Percocet Overdose | Effects, Symptoms, & Treatment

Oxycodone/acetaminophen painkillers like Percocet should only be used as directed. If taken in higher doses or with other substances, this medication may cause dangerous opioid overdose effects including respiratory depression and severe liver injury or failure.

Although the brand name medication Percocet has been discontinued, generic formulations of the same medication are used by healthcare providers to treat moderate to severe pain.

While oxycodone/acetaminophen medications have an important role to play in modern medical care, they are also misused for self-medication or recreation, practices that may cause dangerous or even life-threatening drug overdose.

Oxycodone/Acetaminophen Overdose Effects

Percocet (including generic formulations) is a strong prescription painkiller made with a combination of the semi-synthetic opioid drug oxycodone (OxyContin) and the over-the-counter pain reliever acetaminophen (Tylenol). 

As a strong opiate medication, oxycodone overdoses occur when the drug is taken in larger or stronger doses than an individual’s tolerance permits. 

The drug, by binding to the body’s opioid receptors and acting as a central nervous system depressant, will slow down mental and physical activity inside the body to a potentially dangerous or even lethal degree.

Misusing prescription painkillers can lead to opioid overdose effects that may cause severe injury or even death without proper medical attention.

Oxycodone Overdose Symptoms

Specific signs and symptoms associated with oxycodone overdose may include:

  • blue-colored lips and fingertips
  • cold clammy skin
  • confusion or agitation
  • constricted, pinpoint pupils
  • constipation
  • stomach or abdominal pain or spasms
  • extreme drowsiness or sedation
  • low blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature
  • gasping or other difficulty breathing (respiratory depression)
  • becoming unresponsive or losing consciousness (coma)

A person’s risk of overdose is highest after a period of abstinence and reduced drug tolerance, or if this pain medication is mixed with either central nervous system stimulants or other depressants like alcohol, benzodiazepines, or muscle relaxants.

Acetaminophen Overdose Symptoms

Despite being a common OTC analgesic, acetaminophen is highly toxic to the human liver when used in higher doses than recommended.

If Percocet or other acetaminophen medications are abused, either in a single high dose or as part of a pattern of chronic misuse, the acetaminophen portion of the medication can do severe damage to the liver, leading to potentially life-threatening liver injury.

Signs and symptoms of an acute acetaminophen overdose may include:

  • abdominal pain
  • irritability
  • feelings of weakness
  • loss of appetite
  • jaundice (yellowing skin and eyes)
  • diarrhea
  • nausea and vomiting
  • vomiting
  • convulsions
  • coma

These symptoms can take up to twelve hours to appear after an acute overdose occurs. Depending on an individual’s tolerance, acetaminophen overdose could occur independently of opioid overdose symptoms.

Treating Percocet Overdose

The opioid overdose antidote drug naloxone (Narcan) can rapidly reverse oxycodone overdose symptoms. 

This drug is available without a prescription, is stored in many public spaces, and is carried by first responders. If you suspect an opioid overdose has occurred, administer it as quickly as possible and call 911.

Doctors and first responders will likely monitor the victim’s vital signs, perform tests, and may use interventions including:

  • activated charcoal
  • airway and breathing support
  • IV fluid support
  • laxatives
  • liver transplant

The outcome of any drug overdose will likely depend on individual factors, especially the degree of the overdose and the speed at which medical attention was provided.

Prescription Opioid Addiction Treatment

Drug overdose deaths are tragic and preventable. 

If you or a loved one struggle with misuse of prescription drugs like Percocet, hydrocodone, oxymorphone, and fentanyl, it’s crucial that you enroll in a professional substance use disorder treatment program and get the help you likely need.

Available treatment options include:

For more information, please contact Ohio Recovery Center today.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — Assessment: Do You Know the Risk Factors for an Opioid Overdose?
  2. Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai — Hydrocodone/oxycodone overdose Information
  3. National Institute On Drug Abuse (NIDA) — Prescription Opioids DrugFacts
  4. National Library of Medicine: LiverTox — Oxycodone
  5. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) — SAMHSA Opioid Overdose Toolkit

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: December 13, 2022

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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