Percocet Addiction & Recovery

What is Percocet? Percocet is a prescription painkiller that is composed of a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen. People who are prescribed Percocet are at a higher risk of opioid addiction, abuse, and misuse which can result in a life-threatening overdose. Percocet relieves moderate to severe pain in about 4 hours.

What kind of drug is Percocet? Percocet is a Schedule II controlled substance. A Schedule II substance is a drug that has a high potential for abuse. With use, Percocet has the potential to result in severe psychological or physical dependence. Schedule II drugs like Percocet are considered dangerous.

Oxycodone is the reason Percocet is a Schedule II drug because it is a highly addictive opioid and is one of the main ingredients in Percocet. Oxycodone is similar to morphine as both are derived from the poppy plant and can be abused. Opioids like Percocet work by activating the reward center of a person’s brain. Over time, the natural chemicals in a person’s brain that activate the reward center will stop working, making a person need to take more of the drug to produce the same effect or even feel normal.

Percocet Abuse and Addiction

Is Percocet addictive? Percocet is intended for short-term pain relief. Mental and physical dependence can occur when used for prolonged periods of time which can lead to addiction. This is because oxycodone (the main ingredient in Percocet) is a powerful opioid and highly addictive. Oxycodone is procured from the same source as morphine and the illegal drug heroin.

Percocet abuse is the intentional misuse of the prescription. People tend to abuse Percocet because of its narcotic effects. People can abuse Percocet by crushing the pill into a fine powder and snorting it, chewing it, or crushing it and dissolving the tablets in water and then injecting the solution. People abuse Percocet in these ways because the active ingredient oxycodone, can be released immediately into the body and arrives in the brain faster. This results in an almost immediate high and euphoric effects. Abuse of Percocet can lead to addiction to the medication and can be a gateway to using other more dangerous drugs.

Percocet addiction can start with exposure to the prescription medication from either a friend, family member or being prescribed it. With prolonged use, a person will need larger doses to experience the same high as they originally did. Eventually, a person will rely on the medication just to feel normal. With increased use of the medication, it will become very difficult to be without the medication. If a person tries to stop using the medication they might experience powerful cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

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Effects of a Percocet Addiction

If a person develops an addiction to Percocet they might engage in risky behaviors. Risky behaviors can include driving while under the influence, lying, spending money on the medication even if a person cannot afford it, and stealing money or the medication from family members or other people. Other signs that a person is addicted to Percocet is that they “doctor shop” which is visiting different doctors in order to find one who will give them more of the prescription. Sometimes this results in a person receiving multiples of the same or similar prescription but from different doctors.

Abusing Percocet can result in a lot of serious, physical side effects that are caused by one of the main ingredients, oxycodone. These effects include nausea, dizziness, seizures, heart failure, breathing irregularity, respiratory depression, low blood pressure, cardiac arrest, and even overdose.

Percocet Statistics

According to the Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in 2011, 366,181 or 29 percent of the 1,244,872 emergency department visits involving nonmedical use of pharmaceuticals involved narcotic pain relievers such as Percocet. Also, narcotic pain reliever-related emergency department visits involving recreational use of prescription painkillers increased by 117 percent from 2008 to 2011. Additionally, emergency room visits involving oxycodone (the main ingredient in Percocet) increased from 2005 to 2009. Oxycodone is the most common narcotic pain reliever that is involved in prescription-related emergency department visits. This is what makes Percocet so dangerous.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 70 percent or 46,802 of the 67,367 overdose deaths in 2018 involved an opioid. These statistics point to the potentially deadly consequences of misusing Percocet or any medication or drug that contains an opioid.

Percocet Treatment

Overcoming an addiction can be extremely difficult and a lifelong journey. The treatment for overcoming a Percocet addiction is similar to opioid addiction treatment. In order for treatment to be the most effective, there needs to be a combination of medications and behavioral therapies to help a person overcome their addiction.

The first step in treatment is the detoxification process. The detoxification process can be done at either an inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation clinic. Attending one of these rehabs can provide support in helping a person detox and lessen the painful withdrawal symptoms that come when stopping an opioid-containing painkiller like Percocet.

When a person’s body is going through detox they will experience withdrawal symptoms. Early symptoms of withdrawal are agitation, insomnia, muscle aches, runny nose, sweating, yawning, and anxiety. Later symptoms of withdrawal include diarrhea, dilated pupils, nausea, abdominal cramps, and vomiting.

During the detox process, a doctor can prescribe methadone, buprenorphine, or clonidine to relieve withdrawal symptoms and help with detox. Behavioral therapies are used to help people modify their attitudes and behaviors surrounding drug use, increase healthy life skills, and learning coping techniques to help people learn how to manage stress in a positive way.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, between 40 to 60 percent of people who have a substance use disorder relapse. Relapse is all too often a part of the journey to addiction recovery. Therefore, once a person is ready to return to their home they should get connected with a solid aftercare program and get one medication to help prevent relapse. The medication naltrexone is often used to help prevent relapse. Aftercare programs can include self-help groups like Narcotics Anonymous and outpatient counseling. These programs will keep people accountable and provide them with peer support to help a person remain abstinent.

Getting Help

No one should have to go through this recovery journey alone. If you or someone you love is addicted to Percocet, finding a high-quality rehab clinic can help. At a rehab clinic, you will be provided all the support and treatment necessary to help ease the withdrawal process and make a full recovery. Through the use of medications and behavioral therapies, you will be given all the support to help you physically and mentally overcome your Percocet addiction.

Rehab clinics provide medications to lessen the painful symptoms that are typically associated with the withdrawal process, as well as eliminate cravings and prevent future relapse. Rehabs also offer behavioral therapy to challenge your thoughts towards drugs, alter any maladaptive thought processes, and learn coping techniques to prevent drug use in stressful situations. Various types of group therapy are also offered to help you learn from your peers’ experiences and know that you are not alone on this recovery journey.


Medical disclaimer:

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.

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