What Is Percocet?

Percocet is the brand name of a combination medication used to treat moderate to severe pain. Its two main ingredients (oxycodone and acetaminophen) relieve pain through two mechanisms.

Oxycodone, an opioid pain reliever, affects the brain and changes how the body responds and feels pain. At the same time, acetaminophen helps lower any accompanying fever and changes how the body senses pain. Together, the combined effect results in a powerful euphoric effect, similar to the effects of heroin. Due to this, Percocet is often misused, with many people developing an addiction.

What Is Percocet Used For?

Percocet is used for pain relief and is most commonly prescribed after surgical and dental procedures. It is usually prescribed for short-term use until the most painful, immediate effects of the procedure pass and become more tolerable. It is recommended for people who have pain that will not be relieved by less potent medications.

Percocet is misused for its euphoric and relaxing effects, with physical tolerance developing as early as 48 hours after consistent use. This tolerance is characterized by someone needing to take a higher dose to obtain the expected effect.

Is Percocet Addictive?

Percocet can be addictive, even when used according to a physician’s advice. Oxycodone (the opioid in Percocet) is a Schedule II narcotic, meaning it has the highest abuse potential of all legal medications.

It is recommended that all people using Percocet, even for short periods, be monitored closely for signs of abuse and addiction. Misuse can be described as using the medication for rewarding psychological effects and not for pain relief.

Percocet addiction may involve patterns of behavior and thoughts that revolve around:

  • Craving the drug
  • Maintaining a supply of the drug
  • Experiencing difficulty in controlling its use
  • Making it the highest priority over people and activities
  • Having an increased tolerance
  • Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal in between doses

Side Effects

Percocet can produce respiratory depression by its actions on the brain stem. It can cause a decrease in the responsiveness of the respiratory system that triggers someone to take a breath. This can cause one of the most common and dangerous side effects of oxycodone, which is respiratory depression or stopped breathing.

Other common side effects are:

  • Constipation
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Tiredness

  • Extra sleeping
  • Confusion
  • Headaches
  • Itchiness or rash


When purchased illegally, Percocet may unknowingly be laced with fentanyl, which can lead to an overdose. Likewise, the respiratory depression caused by Percocet misuse can also lead to overdose. A Percocet overdose has similar symptoms to an overdose caused by other opioids, such as:

  • Sedation/extreme drowsiness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Slowed heartbeat
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Shallow or slow breathing
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Bluish lips and fingernails

Thankfully, the opioid-reversal drug naloxone helps to block and reverse the effects and should be kept on hand at all times if Percocet is being misused.

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Using the lowest amount of Percocet for the shortest period is recommended. The risk of developing an addiction is significant; therefore, only limited exposures are recommended. Percocet is available in four immediate-release tablets and two different liquid forms.


  • Percocet 2.5: oxycodone 2.5mg/acetaminophen 325mg
  • Percocet 5: oxycodone 5mg/acetaminophen 325mg
  • Percocet 7.5: oxycodone 7.5mg mg/acetaminophen 325mg
  • Percocet 10: oxycodone 10mg/acetaminophen 325mg


  • Oxycodone 5 mg and acetaminophen 325 mg per 5mL
  • Oxycodone 10 mg and acetaminophen 300 mg per 5mL

Percocet is a short-acting form of oxycodone, and when prescribed for pain relief, it may be taken every 4 to 6 hours.

When it is misused, the amounts used will vary based on the person, tolerance, and level of use. Percocet addiction may involve taking the pills orally, injecting them into the vein, or crushing and inhaling or snorting them.

What Drugs, Substances, Or Supplements Interact With Percocet?

The risk for worsening side effects such as respiratory depression, dizziness, and confusion is increased if Percocet is taken with other drugs or substances that cause drowsiness or breathing problems. Due to this, Percocet should not be taken with alvimopan and olanzapine/samidorphan.

Any medication, substance, or supplement that affects the central nervous system may have heightened effects when combined with Percocet. This includes sedatives, benzodiazepines, other pain medications, and antihistamines. When these medications are used in combination with Percocet, someone may experience:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Respiratory depression

If you experience any of these symptoms or have any questions, it’s important to contact your physician as soon as possible to avoid serious, adverse consequences connected to Percocet use.

Withdrawal Syndrome

Percocet withdrawal can happen when someone decreases their usual amount or stops taking Percocet. Opioid withdrawal can be extremely unpleasant. How long it takes to become dependent on the drug can vary from person to person, and therefore, so can the need to manage withdrawal to avoid complications. The level of severity of symptoms also can be different for each person. For most people, symptoms begin within 12-24 hours. A person who has become dependent on Percocet will experience some level of withdrawal when they are no longer taking the drug.

Some of the symptoms of Percocet withdrawal are:

  • Restlessness
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhea

  • Anxiety
  • Abdominal pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Runny nose/watery eyes

Most symptoms start to improve after about three days and are much better within a week, though some individuals have reported delayed and prolonged withdrawal symptoms. Opioid withdrawal can be dangerous, and it is recommended to involve medical professionals who can help ease symptoms and monitor for any complications.

What’s The Difference Between Percocet And Oxycodone-CR Products?

Percocet contains the short-acting form of oxycodone. Oxycodone is also available in an extended-release form called OxyContin. Extended-release oxycodone is usually prescribed for patients with significant pain, including cancer patients.

When taken orally, Percocet can have an onset of action within 30-45 minutes. The long-acting formulation has a longer onset of action, closer to one hour. Percocet has a duration of action of around 3–6 hours, which means an individual will feel the effects for that long. The long-acting form, or controlled-release (CR) form, has a duration closer to 12 hours. When the CR (long-acting) form is misused, the individual crushes the tablets to bypass the controlled release feature.

Percocet Addiction Treatment

If you or someone you know is addicted to Percocet, they may have already felt the effects of withdrawal between doses. Professional treatment is recommended to manage opioid withdrawal and detox, ease your symptoms, and help you recover successfully.

Contact a treatment provider today to find out more information about the treatment process and to explore your rehab options.