What do percs do?

Percocet is a common painkiller prescribed by doctors to treat severe pain. It’s also the frequent object of abuse as drug users take advantage of its pleasure-inducing effects. While getting high can help people overcome short-term pain and anguish, it often leads to a devastating addiction. Once a person becomes dependent on the drug, professional treatment is the best way to break the cycle of addiction.


What Is Percocet?

Percocet is the branded version of a typical pharmaceutical opiate. They are made from a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen; the drug works by influencing and inhibiting the brain’s ability to feel pain.

The Ingredients

Percocet contains two main active ingredients: oxycodone and acetaminophen. Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic opiate that influences how the brain experiences and processes feelings of pain. Acetaminophen, famously the main ingredient in Tylenol, inhibits the activity of the brain’s pain-related chemicals. These two ingredients combine to form a potent, effective painkiller.

The Form

The drug typically comes in the form of a small tablet. A prescription will include a jar of these tablets, and they’re meant to be consumed over several days or weeks.

Legal Use

As a highly effective painkiller, Percocet provides doctors with a perfect tool in the treatment of moderate-to-severe pain. It can also help patients manage chronic pain. Many patients receive the medication to handle discomfort after an accident or medical procedure.

Doctors are advised to exercise extreme caution when prescribing powerful narcotics. While milder painkillers like Tylenol and Advil are sold over the counter, Percocet is only available by prescription. By limiting prescriptions and only offering the drug to people who need it, the medical industry can reduce the diversion of medications into illegal channels.

Illegal Use

When used legally, Percocet is a helpful substance that improves people’s lives by allowing them to live without pain. Unfortunately, the drug is commonly abused by people who don’t have the legal right to possess or consume it. This illegal use has negative consequences on the societal and individual levels.

Why People Abuse

Many factors cause people to abuse narcotics. Some folks who receive a prescription after an accident or operation end up becoming addicted to the substance, compelling them to seek additional doses after their prescriptions have expired. Other people hear about the positive sensations associated with the drug and decide to try it.

Drug abuse never occurs in a vacuum, and there is almost always a mix of societal and individual factors to blame. Countless variables concerning social realities like poverty and biological factors like genetic makeup can affect an individual’s susceptibility to addiction. While the reasons for drug abuse aren’t always clear, the abuse results are unequivocally devastating.


A few key statistics demonstrate the severity of the opioid epidemic in the United States. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, 9.7 million Americans misused prescription pain medications in 2019. Since 1999, two-thirds of all overdose deaths in the country have involved opioids. The prevalence of addiction also seems to be rising, with a 30% increase in opioid-related emergency room visits recorded between July 2016 and September 2017. Percs may only account for a portion of these opioid-related hospitalizations, but the drug’s role in the crisis is far from inconspicuous.

What Is a Percocet High?

Most abusers turn to Percocet because they enjoy the substance’s high. The drug’s active ingredients operate by influencing the part of the brain that manages pleasure. This means taking the drug will often bring about a general sense of well-being. Not only does physical pain fade away, but emotional distress will also seem less powerful. In some cases, a sense of euphoria can even develop. While such a high may be pleasant, it can quickly lead to a vicious cycle of abuse and addiction.

How People Obtain Percs Illegally

Medication fabricated legally and intended for licensed markets often falls into illegal channels through a process called drug diversion. There are many routes that a jar of percs can take on its way to an abuser. Some people receive the medication from a generous friend or relative who doesn’t finish their prescription. Others go doctor shopping, visiting one physician after another until they find one who’s willing to write the prescription they’re after. Pharmacies are another common point of diversion, with counterfeit prescriptions a standard method of trickery. In rare cases, desperate users or greedy dealers will even rob a pharmacy by force.

The United States government and prominent institutions are working hard to limit the scope of prescription drug diversion. Doctors are encouraged to look out for potential signs of addiction before prescribing opioids, and pharmacists should always keep their eyes open for obvious red flags. Despite this constant vigilance, drugs often find their way into the wrong hands.

Percocet Side Effects

Despite its positive pain-killing qualities, the drug brings some adverse side effects even for patients with a legitimate prescription. When taken as prescribed, these side effects are usually mild and manageable. Illegal use, which often involves surpassing the recommended dosage or crushing the tablets into a powdered form, increases the likelihood of a more severe reaction. In the worst cases, an overdose can even prove deadly.

Short-Term Effects

Side effects can appear immediately after consuming the drug. Some are relatively minor and will likely clear up on their own after a few days. Such mild effects include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Dry Mouth
  • Blurred Vision

While these effects are unlikely to pose a significant threat, it’s still best to let your doctor know that you’re experiencing them. A licensed physician is always best placed to determine the right course of action.

In some cases, and especially in abuse, more severe side effects can develop. Whether the result of an overdose or an allergic reaction, the following symptoms should be taken seriously:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • Increased thirst
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Seizures
  • Slow heart rate
  • Yellow skin
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety or agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty urinating or dark urine

If you experience these symptoms, contact your doctor or seek emergency assistance immediately.

Long-Term Effects

When addiction sets in, people are often compelled to take the drug for months or even years. This long-term use can cause a wide range of side effects and illnesses, including:

  • Liver damage
  • Kidney failure
  • Constipation
  • Osteoporosis
  • Immune Suppression
  • Testosterone depletion in men


What makes opioids such dangerous substances is how they change a person’s physiology. The drugs operate by rewarding the pleasure-seeking parts of the brain. As the opioid receptors get used to constant stimulation, larger doses are necessary to produce the same effect. The brain, now accustomed to the presence of the drug, struggles to produce pleasure without it. At this point, the user quickly feels depressed without the substance in their system. This physical dependence makes opioids extremely difficult to quit.

Percocet Addiction Treatment

While opioid addiction is undoubtedly devastating, there are resources available to help. From the initial detox to the long, hard work of building a drug-free life, treatment centers can provide assistance every step of the way.


The first step to recovery is breaking the body’s physical dependence on the drug. This is a painful, arduous process, but it’s made much easier with professional assistance. The staff at a treatment center can provide supervision around the clock, monitoring withdrawal symptoms and providing medications as necessary. This medical detox will decrease the probability of dangerous complications arising.


Once the body has flushed the drugs from its system, it’s time to build a solid defense against relapse. This is best done with the professional counseling and peer group therapy that a treatment center can provide.

Extended Care

Beating an addiction is a long-term project. Once the initial rehab period is over, a former user must do the hard work of building a productive, satisfying life that doesn’t involve self-medication. This is never easy, but the chances of success increase when professional caregivers are involved. The extended care offered by treatment centers provides former addicts with the support they need to get their lives back on track. As the countless successful recovery stories demonstrate, overcoming addiction is always possible with the right strategy and dogged determination.


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