Percocet Addiction Symptoms & Warning Signs

Understanding Percocet Addiction & Abuse

Learn about Percocet addiction & abuse

Percocet is a prescription painkiller that is highly effective at eliminating moderate to severe pain. Composed of the synthetic opioid oxycodone and the analgesic acetaminophen, this drug requires a prescription from a doctor and in only intended for short-term use. Like all opioids, Percocet use must be diligently monitored due to the drug’s highly addictive properties. And while Percocet can provide much-needed relief from fever and acute pain, when abused, it produces a relaxing, euphoric high that many find incredibly alluring.

When a person becomes dependent on Percocet, either to self-medicate or for recreational purposes, he or she faces a host of damages to the body and mind. Drugs like Percocet can cause major heart, respiration, and liver problems, and if a person overdoses on this medication, the results can be fatal. For these reasons and much more, a person who is struggling with an addiction to Percocet must seek qualified professional treatment in order to break the cycle of chemical dependence. If you or a loved one is in need of treatment for an addiction to a prescription drug such as Percocet, know that you are not alone. At Burkwood, we provide hope and a path to healing for men and women who suffer from issues of substance abuse and many co-occurring mental health conditions.

This does not mean that consuming a painkiller that a professional has prescribed is on the same level as consuming heroin. These medications can be greatly beneficial, and the risks are much less when they are consumed as prescribed. However, the danger of developing an opioid use disorder is very real, and the risk is increased significantly when these substances are consumed without the appropriate medical supervision.

Oxycodone (the active ingredient in both OxyContin and Percocet), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and meperidine (Demerol) are semisynthetic or synthetic opioids, meaning that they are developed within a laboratory, however, they share similar structures with the naturally occurring extracts from the opium poppy plant. They also have similar properties, such as relieving pain, triggering the onset of mild euphoria, and posing the risk that individuals will establish an opioid use disorder.

As time goes on, those who consume prescription painkillers that contain opioids can develop a tolerance. Tolerance is a sign of dependence, as is the presence of painful withdrawal symptoms when an individual attempts to stop his or her use of the drug, or dramatically decrease the amount he or she is consuming.

The desire to achieve the pleasant effects of an opioid-based painkiller, while avoiding the pain of withdrawal, can keep individuals stuck within what might appear to be a never-ending bout with opioid use. It can be very difficult for someone in this position to end his or her dependence upon opioids without effective care. When comprehensive care is offered, an individual can clear his or her body of opioids in a more secure and comfortable manner, and can then finish the therapeutic programming that will encourage him or her to prevent relapse and live a joyful, healthy life that is free of the compulsion to abuse prescription painkillers.


Statistics on Percocet addiction & abuse

Prescription drug abuse is rising sharply, and in recent years the number of men and women who have overdosed on these drugs has sadly risen exponentially. According to for the Center for Disease Control (CDC), in 2014 almost 2 million Americans were dependent on prescription opioids such as Percocet. The widespread nature of this problem has created a public health crisis throughout the country, taxing the resources of law enforcement and community health organizations in unprecedented ways.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for Percocet addiction & abuse

A number of factors can contribute to one’s risk of abusing or becoming addicted to Percocet, some of which are briefly described in the following:

Genetic: Having a close relative such as a parent or sibling who has struggled with addiction and chemical dependence has been shown to put a person at a heightened risk for developing a substance use disorder.

Risk Factors:

  • Having a propensity for risk-taking, impulsive behavior
  • Easily bored
  • Being a woman (women have higher rates of Percocet addiction)
  • Chemical dependency in the family of origin
  • Having has been prescribed Percocet
  • Having access to Percocet

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of Percocet addiction & abuse

The signs and symptoms listed below are commonly seen in men and women who have developed a dependence on Percocet. While not an exhaustive list, these factors may indicate that a person is struggling with a substance use disorder and will need professional help.

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Continuing to abuse Percocet even after obvious negative effects
  • Seeking to borrow or steal money to fund one’s Percocet habit
  • Attempting to steal another person’s Percocet
  • Seeking fraudulent prescriptions for Percocet
  • Attempting to limit one’s Percocet use but failing
  • Seeking greater quantities of Percocet
  • Abusing Percocet under dangerous circumstances (i.e. when caring for children or operating a vehicle)

Physical symptoms:

  • Onset of withdrawal symptoms upon ceasing one’s Percocet use
  • Digestive issues
  • Labored breathing
  • Slow heart rate
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Balance or coordination issues
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty speaking

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Impaired memory
  • Trouble concentrating or focusing on tasks
  • Faulty judgement

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Withdrawal from social situations
  • Agitated mood
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Uncharacteristic displays of anger


Effects of Percocet addiction & abuse

Without intervention, an ongoing Percocet use disorder will eventually unravel an individual’s ability to function in all aspects of his or her life as the drug of choice becomes his or her main focus. Further, one’s physical health and mental state will be increasingly damaged the longer one continues to abuse this dangerous substance. The following list describes some common effects of an untreated Percocet addiction:

  • Self-harming thoughts and behavior
  • Withdrawal from key relationships
  • Legal trouble, incarceration
  • Financial loss
  • Inability to secure and keep gainful employment
  • Damage to one’s academic or professional abilities
  • Physical injury
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Cardiovascular and respiratory complications
  • Vision problems
  • Loss of friends
  • Attempts at suicide
  • Death from overdose

Withdrawal and Overdose

Effects of Percocet withdrawal and overdose

When a person decides that he or she wants to attempt to end the cycle of Percocet abuse, he or she will face an uncomfortable withdrawal soon after his or her last use, and this experience may consist of the following symptoms:

  • Dysphoric mood
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Fever
  • Tremors
  • Twitching
  • Dilation of the pupils
  • Watery eyes
  • Sweats
  • Sinus issues
  • Intense cravings for Percocet

Effects of Percocet overdose: A person who is addicted to Percocet runs the risk of ingesting a fatal amount of the drug, and if he or she begins exhibiting the following symptoms, immediate medical attention should be sought:

  • Coma
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Slow labored breathing
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Slurred speech
  • Vomiting, nausea
  • Memory trouble