Difference between Percocet and Oxycodone

Percocet and oxycodone are both opioid-based painkillers. 

While both of these medications can be highly effective for the short-term relief of pain, tolerance, dependence, and addiction can develop with the sustained use of Percocet or oxycodone. 

Both medications contain oxycodone, leading many people to question, “Is oxycodone and Percocet the same?” 

Today’s guide explores the difference between oxycodone and Percocet. Before we compare these medications, we will first highlight the properties, side effects, and abuse potential of each opioid in turn.


Percocet abuse is a branded opioid painkiller indicated for the short-term relief of moderate and severe pain, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine

Percocet tablets contain a combination of two active ingredients:

  • Oxycodone: Oxycodone is informally known as Hillbilly Heroin and was heavily implicated in the U.S. opioid epidemic. A Schedule II controlled substance, oxycodone has some medical utility but a strong potential for misuse, abuse, and addiction in the form of OUD (opioid use disorder).
  • Acetaminophen: An analgesic, acetaminophen is the active ingredient in Tylenol. 

While oxycodone impacts the way in which your brain receives pain, acetaminophen disrupts the production of chemicals in the brain related to pain.

The widespread prescription of opioids like Percocet for the treatment of chronic pain was one of the main drivers for the opioid crisis that spread across the United States from the late 1990s.


The most reported short-term Percocet side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Slow or irregular breathing
  • Trouble urinating
  • Constipation 

Taking Percocet can lead to tolerance forming, even in the short-term. If this leads to increased consumption in response to the diminished effects of the opioid, this can accelerate the development of physical dependence.

Longer-term side effects associated with Percocet addiction include:

  • Liver damage
  • Decreased testosterone levels
  • Tolerance
  • Physical dependence
  • Impaired sexual function
  • Opioid use disorder

There are many behavioral markers of long-term Percocet abuse and addiction, including:

  • Social isolation and withdrawal.
  • Borrowing money to buy Percocet.
  • Stealing money for Percocet.
  • Attempting to obtain fraudulent prescriptions for Percocet.
  • Obtaining black market Percocet.
  • Abusing Percocet in potentially dangerous situations.
  • Stealing Percocet.
  • Using Percocet for longer than planned.
  • Taking Percocet in higher doses than prescribed.
  • Continuing to abuse the opioid despite adverse outcomes. 

The sustained abuse of Percocet can also trigger negative physical outcomes, such as: 

  • Insomnia
  • Weight loss
  • Shallow breathing
  • Slurred speech
  • Fatigue
  • Slow heart rate
  • Constipation
  • Impaired balance, coordination, and motor skills
  • Withdrawal symptoms in the absence of Percocet

Abusing an opioid-based medication like Percocet can also bring about a battery of cognitive complications. These include:

  • Mood swings
  • Agitation
  • Anger
  • Aggression
  • Impaired focus and concentration 


Percocet is among the most abused of all prescription medications. Addiction in the form of opioid use disorder is one of the most damaging long-term effects of abusing this opioid-based painkiller.

All opioid painkillers are highly effective for the short-term relief of pain. Unfortunately – and contrary to the claims of pharmaceutical companies – opioids cause tolerance to form. When this occurs, the painkilling properties are diminished. Many people prescribed Percocet for the treatment of chronic pain counter tolerance by using more Percocet. This abusive pattern of consumption is liable to trigger physical dependence.

Some red flags for a building Percocet addiction include:

  • Buying Percocet on the black market.
  • Using prescriptions intended for someone else.
  • Doctor shopping in order to obtain more Percocet.
  • Experimenting with the use of illicit narcotics.
  • Experiencing financial stress related to opioid abuse.

The oxycodone content of Percocet is responsible for the adverse side effects triggered by the medication, as well as the risk profile for addiction.

