Percocet Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment

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Percocet is a powerful combination medication that can be powerfully addictive even when used as directed by the prescribing physician.

According to the most recent data from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), 9.5 million U.S. adults abused opioids in 2020, with prescription opioid narcotics like Percocet implicated in 9.3 million of those cases.

Today’s guide explores the signs and symptoms of Percocet addiction and outlines how to connect with the most effective inpatient or outpatient opioid addiction rehab.

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What is Percocet?

Percocet is a branded combination medication classified as an opioid analgesic. The medication is prescribed for the relief of moderate and severe pain

Percocet pills contain the following active ingredients: 

  1. Oxycodone: Informally known as hillbilly heroin, oxycodone was one of the main drivers of the opioid epidemic that has unfolded across the United States since the late 1990s. Oxycodone alters the way in which your brain perceives pain.
  2. Acetaminophen: Acetaminophen is an over-the-counter analgesic and the active ingredient in the painkiller Tylenol. Acetaminophen interferes with the production of chemicals in the brain related to pain.

Oxycodone is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance by the DEA (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration). Schedule II narcotics have some medical utility, but they also have a strong potential for abuse and addiction. This is the most tightly controlled class of controlled substances with accepted medical applications. 

Like all opioids, Percocet became more frequently prescribed to treat chronic pain. This millennial shift in prescribing practices in the United States coincided with aggressive lobbying by pharmaceutical companies. Manufacturers like Purdue Pharma claimed that oxycodone and other opioid painkillers were not habit-forming or addictive, and therefore recommended opioid therapy for the treatment of chronic pain.


When you take an opioid-based painkiller like oxycodone in Percocet, this medication disrupts chemical pathways in your brain associated with pain signaling. Additionally, taking Percocet will depress your CNS (central nervous system), slowing down the following functions: 

  • Breathing rate
  • Heart rate
  • Blood pressure 

Signs & Symptoms of Percocet Addiction

Percocet is one of the most commonly abused prescription medications. Misusing or abusing any opioid can trigger many adverse outcomes, including Percocet addiction in the form of OUD (opioid use disorder). Percocet abuse can also bring on myriad unpleasant side effects – we’ll explore these below. 

Opioid analgesics like Percocet can be very effective pain relievers when used strictly short-term. 

Regrettably, tolerance to Percocet rapidly forms, even when the medication is used as prescribed. Tolerance to opioids means that the effects of the drug diminish. Many people attempt to overcome tolerance by taking more Percocet, or by taking more frequent doses of Percocet. 

For those prescribed painkillers like Percocet for the management of acute pain following surgery, injury, or trauma, this issue should not be problematic. 

Since the 1990s, U.S. doctors started prescribing opioids such as Percocet to manage chronic pain conditions. With tolerance building rapidly and Percocet inducing a euphoric high as well as alleviating pain, many people prescribed opioids for ongoing pain management become addicted to these prescription painkillers. 

Increasing the dose of Percocet to counterbalance a growing tolerance will hasten the development of physical dependence on opioids. Dependence is not synonymous with addiction, although dependence frequently leads to addiction. When you are dependent on Percocet, you will experience uncomfortable opioid withdrawal symptoms as the effects of opioids wear off. 

Some of the more common Percocet addiction signs are: 

  • Doctor shopping to obtain more Percocet.
  • Using counterfeit prescriptions.
  • Buying opioids on the black market.
  • Stealing or borrowing money to obtain more Percocet.
  • Using Percocet intended for someone else.
  • Experimenting with illicit narcotics.
  • Depression.
  • Mood swings.
  • Impaired coordination.
  • Confusion.
  • Altered sleeping patterns.

