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Percocet Addiction

Percocet is a prescription medication containing oxycodone (an opioid narcotic) and acetaminophen (a pain reliever and fever reducer). For people with moderate, transient pain, it can be helpful. But sometimes, it does more harm than good.

Struggling with Percocet Addiction? Get Help Now

People who regularly misuse Percocet can quickly develop an addiction to it. Physical dependence forms with consistent use, and any time the medication is used outside of a valid prescription, it is considered abuse. 

Percocet is a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen. Of these two drugs, oxycodone is significantly more dangerous. 

Oxycodone is an opioid, with significant abuse and addiction potential. With repeated misuse, the body can become physically and psychologically dependent on it.

Key Facts

Key Facts

  • Percocet is a brand-name medication that contains the potent opioid oxycodone.[1]
  • The use of Percocet can cause physical dependence even if you only use the medication as prescribed, resulting in severe withdrawal symptoms when use stops.[1]
  • Percocet addiction is often treated with medications like methadone or buprenorphine in combination with therapy.[2]
  • Abuse of Percocet can result in overdose, which can be fatal.[3]  

What Is Percocet?

Percocet is approved by the FDA for use in treating moderate to moderately severe pain.[1] It is a prescription drug that should only be taken if prescribed by a doctor and only exactly as prescribed. As a prescription opioid, a doctor needs to weigh the benefits versus risks when deciding whether it’s a good fit for a patient’s needs.

Opioids like Percocet are commonly abused recreationally, as their misuse can cause a euphoric high. A Percocet addiction can often form with even short-term misuse.[4] 

On the black market, these and similar drugs can go by a variety of slang terms. While slang always evolves, some known street terms for Percocet include 512s, bananas, blue, blue dynamite, blueberries, buttons, ercs, greenies, hillbilly heroin, kickers, m-30s, Paulas, percs, rims, tires, and wheels.[5]

Understanding Percocet Addiction

Percocet (specifically the oxycodone in Percocet) is an opioid. When taken, it binds to special receptors in the brain and certain other areas of the body, activating them. This causes pain signals to be blocked from getting to the brain (reducing or eliminating the ability to feel pain). It can also cause a chemically rewarding surge of euphoria. 

Unfortunately, this rewarding surge can basically hijack the brain. It causes the brain to crave further surges and make healthier behaviors that are normally rewarding feel less rewarding.[6]

Repeated Misuse

While you should only use opioids as prescribed, the biggest risk when it comes to developing addiction involves repeated misuse of opioids. Opioid misuse is self-reinforcing. The more you do it, the more likely it is that your brain is going to rewire itself, so you develop a psychological dependence on these types of drugs.

There are a variety of biological, environmental, social, and psychological factors that can influence how likely a person is to struggle with addiction, but at its core, addiction can happen to anyone. While it’s a good idea to pay closer attention to how you engage with drug use if you struggle with mental health problems or have a history of addiction in your family or community, these factors are only part of what leads to addiction. The only real necessity of becoming addicted to opioids is routinely misusing opioids.

Opioids, as a whole, represent a major threat in the United States. This country has been in a decades-long opioid epidemic in which opioid abuse, addiction, and death resulting from that abuse, have been on the rise. 

Percocet Overdose Dangers

A Percocet overdose can be life-threatening. The primary danger is the ability of Percocet and other opioids to cause respiratory depression. If severe, the body stops getting the oxygen it needs to support itself, which can result in many serious effects, including these:[3]

  • Confusion
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Pale, clammy, or bluish skin color
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Slow or labored breathing
  • Brain damage
  • Death

An opioid overdose of any kind should be treated as a medical emergency. Call 911 immediately if one is suspect. If you have it on hand, administer the drug naloxone (Narcan) to the individual. Naloxone can reverse the effects of opioids, reversing the overdose.[7] If naloxone is given, further medical treatment is still needed.

Symptoms of Percocet Addiction

Drug addiction can manifest at many different levels of severity. Often, a person who is addicted to opioids like Percocet will begin to withdraw socially and significantly change their pattern of behavior to better allow themselves to find, use, and recover from opioid use. While a person may initially be able to hide many of the signs of addiction, as the cycle of abuse continues, it becomes more obvious to those around them. 

Some common signs of Percocet abuse include the following:[8,9]

  • A reduced ability to meet important obligations at school, work, or home
  • Experiencing withdrawal after an extended period of going without opioids
  • Trying or wanting to quit Percocet use but being unable to successfully do so
  • Using Percocet even when doing so is dangerous, such as when driving, or engaging in dangerous or criminal activities to get Percocet
  • Understanding that Percocet abuse is destructive yet continuing to regularly use it

What Are the Effects of Percocet?

Percocet binds to opioid receptors in the brain and other areas of the body and activates them. The generally desired effects this causes include blocking pain signals, relaxing a user, and causing a sense of euphoria.[1] 

However, this type of drug use can also cause unwanted symptoms, including lightheadedness, dizziness, drowsiness or sedation, nausea, and vomiting. Less commonly, a person may experience dysphoria, constipation, and pruritus (itching).[1]

Abusing an opioid like Percocet can cause severe harm over time as well as just produce generally undesirable effects. For example, repeatedly using an opioid typically increases a person’s tolerance to it, requiring them to take a higher dose of the drug to achieve the same effect.[10] 

Physical dependence forms with regular use, and psychological dependence becomes likely once abuse begins. The longer one misuses Percocet, the greater their risk of developing an addiction and the greater their risk of accidentally experiencing a life-threatening overdose.

