawal and Overdose

Symptoms of Percocet overdose include:

  • Bluish tint to lips and fingernails
  • Coma
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Fainting
  • Clammy skin
  • Widening or narrowing of pupils
  • Limp muscles

Withdrawal signs occur with the sudden cessation of drug use and are both physical and psychological.

In the early stages, you’ll experiences body pains, sweating, goosebumps, twitching, flu-like symptoms, watery eyes, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting. Peak withdrawal manifests with restlessness, drug cravings, anxiety, irritability, insomnia and worry.

Dangerous Effects of Percocet Abuse and Addiction

The common method of abusing Percocet amongst substance abusers is to snort or inject it, as this hastens the effect of the drug on your brain and body. When you snort oxycodone, it quickly enters the mucous membranes in your nose and rushes past the blood-brain barrier.
In two to four minutes, you’ll be feeling the full effects of the drug.

Abusing Percocet accelerates the addiction timeframe and in a few weeks, you’ve built tolerance, developed dependence and are helplessly addicted. The severity of side effects depends on the duration of addiction, frequency of drug usage, mode of use and presence of dual diagnosis, polydrug use problems and physical health conditions.

You could become infected with transmittable diseases like Hepatitis B, C and HIV. There’s the risk of drug addiction, overdose, kidney failure, liver damage, decreased sexual performance, osteoporosis, immune suppression and death.

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Physical, Psychological, Emotional, Behavioural and Mental Effects of Percocet Abuse and Addiction

It’s been widely acknowledged that drug abuse is a problem that has an impact on every aspect of your life – from emotions to mental health, behaviour and physical actions. Studies have shown that most of the people with opioid misuse disorder have a dual diagnosis problem and use drugs to self-medicate. This worsens the symptoms and disrupts the brain’s chemical balance.

Drug abuse leads to low self-esteem, depression and lack of self-confidence. It’s the reason why drug users never want to come down from the ‘high’ because the problems resurface when they’re not under the influence of Percocet.

The Social Impacts of Percocet

Percocet addiction is a serious problem, costing the US government billions of dollars. When you’re under the influence of opioids, you’re not fully in control of your actions. If you can’t access drugs, your family suffers as you become irritable, mean, violent and abusive. These actions usually lead to divorce and broken relationships with your loved ones and children.

You’ll experience financial problems, risk sexually transmitted diseases from injecting Percocet via shared needles and spend your entire savings feeding your drug habit. Your social circle shrinks until the only people in your life are your drug dealers and drug-using friends. Jobs, activities, physical grooming and health all take a back seat to Percocet addiction.

Coping with Withdrawal

During detox, you’ll be provided with medication to help you cope with severe withdrawal symptoms. Instead of going ‘cold turkey’, medical professionals taper you off gradually and provide medication to treat each symptom as it appears.

Medications include:

  • Clonidine to treat common symptoms
  • Buprenorphine to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms
  • Naltrexone to prevent relapse
  • Methadone to help with cravings

How to treat Percocet withdrawal

Withdrawal happens when you develop substance dependence on Percocet. With a half-life of four hours, withdrawal should kick in within 24 hours after your last dose and peak on the same day. Symptoms include vomiting, acute physical pain, diarrhoea and headaches. On the fourth to the seventh day, acute withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, depression, cramping, body chills, panic and paranoia manifest.

Symptoms dissipate from the seventh day. At this stage, you’ll transition to a Percocet rehab centre. where tools like counselling and therapy will be used to address the underlying reasons for your addiction and teach you coping skills that aid sober living.

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Therapy, Treatment and Rehab for Percocet Abuse and Addiction

The decision to find suitable addiction treatment should be made in consultation with an addiction specialist or medical professional. Generally, you have two options:

Inpatient treatment for Percocet Addiction and Outpatient Treatment for Percocet Addiction

Inpatient treatment benefits patients who have a long-term problem with drug abuse, as well as individuals with co-occurring disorders, polydrug use disorder and those who’ve tried to quit on their own and failed. You’ll work with a therapist to understand past behaviour that encouraged drug use and teach you how to live a sober life.

Outpatient treatment centres are designed for people who need to perform daily job functions and attend rehab at the same time. Watch out for triggers and temptations that might derail your recovery journey. If you don’t have the discipline, attend long-term rehab as an inpatient to improve your chances of recovery.

Percocet Addiction Treatment Prices

The cost of rehab is determined by factors such as the expertise of staff, size of the facility, number of therapy programmes, amenities on offer and type of rehab. On average, inpatient treatment costs around £1,000 a week for standard programmes and £5,000 for luxury/executive programmes. You can pay for rehab with your credit card, via your insurance plan, a loan, support from family and friends or personal savings.

Staying off Percocet

You’ll need a comprehensive aftercare plan if you’re serious about staying off Percocet. Attend drug counselling and medical appointments, where you’ll receive methadone-assisted treatment to stave off cravings and discuss your progress and any difficulties with your therapist.

Community-based support groups help you stay sober, so attend meetings stringently to build a network of sober friends, walk the 12-steps and maintain long-term abstinence from drugs.

Individual counselling

Individual therapy provides a vehicle for you to come to terms with negative habits, thoughts and emotions in your past that fuelled drug usage. You’ll work with a therapist to explore past relationships and learn coping skills to manage stressors and triggers that cause recovering addicts to relapse within the first month of recovery. Techniques in individual therapy include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Motivational Interviewing and Contingency Management therapy.

Support groups

Support groups motivate you for sobriety and teach coping strategies for long-term recovery. You’ll listen to addiction stories from other members and inspire others with your journey so far. Options for Percocet addiction include SMART recovery, religious recovery groups and Narcotics Anonymous (NA).