Percocet addiction is classified as opioid use disorder. Opioid use disorders are diagnosed according to the diagnostic criteria in DSM-5-TR, the fifth and updated edition of APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. These are the eleven Percocet addiction symptoms:

  • Taking Percocet for longer than planned or in larger amounts than prescribed.
  • Trying and failing to moderate or discontinue the use of Percocet.
  • Experiencing cravings for Percocet.
  • Spending lots of times obtaining and using Percocet, as well as recovering from the effects of using Percocet.
  • Continuing to use Percocet even though it is introducing problems in your closest relationships.
  • Failing to meet personal and professional commitments due to Percocet use.
  • Using Percocet in potentially dangerous situations – when driving, for instance.
  • Giving up social and occupational activities because of opioid use.
  • Ongoing use of Percocet despite opioids causing or inflaming a health condition, whether physical or mental.
  • Requiring more Percocet to achieve the same effects as tolerance to opioids develops.
  • Opioid withdrawal symptoms presenting in the absence of Percocet.

Studies show that abusing opioids can impact areas of your brain such as those responsible for positive reinforcement. This can prompt behavioral, emotional, and physical changes, according to APS (American Physiological Society).

Common Side Effects

In addition to the issues of dependence and addiction, abusing Percocet or any other opioid can trigger adverse outcomes, both short-term and long-term. 

The most reported short-time side effects associated with Percocet include: 

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Problems with urinating
  • Constipation
  • Slow breathing
  • Irregular breathing
  • Tolerance to Percocet

The longer-term side effects brought about by Percocet addiction are as follows: 

  • Decreased levels of testosterone
  • Liver damage
  • Chronic constipation
  • Reduced sexual function
  • Physical dependence
  • Addiction (opioid use disorder)

The sustained abuse of Percocet is associated with these adverse physical outcomes: 

  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Insomnia
  • Weight loss
  • Slurred speech
  • Shallow breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Withdrawal symptoms in the absence of Percocet
  • Slow heart rate
  • Impaired balance and coordination
  • Compromised motor skills

Percocet Addiction Treatment

Although it can be challenging to successfully treat an addiction to Percocet, most opioid use disorders respond positively to MAT (medication-assisted treatment) delivered in combination with psychotherapy (CBT or DBT) and counseling. 

Inpatient or outpatient rehab for Percocet addiction is similar to rehab for addiction to any prescription opioid like morphine or OxyContin or morphine. SAMHSA recommends this pathway:  

  • Supervised medical detoxification
  • Intensive, integrated treatment: MAT, psychotherapy, counseling
  • Aftercare
  • Ongoing support

We can help you with all of this and more here at California Detox.

Prescription Drug Rehab at California Detox

Here at California Detox in Orange County, we can help you address the physical and psychological aspects of addiction to prescription drugs like Percocet. 

You can initiate your recovery with a supervised medical detox, enabling you to access medications that can streamline the withdrawal process. After seven to ten days of detoxification, you will be ready to engage with one of the following treatment programs: 

  • Inpatient programs (residential rehab)
  • Outpatient programs
  • IOPs (intensive outpatient programs)
  • Virtual IOPs (remote prescription drug rehab)
  • PHPs (partial hospitalization programs)
  • Dual diagnosis programs (for co-occurring addictions and mental health disorders)

FDA-approved medications are not only beneficial during Percocet detox, but also throughout ongoing treatment. MAT (medication-assisted treatment) is best combined with behavioral therapies interventions and counseling. Take advantage of these evidence-based treatments alongside holistic therapies at our luxury beachside rehab center and build the firmest foundation for recovery. 

When you’re ready to commit to recovery, we’re here to help you from detox to discharge and beyond. Call admissions at 949.390.5377 for immediate assistance.


Yes. Percocet is a Schedule II controlled substance. The opioid-based painkiller is highly addictive. Tolerance, physical dependence and addiction in the form of opioid use disorder can develop even when the drug is used for legitimate pain relieving purposes with a supporting prescription.

Physical dependence on Percocet can develop after just one week of legitimate use. Psychological opioid addiction can occur after a month or so of regular Percocet use.