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Snorting Percocet: Effects, Dangers And Consequences

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

April 29, 2019

Crushing and snorting Percocet tablets can have dangerous effects on health and increase risk for addiction and overdose. Chronic abuse of Percocet by snorting may require treatment.

Percocet is a prescription painkiller that can be highly addictive when misused. One of ways Percocet can be misused is by taking it in any way other than prescribed. This can include smoking or snorting the drug.

Snorting drugs, also known as insufflation, is a dangerous way for powerful chemicals to enter the body. Snorting Percocet can risk nasal damage and result in other negative short and long-term consequences such as organ damage and overdose.

What Is Percocet?

Percocet is a prescription opioid that contains oxycodone and acetaminophen — the active ingredient in Tylenol. Percocet is most commonly prescribed to relieve intense, short-term pain following a major medical or dental procedure.

In some cases, the extended-release form of Percocet may be used for chronic pain. However, this is less common, as long-term use can increase the risk for dependence and addiction.

All forms of the drug, including tablets and oral solutions, are made to be taken by mouth. Taking the drug as directed can allow the drug to safely pass through your system and produce effects as intended.

Side Effects Of Percocet

Although pain relief is the primary use for Percocet, other side effects can also occur. These may be especially intense or unpleasant when the drug is snorted, as it may overwhelm the body more easily.

Common side effects of Percocet include:

  • fatigue
  • dry mouth
  • flushing
  • headache
  • nausea
  • stomach pain
  • sleeping problems
  • slow heart rate
  • coordination issues
  • weakness

Unlike when swallowed, snorting Percocet can cause the drug to almost instantly reach your bloodstream. This can cause a rapid but short-lived high that can fast become addictive.

What Are The Dangers Of Snorting Percocet?

Percocet is a powerful drug that is typically meant to be swallowed. Taking it in any way other than directed can have dangerous effects, including heart complications, enhanced side effects, and overdose.

Impaired Judgement And Slowed Reaction Time

Percocet can have several effects on your awareness, your ability to make rational judgements, and your reaction time. It may also have sedating effects that can make it unsafe to use before driving, operating heavy machinery, or doing other strenuous tasks.

Snorting Percocet can have even stronger effects on cognitive function, causing extreme dizziness, light-headedness, and lack of awareness. This can put you at greater risk for harming yourself or others.

Heart Problems

Heart complications are one of the most serious dangers that can happen when snorting Percocet. Percocet has strong effects on the brain and central nervous system, which controls heart rate and blood pressure.

When you snort Percocet, this causes a rapid entry of the drug into the system. This can overwhelm the central nervous system, which can lead to an irregular heartbeat or cardiac arrest.

Overdose Risk

Snorting large or multiple doses can overwhelm the brain fast, which can result in severe, life-threatening symptoms. This can include slowed or stopped breathing, or loss of consciousness, which may be signs of an overdose.

In the most severe cases, overdosing on Percocet may also lead to coma or death. Mixing Percocet with other drugs or alcohol can further increase this risk.

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Long-Term Consequences Of Snorting Percocet

Chronic insufflation of Percocet can pose serious consequences for your physical appearance and your insides. Damage to the nose and nasal passageways is one of the most visible signs that someone has been snorting drugs for an extended period. This can have effects on speech and make it difficult to swallow.

Another consequence of long-term insufflation is greater risk for bacterial infections, which can come from sharing objects for snorting, such as straws to inhale crushed Percocet.

Vital organs such as the liver and your lungs can also be damaged through chronic drug abuse. This can lead to diseases, which can have severe or potentially fatal consequences without medical treatment.

Dependence And Addiction

Snorting Percocet can activate certain chemicals in the brain that can urge a person to take larger and repeated doses. Over time, this can lead to drug dependence, which can make it harder for a person to stop using it on their own.

Certain personal factors can increase vulnerability to addiction. People with a personal or family history of substance abuse, for instance, may be at greater risk for abusing Percocet than those without.

Common signs of snorting Percocet include:

  • running out of prescriptions sooner than expected
  • visiting multiple doctors for multiple prescriptions
  • lying about the extent of your Percocet use
  • visible nasal damage
  • leaving pill residue on flat surfaces or objects like pens caps, straws, or razors
  • missing valuable items
  • mood swings or changes in behavior

Percocet Detox And Withdrawal

Once a person has become addicted to Percocet, they may be unable to stop taking the drug on their own. A common reason for this is withdrawal. Symptoms of withdrawal occur when the body has adapted to the presence of the drug in your system.

Withdrawal symptoms can range in severity, and may be physical or mental. Milder symptoms of Percocet withdrawal may include restlessness, yawning, and runny nose. Some symptoms, however, can be more severe and may become dangerous without medical support.

Other withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • sweating
  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • chills
  • muscle and joint pain
  • stomach cramps
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhea
  • increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • faster breathing

This process of Percocet leaving your system is known as detox. Detox often can be split into a few different stages wherein a person can be expected to experience certain symptoms. Most physical symptoms of withdrawal are gone within 7 to 10 days after stopping Percocet.

Percocet detox can be dangerous to attempt alone. Medically supervised detox programs are the most effective way to monitor and treat withdrawal symptoms in people with addiction. Medical detox offers 24-hour supervision and may include the use of certain medications to ease discomfort and reduce drug cravings.

Treatment For Percocet Abuse And Addiction

Snorting, or insufflation, is a common method of drug abuse. Anyone who snorts Percocet can be at risk for dependence and addiction.

Getting treatment for opioid abuse can be life-saving. One of the most effective ways to ensure you get the structure and support you need for your recovery is to enter an inpatient rehab program.

Within an inpatient program, patients are monitored around the clock by trained professionals for support. These structured programs commonly offer individual counseling, group therapy sessions, and meetings with other specialists to identify your personalized needs for treatment.

Effective treatments offered within these programs can include:

  • medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
  • family therapy
  • dual-diagnosis treatment
  • motivational interviewing
  • mindfulness techniques
  • relapse prevention
  • aftercare coordination

Don’t wait to seek help for you or a loved one struggling with opioid abuse. To learn more about treatment options for Percocet abuse, contact us today.

Food and Drug Administration - Percocet (oxycodone and acetaminophen tablets)

U.S. National Library of Medicine: PMC - Nasopharyngeal Necrosis After Chronic Opioid (Oyxcodone/Acetaminophen) Insufflation)

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