Percocet Addiction and Abuse

Understanding Percocet

Percocet is a brand of prescription painkiller used to treat moderate to severe pain. Percocet is made by combining oxycodone: a powerful opioid, and acetaminophen an over-the-counter drug found in Tylenol. Percocet is consumed in tablet form and is a drug commonly prescribed to those who have built tolerance to other prescription opioids.

Percocet can be used to treat a variety of pain symptoms but produces other unintended effects. Percocet like other opioids, gives rise to feelings of relaxation and euphoria that can overtime lead to addiction. Percocet is also abused as a recreational substance by some or used by those self-medicating depression and anxiety.

Taking prescription Percocet when not prescribed, or in ways that exceed the recommended dosage can cause serious health risks. If you are taking the drug, it is important to talk to your doctor about the risks and side effects associated with Percocet misuse and dependency.

Percocet Side Effects

Percocet side effects can range from moderate to severe and vary based on how the medication is taken. Those taking prescription Percocet may also develop a tolerance to the drug. When this happens, they will often take Percocet in increasingly larger amounts. Because Percocet contains both an opioid and acetaminophen, side effects can be diverse and more dangerous than just taking an opioid alone. They include:

  • Euphoria
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Headache
  • Stomach Aches
  • Constipation
  • Skin Rash
  • Seizures
  • Confusion
  • Hypertension
  • Difficulty breathing (From Respiratory Depression)
  • Sleep Disturbances
  • Liver Failure and Damage
  • Exhaustion

Percocet Addiction and Abuse

Percocet use affects the central nervous system, delivering analgesic effects throughout the body. At the same time, Percocet directly alters the brain, through its opioid receptors which under normal conditions activate in response to rewarding stimuli.5

Since Percocet and other opioid activate the same areas in the brain associated with reward and motivation, addiction and abuse can occur, even in situations where individuals use Percocet as prescribed.

People abusing Percocet may also branch out to abusing other drugs as well. Recently, governments have put restrictions on prescription drugs. But as a result, many have turned to black market drugs like heroin which are often cheaper and easier to obtain.

For those continuing to abuse Percocet engaging in prescription forgery and doctor swapping are common illegal methods of obtaining the drug when prescriptions run out.

Percocet and Other Drugs

Those taking or abusing Percocet should be aware of interactions with other drugs some of which can be dangerous under certain circumstances.

  • Benzodiazepines (The key ingredient in medications Xanax and Valium) while benzos are commonly prescribed with other opioids, using them together in large amounts can result in drug overdose.4
  • Alcohol – Taking alcohol and codeine has been found to increase the effects of respiratory depression which when used in large doses can result in overdose and death.
  • Buprenorphine (Medications like Subutex, naloxone, Suboxone and Zubsolv are used to treat opioid dependance). When used alongside Percocet, buprenorphine can reduce its effects and in some cases cause withdrawals)8
  • SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors are commonly found in anxiety and depression medications such as Zoloft or Prozac. These can reduce the analgesic effects of opioid medications like Percocet and can cause serious side effects like blood pressure rise, seizures and coma.1
  • MAO inhibitors (Are found in depression and anxiety medication includes Marplan, Nardil, Parnate and Emsam) MAOI’s when taken with opioids, can cause serotonin toxicity, a serious condition which in some cases can be fatal.7

Treatment for Percocet Abuse

Those who become severely addicted to Percocet can put themselves in harm’s way and engage in illegal activities in order to get their fix. As Percocet abuse develops further, these individuals begin to prioritize the drug over their health, personal relationships, and financial wellbeing.

In such cases, drastic lifestyle changes must be made in order to successfully recover from addiction. That is why it is often a better idea to seek addiction treatment rather than going it alone.

Inpatient detox and rehabilitation facilities provide people with a secure environment and trained medical staff– including both doctors and counselors. These programs are ideal for those who are early in the recovery process and need additional support such as medication assisted treatment (MAT), supervised detox and isolation from environmental triggers.

Outpatient programs consist of counseling, 12 step, substance abuse education, medication assisted treatment, and in some cases social support services. These programs are recommended for individuals who can live at home while attending treatment. Weekly commitments for outpatient programs typically range from 3-30 hours a week.

Opioid Abuse Statistics

  • Overdose deaths due to Percocet and other opioids totaled 3.8 per every 100,000 individuals in the US2
  • Approximately two thirds of all drug overdoses involve an opioid like Percocet.3
  • It is estimated that in 2019, 10.1 million people misused Percocet and other opioids.3
  • Since the late 1990’s, prescription opioid misuse has fueled a nationwide epidemic that has claimed many lives and costed an estimated $1 billion dollars of local, state and federal resources.

Get Help Today

Are you or a loved one struggling with opioid addiction? drugs like Percocet can dissolve a person’s ability make safe and healthy choices. To avoid the disastrous consequences of drug abuse, it is often necessary to seek the help of addiction professionals. For more information on available addiction treatments in your area, see the link below.

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