Family therapy

Family therapy is predicated on the belief that addiction is a family problem which affects everyone. The goal of family therapy is to build positive communication amongst family members, reinforce parental authority, help younger kids in the unit understand that drug use is not acceptable behaviour, as well as teach parents new tips that will help them parent their child without pushing them away.

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Facts / Statistics

Oxycodone was first developed during WWI as a non-addictive painkiller for soldiers who suffered an injury in the line of battle.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the US consumes 81% of the world’s supply of oxycodone.

Individuals aged 18-25 are the largest recreational users of oxycodone.

In 2010, there were 31.9 million Americans with a prescription for oxycodone/acetaminophen.

Oxycodone is classified as a Schedule II drug under the Substance Abuse Act and carries a jail term of up to 20 years in prison.

13,806 emergency room visits in 2011 were related to suicide attempts via the use of oxycodone.


What Is Percocet?

Percocet is a potent painkiller synthesised from the combination of oxycodone/paracetamol and used to relieve fever and moderate to severe pain in patients.

What Is Percocet Usually Prescribed For?

Percocet is prescribed for cancer patients who require 24/7 palliative care, sports stars experiencing chronic pain and patients who have just undergone surgery.

How Does Percocet Interact with Other Drugs?

Mixing Percocet with other opioid agonists, stimulants or alcohol increases the risk of side effects or overdose. Side effects include sedation, vomiting, nausea, skin reactions, hemolytic anaemia, hypertension, palpitations, seizures, mental impairment, dehydration and gastrointestinal disorder.

Is Percocet Addictive?

The brain craves pleasure. Therefore, any opioid that targets the reward centre of the brain by flooding it with dopamine has the potential for addiction. When you take Percocet in high quantities, you risk developing tolerance, substance dependence and addiction.

How is Percocet Abuse Diagnosed?

Abuse is diagnosed at a medical detox facility during intake. However, a few signs of abuse to look for include confusion, slow breathing, pinpoint pupils, headaches, sweating, constipation and dry mouth.

Does Percocet Addiction Cause Any Permanent Damage?

If you don’t seek help for addiction, it could wreak havoc on your family, finances and work life. There’s also the risk of infectious diseases like HIV or it can completely destroy your liver.

How Long Does It Take to Withdraw from Percocet?

Withdrawal from Percocet takes seven days, with symptoms peaking on the first day.

What Types of Co-occurring Disorders Exist with Percocet?

Dual diagnosis disorders occurring with Percocet include alcoholism, anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and substance abuse.

What is the Annual Fatalities rate?

In 2010, 67.8% of all overdoses treated in US hospitals involved opioids and there were 64,000 drug overdoses in 2016.

Who Becomes Addicted to Percocet?

People who become addicted to Percocet include sports stars, cancer patients, post-surgery patients, recreational users and people with opiate use disorders.

What are Percocet withdrawal symptoms?

Withdrawal symptoms include restlessness, aching, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach cramps, muscle pain, chills, vomiting, flu-like symptoms and anxiety.

How Do You Safely Detox from Percocet?

The only way to safely detox from Percocet is to receive treatment at a medically-supervised facility, where you’ll be provided medication to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and detox in a safe and conducive environment.

What Does Percocet Do to the Brain?

Like other opioid analgesics, Percocet targets the reward centre of the brain. It floods the brain with dopamine and reinforces drug use, because of the feelings of euphoria and pleasure you derive under the influence of Percocet.

What are the effects of Percocet Abuse and Addiction?

Effects of Percocet abuse include liver failure, withdrawal symptoms, death from drug overdose, panic attack, drowsiness, muscle pain, breathing difficulty, respiratory failure and coma.

What are the Various Forms of Percocet?

Oxycodone Hydrochloride USP 2.5 mg, Oxycodone Hydrochloride USP 5 mg, Oxycodone Hydrochloride USP 7.5, and Oxycodone Hydrochloride USP 10 mg. They all contain 325 mg of paracetamol.

Can Percocet Be Abused?

When you take Percocet in any way not prescribed by your physician, it is considered abuse. People abuse Percocet by chewing, snorting, injecting or smoking it, because it increases the ‘high’ effect.

What Are the Stages of Percocet Withdrawal?

There are two stages; the early and late onset stages of withdrawal. The early onset stage lasts one to three days. Withdrawal usually peaks within 24 hours of your last dose, manifesting with signs of diarrhoea, vomiting and physical pain. From the fourth to seventh day, you’ll experience cravings, insomnia, cramping and chills. Symptoms reduce after seven days.

How Does Someone on Percocet Act?

When someone is taking Percocet, they’ll appear drowsy, light-headed and confused about their environment, whilst also breathing slowly. You might notice that they don’t ingest the drug orally and take higher doses than prescribed.

Percocet addiction symptoms: Can they be treated?

Symptoms of Percocet addiction can be treated through a combination of detoxification to treat physical symptoms and drug rehabilitation to address psychological symptoms.

How much Percocet does it take to overdose?

If you take 40 mg of oxycodone without building tolerance for opioids, you will overdose. Taking over 1000 mg of paracetamol damages your liver and 7000 mg might kill you.

Do you get ‘high’ on Percocet?

You won’t get ‘high’ if you take the prescribed dose, but when you take higher amounts at shorter frequencies or abuse Percocet by snorting or injecting the tablet, you will feel the euphoric effects.

Is It Abuse If I Have a Prescription?

It’s not abuse if you have a prescription, but it doesn’t exempt you from the risk of addiction. It’s only considered abuse when you take the drug in any form not prescribed by your doctor.