Percocet Addiction, Effects and Treatment

Percocet Addiction, Effects and Treatment

Percocet is a prescription drug which is a combination of oxycodone and Acetaminophen (or Tylenol). Oxycodone is part of the drug class called narcotic analgesics. Oxycodone is commercially made, from thebaine, which is an opiate alkaloid. It also includes minor component of opium. In comparison to other opiates, Oxycodone has stimulating properties in comparison to other opiates which makes Oxycodone responsible for the speedy quality some users report.

Acetaminophen is a more commonly utilized drug, which is a less potent pain reliever. Using the combination of the two drugs increases the effectiveness of oxycodone. When the two drugs are mixed together, the result, Percocet is used to relieve moderate to severe pain and is considered to be an opiate. Percocet is very addictive which is why it is classified as a Schedule II drug. For this reason, a prescription from a physician is needed.

How is Percocet Administered?

Oxycodone can be administered by mouth, intravenously, intramuscularly, rectally or via subcutaneous injection. Out of all the different routes of administration injecting oxycodone results in a stronger effect and a quicker onset.

How does Percocet work?

Percocet acts very similarly to morphine, meaning it is a very strong narcotic pain reliever. Percocet should never be altered, meaning it should not be broken, chewed or crushed. The reason for this being, Percocet is made in a time release tablet which is designed so that the oxycodone is released slowly over time. If too much of the drug is released at one time it can result in a very dangerous and possibly life threatening overdose.

Is Percocet Effective?

When Percocet is used as prescribed, it can be a very useful and efficient pain-relieving narcotic. Millions of Americans utilize the drug for debilitating diseases which results in an improved quality of life. Percocet is often prescribed for cancer patients who experience continual and long lasting pain. When Percocet is abused however, it poses a very serious addictive threat. For this reason it is safer to protect ones prescription. Unneeded Percocet tablets should be destroyed to decrease the possibility of theft of the medication.

What Occurs When Percocet is used for an Extended Period?

Prolonged usage of Percocet can lead to a major risk of addiction. Prolonged use is defined as continue usage after two or three weeks. This continued usage of Percocet can activate the reward system of the brain causing an individual to constantly crave the drug. This in turn alters the individuals thinking and their main focus converts to their abilities on how to obtain the drug. Percocet can also reduce the person’s level of consciousness and can impair their ability to think or be fully aware of their current surroundings.

Daily use of Percocet can cause physical dependence. This is different than addiction to Percocet, but can and does occur in individuals who are addicted to Percocet. Physical dependence is when the individual’s body shows signs of narcotic withdrawal when Percocet is suddenly stopped. In regards to addiction, Percocet is used because of psychological and physical need. Addiction is characterized by a continued craving and the need to use Percocet for mood alteration. Many individuals utilizing Percocet do so because they feel it helps make them “normal”.

What are common side effects of Percocet use?
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness, lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Rash or itchiness
  • Emotional mood disorders (most frequently reported side effect)
  • Dry mouth
  • Slightly decreased testosterone levels in men.
  • Liver or renal damage if taken in large doses.
  • Respiratory depression if taken in large doses and can be fatal

Who is at risk for Percocet Addiction?

Risks of Percocet addiction are greatest among women, adolescents, and seniors. Women are more likely to be prescribed Percocet than men and are two times more likely to form an addiction to Percocet. Women are more opt to seek medical assistance regarding physical or emotional problems and are more likely to be prescribed this drug. The largest increase of prescription drug use for non-medical users is among adolescents from twelve to seventeen or eighteen to twenty five. Seniors are at risk for addiction because they take more medications than any other population.

What Measures need to be taken for Percocet Addiction?

There is more than one variable involved in Percocet addiction. Addicts run the risk of withdrawal therefore, physician supervision is needed. As there are psychological components associated with addiction, a team of specialists are needed to properly help an addict detox from Percocet use. As with any addiction, early intervention is always best.

Grau LE, Dasgupta N, Harvey AP, Irwin K, Givens A, Kinzly ML, Heimer R. (2007). Illicit use of opioids: is OxyContin a "gateway drug"? American Journal of Addiction. 2007 May-Jun;16(3):166-73.
Portenoy RK, Farrar JT, Backonja MM, Cleeland CS, Yang K, Friedman M, Colucci SV, Richards P. (2007). Long-term use of controlled-release oxycodone for noncancer pain: results of a 3-year registry study. Clinical Journal of Pain. 2007 May;23(4):287-99. Accessed 10 September 2007. concern/oxycodone/oxycontin faq.htm. Accessed 12 September 2007 Accessed 10 September 2007

Topic Discussion

  1. Addict

    it is best to have the prevention of not taking medicines like vicodin, percocet, as it will cause anxiety or addiction, and so indicate in findrxonline should be wary of side effects.

