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Side Effects of Percocet Misuse & Addiction

Percocet is the brand name for a powerful pain relief medication that is generally prescribed to address acute pain and is not intended to be taken for long periods of time.1 Most often, Percocet is prescribed to address the type of pain someone might experience after surgery or an injury.1

Percocet contains the opioid oxycodone and is classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a Schedule 2 controlled substance, which indicates that it has a high risk of misuse and addiction.1 The use of Percocet can also involve unpleasant and dangerous side effects in addition to the risk of addiction.1

This article will talk about the various side effects of short- and long-term use of Percocet, and the dangers of misuse of Percocet. The article will also discuss how to access treatment services to address misuse and addiction and will provide information regarding what to expect from the addiction treatment process.

Is Percocet Safe?

Percocet combines oxycodone and acetaminophen in the same tablet.1 Oxycodone is an opioid, which means that Percocet has the same risks for harm and addiction as other opioid medications, such as morphine.1 The opioid component of Percocet creates a sense of euphoria and relaxation that increases the potential for misuse and addiction.2

You should only take Percocet at the dosage and frequency of the prescription, in the manner prescribed, and you should only take Percocet if it is prescribed to you.3

In addition to the potential for addiction, Percocet can be deadly if not used as prescribed.2 When someone overdoses and takes too much Percocet, they can experience life-threatening symptoms or death.1

Side Effects of Percocet

Percocet can produce side effects even when taken as prescribed.1 The most common side effects of Percocet include:1

  • Lack of energy.
  • Constipation.
  • Dizziness.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Headache.
  • Nausea.
  • Itchy skin.
  • Extreme drowsiness.
  • Sweating.
  • Vomiting.

In addition to the above common side effects, additional side effects have been reported by patients taking Percocet. These side effects include:1

  • Slow heart rate.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Heart palpitations.
  • Dermatologic issues, such as rash.
  • Skin sensitivity to UV rays.
  • Gastrointestinal problems.
  • Anorexia.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Confusion.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Irritability.
  • Sedation.
  • Seizures.
  • Cough.
  • Respiratory depression.

Effects of Long-Term Percocet Use

The impact of long-term Percocet use on health and functioning can be dangerous and even life-threatening.3 Even when taken as prescribed, long-term use of Percocet can result in addiction.3

Among the concerns about the long-term use of Percocet, as with any opioid medication, is the development of increased tolerance.3 Increased tolerance means that the person taking a substance will need more of that substance to continue to feel the same effects.3 This can potentially lead to overdose.3

The long-term use of Percocet can also lead to physical dependence, which can contribute to withdrawal when the use of Percocet is suddenly stopped.4 Withdrawal from Percocet is often characterized by the following symptoms:5

  • Anxiety.
  • Increased heart rate.
  • Increased blood pressure.
  • Muscle spasms.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Bone pain.
  • Sweating.
  • Insomnia.
  • Abdominal cramps.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.

The most severe and concerning risks of long-term use or misuse of Percocet are opioid toxicity, overdose, and death.6 Signs and symptoms of overdose include:6

  • Pale, cold, clammy skin.
  • Limp body.
  • Fingernails or lips look blue or purple.
  • Vomiting.
  • Passed out/unresponsive.
  • Stopped breathing.
  • Slow or stopped heart rate.

Percocet Addiction Treatment and Detox

If you or someone you know is misusing Percocet, it is a good idea to consult with a medical or treatment professional to determine the best course of action. There are three core phases of the treatment process: detox, treatment, and aftercare and there are different approaches within each of these phases.5 Consulting with a medical or treatment professional will help you identify the best place to begin the process.7


Detoxification (detox) is the first phase of treatment that addresses the discomfort and potential physical complications that the withdrawal process may involve.8 As with the treatment process, there are different levels of detox that are designed to align with the patient’s needs.5 They range from ambulatory detox, which is an outpatient process that is monitored by professionals, to medically managed intensive detox, which is provided in an inpatient setting and involves 24-hour care.5

The medical detox process ensures that the patient is in a medically safe environment where they can be monitored for symptoms of withdrawal and any physical complications that may occur during the withdrawal process.5 Withdrawal from opioids rarely life-threatening but it can cause extreme discomfort.8


After detox is complete, it is common for someone to begin a formal treatment program. The formal treatment process can involve a few different options for settings and intensity of services. Different levels of care will work differently for each patient, and the appropriate level of care should be determined in collaboration between the patient and a treatment professional. Among these options are:7

  • Inpatient (residential) treatment is a setting that provides overnight accommodations, meals, and daily treatment activities such as individual and group therapy.
  • Partial hospitalization programs (PHP) provide 20 hours per week of outpatient treatment services.
  • Intensive outpatient treatment (IOP) provides 9 hours per week of outpatient treatment services.
  • Outpatient treatment provides up to 8 hours of treatment services per week. This might consist of one hour of individual therapy per week, a combination of individual and group therapy, and/or medical oversight of medication-assisted treatment.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) can also be an effective part of the detox, treatment, and aftercare approaches that treat opiate addiction.9 There are 3 prescription medications that are most commonly used to assist with the treatment of opioid addiction: methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone.7 A physician can help determine which medication will be the best fit.7


As someone completes the formal treatment process, they will create a plan for ongoing support to help reduce the likelihood of relapse. These aftercare supports might include ongoing therapy, medical care, case management, peer support, and other services that meet the needs of the person.9

Help Is Available

If you or someone you know is concerned about the use of Percocet and need help to stop using Percocet, help is available. Treatment can provide a safe, supportive environment to begin the recovery process. Treatment can provide education, emotional regulation skills, and supportive planning for ongoing recovery after completing the program.

To locate options for programs that can help, you can search the directory. You can also instantly check the coverage offered by your health insurance provider. To learn more about your treatment options, speak with an American Addiction Centers admissions navigator by calling .

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