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Percocet is a prescription medication containing oxycodone and acetaminophen. Commonly prescribed for moderate to severe pain, it can also be used in cases of post-surgical pain. Though effective for short-term pain relief, this drug can be addictive when taken for long periods of time. It’s categorized as an opioid, and it can be hard to stop. Learn more about the signs of addiction, withdrawal symptoms, and how to get help for Percocet addiction.

What is Percocet?

Percocet is a prescription painkiller containing oxycodone and acetaminophen. It’s indicated for relief from moderate to severe pain, including post-surgical pain. It contains oxycodone and acetaminophen. Acetaminophen’s well-known brand name is Tylenol. Like all prescription opioids, Percocet is habit-forming and can lead to an addiction if misused.

Oxycodone is a controlled opioid. It’s used for pain relief, and it can be addictive if misused long-term. Oxycodone is a member of the opioid family. It binds to opioid receptors in the brain, nerves, and muscles. This can relieve pain and ease symptoms of an overactive central nervous system (cocaine); however, users can build up a tolerance to it while using it for several days or weeks at a time. The body then requires more of the drug to get the same effect.

Available Doses

Percocet has 325 mg of acetaminophen. The amounts of oxycodone vary between 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 7.5 mg and 10 mg. The higher the dose, the increased risk of addiction.

Percocet vs. Oxycodone

Oxycodone, sometimes referred to as Oxy, is the active ingredient in Percocet. Unlike Oxycodone, Percocet contains acetaminophen, which also reduces pain and fever symptoms. Oxycodone on its own is available in an immediate or extended release version.

Why Can It Be Addictive?

The oxycodone in Percocet can increase physical dependence in the body. This occurs when a person takes high-dose or high-frequency dosages of oxycodone for a long time. The longer someone takes an opioid, the risk of developing dependence or addiction increases. This is why it is important to only take opioids as long as the doctor prescribes for pain management and to not increase dosages.

If the body gets used to these symptoms, and they occur at regular intervals, a person can begin to build a tolerance to the drug. This is when a person needs to take larger and larger doses of the drug in order to experience withdrawal symptoms.

Acetaminophen and Liver Damage

Acetaminophen is a substance that’s metabolized by the liver and can cause serious damage to this organ if taken in excessive dosages. When acetaminophen is taken in excessive quantities, the liver has trouble clearing out the unwanted chemical byproducts. This leads to cell death within the liver. What’s even more alarming is that this damage can be permanent, even if the person stops taking Percocet altogether.

It is easy to take too much acetaminophen when misusing Percocet. When a person is dependent on Percocet, an increase in dosages of the drug leads to an increase in acetaminophen. This can cause problems with liver function.

How Does Percocet Affect the Brain?

Oxycodone, like any other opioid, works by attaching itself to brain receptors responsible for pain perception and regulation of physiological functions such as breathing and heart rate. When it binds itself to these receptors, it blocks the entry of pain signals and other natural chemicals such as dopamine.

It also activates the brain’s reward system, which is involved in feelings of pleasure and euphoria. A person can experience a rush and a feeling of numbness and detachment. The more a person takes, the more receptors get blocked and the more dopamine is released. The brain starts to crave this rush of pleasure, causing him or her to increase dosages, which then leads to physical dependence on opioids such as Percocet.

Oxycodone and Long Term Use

Percocet is prescribed on a short-term basis for treating moderate to severe pain. It’s believed that there is no physical dependence on Percocet when used for this purpose. However, long-term use can still be dangerous and may produce withdrawal symptoms once the drug is stopped. A person who has been taking high doses or taking it regularly for a long period of time can develop a tolerance to it and experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop.

How to Get Help for Percocet Addiction

If you think you or someone you know may be addicted to Percocet, there is help. The first step is to call a treatment center and speak with someone who can help assess the situation. There are treatment programs available that offer individualized care and help with withdrawal symptoms and detoxification. Support groups and/or counseling services may also be available.

If you suspect a loved one may be misusing Percocet, the best thing to do is have an honest conversation about it. Support them in seeking help and recovery. There are many evidence-based treatment programs that can help them stop taking the medication and find other forms of relief and coping skills.

Percocet Side Effects

Percocet is one type of painkiller that can have some side effects. It’s important to know how it works and what the risks are before taking this drug. Some common side effects of taking Percocet include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth

Side effects can last up to two weeks after you stop taking the medication. Those who take a high dose of Percocet for a long period of time can develop tolerance to its effect. They can then experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop using the drug.

Signs of Percocet Addiction

If you suspect a loved one may be addicted to Percocet, keep an eye out for these signs:

  • Signs of physical dependence after long-term use
  • Restlessness if they can’t get their usual dose of the drug
  • Pain in the lower back and legs
  • Muscle aches and cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Taking Percocet without a prescription
  • Taking higher doses than prescribed for them
  • “Doctor shopping”

Withdrawal Symptoms

Depending on the amount you were taking, it may take anywhere from one to several weeks to completely quit Percocet. For some people, quitting takes weeks or months, but not all people react to Percocet the same way. Some may experience significant withdrawal symptoms within days, others may experience a delayed response. Depending on the severity of the withdrawal symptoms, doctors may recommend going on withdrawal medication (either Buprenorphine/Naltrexone or buprenorphine) for several weeks.

