When does Percocet start to work?

Percocet kicks in 0-15 minutes after oral administration. But does this make Percocet more addictive than other pain medications? Yes. More on this short-acting, rapid onset pain killer and its addiction liability here.

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Percocet is a rapid onset analgesic.

The onset of pain relief occurs within 15 minutes of dosing Percocet. This rapid action makes Percocet appealing as a quick pain reliever, but it also increases the drug’s addiction liability. When you take Percocet in ways other than prescribed, you are even more likely to get addicted to Percocet. So how does Percocet drug onset work? And what speeds it up? Here, we’ll review the variables and invite your questions about Percocet use at the end.

Percocet active ingredients

Percocet is used as a pain killer for the relief of moderate to moderately severe pain. The main ingredients in Percocet are oxycodone hydrochloride and acetaminophen. Oxycodone provides the main pain relief, as this chemical binds with opioid receptors in the central nervous system to change the way that the brain perceives pain. Acetaminophen is added to oxycodone to reduce Percocet abuse, but people have learned to get around this.  When Percocet compared to Vicodin, the addiction liability is actually greater with Percocet.

Percocet tablets and mode of administration

Although Percocet is offered only in tablet form, some people do not take it orally. In fact, the route of administration causes dramatic differences in the onset, intensity, and duration of a drug’s effect. Smoked, snorted or injected Percocet reaches the brain very rapidly and results in immediate onset. But this kind of administration also increases addiction liability. To review, the main ways people take drugs like Percocet are:

  • Ingestion
  • Inhalation
  • Injection
  • Snorting
  • Through the skin (patch)

Risk of Percocet drug addiction

Drug dependence and drug abuse are known adverse reactions to Percocet. In fact, these psychiatric effects are what make Percocet tablets a Schedule II controlled substance. How does Percocet addiction develop? And who is at risk of becoming addicted to Percs?

1. Taking Percocet in higher doses than prescribed
2. Taking Percocet more frequently than prescribed
3. Taking Percocet in ways other than prescribed
4. Taking Percocet without a prescription

You should know that the main ingredient in Percocet (oxycodone) is a mu-agonist opioid which can produce physical dependence. When taken over time, the body adapts to the presence of oxycodone, needing more dose to achieve similar pain relief (tolerance). Then, the body will experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking or reduce Percocet dosage (withdrawal). But addiction occurs apart from just physical need. A psychological element occurs when you get addicted to Percocet.

A powerful pain killer, Percocet (oxycodone) can also create feelings of euphoria, or intense well being. When you take Percocet for euphoric effect, or as a way to avoid psychological and emotional pain, you can get addicted. So even if you start taking Percocet as prescribed, if you cannot stop taking it, or take it to avoid psychological issues, you may need help.

Am I addicted to Percocet?

Percocet addiction is a chronic, often relapsing brain disease. Addiction means that you seeks and use Percocet compulsively, despite harmful consequences in your life. Although the initial decision to take Percocet is voluntary, the brain changes over time and make self control difficult. If you cannot resist intense impulses that urges you to take Percocet, please ask for help. We invite you to ask questions here about Percocet use, abuse or even addiction. We can refer you to local (and often free) resources so that you can stop taking Percocet and start feeling better.

Reference sources: WHO Analgesic Pharmacokinetics Chart
Daily Med FDA approved drug info for Percocet
NIDA Notes: Rate and Duration of Drug Activity Play Major Roles in Drug Abuse, Addiction, and Treatment
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Pharmacology course outline



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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