Percocet Abuse Signs, Symptoms & Effects

Delta Specialty Hospital helps individuals struggling with a mental health disorder build a strong foundation for long-term recovery. Serving Memphis, TN, Delta is the preferred provider of mental health treatment.

Understanding Percocet

Learn about Percocet and substance abuse

Made up of acetaminophen and oxycodone, Percocet is a prescription painkiller that is prescribed by doctors to alleviate pain and is classified as an opioid. Given this drug’s classification, it has a high potential for abuse and can lead to the development of an addiction if it is misused.

Over time, an individual’s mental and physical health can become ravaged by this painkiller, which can be made worse if an overdose occurs. Acetaminophen abuse can cause severe and even irreversible liver damage. Oxycodone, a substance just as addictive as heroin, can cause vital organ damage that can also be fatal.

If you have a loved one who either continued consuming this drug after needing it to alleviate pain, or began abusing it for recreational purposes, then you know the hold it can have on a person’s life once an addiction has formed. Your loved one may be placing the abuse of Percocet over every other aspect of his or her life, and he or she may even be experiencing negative effects, such as job loss or strained relationships, since developing a dependence on this painkiller.

As someone who cares about this individual, know that hope and help are available. With proper care and commitment, a Percocet addiction can be defeated once and for all.


Percocet addiction statistics

NIDA, or the National Institute on Drug Abuse, has gone on record to say that the rate of Percocet and other opioid-related deaths increased three-hundred present during the beginning of the 21st century. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, has stated that among women, this form of chemical dependency rose 400%, and almost 270% among men within this same time period. Lastly, the CDC reported that acetaminophen poisoning claims the lives of 300 people each year.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Percocet addiction and co-occurring disorders

Substance abuse is a concern that often accompanies a mental illness at the same time. Given this fact, your loved one may need treatment to alleviate one or more of the below-listed disorders if he or she seeks services to overcome an addiction to Percocet:

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

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors of Percocet addiction

If can be confusing to understand why your loved one has found him or herself in the throes of an addiction to Percocet. However, the following information may give you insight as to why this important individual in your life is grappling with this issue:

Genetics: Research has proven that one’s genetic background can determine if substance abuse will be a factor in someone’s life. While not necessarily a guaranteed outcome, those with a family history of abusing Percocet or other substances have a greater probability of also struggling with substance abuse at some point in life.

Environmental: Addiction experts widely agree that a person’s surroundings can affect someone’s vulnerability to abusing Percocet and other substances. For example, if someone is able to easily acquire Percocet, has witnessed others abuse this medication, or experiences ongoing stress that can trigger the urge to misuse Percocet as a means of escaping emotional pain, the likelihood of an individual abusing this painkiller is greater. Furthermore, if someone lacks the coping mechanisms and support needed to effectively endure stress, abusing Percocet may seem like a viable, yet misguided, solution to such turmoil.

Risk Factors:

  • Being prescribed Percocet
  • Having a family history of mental illness
  • Having a family history of substance abuse and/or addiction
  • Having a novelty-seeking personality
  • Having easy access to Percocet
  • Lacking impulse control
  • Prior history of substance abuse and/or mental illness

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of Percocet addiction

There are many obvious and not-so-obvious signs that a person is abusing or addicted to Percocet. To know for sure, it may be helpful to observe your loved one’s behavior or ask him or her if he or she is experiencing the following symptoms of Percocet abuse:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Abusing Percocet even after prior use has resulted in negative effects
  • Abusing Percocet when it is clearly dangerous to do so
  • Attempting but being incapable of reducing one’s Percocet use
  • Attempting to obtain a prescription for Percocet, or trying to acquire the drug through another illicit means
  • Social withdrawal
  • Taking Percocet in greater quantities or for a longer period of time than intended
  • Trying to borrow or steal money in order to get Percocet
  • Trying to borrow or steal Percocet

Physical symptoms:

  • Constipation
  • Coordination and motor skill difficulties
  • Exhaustion
  • Fatigue
  • Problems with balance
  • Shallow breathing
  • Sleep problems
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Slurred speech
  • Weight loss
  • Withdrawal symptoms when not using Percocet

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Lack of focus
  • Memory problems
  • Poor concentration
  • Poor decision-making

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Aggression
  • Agitation
  • Anger
  • Mood swings


Effects of Percocet addiction

The damage that can be caused by a Percocet addiction can be permanent and far-reaching. Therefore, if your loved one doesn’t engage in effective programming to defeat this sort of chemical dependency concern, the following effects are more likely to occur and negatively impact your friend or family member’s life:

  • Chronic unemployment
  • Damage to heart and lungs
  • Development mental health problems
  • Eye problems
  • Family discord
  • Financial problems
  • Homelessness
  • Interaction with the legal system
  • Job loss
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Social isolation
  • Strained relationships
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Suicide attempts

Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms of Percocet addiction

Effects of Percocet withdrawal: Because your loved one’s body can become accustomed to the presence of Percocet, he or she will likely need to consume more and more of this painkiller on a more frequent basis in order to experience the effects that he or she is after. Once tolerance develops, a series of unpleasant symptoms will emerge if he or she is not able to abuse enough of this drug to ward off physical and psychological discomfort. These symptoms are known as withdrawal and can involve the following:

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

Effects of Percocet Overdose: If an important person in your life has taken more Percocet than his or her body can handle, there is a risk that he or she can suffer an overdose. When this type of result happens, the following symptoms may be present, which then warrant a call for emergency medical treatment in order to prevent a fatal outcome:

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

After going through the Delta Specialty Hospital detox program, I am no longer abusing or dependent on Percocet. I am so grateful to all of the staff that helped me.

– Former Patient
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