Is Percocet addictive?

YES. Percocet is highly addictive, even when Percocet is prescribed by a doctor. We review what Percocet is made of and how you can get addicted to Percocet here.

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YES. Percocet is addictive.

Percocet can become addictive When you take Percocet to get high, or for long-term pain management. But how do you know that you’ve become addicted to Percocet, or not? We’ll review these questions here and invite your questions about the addictive potential of Percocet at the end.

What is Percocet used for?

Percocet contains two medications – oxycodone hydrochloride and acetaminophen. Percocet is used for the management of moderate to severe pain and comes in tablet form. When taken as prescribed, Percocet can offer pain relief as needed, or around-the-clock.

What is Percocet made of?

Percocet contains oxycodone, an opium-derived synthetic powder, which is similar to morphine. Although oxycodone affects the central nervous system like opiates, oxycodone is created in a lab, so it’s called an “opioid” medication.   Percocet on drug screen will show as an opiate.  But true opiates occur in nature and come from the opium poppy.

How addictive is Percocet?

Percocet is very addictive.  How much Percocet is safe will depend on individual tolerance and exposure to opiates or opioids.  But because it’s so similar to morphine and other opiate medications, it has a similar abuse liability. Percocet has a strong effect on the central nervous system, which is why it’s so frequently abused. This is one of the main reasons that Percocet is classified as a Schedule II narcotic by the Controlled Substances Act. A Schedule II classification is the highest level of control for an FDA approved drug – the only higher schedule, Schedule I, is for highly addictive substances with no legitimate medical use whatsoever.

But how addictive a drug is doesn’t just depend on its chemical properties. Social and cultural factors also heavily influence the availability of Percocet. For example, the social normalization of selling prescription medications has resulted in increased cases of Percocet abuse addiction in recent years.

Percocet dependence vs. addiction

There is a distinct difference between Percocet dependence and addiction. In fact, someone who uses Percocet responsibly for legitimate medical reasons can become dependent on the medication, and unable to stop using it without side effects. But this doesn’t mean that the person is an addict. The difference is a little confusing. A physical dependence on Percocet is characterized by two criteria:

1. A tolerance to the medication, requiring greater and greater doses to achieve the same level of pain relief

2. Withdrawal symptoms when attempting to lower the dosage or quit taking Percocet

Although the characteristics of physical dependence may be present during addiction, Percocet addiction is different because the mental element of drug craving is present. Strong cravings for Percocet, and compulsive use of Percocet (despite negative consequences) are present during Percocet addiction. These characteristics are NOT present during physical dependence on Percocet.

How do you get addicted to Percocet?

In general, you can get addicted to Percocet if you take Percocet in a manner other than normally prescribed. While normal medical use can cause addiction to Percocet, it’s less likely. So if you are taking Percocet for pain, rather than to try to get high … how do you know you’re not becoming addicted?

If you’re taking Percocet as directed by your doctor, it is not likely that you become addicted to Percocet. But if you start taking larger doses of Percocet than prescribed, or take Percocet more frequently than prescribed your chances of addiction increase. Additionally, if you to try to achieve the psychoactive effects of Percocet, you’re misusing the drug. You’re much more likely to become addicted this way. Finally, if you make a conscious decision to misuse the medication, it’s very likely you’ll become addicted.

Signs of Percocet addiction

While some of the superficial symptoms of Percocet dependence and addiction can be hard to tell apart, Percocet addiction involves a psychological craving for the drug. You may be addicted to the oxycodone found in Percocet if you need Percocet to deal with normal stresses in daily life. Other signs of Percocet addiction include:

  1. Continued Percocet abuse despite negative consequences
  2. Craving Percocet and using it compulsively
  3. Seeking Percocet in order to stimulate the “reward center” of the brain

Percocet addiction potential questions

Do you still have questions about Percocet’s addiction potential? Please leave your questions about Percocet addictive-ness here. We are happy to try to answer your questions personally and promptly. And if we do not know the answer to your particular question, we will refer you to someone who does.

Reference Sources: DailyMed: Oxycodone hydrochloride
FDA: Abuse Liability Analysis
FDA: OxyContin risk evaluation and mitigation strategy
PubMed: Abuse liability of oxycodone as a function of pain and drug use history
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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