Learn About Our Walk-In Process

Percocet Overdose: Symptoms, Side Effects & Treatments

Written by Abby Doty

& Medically Reviewed by Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD

Medically Reviewed

Up to Date

This article was reviewed by a medical professional to guarantee the delivery of accurate and up-to- date information. View our research policy.

Last Updated - 6/17/2022

View our editorial policy
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, help is available. Speak with a Recovery Advocate by calling (855) 602-7202 now.

Jump to Section

Percocet is a prescription pain reliever that contains a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen. Percocet is classified as an opioid and is used to help manage moderate to severe pain. While it is a commonly prescribed medication, it carries a high risk for abuse, addiction and overdose.

The opioid epidemic is a serious national crisis, with almost 69,000 Americans dying in 2020 after overdosing on opioids. The high prevalence of abuse of Percocet makes it one of the main prescription painkillers contributing to overdose deaths across the United States. Recognizing the symptoms and side effects of Percocet overdose and knowing the appropriate treatment options can be life-saving in an overdose situation.

Can You Overdose on Percocet?

Because Percocet is an opioid, it can cause an overdose like any other opioid. For this reason, it is important to follow some important rules of thumb to avoid overdose:

  • Never take a higher dose of Percocet than your doctor prescribed
  • Never take more Percocet than your doctor prescribed
  • Do not take Percocet that has not been prescribed specifically to you
  • Do not share or sell your Percocet to other people
  • Do not combine Percocet with other opioids or controlled substances unless specifically instructed to do so by your doctor
  • Avoid alcohol and illicit substances while taking Percocet

Anyone can overdose on Percocet. However, the amount of Percocet it takes to overdose can vary widely depending on the person.

How Much Percocet Does It Take to Overdose?

Percocet is commonly abused because its medical use is widespread, making it very accessible. The continued use of Percocet can cause physical dependence and tolerance, meaning that an individual would need to take higher doses to prevent withdrawal symptoms.

The compulsive need to take higher doses may make many wonder how many Percocet pills lead to overdose. However, there is no set amount of Percocet that causes overdose. The dose that could cause an overdose in one individual may not cause an overdose in another person. The effects of Percocet depend on an individual’s metabolism and the body’s breakdown of the medication.

These differences make the misuse of Percocet very dangerous because the deadly overdose amount for a person with little or no tolerance could be very low. It is important to keep in mind that the abuse of Percocet with other substances, such as other opioids, benzodiazepines or alcohol, would intensify the dangerous effects of Percocet and increase the risk of overdose and death.

Percocet Overdose Symptoms

Percocet is a combination of two medications: oxycodone and acetaminophen. Percocet overdose symptoms include effects from both of these medications.

Oxycodone overdose symptoms include:

  • Slowed breathing or heartbeat
  • Pale face
  • Clammy skin
  • Limp body
  • Vomiting or gurgling noises
  • Inability to speak
  • Inability to wake up
  • Blue or purple tint to fingernails and lips

Acetaminophen overdose symptoms include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fatigue and a general feeling of discomfort, illness or uneasiness

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of an overdose can be life-saving. If you think you have overdosed on Percocet or notice that someone is having symptoms of overdosing on Percocet, you should:

  • Call 9-1-1 immediately
  • Administer the overdose antidote naloxone, if it is available
  • Try to keep the individual awake and breathing
  • Lay the person on their side to prevent choking
  • Stay with the individual until emergency workers arrive

Percocet Overdose Side Effects

Percocet overdose could occur subtly if you are taking more medicine than your body can metabolize and process. Some side effects of Percocet overdose that can occur over time include:

  • Black and tarry stools
  • Light-colored stools
  • Dark urine
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Unusual tiredness or weakness
  • Liver damage
  • Yellowing of the eyes or skin
  • Vomiting of blood
  • Muscle aches, tremors or weakness

If you or someone you know is experiencing these Percocet overdose side effects, you should contact a doctor immediately or seek immediate medical attention if the symptoms are severe. The individual may need to stop using Percocet or reduce the dose.

Percocet Overdose Prevention

There are some precautions you can take to prevent a Percocet overdose:

  • If you are prescribed Percocet by your doctor, only take it as directed and do not take more medicine than the doctor has ordered
  • Do not mix Percocet with alcohol, sleeping medications, benzodiazepines, other opioid painkillers or illegal substances
  • Store Percocet safely and securely where children, pets and others can’t access it
  • Dispose of any unused medicine properly. Many local police departments now have medication disposal drop containers. Check with your pharmacy to find the most convenient disposal container, or check the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy Drug Disposal Locator

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use disorder, the best prevention for overdose is appropriate, proactive treatment for the substance use disorder. The Recovery Village Ridgefield offers comprehensive, compassionate addiction treatment led by specialists. The road to recovery does not have to begin with an overdose; it can begin with a positive choice to seek help and treatment.

Percocet Overdose Treatment

The treatment of Percocet overdose involves managing the possible overdose symptoms from oxycodone and acetaminophen.

The most effective treatment for overdose symptoms related to the oxycodone component of Percocet is the administration of Narcan (naloxone). Narcan is an approved medication used to reverse the deadly effects of respiratory and circulatory depression possible with opioid overdose. Naloxone can be administered by injection. Naloxone also comes as a nasal spray product available through community pharmacies. 

It is recommended that family members and caretakers of people living with a substance use disorder have naloxone nasal spray on-hand to provide life-saving treatment in the instance of an overdose. Anytime a person overdoses, even if they have been successfully treated with naloxone, you should seek immediate medical attention and call 9-1-1. Emergency medical personnel can ensure that the dose of naloxone was adequate and there was no significant injury from the overdose.

Overdose symptoms related to the acetaminophen component of Percocet are managed in a hospital setting. Medical professionals use gastric decontamination with activated charcoal and administer N-acetylcysteine (NAC) to prevent serious liver injury from acetaminophen.

Percocet overdose is very serious. Trained healthcare professionals should manage treatment in a hospital setting to ensure the best possible outcome.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much Percocet is lethal?

The amount of Percocet that is lethal can vary from person to person and depends on both the oxycodone and acetaminophen components of the drug. 

For the oxycodone component, someone whose body is used to opioids may be able to tolerate a much higher opioid dose than a person who has never taken an opioid before. In addition, some people, like children, can be at risk for a lethal overdose at any dose of Percocet, which has not been approved for use in children.

For the acetaminophen component, toxic effects of the drug can start to occur at a dose of 7.5 grams per day, far above the max recommended dose of 4 grams per day in adults. When taken as prescribed, Percocet falls below this threshold, with the max prescribed acetaminophen component adding up to only 3.9 grams per day. However, it is important to make sure you are not taking other acetaminophen products when you take Percocet to avoid acetaminophen overdose, especially if you have preexisting liver problems.

What does Percocet do to you?

Percocet works by binding to the brain’s opioid receptors, relieving your perception of pain. The drug also works in the brain stem to suppress cough. Unfortunately, Percocet can also trigger your brain’s reward system, encouraging you to keep taking the drug to feel pleasure and possibly paving the way to abuse, dependence and addiction.

How much acetaminophen is in Percocet?

Percocet contains 325 mg of acetaminophen per tablet. The max recommended dose of Percocet is 12 total tablets in a 24-hour period, meaning that a person would take 3.9 grams (3900 milligrams) of acetaminophen. This amount falls just below the max recommended total daily acetaminophen dose of 4 grams (4000 milligrams) for healthy adults. If you have liver problems, your doctor may recommend a lower total daily dose of acetaminophen.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Percocet addiction, The Recovery Village Ridgefield can help. You can receive comprehensive and compassionate treatment to help you find lasting recovery. To learn more about treatment that could help you, contact The Recovery Village Ridgefield today to speak with a representative.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Data Overview: Opioids.” May 8, 2023. Accessed June 25, 2023.

U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Opioid Overdose.” February 27, 2019. Accessed June 25, 2023.

Drugs.com. “Oxycodone and Acetaminophen Tablets.” December 1, 2022. Accessed June 25, 2023.

Agrawal, Suneil & Khazaeni, Babak. “Acetaminophen Toxicity.” StatPearls, February 12, 2023. Accessed June 25, 2023.

View Sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Data Overview: Opioids.” May 8, 2023. Accessed June 25, 2023.

U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Opioid Overdose.” February 27, 2019. Accessed June 25, 2023.

Drugs.com. “Oxycodone and Acetaminophen Tablets.” December 1, 2022. Accessed June 25, 2023.

Agrawal, Suneil & Khazaeni, Babak. “Acetaminophen Toxicity.” StatPearls, February 12, 2023. Accessed June 25, 2023.