Percocet Addiction Signs, Symptoms & Effects

Often times the signs of Percocet addiction can be difficult to identify. One of the most important steps in the recovery journey is understanding the signs, symptoms and side effects of Percocet addiction.

Understanding Percocet

Learn about Percocet and substance abuse

Percocet is a potent prescription medication that is made up of both oxycodone and acetaminophen. This medication is effective in decreasing pain, yet can trigger a sense of relaxation and euphoria if it’s abused. Acetaminophen, an over-the-counter medication, works to decrease pain and fever, while oxycodone, a prescription opioid, is capable of numbing physical pain.

When Percocet is being used in the recommended dosage and for the period of time that has been advised by a medical professional, an individual can achieve the benefits of this substance with minimal risk. However, the pleasing effects that happen when this medication is abused can draw individuals to abuse it for recreational purposes. Both of the ingredients in Percocet can be damaging to one’s health when it’s misused, as oxycodone abuse can cause cardiovascular complications and the abuse of acetaminophen can lead to liver damage.

If an individual has become addicted to Percocet and does not receive professional treatment, he or she is likely to struggle with stopping his or her abuse independently. Therefore, it is critical that professional care is sought to ameliorate this issue for the long-term.


Percocet addiction statistics

According to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), roughly 0.37% of the adult population in the United States is affected by opioid use disorder, which includes Percocet addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that the annual number of opioid-related deaths within the United States increased by 300% between 1990 and 2010. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) added that the annual prescription opioid overdose deaths in America rose by 265% in men and 400% in women within the first ten years of the 21stcentury. They also state that nearly 300 people lose their lives each year because of acetaminophen poisoning.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for Percocet addiction

Many varying factors can impact one’s likelihood of abusing and/or becoming addicted to a substance like Percocet. Such factors can include the following:

Genetic: According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), novelty-seeking and impulsivity are two heritable traits that can lend themselves to an individual becoming more likely to struggle with Percocet addiction. Also, the APA also states that there is an increased risk of addiction in those who have a first-degree family member like a parent or a sibling who has personally experienced addiction.

Environmental: Those who are exposed to the abuse of Percocet have a higher likelihood of also engaging in similar behaviors. This is but one example of how a person’s environment can impact whether or not a medication like Percocet will be abused. In addition, when a person lacks social support and coping skills, turning to the abuse of Percocet may happen as a means of self-medicating emotional pain.

Risk Factors:

  • Having a family history of mental illness
  • Novelty-seeking personality
  • Having a family history of substance abuse and addiction
  • Prior substance abuse and/or mental illness
  • Gender (women are at increased risk for Percocet dependence)
  • Being prescribed Percocet or otherwise having access to this medication
  • Impulsivity

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of Percocet addiction

Some of the most common signs and symptoms that an individual who is abusing Percocet might experience can include the following:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Trying to borrow or steal Percocet
  • Trying to borrow or steal money to buy Percocet
  • Abusing Percocet when it is clearly dangerous to do so, such as when also ingesting other addictive substances or when operating a motor vehicle
  • Social withdrawal
  • Attempting to obtain a fraudulent prescription for Percocet, or to acquire the drug through another illicit means
  • Abusing Percocet even after prior use has resulted in negative effects
  • Taking Percocet in greater quantities or for a longer period of time than intended
  • Attempting but being incapable of reducing one’s Percocet use

Physical symptoms:

  • Slurring speech
  • Problems with balance, coordination, and motor skills
  • Losing weight
  • Dramatically slowed heart rate
  • Exhaustion
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep problems, including insomnia
  • Shallower than normal breathing
  • Withdrawal symptoms when not using Percocet
  • Sleep problems, including insomnia

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Loss of ability to focus and/or concentrate
  • Problems with memory and judgment

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Agitation
  • Anger and aggression
  • Mood swings


Effects of Percocet addiction

An individual who does not obtain treatment at a center or within another professional treatment setting for his or her Percocet addiction can experience the following effects:

  • Job loss and chronic unemployment
  • Financial ruin
  • Arrest, incarceration, and other legal problems
  • Strained or ruined interpersonal relationships
  • Damage to heart and lungs
  • Family discord
  • Social isolation
  • Homelessness
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Eye problems
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Suicide attempts
  • Injuries sustained due to Percocet-related impairments
  • Development and/or exacerbation of co-occurring mental health problems

Co-Occurring Disorders

Percocet addiction and co-occurring disorders

Someone who is grappling with a Percocet addiction might also be at greater risk for struggling with one or more of the following co-occurring mental health disorders:

  • Depressive disorders
  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Other substance use disorders
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety disorders

Withdrawal and Overdose

Learn about Percocet withdrawal and overdose

Effects of Percocet withdrawal: When an individual attempts to reduce or stop his or her Percocet use after an addiction has developed, he or she might struggle with many different symptoms of withdrawal, including the following:

  • Insomnia
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Watery eyes
  • Pupillary dilation
  • Twitches and tremors
  • Diarrhea
  • Dysphoria
  • Powerful cravings for Percocet
  • Excessive sweating
  • Runny nose

Effects of Percocet overdose: Someone who shows the following symptoms after consuming Percocet might be suffering an overdose and should seek immediate medical attention:

  • Memory loss
  • Slowed heartbeat
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nausea
  • Shallow or labored breathing
  • Coma
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Slurring speech
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