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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  1. I’ve been taking Percocet 10/325 and Lortab 10/325 for 11 years after breaking my back. I take WAY more than prescribed but never considered it an addiction, more of a tolerance. I definitely have a physical dependence. I have cut back recently with no problems. Now my doctor has retired and I’m not trying to find a new doctor that will prescribe them. I’ve completely quit taking them and the side effects are REALLY bad. This site has scared me because I quit cold turkey from a VERY high dosage. I no longer have a doctor AT ALL so how do I go about all of this?

  2. I have been on Percocet 10/325 3-4 /day for about 3years. I had 2 different accidents and 3 surgeries during this time. I want to get off the Percocet by weaning down. Can I do it at home by myself and/or if so what can I expect during the withdrawal. How long will it take for me to get off of this. I only take as my Dr. Prescribed.When the first accident occured and it helped with my pain I never thought this could be the results from injury and surgeries to repair me.

    1. Hi Don. Experts claim that the best way to quit Percocet is by slowly reducing the daily dosages. I suggest that you speak with your doctor to help you plan an individualized tapering schedule.

  3. I thought my wife was snorting Percocet 10/320 I begged her to stop or at least cut way down but when I brought it up it would just start a fight I was married 40 years she was a very smart woman and I thought she would not od on it we were always broke she was barrowng money and I found her dead on the floor after her death I started doing some researching she barrowed 1300 dollars from her best friend and 800 dollars from my brother in law she was buying oxy contin behind my back now I blame myself should I ?

    1. Hi, Steve. I’m really sorry for your loss… You are going through hard times. Please don’t blame yourself, you’ve done everything for her. After all, she chose her path… I wish you peace in this time of loss.

  4. I have been abusing 5mg Percocet for about 3 months, I have been prescribed the drug for chronic pain and have had no trouble in the past making my prescribed 100 pills last for months, now 100 barely last 2 weeks, I have the will power and support to ween my self back but do I simply go back to my prescribed dosage?? How long should I do this for? Is there any set dosage to slowly ween my self back to? Thank you , I hope to get a response

    1. Hello, Aaron. I suggest you consult with your doctor to help you plan an individualized tapering schedule just for you, so you can ween back to your previous prescribed dosage. In this way, maybe you won’t trigger some withdrawal symptoms. Good luck!

  5. I have been taking Percocet 10/325 for about 7 months prescribed to me to take as needed for pain I am 64 I have a torn rt rotory cull & reacuring pain from a torn acl I had surgery & was ok for about a year I also have spinal stenosis with de generative disk in my back I take 3 a day can I wean off then cut down to 2 pills a day ?

    1. Hi Christian. Physical addiction is impossible after one dose of Percocet. People with an addictive personality, however, can become easily obsessed and start compulsively seeking and using the medication.

  6. Brian. Find a different doctor and remember take your recommended daily dose. You can’t become addicted if you take less than 25 mgs daily for legitimate pain. And ‘don’t’ forget. If they stop working do NOT take more! That is what leads to addiction. Cut back for a few days and then resume. They will begin to work again. I have to do this about every three months. The ones who keep taking more and more to get pain relief and high are the one who become addicted and screwed up.

  7. Hello Ivana.
    Not yet.
    I’m looking for some more articles on the subject because he’s skeptical of imost information off the internet.
    I see him next month.

  8. Hello Brian. I’m glad you could find the necessary information. There is a difference between dependence and addiction, only not many people understand this fact. Did you manage to get Tylenol after all?!

  9. I’ve had Rheumatoid Arthritis and Ankliosing Spondelitis (Arthritis of the spine and neck) for over 30 years now and was put on Percocet about ten years ago. I don’t remember the dose but it had to be increased gradually to keep the pain away. Anyways, one day I went to my family Doctor (in a panic) instead of the Pain Specialist (who prescribed the drug) and told him in tears the drug wasn’t working anymore. He told me to go to the Hospital’s Emergency department to get off the drug. I did and got off the drug after a week or two only to be replaced by Methadone. I spent about 7 years on Methadone and felt so horrible I got off of it on my own (no help)
    So now, years later, I no longer take anything for pain so I can barely get by because my Doctor won’t prescribe anything for me because thinks I have an “addictive personality” Keep in mind when I was on Percocet I NEVER took more of this medication than was prescribed. When it stopped working I came to him instead of increasing the dose on my own. I never felt “high” on this drug…I just felt normal like when I was a kid before i got sick. So, now I’m arguing with this Doctor that I do NOT have an “addictive personality” which is why I’ve been Googling and found this site today and many others like it.

    THANK YOU for explaining there IS a difference between dependency and addiction. Maybe now (with the help of this article) I can get on Tylenol #2 at the LEAST. Right now I’m suffering and I know it’s unnecessary.

  10. I have been prescribed Percocet for main management after back surgery seven years ago, and now for chronic leg pain related to the surgery. I take 5mg up to 3x daily as prescribed. I never take more than 3 a day. No other over the counter pain medications work. I have tried them all.

    If I don not take them, the only symptoms I have is a return of severe leg pain. It is intolerable and very uncomfortable. I do not have any withdrawal symptoms, just a return of the pain. The only thing that calms them down is the Percocet. I do admit I get a nice warm feeling throughout my entire body about a half hour after taking one, but this goes away soon, and then I feel normal until the leg pain starts to return. If i notice they are starting not to work, Instead of taking more. I will cut back on them for a couple of days and then when i resume my normal dosage they will work again. This is how I avoid becoming addicted.

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