Oxycodone treats pain by interfering with chemical pathways in the brain associated with pain sensation. Additionally, opioids slow CNS (central nervous system) functions, including:

  • Blood pressure
  • Breathing rate
  • Heart rate 

Abusing Percocet also disrupts the functioning of chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with reward and positive mood. Dopamine levels in the brain spike after using opioids, bringing on the euphoric rush characteristic to opioid use.

Studies show that abusing opioids impacts areas of the brain responsible for positive reinforcement. APS (American Physiological Society) reports that this leads to emotional, behavioral, and physical changes.

Opioid use disorder is a chronic and relapsing brain condition diagnosed as mild, moderate, or severe according to the number of criteria present from DSM-5-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).

Percocet Overdose

Percocet overdose can arise from the misuse of prescription Percocet or from the recreational use of illicitly obtained Percocet.

Factors that heighten the risk of Percocet overdose are:

  • Injecting Percocet.
  • Snorting Percocet.
  • Using Percocet in combination with other medications containing opioids.
  • Using Percocet in combination with other medications containing acetaminophen.
  • Using Percocet in combination with alcohol.
  • Using Percocet in combination with benzodiazepines.
  • Underlying physical health condition.

Percocet overdose should be considered a medical emergency and can be fatal if untreated. Call 911 immediately if the following symptoms present:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Blue lips or fingernails
  • Unconsciousness
  • Slow heart rate
  • Weak breathing
  • Stopped breathing
  • Seizures
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Coma


Oxycodone is the main active ingredient in many pain medications. The most common of these are:

  • Percocet
  • Roxicodone
  • OxyContin

Researchers identified the potential dangers of oxycodone in the 1960s. Although the medication has powerful pain-relieving properties, it also triggers rewarding effects and euphoria. Despite undeniable medical benefits, then, oxycodone also carries the risk of misuse, abuse, and addiction.

The medication was reclassified by the DEA (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration) as a Schedule II controlled substance to reflect its abuse potential.

Oxycodone is typically administered for the management of moderate and severe pain following surgery or injuries. Used exactly as prescribed, oxycodone can be an effective and reliable response to short-term pain. When misused or abused, though, addiction can easily develop.

This medication acts on the opioid receptors that occur naturally in your brain. Oxycodone blocks pain signals that are produced in the brain before they have chance to reach your CNS (central nervous system). At the same time, the opioid simultaneously induces sedation and euphoria.


Oxycodone abuse may involve the presentation of these signs and symptoms: 

  • Anxiousness
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Accelerated breathing rate
  • Backache
  • Muscle aches
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Teary eyes
  • Dilated pupils
  • Appetite loss
  • Yawning excessively

When abuse starts developing into addiction, the following symptoms may manifest:

  • Neglecting personal and professional responsibilities.
  • Taking higher doses of oxycodone than prescribed
  • Using oxycodone for purposes other than pain relief.
  • Losing interest in hobbies and previously favored activities.
  • Using oxycodone despite negative outcomes.
  • Taking oxycodone secretly.
  • Lying about your oxycodone consumption.
  • Doctor shopping to obtain more oxycodone.


Even if you use oxycodone as prescribed by your physician, addiction can still develop.

Tolerance to oxycodone forms quickly, meaning you will require more of the medication or more frequent doses to achieve the same effects. Taking increased quantities of oxycodone to mitigate growing tolerance is considered abuse. This pattern of consumption will speed up the development of physical dependence.

When you become dependent on oxycodone, the absence of the opioid will cause intensely uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms to present.

Addiction to oxycodone can set in after just a week or so of use. After one month of use, the risk of addiction sharply increases, especially if you are using more than one opioid such as oxycodone or Percocet.

The main factors the influence the onset and development of oxycodone addiction (opioid use disorder) are:

  • Dose of oxycodone.
  • Frequency of oxycodone use.
  • History of substance use.
  • Underlying mental health disorders.


Oxycodone overdose can occur after accidentally or deliberately taking more of the medication than prescribed.

Overdosing on this opioid can be dangerous and potentially deadly. Call 911 or head to the closest emergency room if you suspect an oxycodone overdose. 