    • Addict

      Let me just say these two words: Cancer hurts.

  2. Addict

    In 2004 I was given Percocet over 22 weeks while recovering from Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Later, in 2008, I was given 40 tablets (10 day supply) from a urologist specialist to deal with pain associated with a kidney stone. Now I am 13 weeks into shingles, which causes serious pain to my eye, forehead and scalp. My doctor won't give me any Percocets because he is afraid I will become addicted. He would prefer that I deal with serious pain on my own, even though it prevents me from sleeping.

  3. Addict

    My husband was prescribed percocet for a back injury 3 years ago. He has since then been taking percocet daily and no longer on a prescription. he also takes excederin almost daily for bad headaches. in the last 8 months he has had 6 teeth that have had to be pulled because of cracking and exposing nerves in the gums. I am not sure what to do. i have tried to reason with him and even make him dr. appts to talk to someone to get off these meds. I am desperate for him to stop. he is just a miserable person now. I am worried he is going to end up hospitalized or worse. anyone know how to help someone who wont admit they have a problem!?!?!?

    • Addict


      • Addict

        I started taking Percocet just recently because of back problems, I have taken it years ago after back surgery, I only take 1/2, in the morning, if pain starts through the day I take more, the question, has anyone have sweats taken it?

    • Addict

      Addiction is a disease in which the addicted do not realize how sick they are. An addicts only drive is to protect the drug. Its the most important thing to them. The only way to help him is rehab. At least 4 months of rehab, in a controlled environment, no outside stress. I promise you after 4 months of getting that crap out of his body, his mind will be right, he will look and feel so much better. Plus AA meetings really help addicts because alcohol is an addiction also.

  4. Addict

    me and my girl have been using perk 30 for 1 and a half years. it has torn us apart. you don't realize what is going on till it is to late. she was taking up to 8 to 12 a day and i would take 3 to 4 a day sometimes less. the mood changes that take place is just awful what should be a small problem became a big problem. and the sickness is what makes most people go and do it again i wish we never sniffed them or started the it takes what was good and makes life your own hell

  5. Addict

    I have been taking percocet continuously for five years ever since my back surgery because of pain. I do not have any addiction problems with it. What I do is; I would take one pill in the morning to take the edge off the pain and it will last me all day. At nights I use other methods such as tens unit and heat pad to control the pain. I stop taking it for at least two days a week to reduce tolerance level so that I can get relief with it without increasing the dose. If you use percs wisely it will benefit you greatly without negative effects. One days when pain is particularly severe I take two but remember to skip additional days to reduce tolerance. If you do this, you will benefit greatly. Just be wise and disciplined.

  6. Addict

    I have no medical background and everything I know is just from what Dr.'s have told me and my own research. Please don't attack me for anything I write. If i'm misinformed on anything I would like to be set straight. This is a really long post, but I feel as though it all needs to be said for my situation to be understood and evaluated.

    I am a 24 year old male and have been diagnosed with Scheuerrmans Kyphosis. Put simply this is a developmental disorder in which several of my thoracic vertebrae grew incorrectly thus rendering them wedged. From what I have been told many people with this experience little or no pain and a lot of folks if treated early with braces essentially grow out of it. I was diagnosed too late to be helped by braces and have experienced constant, sometimes severe pain since I was about 12 years old. The pain can best be described as a dull ache radiating from the thoracic region of my spine. My neck is also in constant pain due to referral pain from this and some stenosis in the cervical region. When I wake up in the morning I feel like i'm 80 years old and without a mirror, sometimes I would swear to it. Sitting in anything but a comfortable padded chair in a reclined position increases my pain quite a bit. I always had good grades in school, but I began having a lot of trouble focusing on anything but the pain and I actually brought a leather reclining desk chair with me to school when I was a senior in high school that traveled from class to class with me. I attended a small private school and was close with almost everyone, so luckily I didn't catch much grief from people about it. I am very active and absolutely love to exercise. I played multiple sports in high school and was involved in intramurals in college. I lift weights 4-5 days a week (relatively light weight, no over head movements, and always with the proper form and exacting control). I also do cardio 5 or more days a week. All of these things aggravate my pain, but no more then if I was to sit somewhere uncomfortable for a few minutes. I don't think many of my friends understand how much pain i'm in because of how active I am. I really would like to know what their thoughts are sometimes. I just would hate if any of them think that I am weak when I make special preparations to be more comfortable or plan around my pain or worse that I 'milk' it. I don't think they do, but people without chronic pain just can't even begin to be on the same page. The only person who understands is my mom. She knows I'm just like her in how I want to do everything and I know she sees how I am held back so much. She always says she would take it from me if she could, which would be the only thing worse then dealing with it myself. I do more then most, but I still feel as though i'm a tenth the man I would be in a lot of ways If I had no pain. People with no physical problems who are couch potatoes make me absolutely sick. If all they want to do with their lives is be a waste of space I would gladly trade spines with them. I know everyone has there own things that are a bear to deal with, but this one sure as hell is a big mean ugly grizzly. I have exhausted every option for treatment, including the following: Physical Therapy, Chiropractic, Acupuncture, Massage, many drugs including muscle relaxers, Lyrica, and most recently Percocet) Rolfing, nerve blocks (steroid injections), radiofrequency nerve burning, inversion table, yoga, meditation, TENS unit and a couple other things I'm not thinking of. Some of these things give me a little relief, but nothing lasting I have had a couple surgical consults, the most recent being last week. The Dr. told me that many would consider it medical malpractice to operate on me because he would have to fuse the entire spine and there would be an almost non existent chance of it helping the pain. Not to mention the risk of scar tissue, infection, and all that fun stuff. NO THANKS!

