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Percocet Addiction Treatment

Learn more about Percocet addiction symptoms, treatment, and recovery

What is Percocet?

Percocet is a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen that is prescribed to provide relief for moderate to severe short-term pain. Oxycodone is a potent opioid pain medication, while acetaminophen is an over-the-counter analgesic (commonly known by the brand name Tylenol).

Percocet may be prescribed to manage post-surgical or injury-related pain. It’s important to be aware of the risks of taking it, as oxycodone, the active ingredient in this medication, is addictive like other opioids. Another concern is that when large amounts of Percocet are consumed, the acetaminophen in it can damage the liver.

Percocet abuse plays a major role in the opioid epidemic. In 2019, an estimated 10.1 million people aged 12 or older misused opioids. Over 70% of drug overdose cases in 2019 were opioid-related. Overdose deaths from this class of drugs have multiplied almost six-fold since 1999.


Effects of Percocet

The way Percocet works to manage pain is by depressing the central nervous system to prevent pain signals from reaching the brain. It also activates the opioid receptors in the brain, producing a sense of euphoria. 

Because it contains oxycodone, this medication may produce certain side effects in users. These include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Stomach pain
  • Dizziness
  • Skin flushing
  • Headache
  • Mood swings

In other cases, Percocet can produce nausea, vomiting, sexual dysfunction in men, reduced sexual desire, seizures, difficulty breathing, or lightheadedness. When routinely misused, other negative physical, mental, social, financial, and legal consequences may arise.

Symptoms of Percocet addiction

Addiction to Percocet can affect an individual’s physical well-being, mental health, and social behavior. According to the DSM-5, a diagnosis of opioid use disorder includes the repeated occurrence (within a 12 month period) of two or more of the following eleven problems:

  • Giving up or reducing important social, work, or recreational activities
  • Difficulty fulfilling responsibilities at school, home, or work
  • Continued use despite knowing that it is harming physical or psychological health
  • Continued use despite knowing it’s creating social and interpersonal consequences 
  • Spending excessive time obtaining, using, or recovering from using opioids
  • Taking more than intended
  • Having cravings
  • Being unable to stop using or to decrease the amount used
  • Tolerance, which is the need to take larger amounts of opioids to get the desired effect
  • Using opioids in physically dangerous situations
  • Withdrawal symptoms

Individuals who misuse Percocet may also experience confusion, constipation, sleepiness, light-headedness, slow breathing, dry mouth, and constricted pupils.

Treatment for Percocet addiction 

Percocet is commonly prescribed and also commonly misused. Long-term opioid misuse can produce adverse effects like sleep-disordered breathing, a disruption of stress response, and increased pain sensitivity. Research shows that people with substance abuse disorders are at a higher risk of co-occurring mental health conditions. Misuse may also suppress the immune system, and in serious cases can lead to Percocet overdose. When a person is ready to get help with their Percocet addiction, the gold-standard treatment for opioid addiction is medication-assisted treatment (MAT). The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration defines MAT as “the use of medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a “whole-patient” approach to the treatment of substance use disorders.”

The core of MAT is medication that has been FDA-approved to treat opioid use disorder. Buprenorphine and methadone are medications that reduce cravings by stimulating the opioid receptors in the brain. These medications help to stabilize long-term recovery and lower the risk of relapse. Naltrexone is another medication approved by the FDA to treat opioid addiction that operates by binding to and blocking opioid receptors in the brain. Workit Health prescribes buprenorphine in formulations that combine it with naloxone to prevent diversion and misuse (like Suboxone), and also prescribes naltrexone. Workit does not prescribe methadone, which is subject to more stringent regulations and monitoring requirements.

Many people who use opioids want to stop but are afraid of going through withdrawal. To be fair, opioid withdrawal can be a miserable experience. Your healthcare provider can suggest options—prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and self-care—to help with the discomfort.

Behavioral Therapy
Behavioral health support is an important component of MAT. Counseling techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy can help to navigate addiction. Talk therapy, group counseling, and therapeutic courses can help people in recovery identify and navigate their triggers, set goals, and learn to modify negative attitudes and behaviors.

Some treatment centers and rehab centers provide both options, but many do not support MAT.

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10. National Institute of Mental Health. Substance use and co-occurring mental disorders. Last reviewed March 2021.

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