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Signs of Percocet Addiction

Signs of Percocet addiction include the use of the drug taking priority in life, withdrawing from family and friends to use Percocet instead, and physical dependence on opioids.

Struggling with Percocet Addiction? Get Help Now

Percocet is a drug with significant abuse and addiction potential, as it contains the addictive opioid oxycodone.[1] Repeatedly abusing Percocet leads to the development of opioid use disorder (OUD).

OUD is a treatable condition, but it’s not always easy for people to ask for help. Additionally, some people develop OUD symptoms so slowly that they don’t recognize that a problem has developed.

Learning more about Percocet abuse signs can help you understand if you or someone you love is using this medication in a dangerous way.

Key Facts

  • Percocet is a brand-name medication. When discussing addiction, it’s specifically oxycodone (the primary ingredient in this medication) that has significant abuse and addiction potential.
  • If a person regularly engages in Percocet abuse despite viewing that use as a net negative to their life, they probably struggle with addiction on some level.
  • Percocet addiction (or OUD) ranges in severity, and many people develop a talent for hiding the most obvious signs of their addiction.
  • The abuse of opioids like oxycodone rewires the brain. Addiction shouldn’t be viewed as a moral failing or a lack of willpower but as a serious mental health condition.[1]

What Does Percocet Addiction Look Like?

Addiction looks different in different people, but its signs become clear, particularly to loved ones. A strong indicator that a person may struggle with addiction is repeated Percocet abuse. 

Percocet contains an opioid. It is typically taken orally or crushed up and snorted (which may involve the use of a straw or metal tube) when abused. The drug can also be dissolved and injected. 

Some signs of Percocet addiction can include the following:[2]

  • Regular use of Percocet even once someone understands that this use is producing a net negative impact on their life
  • Spending large amounts of time acquiring Percocet, using it, and recovering from its use
  • Developing a physical dependence on opioids, meaning undesirable withdrawal symptoms occur if abstinent from them for too long a period
  • Losing interest in favorite activities to use Percocet instead
  • Declining performance at work or in school
  • Relationship problems
  • Financial issues related to spending money on Percocet or other opioids 
  • Lack of interest in appearance
  • Gravitating toward a different friend group

This chart can help you understand the difference between Percocet abuse and Percocet use:

Percocet UsePercocet Abuse
This involves a valid prescription.This may not involve a prescription at all, or the problem may begin with a prescription and then become something else.
The person uses the medication on a doctor’s set schedule.The person uses the medication on a schedule they create.
The person uses the medication in the right format (such as swallowing pills).The person may use medication in the right format, or they may take risks (such as crushing oral pills and snorting them).
The person meets with a doctor to discuss the medication’s use.The person may visit many doctors to get new prescriptions for Percocet.
The person uses the medication for pain.The person uses the medication for pain or to get high.
The person quits using the medication when the condition is healed.The person may want to quit the medication but feel unable to do so.

Percocet Abuse Statistics

The following statistics can help you understand how dangerous Percocet might be and how many people struggle with addiction:

  • In a study published in the World Journal of Emergency Medicine, researchers examined trends in oxycodone prescriptions in people who visited emergency rooms for back pain. They found that Percocet was the most prescribed product and represented more than 90% of the prescriptions written.[10]
  • In the 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, researchers found that more than 30% of people who abused prescription painkillers in the year prior chose oxycodone products. Of those who misused painkillers, 67.3% said they did so to relieve physical pain.[11]
  • More people abuse painkillers like Percocet over heroin. In the 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 8.5 million people abused painkillers, and only 1 million used heroin.[12]
  • The consequences of Percocet abuse can be significant. In 2021, the number of deaths involving prescription opioids totaled 16,706, says the National Institute on Drug Abuse.[13]

What Are the Symptoms of a Percocet Addiction?

Addiction to Percocet and other opioids can lead to several physical, behavioral, and mental changes in a person. The repeated abuse of opioids can wear on the body and mind, and this can cause important relationships at work, school, and home to deteriorate. 

