Percocet Abuse & Addiction Symptoms, Signs, Causes & Effects

Percocet addiction can rob you of your health, your dignity, and your hope for a better tomorrow. At Blue Ridge Mountain Recovery Center, you will reconnect with your best self, and begin to build the foundation for a more promising future.

What is Percocet Abuse

 Learn More About Percocet Abuse

Prescription drug abuse is on the rise leaving many who struggle with chronic pain and the doctors who treat them unsure what to do. Narcotic pain medication, such as Percocet, has been the answer for so many who struggle through each day with persistent pain. Thanks to the side effects these opioid analgesics offer, such as unabashed joyfulness and emotional calm, prescription painkillers are quickly becoming one of the most abused drugs in the United States.

Percocet, also called “White Collar Heroin” is a controlled substance that contains a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen. Often, other drugs are added to narcotics to increase analgesic properties in a process known as drug synergy. In large quantities, people who abuse Percocet feel a similar “high” as those who abuse heroin, which is why Percocet is so addicting.

The oxycodone (also called “Oxy,” and “OxyContin”) in Percocet is a time-release medication which can make getting wasted a challenge for those looking to get high. A Percocet addict may simply chew or crush the pill rather than swallowing it as prescribed, as this allows for a more rapid absorption into the bloodstream. Some addicts may snort Percocet to achieve an even more rapid high. Still others may dilute the tablets and inject it directly into their bloodstream, which increases the risks for blood-borne pathogens associated with shared needles such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.

In an attempt to increase drug synergy and decrease the chances for abuse, Percocet is a combination of acetaminophen and oxycodone. In high doses, the acetaminophen component of Percocet can cause major physical harm – including death – if abused (which is partially why it is added to Percocet). Acetaminophen toxicity occurs when the liver is overwhelmed by too much of the drug leading to hepatotoxicity and death as well as complications to the other organs. Each year, over four hundred people die from acetaminophen toxicity.

Many people who are addicted to Percocet abuse other substances as well. Some opt to abuse benzodiazepines and alcohol in an attempt to get a more intense high and increase feelings of euphoria. Others take Percocet to combat the unpleasant effects of stimulants such as meth and cocaine. Unfortunately, poly-substance abuse only increases the chances of negative health consequences including heart attack and death.

Prompt care and treatment of an addiction to Percocet is vital for those who struggle with this disorder as the effects of abuse can be life-threatening. Individuals who take Percocet for chronic pain should discuss side effects with their physician and report any serious medical concerns immediately.


Statistics on Drug Abuse

In 2010, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about seven million people in the United States reported usage of prescription medications for non-medical purposes. Over five million of those individuals reported abusing narcotic pain relievers such as Percocet.


Causes of Percocet Abuse & Addiction

Addiction to Percocet, similar to addiction to other opiate narcotics is likely the combination of several factors working together. These factors include:

Genetic: Children whose parent or parents are addicted to Percocet or other substances have a higher likelihood of developing an addiction later in life.

Brain Chemistry: Individuals who are born with or develop disorders that cause pain are at a greater chance for developing a dependence on Percocet or other narcotics due to prolonged usage. In addition, research has suggested that certain individuals are born lacking neurotransmitters or the receptor sites for neurotransmitters and may resort to abusing narcotic pain relievers in order to correct this imbalance.

Environmental: Individuals who grow up in chaotic homes where addiction runs rampant are at greater likelihood for developing addictions later in life. This is partially due to the normalization of drugs and the abuse of drugs by role models, and partially because these children learn that the most appropriate way to handle emotional pain and stress is through chemical dependency.

Psychological: Many cases of mental illness go undiagnosed and untreated for a great many years as people under report their symptoms. In order to manage these untreated symptoms of a mental illness, some individuals turn to abusing drugs like Percocet to “self-medicate” their symptoms.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-Occurring Disorders and the Complexity of Percocet Addiction

Addiction to opiate narcotics such as Percocet often presents with other co-occurring disorders. Many individuals who struggle with mental illness also struggle with addiction. Co-occurring disorders include:

  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Substance abuse
  • Alcoholism
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Percocet Abuse

The symptoms of Percocet abuse will vary among individuals based upon length of time the individual has been abusing Percocet, the amount of the narcotic taken, as well as other drugs that are mixed with Percocet. The most common symptoms of Percocet abuse include:

Mood symptoms:

  • Irritation
  • Rapture
  • Sense of emotional well-being
  • Feeling carefree
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritation
  • Nervousness

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Agitation
  • Frequent trips to the emergency room for various pain complaints
  • Faking illnesses to receive Percocet prescription
  • “Doctor shopping” or going to multiple doctors to obtain greater quantities of Percocet
  • Withdrawing socially from friends and loved ones
  • Cessation of once-pleasurable activities
  • Forging prescriptions for Percocet
  • Long shirts in the summer to cover track marks
  • Poly-substance abuse
  • Buying Percocet on the internet
  • Robberies
  • Violence
  • Loss of appetite

Physical symptoms:

  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased respiration rate
  • Stomach pain
  • Damage to vital organs
  • Constriction of pupils
  • Coma
  • Seizures
  • Failure of vital organs
  • Impotence
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Psychological symptoms:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium
  • Memory loss
  • Periods of “blacking out”
  • Paranoia
  • Other substance abuse
  • Worsening of mental health disorders


Effects of Percocet Addiction

The effects of addiction to Percocet can be long-reaching and last a while after the individual becomes sober, which is why prompt detox and treatment for Percocet abuse is vital for individuals addicted to Percocet. Some effects include:

  • Mounting legal problems
  • Financial struggles
  • Inability to keep a steady job
  • Interpersonal relationship problems
  • Domestic abuse
  • Divorce
  • Child abuse
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Bradycardia
  • Clammy skin
  • Diarrhea
  • Hypotension
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Circulatory system collapse
  • Heart attack
  • Seizures
  • Bloodborne illnesses such as HIV/AIDS
  • Coma
  • Death


Withdrawal Symptoms of Percocet Addiction

Withdrawal from Percocet does not just occur in individuals who abuse Percocet, but also those who take this narcotic exactly as directed by the doctor. Withdrawal from Percocet should always be done with the supervision of a doctor and trained medical staff in a safe environment to prevent further complications. Effects of withdrawal typically begin within several hours of the last dose and tend to increase in severity over the next several days. Within a few weeks, the withdrawal effects from Percocet should cease altogether.

Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Whole body pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Extreme sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Decreased appetite
  • Body chills
  • Goosebumps
  • Muscle spasms and cramps
  • Paranoia
  • Tachycardia
  • Pupil dilation
  • Hyperactivity
  • Runny nose
  • Major depression
  • Agitation and aggression

I would never have gotten to where I am in recovery without the help of everyone at Blue Ridge.

– Matthew
Marks of Quality Care
  • Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF)
  • National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP)
  • PsychArmor
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)