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Can You Overdose on Percocet? Signs & Symptoms to Look For

Peter Manza, PhD profile image
Reviewed By Peter Manza, PhD • Updated Aug 23, 2023 • 7 cited sources

Percocet carries the risk of overdose when used improperly or in excessive amounts.[1] Detecting signs of a Percocet overdose is critical, so lifesaving measures can be administered.

Some signs of Percocet overdose include slowed breathing, extreme drowsiness, confusion, and loss of consciousness. The threshold for an overdose varies depending on individual factors, such as tolerance, use of other substances and overall health. 

If you or someone you know experiences these symptoms, seek immediate medical assistance. 
If Percocet overdose occurred in the past or is an eminent risk due to regular misuse of the medication, Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT) is recommended to address opioid use disorder (OUD). For OUD, Suboxone is a primary form of MAT that can ease withdrawal symptoms, curb cravings and decrease the likelihood of relapse.

Can You Overdose on Percocet?

Yes, you can overdose on Percocet if the medication is misused. Overdose is more likely if Percocet is mixed with other substances like benzodiazepines or alcohol. 

Percocet’s primary active ingredient is the opioid analgesic oxycodone, which depresses the central nervous system and impacts the neurotransmitters released in the brain.[2] When taken in large amounts, combined with other sedatives like alcohol or taken too frequently, Percocet overdose can occur. An opioid overdose is a serious and potentially life-threatening situation.

One of the primary risks associated with Percocet overdose is respiratory depression. Oxycodone acts on the brain’s respiratory system, slowing down breathing and potentially stopping it entirely, which can lead to oxygen deprivation and organ shutdown. 

Combining Percocet with other substances that also depress the central nervous system, such as alcohol or sedatives, can intensify this effect and heighten the risk of overdose.

If you suspect an overdose or witness someone experiencing symptoms, call 911. Timely intervention can be critical in saving a life and minimizing the potential harm associated with opioid overdose.

Signs & Symptoms of Percocet Overdose

An overdose on Percocet can begin to show signs while the person is still conscious, manifesting as confusion, erratic pulse, breathing difficulty and clammy skin.[3] In severe cases, an overdose can progress to coma and organ failure. This can be fatal.

Some of the signs and symptoms of a Percocet overdose include the following:

  • Physical changes: Overt physical changes like pinpoint pupils, clammy skin, bluish tint to nails and lips, and other signs can indicate that the body is not getting the oxygen it needs and Percocet is taking a toll.
  • Slowed or shallow breathing: One of the key signs of opioid overdose that requires medical intervention is shallow or slowed breathing.[4] Irregular or labored breathing patterns may be present, or breathing may become noticeably slower and shallower than usual.
  • Extreme drowsiness: Excessive sleepiness or difficulty staying awake is a common symptom of a Percocet overdose. The person may struggle to stay conscious or even slip into a state of unresponsiveness.
  • Loss of consciousness: In severe cases, an overdose can lead to a loss of consciousness. The person may become unresponsive and fail to react even when yelled at or touched.

How Much Percocet Can Make You Overdose?

The potential for an overdose from Percocet can differ based on several factors, including:

  • The presence of other substances in the body
  • Body weight
  • Dosage
  • Tolerance for Percocet
  • Underlying health conditions

It is important to note that taking more Percocet than prescribed or exceeding the recommended dosage significantly increases the risk of overdose.[6] Even a single large dose or combining Percocet with other substances that depress the central nervous system can heighten the risk dramatically.

Since the exact threshold for overdose varies from person to person, it is important to follow your prescription exactly. Work with your doctor if you think that more of the medication is required. Do not ever attempt to up your dosage without medical supervision.

What to Do if You Are Experiencing Overdose Symptoms

If you or someone else is showing signs of a Percocet overdose, it’s essential to act immediately and connect them with lifesaving intervention. Time is of the essence.

Take these steps:

  • Call emergency services right away. Call 911 to seek immediate medical assistance. Explain the situation, state that you suspect a Percocet overdose and stay on the line with the operator, answering the questions they ask to the best of your ability.
  • Administer naloxone. If you have naloxone (Narcan) available, administer it to the person who is overdosing. Naloxone can immediately reverse an opioid overdose. It is a nasal spray that can be easily administered.
  • Stay with the person. Remain with the person until medical help arrives.[5] Try to keep them awake and alert if possible. If they are unconscious, follow the directions of the operator and give them CPR if necessary.
  • Give information. When medical professionals arrive, share important details like the dose and timing of the Percocet (if known), any other substances involved and the observed symptoms. You may not have all the answers, so do the best you can.
  • Do not try to “treat” the overdose on your own. Unless instructed by medical professionals, do not try to make the person vomit, feed them anything, give them anything to drink, put them in the shower, or try to make them walk around. These choices can cause more problems later.
  • Cooperate with medical professionals. Let the healthcare team assess the situation and provide necessary treatment. They may administer naloxone if you didn’t have it available. This medication will counteract the effects of the opioids that caused the overdose. They may also use other methods to stabilize the person.

Receiving MAT After an Overdose

Although a Percocet overdose doesn’t necessarily mean you have an addiction, it can, when present with other symptoms and behaviors, be a sign of opioid use disorder. Once you receive treatment for an overdose and are stabilized, you may want to consider quitting Percocet with professional treatment, such as Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT).

Suboxone, a cornerstone of MAT for opioid use disorder, offers a safe path toward recovery by managing withdrawal symptoms and cravings. This allows you to stop misusing Percocet safely. 

Suboxone contains a partial opioid agonist, buprenorphine, and an opioid antagonist, naloxone. While naloxone remains inactive when absorbed under the tongue, if someone attempts to misuse Suboxone (for example, by dissolving the medication into a liquid and injecting it), it activates and acts as a safeguard, neutralizing the effects. 

Suboxone offers people in recovery the support they need to stop misusing opioids while managing withdrawal symptoms safely.[7]

At Bicycle Health, people in crisis due to OUD can access Suboxone treatment easily. This can allow you to take a big step toward reclaiming your life from Percocet misuse. 

Our telehealth services offer you more privacy and convenience than traditional forms of MAT. It also makes MAT more accessible to people than ever before.

Our experienced medical professionals specialize in MAT and provide convenient online consultations, personalized care and comprehensive treatment. With our help, you can put the risk of Percocet overdose in the past. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.

Reviewed By Peter Manza, PhD

Peter Manza, PhD received his BA in Psychology and Biology from the University of Rochester and his PhD in Integrative Neuroscience at Stony Brook University. He is currently working as a research scientist in Washington, DC. His research focuses on the role ... Read More

  1. Percocet – Oxycodone Hydrochloride and Acetaminophen Tablet. National Library of Medicine. July 2022. Accessed May 2023.
  2. Prescription Drug Abuse. National Institute on Drug Abuse. October 2011. Accessed May 2023.
  3. Prescription Opioids. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. August 2017. Accessed May 2023.
  4. Opioid Misuse and Addiction. National Library of Medicine. April 2018. Accessed May 2023.
  5. Preventing Opioid Overdose. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. October 2021. Accessed May 2023.
  6. My Story: How one Percocet Prescription Triggered my Addiction. National Institute on Drug Abuse. December 2012. Accessed May 2023.
  7. Buprenorphine Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder: An Overview. CNS Drugs. June 2020. Accessed May 2023.

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