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Percocet Addiction: Signs, Symptoms & Side Effects

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

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Understanding the physical and behavioral symptoms of Percocet addiction is important when intervening early and safely.

When a Percocet addiction develops, people often begin to show signs of struggling with the drug. While some of these signs may be physical, others may be based on the person’s behaviors. Friends, family and colleagues can start to notice changes in the person over time. It’s important to be aware of the signs of Percocet addiction if you or a loved one take the medication in order to best address the addiction early.

What Are the Signs of Percocet Addiction?

When someone starts to become addicted to Percocet, signs of addiction become apparent. These can include:

  • Taking more Percocet or for a longer time than intended
  • Unsuccessful attempts to stop taking Percocet
  • Spending a lot of time obtaining, taking or recovering from Percocet
  • Cravings for Percocet
  • Problems fulfilling obligations at work, school or home due to Percocet
  • Interpersonal problems linked to Percocet
  • Cutting back on other activities because of Percocet
  • Taking Percocet even when it is physically hazardous to do so
  • Continuing Percocet even though you know that doing so is causing you problems
  • Needing increasing amounts of Percocet to achieve the same effects as before
  • Withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop Percocet

Although a person may not show all signs of addiction, showing at least two signs indicates that you may struggle with Percocet and should seek medical advice.

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Symptoms of Percocet Abuse

Symptoms of Percocet abuse are a bit different than those of Percocet addiction, as abuse is different from addiction. When you abuse a drug, you take it in a way that hasn’t been prescribed for you. A person may start to abuse a drug before falling into an addiction. Symptoms of Percocet abuse therefore include:

  • Taking more Percocet than prescribed
  • Taking Percocet more often than prescribed
  • Taking Percocet that has not been prescribed to you
  • Buying or borrowing someone else’s Percocet
  • Exaggerating symptoms to a doctor to try to get Percocet
  • Visiting different doctors and pharmacies to try to obtain Percocet

A person may also display Percocet side effects when abusing the drug. These side effects include:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness 
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Mood changes
  • Constipation
  • Itchy skin

A person abusing Percocet may also experience withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop the drug.

Withdrawal Symptoms of Percocet Addiction

When a person takes Percocet on a regular basis and suddenly stops, withdrawal symptoms are common as the body struggles to adjust to being without the drug. Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Insomnia
  • Runny eyes and nose
  • Sweating
  • Yawning
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Goosebumps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Diarrhea

Seeking medical attention for Percocet withdrawal can help you avoid or ease withdrawal symptoms, setting you up for success for staying away from Percocet over the long term.

How to Recognize an Overdose of Percocet

When someone is addicted to Percocet, they are at high risk of an overdose. Percocet overdose symptoms are similar to those of other opioids and include:

  • Pale, clammy skin
  • Limp muscles
  • Purple or blue fingernails or lips
  • Gurgling noises
  • Unconsciousness
  • Slowed breathing 
  • Slowed heartbeat

A Percocet addiction is a medical emergency. If you think someone is overdosing on Percocet, you should call 911 and immediately give naloxone (Narcan) if available. An opioid overdose is a sign that an addiction has become unmanageable and that you need professional assistance to overcome it.

Understanding the Causes of Percocet Addiction

Addiction is a complicated phenomenon that involves a person’s physical response to a drug and their emotional reliance on the substance. Risk factors for developing a Percocet addiction include:

  • Living in an economically disadvantaged area
  • Low education levels and achievement expectations
  • School failure and dropping out
  • Drug dependency among family and friends
  • Family instability
  • Rebelliousness and resistance to authority
  • Low self-esteem

Co-Occurring Disorders with Percocet Addiction

Mental health problems go hand in hand with substance use disorders like Percocet addiction. Sometimes, a person will have an underlying mental health condition before developing the addiction, while other times, the mental health problem may start or worsen after the addiction sets in.

