Percocet is the brand name for the combination of a synthetic opioid called oxycodone and a non-opioid pain reliever called acetaminophen, also called Tylenol. Oxycodone has a similar structure and also similar addictive characteristics to morphine. Like all opiates and other combined opioid analgesic medications, Percocet is a CNS depressant which slows down the respiratory system and also the heart rate, and causes a euphoric, relaxed sensation.
There is also a time-release form of Percocet called OxyContin. Both Percocet and OxyContin have been the subjects of much concern with a soaring number of persons struggling with addiction to these drugs, and also the rising number of overdoses and deaths.
According to government statistics, prescription opiates including drugs like Percocet are the leading cause of recent drug overdose deaths, and the death rate continues to climb.1
When two or more CNS depressants such as Percocet and alcohol are taken together, the additive depressant effects can lead to respiratory collapse or coma, requiring immediate medical intervention. The Good Samaritan Law allows people to assist others amidst a medical emergency; in effect, creating a liability-free solution to preventing overdose and death. The law applies to each state in the US and in many countries around the world. There is no legal ramification in calling 9-1-1 to request emergency medical help for a person in an overdose situation.
In addition to the risks of addiction, overdose and death from Percocet use, there is also an associated health concern regarding the effects of long-term use of acetaminophen leading to renal impairment and ALF (acute liver failure) as well as significant liver damage. The leading cause of ALF is linked to synthetic analgesic opioid medications such as Percocet, Lortab, Vicodin, etc.2
Before starting or stopping a drug like Percocet, becoming as knowledgeable as possible about side effects, health risks, and withdrawal symptoms can help to make the most informed decision possible for you or a loved one’s health and safety.
What Is Percocet (Oxycodone) Used for?
Oxycodone or Percocet is a pain relief medication for moderate to moderately severe pain. Typically, the common prescription dosage is to give one tablet every 6 hours for the relief of continuous pain.
Oxycontin is a continuous release form of the medication, given once every 12 hours.
Recreationally, both Percocet and OxyContin are used for their euphoric effects, similar to or stronger than other opiates such as morphine or heroin.
Percocet (Oxycodone) Alternative Names and Slang
Percocet, oxycodone, and OxyContin have all developed a significant street presence as these drugs are all habit-forming and easy to get addicted to. On the street, these may be referred to by nicknames, such as Percs, C, Oxy’s, OX, OC, Blues, Kickers, Hillbilly heroin, 40s, and 80s (OxyContin 40mg/80 mg pills).
Purdue, the makers of OxyContin started plans to reformulate the drug as early as 2011, to make it harder to crush and dissolve. The new formulation was renamed OxyNeo. OxyContin was banned in several countries, but until as recently as February of 2018 OxyContin was still being sold abroad. Purdue has now stated it will stop making the drug. But other drug companies may not be as willing to stop the lucrative production and sale of such medications around the world.3,4
The greatest key to health is education, which will give a person the understanding of how to avoid personal medical tragedies despite disingenuous or even illegal marketing practices by over-reaching drug companies.
Percocet (Oxycodone) Side Effects
A person taking Percocet experiences the pleasurable euphoric side effects, a false sense of well-being, no pain, and profound relaxation.
Other possible side effects include:
- Unusual dreams or nightmares
- Rash, reddened skin, hives, itching, flushing
- Sore throat
- Blurred or double vision
- Mental fog or confusion
- Dizziness especially when rising from seated or lying position
- Loss of appetite
- Agitation, nervousness, restlessness
- Difficulty urinating, painful urination
- Back pain or pain in side
- Yellowed eyes or skin
- Pale, clay-like stools
- Dark urine
- Dry mouth
- Twitches, muscle stiffness
- Mood swings
- Fatigue, tiredness, drowsiness
- Loss of motor or muscle control
Percocet (Oxycodone) Withdrawal Symptoms
It is recommended that one stop using oxycodone or Percocet gradually to avoid what could be intense withdrawals, depending on the length of time it was taken, and the dosage.
Withdrawal symptoms from Percocet can include:
- Profuse sweating
- Interrupted sleep
- Shaking, tremors
- Muscle and bone pain
- General malaise
Discontinuing/Quitting Percocet (Oxycodone)
If you have been taking Percocet for an extended period of time, it may require gradual tapering to make it possible to endure the associated intense withdrawals. Seek medical advice before suddenly stopping a drug like Percocet.
Some persons may prefer to opt for inpatient help as the withdrawals can be near to impossible to endure without assistance. There are many ways to ease the process, such as a short course of bridge medications to ease these profoundly uncomfortable withdrawals. More information on withdrawal management is given below in the section called “Treatment.”