Percocet is a brand name pain medicine, which is made of acetaminophen and oxycodone. This drug is used to treat moderate to severe pain. The oxycodone component is an opiate substance with strong addictive potential. The effects of Percocet include euphoria, drowsiness, and of course, pain reduction, and they will last from four to six hours. According to a recent survey by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), seven million people in America reported the use of prescription drugs for recreational purposes, and over five million people have abused a narcotic like Percocet in the last year.

Effects of Percocet

Percocet has many side effects, which are potentiated if the drug is taken in high doses. The short-term effects include:

  • Euphoria
  • Dizziness
  • Shallow breathing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Low blood pressure
  • Liver damage

The long-term effects include:

  • Physical addiction
  • Tolerance
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver failure
  • Low testosterone levels
  • Chronic constipation

Causes of Addiction to Percocet

There are many people who become addicted to opiate narcotics. There is not one exact cause, but rather, several factors work together as a cause. They include:

  • Genetics – If you have a parent or parents who are addicts, you have a greater chance of developing addiction later in life.


  • Brain chemistry – People born with a painful disorder have a greater chance of developing addiction on narcotics with prolonged use. Also, certain people are born without neurotransmitters or certain receptor sites, so they resort to abuse of narcotics to correct this imbalance.


  • Psychological – Many mental disorders are untreated or undiagnosed, and people will underreport psychological symptoms. These individuals are at risk for drug abuse to self-medicate to alleviate their symptoms.


  • Environmental – People who are reared in chaotic, unstable homes where addiction is present are at a higher risk for developing addiction later in life. These children learn to handle stress and emotional pain through chemical dependency.

Dependence on Narcotics

Abuse and addiction are not the same as dependence and tolerance. Narcotics, such as Percocet, cause both physical and psychological dependence. Dependence is where a person receives positive or negative reinforcement to use a drug, where tolerance is a progressive use of a substance. Once a person becomes tolerant to a drug, he or she will increase the amount taken in order to achieve the desired effect. Long-term use of Percocet often causes drug-seeking behavior and reliance.

Addiction is diagnosed when a person has various signs and symptoms, such as obsession and preoccupation with the drug, inability to cease taking the drug despite bad consequences, withdrawal syndrome, and denial of drug usage. Full-blown drug addiction is considered a disease, and it affects numerous aspects of a person’s life. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) report that around 20 million people required treatment for substance abuse in 2007.

Withdrawal Syndrome

Narcotic pain relievers, such as Percocet, are difficult to stop because of the painful withdrawal syndrome (drug sickness). When dependence and addiction occurs, withdrawal symptoms are likely. These include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Upset stomach
  • Cold sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Tremors
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint pain
  • Seizures

Depending on the severity of the addiction and the level of tolerance, the duration of the withdrawals varies. Most symptoms peak on the second or third day, but will subside within a few weeks. Percocet rehabilitation (rehab) treatment will involve detoxification (detox), which is the process of removing the drug from the body. This alleviates some of the painful withdrawal symptoms.