Percocet Addiction

Percocet Addiction and Treatment

Percocet Addiction and Treatment

What is Percocet?

Percocet is a prescription pain medication that is used to treat moderate to severe pain. It is made up of a combination of oxycodone (an opioid pain reliever) and acetaminophen (a non-opioid pain reliever commonly known as its brand name Tylenol).

Opioids are a category of medications that are either derived naturally from the opium poppy plant or are created in a laboratory. Opioids relax the body and relieve pain but can also make someone feel ‘high’ which can result ins opioid abuse. Oxycodone, one of the two ingredients found in Percocet, changes the way that the brain works by blocking feelings of pain. Acetaminophen, the second ingredient in Percocet, is a mild pain reliever that also reduces fevers.

What are Street Names for Percocet?

Percocet is the brand name of the medication containing oxycodone and acetaminophen. Due to its high potential for abuse, Percocet also has various street names. These names include ‘hillbilly heroin,’ ‘perks’ and ‘percs.’

What is Percocet Used For?

Percocet is typically used to relieve non-chronic moderate to severe pain. It is mostly used for short-term pain relief such as post-surgical pain or pain from an injury. This medication is not typically used long-term. Percocet changes the way that the brain perceives pain, allowing for pain relief and relaxation. It also induces a dopamine response in certain regions of the brain, creating feelings of pleasure and motivation. 

When taken in large doses, Percocet can create a feeling similar to that of heroin that includes feelings of pleasure, calmness, and relaxation. For this reason, many people abuse Percocet by taking it in large doses, using it without a prescription, or crushing it, snorting it, injecting it, or otherwise using it not as directed.

What Schedule of Drugs is Percocet On?

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has labeled Percocet as a Schedule II drug, meaning that it has a high potential for abuse that can lead to dependence and addiction. For this reason, physicians are careful about prescribing Percocet as its use could have negative effects. While Percocet is deemed safe when prescribed for its intended uses, it also carries various risks, particularly when abused.

What You Should Know Before Taking Percocet

Not every drug is safe to take for everyone. There might be existing conditions with which an individual cannot take Percocet or medications currently being taken that interact badly with Percocet. There are also certain risks associated with Percocet. Below is a few things to be aware of before taking Percocet.

Using Percocet might conceal a possible diagnosis in people with severe abdominal conditions.

The oxycodone in Percocet might cause seizures or make seizures worse for people who already experience them.

Taking Percocet can put someone at a high risk of substance use disorder if the person has previously struggled with addiction or mental health disorders.

A person should avoid eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice while using Percocet unless the doctor permits the person to do so. This is because grapefruit might increase side effects.

Use of this medication should not stop suddenly as withdrawal symptoms may occur.

A doctor should be notified of what medications or illicit drugs are also being taken as there are certain medications and drugs that can interact badly with Percocet.

What are Percocet's Side Effects?

As with any medication, there are possible side effects that can occur. Some common side effects of Percocet include:

Black Stool

Dark urine

Dry mouth


Loss of appetite

Skin rash




A general feeling of discomfort

Low energy




Feelings of extreme happiness or sadness

Head pain/headache



Some infrequent side effects include:

Abdominal pain

Excessive sweating


Redness of the face and neck




Dry mouth

Fluid in the legs, feet, arms, or hands


Some rare effects include:

Allergic reaction

Collapse of lung

Heart failure

Lower back/side pain

Sore throat





Painful/difficult urination


Unusual bleeding/bruising



Liver failure

Skin blistering and peeling

Throat swelling

When to Seek Immediate Emergency Medical Help

If any signs of an allergic reaction to Percocet appear, including hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat

When a person has slow breathing with long pauses, blue lips and are hard to wake up

In rare cases, acetaminophen can cause severe skin reactions that can be fatal

Signs of a liver problem: nausea, upper stomach pain, tiredness, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, and yellow skin/eyes

If there are any symptoms of serotonin syndrome: agitation, hallucinations, fever, sweating, shivering, fast heart rate, muscle stiffness, twitching, loss of coordination, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea

The side effects of Percocet are likely to be worse in older adults, those who are overweight, malnourished, or debilitated.

What are the Long-term Effects of Percocet Use?

Although Percocet is meant to be used for the short term as a fast-acting pain reliever, in some instances it has been used long term. Possible health effects of long term Percocet use include:


Decreased testosterone levels in men

Fertility issues

Kidney failure

Liver damage


Physical and psychological dependence

Severe constipation

Trouble urinating


Weakened immune system

What are the Symptoms of Percocet Overdose?

If too much Percocet has been taken, there is an increased risk of overdose. Percocet affects the central nervous system, and taking too much of it can slow breathing and be fatal. Symptoms of overdose include:

Blue lips or skin

Change/loss of consciousness

Cold, clammy skin


Difficulty breathing



Extreme fatigue


Low blood pressure

Slowed pulse

Slow and shallow breathing

If you suspect that you or someone you know is overdosing on Percocet, seek emergency medical help immediately.

What are the Symptoms of Percocet Withdrawal?

Withdrawal occurs when use of a substance suddenly stops after being taken for a significant amount of time. The reason that withdrawal occurs is that over time, the  body becomes used to the substance and adjusts itself to functioning with the drug.

This is called dependence, which reflects actual physiological changes in the brain that results in dependence on the drug to feel ‘normal’. When someone stops taking the drug suddenly, the body reacts to the lack of the substance, causing unpleasant symptoms as the body struggles to function without it. 

Symptoms of Percocet withdrawal include: