Percocet Addiction: Symptoms, Signs and Side Effects

Last Updated: May 30, 2023

Editorial Policy | Research Policy

As an opioid-based pain medication, Percocet belongs to a class of drugs that is commonly abused and highly addictive. Percocet can be an effective way to manage pain symptoms, but using Percocet recreationally or with a prescription can come with serious risks.

There are many Percocet side effects, even when it is used as prescribed, that must be considered. Learning the risks and side effects of taking Percocet can encourage safe use of the drug, or help you find help if you need it.

How Is Percocet Abused?

As a strong painkiller, Percocet is often abused for it’s relaxing or pain-relieving effects. Percocet abuse can happen among people who have a prescription, but take it more often or in higher doses than is recommended for them. Some people abuse Percocet to get high, come down off of other drugs or cope with a co-occuring mental health condition.

Percocet is usually taken in tablet form, but people might crush or dissolve a tablet to snort, smoke or inject the drug. Percocet can also be abused to avoid symptoms of withdrawal if they are dependent.

How Addictive Is Percocet?

Opioids are highlighly addictive drugs, and addiction to Percocet can happen even if it’s taken in small doses. There’s no way to predict how long it takes to get addicted to Percocet. You can become addicted to Percocet after short-term use, depending on other risk factors like genetics or abuse of other substances.

Percocet can be addictive whether it’s used for medical treatment with a prescription or used recreationally. Percocet and other opioid drugs can change the chemistry of the brain after repeated use. This can lead to a decrease in chemicals like endorphins that help produce positive feelings and reduce pain. Once this occurs, a higher dose of the drug is required to produce the same positive feelings.

Side Effects of Percocet

When it is taken as prescribed, Percocet can be safe and effective in treating pain. However, it can also have several side effects. People might notice changes in the way they feel as their body adjusts to the new drug, particularly when they first start taking Percocet. This can include both physical and behavioral side effects.

Physical Side Effects

Some of the side effects of Percocet use present as physical discomfort or feeling unwell. Some of these symptoms are brief and will subside within a matter of days or weeks, but others can be longer-lasting. Physical side effects can include:

  • Itching
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Rash
  • Liver problems
  • Sexual side effects

If considered medically appropriate, there may be medication or treatment available to help manage these side effects.

Behavioral Side Effects

The likelihood of Percocet addiction and dependence increase with long-term use. Some of the  behavioral side effects can include drug-seeking behavior and inability to function without Percocet. Percocet can also change behavior by impacting mood and levels of irritability.

Long Term Effects

Percocet can have a long-term effect on your health, and the chances of lasting negative impact are increased if the drug is abused. Long-term abuse of Percocet is linked with serious damage to organs and an increased risk of overdose and death. The side effects of long-term Percocet use can also include tolerance, dependence and addiction.

Percocet Overdose Symptoms

Noticing the symptoms of a Percocet overdose can be lifesaving. The signs of overdose are serious, and medical help should be contacted immediately. If someone has taken too much Percocet in a short amount of time, they might seem tired, “out of it” and may or may not be responsive. Some of the signs of Percocet overdose include:

  • Slowed breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Dilated pupils
  • Cardiac arrest

Percocet overdose can cause long term damage or death. Anyone suspected of overdosing on Percocet requires urgent medical attention. The risk of overdose is greater if other drugs or alcohol have been taken with Percocet.

Percocet Addiction Treatment

Treatment for Percocet addiction will often start with detox, which is the process of Percocet completely leaving the system. Rehab can also include individual or group therapy, 12-step programs, and learning new skills to help you stay sober. Therapy focuses on building coping skills to help with recovery during and after treatment. Recovery is an ongoing process but it is possible for anyone living with Percocet addiction.

Treatment for getting off of Percocet if you are addicted may include:

  • Detox: Percocet detox is the first step of treatment and  involves Percocet fully leaving the system.
  • Residential: Some Percocet rehab centers offer live-in treatment centers with round-the-clock medical supervision and structured treatment programs.
  • Outpatient: It is possible to complete Percocet addiction treatment at home with medical supervision. Outpatient program participants often attend regular therapy at a treatment facility.
  • Dual Diagnosis: Dual diagnosis of a substance use disorder and co-occurring mental disorder requires more complex treatment. The most appropriate treatment options should be discussed with a medical professional.

Key Points: Understanding Percocet Abuse Symptoms & Side Effects

Percocet is an addictive painkiller that is often abused. Even if it is taken as prescribed, there are many side effects to taking Percocet. Those taking Percocet are at risk of dependence and addiction.

  • Percocet is taken to manage pain or help you relax and can be abused by people with or without a prescription.
  • Rates of abuse and addiction to opioid drugs like Percocet have been increasing in the U.S.
  • Percocet abuse can have short and long-term side effects, including mood changes, drowsiness, organ failure or death.
  • Percocet overdose can result in death and requires urgent medical attention. The signs of overdose can include slow breathing or loss of consciousness.
  • There are many types of treatment available to you in the Washington or Oregon area to support recovery from Percocet addiction.

If you or a loved one are suffering from Percocet addiction, contact The Recovery Village Ridgefield today to discuss your treatment options.


Our Recovery Advocates are ready to answer your questions about addiction treatment and help you start your recovery.

Call Now

    See if your insurance will cover treatment

    All form submissions are 100% confidential.


    Volkow, Nora D.; McLellan, A. Thomas. “Opioid Abuse in Chronic Pain — Misconceptions and Mitigation Strategies.” N Engl J Med, 2016. Accessed August 10, 2019.

    Birnbaum, Howard G et al. “Societal Costs of Prescription Opioid Abuse, Dependence, and Misuse in the United States.” Pain Medicine, April 2011. Accessed August 10, 2019.

    Levi-Minzi, Maria. “Under Treatment of Pain: A Prescription for Opioid Misuse Among the Elderly?” Pain Medicine, November 2013. Accessed August 10, 2019.

    University of Michigan Medicine. “Acetaminophen and oxycodone.” November 28, 2018. Accessed August 8, 2019.

    Food and Drug Administration. “Percocet.” Endo Pharmaceuticals, November 2006. Accessed August 8, 2019.

    National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Ohio Opioid Summary.” March 2019. Accessed August 8, 2019.

    Health of Washington State Report. “Drug Abuse and Overdose.” April 2014. Accessed August 10, 2019

    National Institute of Drug Abuse. “Washington Opioid Summary.” March 2019. Accessed August 10, 2019.

    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Factsheet: Washington State’s Oversight of Opioid Prescribing and Monitoring of Opioid Use.” December 2018. Accessed August 10, 2019.