The main risk factors for oxycodone overdose are:

  • History of substance abuse.
  • Overlapping medications.
  • Daily use of oxycodone.
  • High doses of oxycodone.
  • Using multiple oxycodone prescriptions.

The normal side effects associated with oxycodone include constipation, drowsiness, and nausea. In the event of oxycodone overdose, the following acute symptoms will present: 

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Pinprick pupils
  • Shallow breathing
  • Unconsciousness

What’s the difference between oxycodone and Percocet, then?


Are oxycodone and Percocet the same, then? 

The core difference between Percocet and oxycodone is that the former contains oxycodone in combination with acetaminophen, while the latter has only one active ingredient, oxycodone.

Explore the similarities and differences between these opioid-based painkillers before we show you how to get effective and evidence-based opioid use disorder treatment for less than you might imagine.


Both of these medications are prescribed for the treatment of moderate and severe pain.

Oxycodone is an opioid that binds to the brain’s naturally occurring opioid receptors in the spinal cord and the brain. This blocks the transmission of pain signals. Additionally, opioids like oxycodone trigger sedation and euphoria.

Both medications are used to manage pain in the following scenarios:

  • After surgery.
  • Following injuries like broken bones.
  • For an infected tooth.
  • In the event of muscle damage.

Percocet contains acetaminophen as well as oxycodone. The amount of acetaminophen in Percocet is similar to the amount found in OTC medications like Tylenol. 

Acetaminophen has a different mechanism of action to oxycodone and impacts different receptors in the brain. Combination products like Percocet that contain both oxycodone and acetaminophen may provide more pain relief than oxycodone alone.

Percocet may also help with the relief of symptoms associated with fever such as fatigue, muscle aches, and chills due to the  acetaminophen content.


Oxycodone and Percocet may cause many similar side effects since both medications contain oxycodone as an active ingredient. The most common of these side effects are:

  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Brain fog
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Appetite loss
  • Sweating
  • Itchiness

Some people find that the following more severe side effects present:

  • Fainting
  • Confusion
  • Low blood pressure levels
  • Allergic reactions
  • Slow heart rate
  • Shallow breathing
  • Liver damage
  • Seizures 

Percocet carries the risk of more side effects due to the acetaminophen content of this combination opioid-based medication.

The most notable adverse outcomes associated with Percocet are problems related to the liver – dark urine, for instance.

In 2009, the FDA suggested that physicians should avoid prescribing Percocet and other medications containing acetaminophen due to the risk of liver damage and liver failure, especially when misused or abused. 

By 2011, the FDA advised drug companies to use no more than 325mg of acetaminophen in combination prescription drugs.

Medications like oxycodone carry a significantly lower risk of liver damage than Percocet.


If you have been abusing opioid-based painkillers like Percocet or oxycodone, we can help you address the physical and psychological aspects of opioid addiction here at Gratitude Lodge

We have affordable and pet-friendly luxury rehab centers located in San Diego, Newport Beach, and Long Beach.

Kickstart your recovery from opioid addiction with a medically supervised detox at one of our locations in Southern California. Your treatment team will administer medications to streamline the intensity of withdrawal symptoms and cravings. MAT (medication-assisted treatment) is also beneficial throughout ongoing treatment for opioid use disorder. 

After a week or so of detoxification, you can transition into either a 30-day inpatient program or an intensive outpatient program, depending on the severity of your addiction and your personal circumstances.

You can also access these therapies and interventions at Gratitude Lodges:

  • Individual counseling
  • Group counseling
  • Psychotherapies (talk therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy)
  • Family therapy
  • Holistic therapy
  • Daily meetings
  • 12-step immersion program 

When you are ready to commit to sustained recovery from Percocet or oxycodone addiction, engage with a supervised clinical detox followed by ongoing inpatient or outpatient therapy at Gratitude Lodge. Call 888-861-1658 today for immediate assistance.