Percocet is a pain medication, a narcotic analgesic, to be exact.
It’s sometimes confused with the opioid oxycodone, which is understandable since Percocet is the brand name for a drug that contains oxycodone and acetaminophen.
Oxycodone is also sold under (perhaps most notoriously) the name Oxycontin. The pain reliever acetaminophen is more commonly known as Tylenol.
The drug oxycodone is a partly synthetic opioid derived from thebaine, a compound of opium. It works on the central nervous system to block moderate to severe pain. Extended relief formulas can help ease ongoing suffering, such as pain from some cancers.
Percocet does this, too, but the added acetaminophen increases the effects of oxycodone. The medication also tends to be fast-acting, typically within 30 minutes, and the effects last around six hours. A tolerance can set in quickly, too, and can take as little as a week.
Due to that and its potential to lead to misuse, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies Percocet as a schedule II drug — in the same family as cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl, and Ritalin, among others.
Because acetaminophen can damage the liver, Percocet is typically only prescribed for short-term use. Percocet is available in tablet form in the following strengths: Generic versions of Percocet can also come with 300 mg of acetaminophen instead of 325. Liquid formulations typically contain 325 mg of acetaminophen and 5 mg of oxycodone for every 5 mL dose. Pharmaceutical companies also sell Percocet under various names and formulations as well, including: Percocet is available in immediate and extended release formulas. An oral solution is also available (as a generic) for those who cannot swallow tablets. That’s sometimes administered via a gastric tube.
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Percocet is available in tablet form in the following strengths:
Generic versions of Percocet can also come with 300 mg of acetaminophen instead of 325. Liquid formulations typically contain 325 mg of acetaminophen and 5 mg of oxycodone for every 5 mL dose.
Pharmaceutical companies also sell Percocet under various names and formulations as well, including:
Percocet is available in immediate and extended release formulas. An oral solution is also available (as a generic) for those who cannot swallow tablets. That’s sometimes administered via a gastric tube.
What Does Percocet Look Like?
Percocet comes in many variations, so there’s no one obvious answer on how to identify it. That largely depends on Percocet dosage and the manufacturer.
What color is Percocet? The drug comes in a pastel Easter parade of hues: there are round, white pills; round blue pills; and pink and peach ovals, among many other options.
The ones printed Percocet with a number are easily identifiable, So are ones scored with a number such as 5/325 or 10/325. Others can take a bit more detective work, like the white round pills marked Watson 932.
Side Effects of Percocet
Doctors prescribe Percocet to help people manage moderate to severe pain, usually following an injury or surgery. Sometimes it’s given to patients who cope with chronic conditions such as arthritis or painful cancers.
Because it’s an opioid, it can produce a feeling of calm and drowsiness, and possibly a bit of euphoria. Other Percocet side effects include:
- Lack of appetite
- Impaired motor skills
Some people can have an allergic reaction to Percocet. If a person breaks out in hives; has trouble breathing; or experiences swelling of the face, tongue, lips, or throat, it’s time to seek emergency medical help.
One major risk of opioid use — and that’s any opioid, not just oxycodone — is that opioids can slow or stop a person’s breathing. If that happens, if someone’s lips turn blue, or if someone is impossible to rouse, call 911.
Any extreme or unusual symptoms, in fact, should be noted and brought to a doctor’s attention. Dizziness, confusion, upper stomach pain, and jaundice (yellowing skin and eye whites) are all causes of concern.
If a person is taking other medications — cold or allergy drugs, other opioids, sedatives, for example — doctors and pharmacists should be made aware.
And Percocet (or any opioid) should never be taken with alcohol. It can amplify Percocet’s effects, leading to potential overdose or even death.
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Some people may want to go cold turkey if dependence has set in, which means that they stop using drugs or alcohol immediately. Addiction experts tend to caution people against going that route.
Once a person grows addiction, their brain is hooked on the high, and the body has grown accustomed to the substance in question.
Quitting too quickly can bring on unpleasant withdrawal symptoms — think paranoia, hallucinations, vomiting, diarrhea, aches, shakes, and sweating, to start with — that in turn can lead someone to relapse. If they’ve been free of the substance for a while and resume by using the same dose as before, they risk overdosing.
For those reasons tapering — gradually taking smaller and smaller amounts — tends to be the preferred way to quit a substance.
It’s also best to reduce use under the supervision of doctors. They can monitor progress to make sure the patient isn’t under too much stress. They can also prescribe other medications to manage withdrawal so it’s less of an ordeal.
- healthline.com – Are Oxycodone and Percocet the Same Opioid Pain Medication?
- medlineplus.gov – Oxycodone
- dea.gov – Drug Scheduling
- endo.com – Percocet
- uofmhealth.org – Acetaminophen and Oxycodone
- healthline.com – Vicodin vs. Percocet for Pain Reduction
- healthline.com – Is It Safe to Quit Substances Cold Turkey? Here’s What to Consider
- mayoclinic.org – Tapering Off Opioids: When and How
Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.
Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.