Withdrawal symptoms1, such as drowsiness, dizziness, headaches, and nausea, occur when a person stops taking oxycodone. Signs of withdrawal can be very severe or minimal depending on a person’s physical condition and how much drug they took.

Medications for Withdrawal

There are many medications that can help ease withdrawal symptoms2 Some doctors may recommend trying one of these during withdrawal:

Buprenorphine/Naltrexone: Buprenorphine/Naltrexone is a synthetic opioid (not derived from opium). It’s used to help ease physical withdrawal symptoms and block the effect of oxycodone in the body. Buprenorphine/Naltrexone works at different points in the brain to relieve pain and decrease drug cravings. However, it can be highly addictive and has negative side effects such as abdominal cramping and constipation (common side effects).

Suboxone: It is a medication used in opioid replacement therapy. It contains buprenorphine, which is an artificial opiate that is used to help ease addiction withdrawal symptoms. The FDA has only approved the use of buprenorphine for opioid dependence treatment under specific circumstances.

Types of Percocet Treatment Programs

Percocet is one of many prescription drugs that can be addictive if misused. There are different levels of treatment available for opioids:

Residential or Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment is the most intensive level of care for addiction. It involves intensive therapy and medical monitoring on an inpatient basis. A person stays at the treatment center, which is usually on-campus, for 30 to 90 days. At the end of treatment, a discharge plan is created to help support you after discharge.


Partial hospitalization program, also known as a PHP, is a program similar to inpatient treatment, except that a person only stays during the day and returns home at night. It offers a more limited number of services than inpatient treatment.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Intensive outpatient programs often provide individual and group counseling sessions. IOP may also include family support as well as case management, referrals, and other services. A person is typically expected to attend three to five hours per day or 12-15 hours per week. Outpatient programs are less intensive than inpatient programs.

Outpatient Therapy

Outpatient therapy involves a combination of psychotherapy, coping skills training, counseling, educational classes, self-help groups, and medication if needed.


Aftercare is the process of helping people reintegrate back into society. It helps to stabilize a person’s life and helps prevent relapse or recurrence. People who complete treatment are encouraged to continue with aftercare services, such as relapse prevention and peer support groups. At the completion of treatment, people often continue to attend support groups.

Sober Living

Sober living is a type of transitional housing for people trying to stop using opioids. It’s a residential setting that provides a safe, stable environment in which a person can live while also maintaining his or her sobriety. A person who enters a sober living environment has the opportunity to live independently, make friends, and achieve goals.

Treatment Options

In treatment for Percocet addiction, there are many different types of therapies and treatments that you might be offered. This includes:

Individual Counseling

Individual counseling is designed to help each person cope with the severity of their addiction. It can also include support groups that allow you to meet with others who are living through the same situation.

Group Counseling

Group counseling is typically conducted by therapists or counselors. Through group counseling, many people learn how to deal with relationships, self-esteem issues, grief, career issues, and other common problems that people face.

Family Therapy

Family therapy is a type of counseling that helps families work through their problems and resolve family issues. This can help families understand how to best support their loved one through the recovery period.

Art Therapy

Art therapy is a form of counseling that helps people express their feelings through drawing or painting. This can be helpful for people who have problems expressing themselves verbally.

Nature Therapy

Nature therapy involves spending time in a natural environment, such as a park, forest, or beach. This helps reduce stress and helps improve your mood.

12 Step Treatment

12 step programs are support groups that offer help for people trying to stop using drugs or alcohol. The program is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). 12 step programs are a common type of treatment that involves working with a group of people to overcome addiction. In the program, people work together as a community to restore their lives and work through a set list of activities.

Trauma Informed Care

Trauma informed care is a style of treatment that helps understand the impact of trauma on people’s lives. It focuses on understanding how to treat people who have experienced trauma both in the past and present.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

MAT is a treatment approach in which medication is used alongside behavioral therapy to address both the addiction and the underlying disease that’s causing the addiction. It aims to help you break a dependency and build a relationship with a therapist that helps you address the issues causing your dependence. Treatment often involves having meetings with your therapist weekly for at least a few months.

Will Insurance Cover Percocet Addiction Treatment?

Many insurance companies will cover treatment but it depends on your specific insurance coverage. To find out what your plan covers, it’s a good idea to speak to your insurance provider or the treatment program you want to attend. The cost of treatment will be based on the length and type of services you receive.

Get Help Today

These are just some of the ways that Percocet addiction can affect a person’s life. It can be frightening to live with a dependency on this drug, but you can get treatment if you need it. Don’t hesitate to seek help from a professional as soon as possible. It’s never too late to get the help you need. At Windward Way Recovery, our caring and knowledgeable staff members are standing by to answer any of your questions. We’ll help you decide on the best course of action for you and your loved one. Call us at (855) 491-7694 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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