Withdrawal From Percocet

Withdrawal from opioids like Percocet can be life-threatening in certain circumstances.[11] Since Percocet withdrawal is so uncomfortable and cravings for the drug can be intense during this time, professional guidance from an addiction treatment specialist is generally recommended. 

Common symptoms of Percocet withdrawal include the following:[1]

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Heavy sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Insomnia

These symptoms will last several days until the acute withdrawal phase ends, as the body adjusts to the absence of Percocet. Then, a longer withdrawal period (protracted withdrawal) may occur.[11]

How Percocet Addiction Is Treated

Percocet addiction treatment should be tailored to the needs of each individual in treatment. Opioid use disorder (OUD) is well studied, and treatment often involves the use of both medications and therapy.[12] 

With medication-assisted treatment (MAT), methadone or buprenorphine is usually prescribed to manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings, while behavioral therapy addresses root issues that contribute to Percocet abuse and builds skills to maintain recovery.[13] This form of care might come in the following settings:

  • Residential treatment
  • Intensive outpatient treatment
  • Outpatient treatment

Percocet Rehab at Boca Recovery Center

Managing Percocet addiction isn’t easy, particularly in the early stage of recovery, but it’s possible. The best way to regain control of your life and stop abusing Percocet is with professional help. At Boca Recovery Center, we can design a recovery plan tailored to the severity of your addiction and your specific needs, maximizing your chances of long-term recovery.

If you struggle with Percocet or other types of opioids, reach out to us. We offer medical detox, inpatient treatment, outpatient care, MAT, and evidence-based therapy. Our team of empathetic and experienced addiction treatment experts is ready to help. 

Check out the locations of our addiction treatment facilities in Florida, New Jersey, and Indiana. Whether you live locally or are traveling for treatment, we can get you set up today.

Frequently Asked Questions

Some of the most frequently asked questions about Percocet addiction include the following:

How long does Percocet stay in your system?

Percocet remains active in the body for six to 12 hours. It can usually be detected on a urine drug test for up to three days. However, it can be detected on a hair drug test for up to 90 days. The amount of time Percocet will stay in one’s system will vary somewhat based on individual factors.

What are the dangers of snorting Percocet?

The nose is a sensitive part of the body that can become damaged if one snorts drugs like Percocet. If Percocet is sold on the street, it may be cut with other agents, which can sometimes significantly damage the septum over time. Repeated drug snorting can cause inflammation and bleeding in the nose, with many users developing runny noses and other issues that can become permanent if drug use continues and the nose is not able to heal. 

What type of drug is Percocet?

Percocet contains two drugs, oxycodone and acetaminophen. Both are painkillers, but oxycodone is much more potent. Oxycodone is a semisynthetic pure opioid agonist. Acetaminophen is a non-opioid, non-salicylate analgesic and antipyretic.[1]

What are common slang terms for Percocet?

Percocet has many different slang names. Some of the most common are Percs and blue. Other common street terms play on either its color or the erc sound in Percocet.[2] 

What drug classification is Percocet?

Percocet is a Schedule II controlled substance. It should only ever be taken as prescribed, as it has significant abuse and addiction potential.[1]

Updated March 22, 2024
  1. Percocet. Endo Pharmaceuticals. Published November 2006. Accessed March 11, 2024.
  2. Effects of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder on functional outcomes: A systematic review. Maglione MA, Raaen L, Chen C, et al. Rand Health Quarterly. 2020;8(4):RR–2108-OSD.
  3. Opioid overdose. Schiller EY, Mechanic OJ. StatPearls. Published 2019. Accessed March 11, 2024.
  4. My Story: How one Percocet prescription triggered my addiction. Doe J. Journal of Medical Toxicology. 2012;8(4):327-330.
  5. Slang terms and code words: a reference for law enforcement personnel. Drug Enforcement Administration. Published July 2018. Accessed March 11, 2024.
  6. Reward processing by the opioid system in the brain. Le Merrer J, Becker JAJ, Befort K, Kieffer BL. Physiological Reviews. 2009;89(4):1379-1412.
  7. Naloxone. Jordan MR, Morrisonponce D. StatPearls. Published 2019. Accessed March 11, 2024.
  8. Opioid use disorder. Dydyk AM, Jain NK, Gupta M. StatPearls. Published January 17, 2024. Accessed March 11, 2024.
  9. What are the signs of having a problem with drugs? National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published January 4, 2021. Accessed March 11, 2024.
  10. Analysis of opioid efficacy, tolerance, addiction and dependence from cell culture to human. Morgan MM, Christie MJ. British Journal of Pharmacology. 2011;164(4):1322-1334.
  11. Protracted withdrawal. Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory. Published July 2010. Accessed March 11, 2024.
  12. Opioid use disorder and treatment: challenges and opportunities. Hoffman KA, Ponce Terashima J, McCarty D. BMC Health Services Research. 2019;19(1).
  13. Medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder in a rural family medicine practice. Deyo-Svendsen M, Cabrera Svendsen M, Walker J, Hodges A, Oldfather R, Mansukhani MP. Journal of Primary Care & Community Health. 2020;11.
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