The short answer as to whether or not Percocet is addictive is yes. Learn more about why Percocet is so addictive and how the addiction begins.

What Is Percocet?

Percocet is a prescription drug that’s used to treat moderate to severe pain, and it includes both the opioid oxycodone, as well as acetaminophen. This combination is highly effective in treating physical pain. Percocet is often prescribed for people who have acute pain, such as from a surgical operation. Percocet is a controlled substance in the U.S., which means you must have a prescription to legally obtain it. Strict guidelines regulate how Percocet can be prescribed.

While it is meant to be taken only as prescribed, unfortunately, Percocet has become one of the most abused drugs in the country, and it’s part of the widespread opioid epidemic currently impacting the country. It’s very easy to become addicted to prescription opioids like Percocet, and illicit ones like heroin. Even when you’re prescribed Percocet, there is still the potential for addiction.

How Addictive Is Percocet?

So, how addictive is Percocet?

It would be impossible to provide a specific answer because everyone’s body and brain are unique, but to provide a generality to how addictive is Percocet, it’s very addictive for most people.

When you take Percocet or any opioid, it has a profound effect on your brain chemistry. When you take it within about thirty minutes or so, it reaches your brain and binds to your opioid receptors. When that happens, your brain triggers a flood of endorphins that are responsible for making you feel good, as if you can no longer feel pain, or even euphoric.

Your body releases endorphins naturally without the use of opioids, but not nearly as much as when you take opioids. Opioids like Percocet affect the brain’s reward center, so if you’re under the influence of opioids, you may feel euphoria, pleasure, and relaxation.

Even after taking Percocet only a few times, your brain may start to think it needs to seek more of the drug to replicate the positive experience of the high. This pattern is how addiction begins. Your brain can almost immediately push you into seeking more of the drug.

Understanding how Percocet and other opioids work is important because you must understand how addictive Percocet is and how quickly addiction can occur.

As you continue using Percocet, your body becomes used to the flood of endorphins that Percocet triggers. Your system no longer sees it as an out-of-the-ordinary experience, and an abnormally high level of endorphins becomes your brain’s new normal.

Percocet Dependence

When this happens, you’re likely dependent on Percocet. Your body sees the presence of the drug as normal, and not taking it would send your system into shock, which is what happens during withdrawal. At this point, you’re not only psychologically addicted to Percocet (your brain is pushing you to continue using it through cravings), but your body is physically dependent on its presence.

Percocet Tolerance

Once you have a tolerance to Percocet, you won’t experience the euphoric high anymore, but you still feel a need to continue using it. Your brain starts to have difficulty responding to stimuli that you would typically find pleasurable, and you may also have a reduced pain threshold without the drug, meaning you’re extra sensitive to pain.

So, even though Percocet is a prescribed medication approved to relieve pain, the drug still carries the risk of addiction. Doctors are cognizant of the potential for abuse with Percocet, and also the chances of an addiction developing, so they start patients on the lowest possible dosages of the drug. Medical professionals may provide patients with strict instructions as to how Percocet should be taken.

Preventing Percocet Addiction

If you take Percocet exactly as directed, you’re reducing your chances of becoming addicted. If you start to take it more often than prescribed or take larger doses, however, then you are upping your chances of being addicted to Percocet. Also, if you’re taking it just to achieve certain feelings, you are abusing it.

Percocet is very addictive. You can reduce your risk of becoming addicted to Percocet by following your doctor’s instructions exactly, but there is still a risk of tolerance and physical dependence.

If you or someone you love is addicted to Percocet, contact The Recovery Village® to learn more about evidence-based treatment.

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Editor – Camille Renzoni
Cami Renzoni is a creative writer and editor for The Recovery Village. As an advocate for behavioral health, Cami is certified in mental health first aid and encourages people who face substance use disorders to ask for the help they deserve. Read more
Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.