Updated on March 18, 2024
7 min read

What are the Effects of Percocet Addiction?

Living with chronic pain can be incredibly tough. It can feel like there's no way out, and sometimes finding the right pain relief can be a challenge. Percocet (oxycodone/acetaminophen) might seem like a good solution⁠—it's a powerful painkiller that can offer much-needed relief.

But it's important to be aware that Percocet is highly addictive. While it can be incredibly helpful when used responsibly, misuse can lead to dependence.

In this article, we'll discuss how addiction happens, the signs to watch out for, and where to find help if needed.

Can You Get Addicted to Percocet?

Yes, Percocet is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance. This means it has a high potential for abuse and addiction and requires a prescription for safe use.

Percocet increases dopamine levels in your brain, which provides a euphoric rush while it blocks pain. While this is good for pain relief, it can become something you get hooked on.

Some who have had to take Percocet enjoy this rush and misuse the drug to feel it again. This leads to people developing tolerance, dependency, and addiction.

The effects of Percocet misuse are severe and can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Memory loss
  • Low blood pressure
  • Liver damage
  • Coma

If you or a loved one is taking Percocet and are worried about the possibility of addiction, talk to your doctor about close monitoring to make sure you’re taking safe amounts. Make sure you’re also honest about your use. You can also ask for other options if you’re concerned about developing an addiction.

Signs and Symptoms of Percocet Addiction

Percocet can be a lifesaver for pain, but it's important to remember that it can also be addictive. Our brains change when we use these drugs, and sometimes those changes can lead to developing a tolerance.

Once the body is tolerant of Percocet, it starts to need more and more of the drug to get the same effect. That's where things get risky.

Addiction isn't just about wanting the drug⁠—it's about how far you'll go to get it. People with addiction may exhibit behavioral and mental signs, which include:

  • Going to different doctors to get more prescriptions
  • Taking the drug even when it's dangerous or harmful
  • Neglecting work, family, or hobbies in favor of getting Percocet
  • Feeling scattered and unable to focus
  • Mood swings, anxiety, or feeling on edge

They may also show physical symptoms of addiction, which include:

  • Trouble walking and talking
  • Breathing problems
  • Losing weight unexpectedly
  • Difficulty sleeping

If you see these signs in yourself or someone you love, it's time to take action. Stopping Percocet abruptly isn't safe, so we encourage talking to your doctor. They can help you gradually taper off the medication and manage withdrawal symptoms.

What are Percocet Withdrawal Symptoms?

If you develop a dependency on Percocet, you may experience withdrawal symptoms when you suddenly stop using it. Withdrawal is characterized by intense physical symptoms, which include:

  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Headache
  • Runny nose
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle pain or weakness
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Irritation
  • Heart palpitations
  • Nausea
  • Fever

The intensity of the symptoms will depend on the severity of the addiction, the tapering process, and how often you were taking the drug. Your body may confuse the absence of it as an imbalance and respond negatively.

Make sure you stay in close contact with your doctor throughout the process so you can monitor any symptoms or worsening effects. Percocet withdrawal can lead to life-threatening symptoms or even situations that can cause overdose or relapse. 

Contact a medical professional immediately if you or someone you know experiences withdrawal symptoms.

What Are the Signs of a Percocet Overdose?

Percocet overdoses can be severe and even fatal. In 2017, 47,600 people died of prescription opioid overdose.1 Someone who develops an opioid addiction is at high risk for an overdose.

Signs of a Percocet overdose include:

  • Constricting pupils
  • Muscle weakness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fainting
  • Respiratory failure
  • Blue skin, fingertips, or lips (cyanosis)
  • Coma

Immediately call emergency medical services if you notice these signs. Urgent care is necessary to keep the person overdosing alive. If you know what someone took, be honest with the emergency response team so they can administer the proper medication or take necessary precautions.

Percocet Use for Co-occurring Disorders

Besides misusing the drug for recreational purposes, some people may use Percocet to manage the uncomfortable symptoms of a co-occurring disorder. Co-occurring disorders are when someone suffers from a mental health issue and a substance use disorder (SUD).

Mental illness can cause someone to develop an addiction. Meanwhile, substance abuse can worsen or aggravate pre-existing mental health disorders.

Co-occurring disorders require specialized care treating the conditions as interrelated rather than separate. Common conditions associated with SUD include:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Major depression
  • Personality disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

If you’re suffering from any of these mental health conditions, tell your doctor so you can find potential alternatives to Percocet.

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What Are Treatment Options for Percocet Addiction?

Quitting Percocet can be tough, as withdrawal symptoms are no joke. Getting a professional detox is often the safest and most effective way to start your recovery. 

In a treatment center, medical staff can keep an eye on you, ready to help if things get difficult. In some cases, they can prescribe medications that ease the worst of the withdrawal symptoms.

However, detoxing is just the first step. These are the general treatment components that come after:

It takes courage to face addiction head-on. Don't let embarrassment or shame hold you back.

Treatment dramatically improves your chance of a full and lasting recovery. The length of treatment varies, but investing in this process sets you up for a much brighter future.

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How to Prevent a Percocet Addiction

If prescribed Percocet, it’s crucial to take the exact dose prescribed⁠—don't exceed it. Don't combine Percocet with alcohol, other depressants, or anything your doctor hasn't approved.

We also advise talking to your doctor regularly, especially when starting or changing the dose. Clear communication can help prevent the risks that come with the medication.

Here are other ways to use Percocet responsibly and prevent an addiction:

  • Keep Percocet locked away and dispose of unused medication properly.
  • Don't crush, chew, or dissolve Percocet pills. This can lead to a potentially fatal overdose.
  • Be aware of the potential for addiction, abuse, and misuse associated with Percocet.

Alternatives to Opioids for Pain Relief

Managing pain without opioids involves a multifaceted approach that includes both pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic strategies. Here's an overview of possible alternatives to opioid medications for pain management:

Medications

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers: These can ease mild to moderate pain, like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
  • Prescription options: Doctors can prescribe medications like antidepressants, anticonvulsants, or topical pain relievers for specific needs.

Therapies

  • Physical therapy: Exercises and manual techniques can improve movement and reduce pain.
  • Complementary therapies: Acupuncture, massage, and mindfulness practices can promote relaxation and ease pain.
  • Yoga and tai chi: Gentle exercises improve flexibility, strength, and stress management, potentially reducing pain.

Lifestyle Changes

  • Healthy diet: Choose foods rich in fruits, vegetables, and omega-3s to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Regular exercise: Gentle, consistent exercise strengthens muscles, improves joint function, and releases natural pain relievers.
  • Quality sleep: Adequate sleep is crucial for pain management and overall health.
  • Supplements: Explore natural options like turmeric, omega-3s, or glucosamine/chondroitin (consult your doctor first).

Discuss your options with your doctor to determine what may be the best for you. Pain relief can sometimes require more intense solutions like opioids, but discuss any worries you have about addiction with your doctor first so you can find other options.

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Summary

Percocet (oxycodone/acetaminophen) is a type of prescription painkiller. It’s an opioid pain medicine used to treat moderate to severe pain.

While safe when used as instructed, opioid medications have a high risk of addiction, abuse, and misuse. This is because Percocet releases dopamine in the brain, which can cause pleasure and euphoria in high doses.

Abusing Percocet can lead to short and long-term side effects, including withdrawal and overdose. Fortunately, there are treatment options available for Percocet addiction. Consult an addiction specialist today to learn more about treatment options.

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Updated on March 18, 2024

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