    I say all that to say this....I have been prescribed Percocet for about a year now (7.5/325, TID...three a day) They gave it to me beginning when I was having the radiofrequency procedures done as a short term thing. They were convinced that it was going to work, which it didn't. I am still prescribed the Percocet, but the current medication management people I see talk as If they want to ween me off of it. I understand why because I'm young and it's addictive properties etc etc....bare with me, I'm getting to the point of this. Taking 1 Percocet 3 times a day spread out basically does nothing for me unless my pain is unusually low then 1 will give me slight relief for an hour or so if I don't do anything to aggravate things. Sometimes I will take 1 in the morning and then 2 once I'm done exercising and it's relaxation time for the evening. Other times I take none during the day If my pain is too great, because I realize it won't do anything to help and there is no point. Occasionally, and I mean almost never I will take 3 at night and this actually helps me some. 3 makes the pain completely bearable although it is certainly still there and would probably still be pretty bad for someone without chronic pain. Everyone keeps talking about how addictive it is and I'm not disputing that, because it's science. That just hasn't been my experience. I am a very careful person and at first I was worried about it being addictive, so I took three a day for a month and then didn't take any for two weeks just to see how I felt. I didn't have to have it or anything at all. There have been numerous times where I don't take any for a day or a few days also or just one a day for a week. Not that I wouldn't of loved to have popped a few considering I was in the same pain as usual. I'm just trying to make the point that I don't get addicted to things easily. Not saying I'm some superhuman immune to addiction. I'm just saying I have a lot of percocet laying around, I know it helps my pain and I have never taken more then 3 at once. I have also had some crushing relationship blows and other issues everyone deals with and none of it makes me start popping more pills then I'm prescribed. Bottom line, I'm in control. From everything I have read the only issue with too much Percocet physically is the acetaminophen. I think the lethal dose is something like 4000mg. If I show no pattern for abuse whatsoever I don't really understand why it matters if I continue to take it for the rest of my life. Even if I did develop a physical dependence, why the hell does it matter if it helps me live my life without thinking about my pain every second. The only issue I can think of is it not being as effective over time. It's also important to mention it doesn't make me loopy, high, or any of those things non pain sufferers use it for. To effectively manage my pain with the same 7.5mg tablets throughout the day instead of just for one small block of time I think I would need to take 2 in the morning, 2 mid-day, and 2 or 3 at night. (and i would still have a lot of pain here, just to be clear) i just want to know what the problem with this would be considering everything I have put forth here. In addition and for good measure I should mention I eat very healthy the majority of the time and drink 150 plus ounces of water a day.

    Thank you for taking the time to read and/or reply!

  7. Addict

    S.O. Much Pain,

    I am not going to even try to pretend that I understand the pain you're in or what you go through on a daily basis. I could not even imagine having to live every day in chronic pain. It makes me sad to think anyone out there has to suffer like you do on a daily basis.

    That being said; I know you think or may be in control at the moment but just as any other individual you're not immune from addiction. You're just as capable of becoming addicted as any other person.

    All drugs are similar when it comes to addiction. You can start off taking low doses and your body feels the effects fairly fast but the longer you take that drug your body needs more and higher doses in order to get the same effects. Before you know it your taking dangerously high doses and you start using the drug because your body is craving it not because you need it. Now it's out of your control and you have become addicted.