The following subsections attempt to cover the most common effects seen in people who regularly abuse Percocet and similar drugs based on the available literature and the experience of our team at Boca Recovery Center. Remember, however, that addiction takes many forms. Some people struggling with addiction may only show some of these signs, or they may show signs that are not listed here.

Physical Effects of Percocet Abuse

As an addictive opioid, Percocet abuse will affect a user in many ways. While under the effects of Percocet, a person will experience pain relief and a sense of euphoria. These are often the effects that first prompt users to abuse the drug.

Additionally, Percocet can cause the following:[1] 

  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Sedation
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Dysphoria
  • Constipation 
  • Pruritus (itching)

Importantly, Percocet and other opioids cause respiratory depression, which can be dangerous if respiration becomes too weakened.[1]

With enough use, Percocet will lead to dependence. This means a person will go through withdrawal if they stop taking the drug. They may experience shakiness, sweating, queasiness, vomiting, and headache if they go without using an opioid for too long. 

Withdrawal can make quitting Percocet use much more difficult. It is one of the main reasons a person should talk with a treatment professional if they struggle with this type of addiction.

Behavioral Changes From Percocet Abuse

The regular abuse of any opioid will almost inevitably result in at least some behavioral changes in a person. Addiction makes it hard to meet work, school, and home obligations.[2] 

A person’s behavioral patterns change, as they start to prioritize drug use over spending time performing activities they once enjoyed or spending time with people they consider important. More and more time will be spent getting Percocet, thinking about it, using it, and recovering from using it. Many people start to engage in dangerous and potentially illegal behavior to get and use opioids if they are addicted.[2]

Unfortunately, this can often result in a negative spiral, where a person’s life starts to lower in quality as they might lose their job, damage friendships, and otherwise harm parts of their life they value. Addiction can reach virtually every area of life, as the substance abuse continues.  

Mental Effects of Percocet Abuse

Opioid addiction is a mental health condition, and Percocet abuse can significantly affect the brain. 

A person struggling with opioid abuse may also be dealing with other mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety, which may worsen when they can’t use opioids for an extended period. For many people, Percocet abuse can be an unhealthy mechanism they turn to so they can cope with other serious problems in their lives. As they become addicted, they may increasingly feel they need Percocet to function.

Percocet abuse can lead to dependence (described earlier), and one notable symptom of dependence is drug cravings. The brain can become rewired in a way that it craves the highly rewarding chemical euphoria caused by opioids. Because of this, other behaviors begin to feel less rewarding. 

Long-Term Risks of Percocet Abuse

In the long term, repeated abuse of Percocet is likely to lead to dependence and addiction. This comes with additional risks. For instance, repeated abuse of opioids like Percocet greatly increases the chance of an overdose, which can be fatal. 

The U.S. has been amid an opioid abuse and overdose epidemic for decades.[4] The risk of a dangerous overdose is heightened if a person mixes Percocet with other substances, like other opioids, benzodiazepines, or alcohol.[5-7] 

The repeated use of opioids causes a body to develop a tolerance to opioids, meaning a person needs more opioids to achieve the same effect a lesser dose once had.

The repeated abuse of Percocet and similar drugs can also cause other symptoms if used in a particular way. For example, track lines, collapsed veins, puncture marks, abscesses, cellulitis, and circular scars are common signs of regularly injecting Percocet.[8] Snorting Percocet, especially if it has been cut with other agents, can cause damage to the nose, which may cause nose bleeds, inflammation, or even scarring and destruction of the septum.[9] 

Get Help for Percocet Addiction

If you abuse Percocet or any other kind of opioid, help is needed. Percocet addiction is a destructive condition that can cause a spiral of symptoms that worsen over time. If you think you might be addicted to opioids, talk to an addiction specialist as soon as possible about the best way to start your recovery. 

Since Percocet addiction generally involves dependence on the drug, don’t attempt to stop taking Percocet or any opioid cold turkey on your own. Percocet withdrawal should be managed by a medical professional, often with the help of medications in addition to therapy. This ensures you stay safe during the detox process and are less at risk of relapse, which could be fatal if you overdose.