Mental health co-occurring disorders linked to addiction include:

  • Anxiety 
  • Depression
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Personality disorders
  • Schizophrenia

Having a co-occurring disorder can complicate your ability to fight a Percocet addiction on your own. Treating the underlying health condition during your recovery through a dual diagnosis program can help increase your chances of remaining Percocet-free over the long term.

Effects of Percocet Addiction on Mental Health

Percocet addiction is itself a mental health disorder that, in turn, also impacts other aspects of your mental health. Underlying mental health problems like anxiety and depression can worsen from a Percocet addiction. In addition, your mood can also change due to the stresses of addiction and the chemical changes addiction causes in your brain. Mood swings, irritability and concentration problems may occur, worsening your quality of life and overall mental health.

How Percocet Addiction Affects Physical Health

A Percocet addiction can be physically dangerous. Besides the ever-present overdose risk, Percocet can damage your physical health over the long term as well. Long-term use of opioids is linked to problems such as:

  • Gastrointestinal problems like chronic constipation
  • Respiratory problems like sleep-disordered breathing
  • Cardiovascular problems like heart attack and heart failure
  • Increased risk of falls and fractures
  • Decrease in sex hormones, leading to sexual dysfunction and infertility
  • Immunosuppression

Treating your Percocet addiction as quickly as possible can help minimize these risks, increasing your chances for a sustained recovery of both your mind and body.

Treatment Options for Percocet Addiction

Percocet addiction is treated in a stepwise approach. Addiction recovery is a lifelong process that operates on a continuum, with each stage helping to support you during the recovery process. Steps include:

  • Medical detox: This is the first step of recovery, in which your system is weaned off Percocet. Medication-assisted treatment with buprenorphine or methadone may be prescribed if medically appropriate.
  • Rehab: Following detox, rehab teaches you how to maintain life off Percocet. Many different options for rehab exist, from intensive options like inpatient rehab, partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient rehab, to less intensive options like outpatient rehab. Generally, a person starts at a more intensive level of rehab, decreasing to less intensive levels as their need for support decreases.
  • Aftercare: Following rehab, aftercare helps maintain your lifelong focus on recovery. Support and alumni groups like Narcotics Anonymous can help you maintain your sobriety over the long term.

Getting Help for Percocet Addiction

Many different resources are available to help you recover from Percocet addiction. Professional help can ease your Percocet detox and withdrawal, setting you up for success for years to come. This may include medication-assisted treatment (MAT) if appropriate. Meanwhile, rehab can help support you and increase your chances of long-lasting success off Percocet.

Over the long term, your social network of family and friends can help you stay off Percocet and avoid relapse. Ongoing aftercare services like Narcotics Anonymous can also help you stay sober for life.

Are you or a loved one struggling with addiction?

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are some of the risks associated with long-term use of Percocet?

Addiction and overdose are major risks with long-term Percocet use. Other physical risks of taking Percocet over the long term include chronic constipation, respiratory problems, cardiovascular problems, falls and fractures, sexual dysfunction and an impaired immune system.

Can someone become addicted to Percocet even if they are using it as prescribed by a doctor?

Although it is possible to become addicted to Percocet if you are taking it exactly as prescribed, this is unlikely. Addiction is a complex phenomenon that involves increasing mental and physical reliance on a substance. You are at a higher risk of a Percocet addiction if you take the drug in ways other than your doctor has prescribed, like taking it more often than prescribed or taking more pills than prescribed.

How can a person seek help for Percocet addiction?

You can seek help for Percocet addiction by talking to your doctor and reaching out to addiction specialists like The Recovery Village Ridgefield. Your addiction needs will be evaluated so a customized recovery plan can be designed for you.

Are there any long-term effects of Percocet addiction on a person’s health?

Over the long term, a person’s health can suffer due to Percocet addiction. Consequences include chronic constipation, breathing problems, heart problems, falls and fractures, sexual dysfunction and immunosuppression.

How common is Percocet addiction?

Although specific data for Percocet addiction isn’t available, overall, about 8% to 12% of people prescribed an opioid develop an addiction to it. About 2.7 million Americans take Percocet, meaning that around 200,000 may develop an addiction.


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