    You also put yourself in harm's way and in a dangerous situation as far as side effects and possible overdose. In my opinion I feel as if you're stuck between a rock and a hard place. You stay in chronic pain more often than not but taking painkillers helps relieve some of the pain and makes you comfortable.

    My advice is to be very careful when taking more than your prescribed dose. If you feel the painkiller is not helping and you need higher doses then talk to your doctor about increasing your dose or about prescribing you another painkiller. It's not safe for you to take more than prescribed. Doctors have degrees and prescribe certain painkillers and doses for a reason.

    I Wish You the Best

  8. Addict

    I have been breaking down percocet 30 and injecting them, they make me sweet really bad and I want to stop but I can't. Is the sweating normal and I also feel like my stomach is hollow. I used to just snort them but since I have been shooting them I can't stop. Is there anything I can do.

    • Addict

      Yes sweating can happen. Usually if you take smaller doses you will not sweat. The hollow feeling in your stomach is anxiety. That is what will drive you to take more of the drug sooner. Another dose will assuage the anxiety. Ever impending emptiness is the biggest step toward psychological addiction.

  9. Addict

    I so feel for S.O. Much Pain. I was diagnosed with severe rheumatoid arthritis in 2005. I was real lucky that my doctor put me on a very aggressive therapy so today I have no damage to my joints. But I was put on Percocetís by my family doctor about four years ago for pain I could not control. Today I am be weaned off them by a great internal specialist that I saw about a month ago. It's tough but I know I'll feel better when I am done.
    All of you looking for help try your local hospital. They can refer you to low or no cost help in your area. Do not worry about anyone finding out, they are completely confidential.
    Get help, Percocet is a great drug, but it will sneak up on you after a while. I still have some pain that I will have to put up with forever, but be clean means if I ever do have to use them again, I can.

  10. Addict

    The other thing that seems to be neglected is the effect of Percocet on the bowel. My wife of 33 years died recently of ischemic bowel. Percocet causes not only euphoria and pain reduction, but it also slows the bowel (constipation) and in my wife's case was very likely a major contributing factor in her death at the age of only 55 years. She had taken Percocet since about the mid 1980's; this did not happen overnight, but keep this in mind if you get constipation frequently from taking just about any of the opiate pain medications.

    • Addict

      Hi, I am 43 and I have been on Percocet for about 4 years, my intestines completely stopped working I stayed overnight at the hospital, I go for 5 to 12 days without going to the bathroom the Dr. didn't tell me it was from the Percocet or even what caused my intestines to stop functioning. After reading your story I am scared to death. I have had colonoscopy they said everything was fine so why can't I go. I drink fiber been taking castor oil and milk of magnesia still can't go it's been six days, I don't know what to do, I have a lot of problems that causes a lot of pain, so I just can't stop and take nothing. Any suggestions?

      • Addict

        In 2010, after seeing a Dr. for severe constipation caused by meds I was referred to a surgeon who recommended a sub total colectomy absolutely out of? DRINK miralax, read directions, drink PLENTY of h2o, walk each day and eat. Incorporate much pineapple and or other fruits that help stimulate digestive issues.

        Take Care,

      • Addict

        Miralax read directions and follow to letter. Also incorporate much pineapple in diet, much h2o all day, and liquid aloe vera not any form but liquid(drug, health stores),ez find. drink 4 oz. Eat pine. regular h2o all day every day in a week youíll be on your way. Trust me, . But I know what helped me.

        Take Care,

  11. Addict

    My name is Michelle, I am a college student and could not have been on the road to recovery without the support of family and friends. I am 3 years sober thanks to finding online resources to help me get the treatment I needed. I strongly suggest to anyone who has a loved one that needs help to locate a good DRUG REHAB Center for treatment.

  12. Addict

    I have chronic neck pain. They say I have a bulging disc at c6-c7 and that it should not be operated on. I have dealt with 10 yrs. of pain. Leading to hospitalizations for depression. Today, I found a doctor who will give me Percocet. I know it is addicting, yet I go through depression and pain every day. I can't tell the one from the other. I guess I write this because I get so depressed that it will never end. So any comments.

    • Addict

      Jude - I feel your pain - I started taking perc for major pain neck/shoulder/tennis-elbow/tendinitis. It is the only thing that helps with the pain - and it really makes me happy and full of energy when on it. But I see how that can become a problem therefore I only take 1/2 pill only when I can't handle the pain - which is about 2 xs a week. I can see how easily addicting Perc can be! Who wants to be in pain? And who couldn't use some extra energy and a mood elevator? But I am sure that if this med is taken often, it will be a short time before you are telling a horror story of fighting addiction like so many people above. Please be careful!

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