Percocet Abuse, Side Effects, Detox, & Rehab

Percocet is a prescription opioid medication that is recognized as having a high abuse potential.1

This page will explain:

  • What Percocet is.
  • How it differs from oxycodone.
  • The side effects that can occur from abusing Percocet.
  • Signs of addiction to an opioid.
  • How Percocet addiction is treated.

What is Percocet?

Percocet is a brand name for a combination painkiller containing 2 substances: acetaminophen—commonly found in over-the-counter medications like Tylenol—and the opioid oxycodone.2, 3, 4

Percocet is available as tablets containing 325 mg of acetaminophen and varying amounts of oxycodone, either 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 7.5 mg, or 10 mg.2

This medication is prescribed to treat moderate to moderately severe pain. The oxycodone component of Percocet is a semi-synthetic opioid thought to relieve pain by binding to specific opioid receptors and altering how the brain and nervous system respond to pain.3

The acetaminophen component can also reduce fever.2, 3

Some of the abuse potential of Percocet may be explained by its pleasant or rewarding effects. In addition to pain relief, it can provide: 2, 4

  • A sense of relaxation.
  • Relief from anxiety.
  • Euphoria.

Though Percocet is not indicated for such uses, these dose-dependent effects may be reinforcing of continued, nonmedical misuse of the drug.

What’s the Difference Between Percocet & Oxycodone?

There isn’t much of a difference between oxycodone and Percocet, aside from Percocet additionally having acetaminophen in its combination formulation. The opioid component of both medications work similarly, although Percocet has the added benefits of acetaminophen’s effects, which include fever reduction and a second mechanism of mild pain relief.2

Both oxycodone and Percocet are indicated for use in managing relatively severe pain, so the primary differences are the presence or absence of acetaminophen, and the fact that oxycodone can be prescribed as an extended-release formulation.2, 3

What Are the Health Effects of Percocet Abuse?

Percocet abuse can have a number of adverse effects on your physical and mental health.2, 3, 5

By abusing Percocet, you can be ingesting much larger amounts of acetaminophen than intended. This can result in severe, irreversible liver damage and can be fatal.5

Using Percocet even as prescribed can increase your chance of developing a tolerance, where you become desensitized to the effects of the drug and have to take larger doses to feel its effects.2, 6

Regular use and/or abuse of Percocet over time can also cause you to develop a physical dependence, where your body relies on the presence of Percocet to function normally.2, 3

If you suddenly stop using when you are dependent, you can experience symptoms of Percocet withdrawal, which can be extremely uncomfortable.2

You could also be more likely to develop an opioid use disorder if you abuse Percocet.2, 3

How to Know if Someone is Abusing Percocet

If you or someone you care about has a problem with abusing Percocet, they may be showing the signs and symptoms of an opioid use disorder.

Percocet, oxycodone, or other opioid addictions are best left diagnosed by doctors or other treatment professionals as what are known as opioid use disorders.  These diagnoses are based on the presence of certain signs and symptoms as diagnostic criteria.

Warning Signs of Percocet Abuse

The presence of at least 2 of the following signs, symptoms, and behavioral changes could indicate the patterns of compulsive us common to opioid use disorders, at which point it would be a good idea to speak with a medical or mental health professional about your use of Percocet and what your treatment options are.6

Warning signs include:2, 6, 7

  • Experiencing strong urges or cravings to use Percocet.
  • Using Percocet in higher doses or for longer than originally planned.
  • Wanting or trying to cut back or stop taking Percocet, but not being able to do so.
  • Spending a lot of time focusing on getting, using, or recovering from the effects of Percocet.
  • Cutting back or quitting hobbies or other social activities because of Percocet use.
  • Having trouble completing major tasks at home, school, or work because of Percocet use.
  • Inability to stop using Percocet even after it has caused or worsened physical or mental health problems.
  • Not being able to stop using Percocet even after it has caused or worsened problems in relationships or social situations.
  • Taking Percocet in situations where it could be dangerous.
  • Developing a tolerance to the effects of Percocet.
  • Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal when you cut back significantly or stop taking Percocet.

Percocet Addiction Treatment and Rehab Centers

Treatment for addiction to Percocet or other opioids often begins with a supervised medical detox to manage withdrawal symptoms at the start of recovery. From there, many patients transition into additional treatment, which may include inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation services that set them up for long-term sobriety.

Professional rehab programs often utilize effective, evidence-based treatment techniques provided in both group and individual sessions.

Commonly used behavioral therapeutic techniques include those that help you:

  • Learn effective coping skills.
  • Understand potential triggers to relapse.
  • Improve your communication skills and relationships.
  • Change your patterns of thoughts and behaviors.
  • Develop healthy habits.

Many rehab programs incorporate a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy (and related behavioral therapies), family therapy, mutual support group meetings, educational sessions, relapse prevention skills training, as well as health and wellness activities to tailor a comprehensive treatment plan for each individual.

Oxford Treatment Center and other American Addiction Centers facilities are staffed with medical professionals with years of experience treating addiction. Call us at to learn more about our comprehensive drug rehab program in MS at Oxford Treatment Center.

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