Side Effects of Percocet Abuse


Percocet is a short-acting, as-needed synthetic opioid pain medication that is strictly controlled by the Drug Enforcement Agency because of its high potential for abuse. Consequently there is a significant black market demand for Percocet.

Percocet shares its active narcotic agent with oxycontin: oxycodone. However, unlike oxycontin, which just has the narcotic agent in it, Percocet is an oxycodone combination product, meaning that the narcotic is paired in tablet form with an over-the-counter analgesic, in this case, acetaminophen (better known as Tylenol).

The presence of acetaminophen does not deter those who are abusing Percocet, but it does complicate matters when it comes to the side effects of abusing this drug.

Percocet Dosages

Percocet is dispensed in tablet form in the following dosages. The first number represents the milligrams of the active narcotic, oxycodone, in each pill; the second number represents the milligrams of acetaminophen in each pill.

2.5 mg / 325 mg
5 mg / 325 mg
7.5 mg / 325 mg
7.5 mg / 500 mg
10 mg / 325 mg
10 mg / 650 mg

While all strengths of Percocet can be abused, those dosages where the narcotic is high and the acetaminophen is low tend to be the preferred dosages for those who would abuse the drug because too much acetaminophen too soon can be toxic to the liver.

Dependence and Addiction

The first and most obvious potential side effect from abusing Percocet is the risk of developing a dependence and possibly a full-blown addiction to Percocet. Percocet is considered to have a high potential for abuse because of the drug's euphoric effects.


Opioid pain medications have a tendency to cause constipation, whether they are being abused or not. It is believed that the narcotic may act to slow the activity of the smooth (involuntary) muscles involved in the digestion and movement through the intestines. Because opioids sometimes cause the sensation of having dry skin, they may be dehydrating as well, making constipation a greater problem.

Lethargy and Narcosis

Percocets are definitely not pep pills. They cause drowsiness and can cause dizziness, and a lethargic or narcotic type feeling is very common in conjunction with the sense of euphoria. Whether Percocet is being abused or not, people taking it are cautioned not to drive or undertake any similar activities.


Because of the acetaminophen content in Percocet, hepatoxicity—or a toxic liver—is a possible side effect from abusing Percocet. There is the potential for developing not just a dysfunctional liver and future liver problems from abusing Percocet but even fatal hepatitis.

Overdose and Death

Clearly the most dangerous potential side effect from abusing Percocet is the risk of death. People have overdosed on Percocet and they have died on account of it. This is a serious opioid that slows down the respiratory system.

In excessive dosages—and even in moderate, non-abuse level dosages—it can slow the respiratory system to a stop and result in death.

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