How to Approach & Support Someone Showing Percocet Abuse Signs

If you notice signs of Percocet abuse in someone you love, start by learning more about Percocet addiction treatment. The more you understand about how addictions begin and how they are treated, the better you can approach the person you love with kind and helpful information.

With your research complete, schedule a time and place to talk. Look for a space that’s private and quiet, so your talk won’t be overheard by outsiders. Ask the person to join you, and set the meeting for a time in which that person is typically sober.

Open the conversation by explaining the Percocet abuse signs you’ve seen and how they make you feel. Outline how the treatment might work, and ask if the person is willing to examine a program with you.

Sometimes, these conversations are immediately successful and end with the person entering treatment. However, some people need to think about their options and outline their plans. You may need to hold multiple conversations to reach a person like this.

Whether or not the person enters treatment, take care of yourself. It’s not easy to watch someone go through something as serious as addiction. Meet with a counselor independently, or find a local chapter of Al-Anon and meet others struggling with the same issues.

Percocet Treatment Options at Boca Recovery Center

Recovery from Percocet addiction is possible. The best way to regain control of your life and stop abusing the drug 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. We’ll ensure you are safe and comfortable throughout the withdrawal process, and we’ll equip you with the skills you need to manage cravings long-term. With our help, you can build a new life in 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 professional 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. Call now.

Frequently Asked Questions

These are questions we often hear about Percocet abuse:

Are Percocet abuse signs the same in everyone?

No. Some people display physical signs (like neglecting their appearance or showing signs of withdrawal when they try to quit). Others have stronger behavioral signs (such as spending a lot of money on opioids or becoming secretive).

How quickly can Percocet addiction develop?

It depends. Some people develop addictive behaviors relatively quickly. Others manage to use the medication appropriately for long periods before they develop a problem.

Is dependence the same as addiction?

No. People who use Percocet for long periods can display signs of withdrawal when they try to quit, but they may not have behavioral problems associated with addiction. While dependence is common in addiction, people can be dependent without being addicted.

Updated May 10, 2024
  1. Percocet. Endo Pharmaceuticals. Published November 2006. Accessed March 12, 2024.
  2. What are the signs of having a problem with drugs? National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published January 4, 2021. Accessed March 12, 2024.
  3. Opioid addiction treatment. American Society of Addiction Medicine. Published 2016. Accessed March 12, 2024.
  4. The opioid epidemic: A review of the contributing factors, negative consequences, and best practices. Judd DB, King CR, Galke CL. Cureus. 2023;15(7).
  5. Alcohol or benzodiazepine co-involvement with opioid overdose deaths in the United States, 1999-2017. Tori ME, Larochelle MR, Naimi TS. JAMA Network Open. 2020;3(4):e202361.
  6. Concurrent use of opioids and benzodiazepines: Evaluation of prescription drug monitoring by a United States laboratory. McClure FL, Niles JK, Kaufman HW, Gudin J. Journal of Addiction Medicine. 2017;11(6):420-426.
  7. Opioid overdose. Schiller EY, Mechanic OJ. StatPearls. Published 2019. Accessed March 12, 2024.
  8. Prescription opioid injection among young people who inject drugs in New York City: a mixed-methods description and associations with hepatitis C virus infection and overdose. Mateu-Gelabert P, Guarino H, Zibbell JE, et al. Harm Reduction Journal. 2020;17(1).
  9. It’s not just chocolate powder. Gajanan, M.You shouldn’t be snorting anything, doctors say. TIME. Published July 12, 2017. Accessed March 12, 2024.
  10. Trends in oxycodone and oxycodone-containing analgesics administration for back pain in emergency departments in the USA. Chabon J, Garrido J, Schreiber-Gregory D, et al. World Journal of Emergency Medicine. 2024;15(1).
  11. Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Published November 2023. Accessed April 29, 2024.
  12. Highlights from the 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Published November 2023. Accessed April 29, 2024.
  13. Drug overdose death rates. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published June 30, 2023. Accessed April 29, 2024.
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