Percocet is a prescription medication that combines oxycodone and acetaminophen (pain reliever commonly known as Tylenol). This opioid painkiller is fast-acting and can last up to five hours. OxyContin the brand name of an extended-release oxycodone that can relieve pain for up to twelve hours.
Percocet is a synthetic opioid, and has a similar chemical structure to heroin, hydrocodone, and morphine. These drugs produce a euphoric ‘high’ when abused in higher than prescribed doses, as well as feelings of well-being, reduced anxiety, relaxation, and pleasure.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies Percocet as a Schedule II controlled substance. Drugs that are included in the Schedule II have the most regulations, as they carry a high risk for abuse and addiction.
According to data collected by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 1.4% of the population over the age of eleven reported abusing oxycodone, including percocet, in 2017.
People abuse Percocet for many reasons. Some individuals start off with a prescription to manage some kind of post-surgical or chronic pain while others abuse opioids like Percocet to escape the stresses of life or to get ‘high’.
Some other commonly reported reasons for abusing Percocet include tension relief, dealing with emotions, help with sleep, or to alter the effects of other drugs.
Taking Percocet in any way other than it has been prescribed is considered substance abuse. This includes snorting, crushing, or injecting Percocet, as well as taking dosages that are higher than prescribed.
Percocet abuse can quickly increase tolerance, meaning the person will need more oxycodone to get the same effects as before. Over time, dependence may develop, which can easily lead to addition.
Percocet Abuse Side Effects
Percocet abuse affects people in a number of ways. Many individuals experience physical, psychological, and behavioral side effects of abusing Percocet. These side effects often include:
Psychological/Behavioral effects of Percocet abuse
- mood swings
- memory impairment
- concentration issues
- poor decision-making
Physical effects of Percocet abuse
- slowed heartbeat
- decreased respiration
- slurred words
- significant weight changes
- disheveled appearance
There may be other effects of Percocet abuse that are not included on this list. This is because opioids can sometimes affect people differently. A good rule of thumb is that if a person is taking Percocet, and start behaving in a way that is not considered their normal, it may be a cause for concern.
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- 11.4 million people reported abusing opioids in 2017 over the previous year
- Most individuals abusing prescription opioids, like Percocet, are over 26
- Percocet is the second most often abused prescription opioid
- Over half of those abusing Percocet got them from friends or family members
While tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal are physical signs of Percocet addiction, there are several observable symptoms of addiction as well. A person addicted to Percocet may:
- neglect responsibilities to use Percocet
- avoid situations where Percocet use is unacceptable
- spend a lot of time and money looking for and using Percocet
- continue to abuse Percocet knowing the negative consequences
- have several doctors or prescriptions for Percocet
- have increased risk of overdose
- steal or ask others for Percocet, or money to purchase Percocet
If a person is exhibiting more than two of these symptoms, they may be struggling with Percocet addiction. Percocet addiction is not limited to a specific group of people. Opioid addiction can affect anyone, and there are substance abuse programs that can help.
Percocet overdose in individuals who are addicted to this medication are more common than people realize. Over time, the same dose that used to induce euphoria and relaxation stops giving those effects. When they increase dosage dramatically, overdose can occur.
Other means of Percocet overdose include taking Percocet with other drugs, like alcohol, benzos, cocaine, or other opioids. Combining Percocets with any other substance of abuse raises the risk of overdose significantly.
Fentanyl has also found its way into Percocet pills on the black market. Clandestine labs have acquired pill presses that make pills that look like prescription Percocet pills, and these pills have significantly increased the rate of overdoses in individuals who abuse Percocet.
Percocet Addiction Treatment Options
Substance abuse treatment for Percocet addiction offers a little more than traditional substance abuse treatment. Under federal guidelines, treatment facilities that offer rehabilitation for opioid addiction have to follow a protocol that is outlined and regulated. These facilities also must be certified as an opioid treatment program (OTP).
OTPs must provide a medically supervised detoxification program in order to help an individual through the withdrawal process. Each case is evaluated, and medical staff may determine that a person needs additional medications to ease the discomfort of withdrawal or tapering down the dose of the opioid they are currently taking.
Another option often considered during the first phase of rehab is medication-assisted therapy, or MATs. This treatment option uses alternative medications like Suboxone or methadone to replace the opioid being abused. MATs can be used during detox, or long-term.
After detox is completed, substance abuse treatment continues to include counseling, vocational and education training, workshops, and medical care. As a part of aftercare planning, many individuals are connected with community resources and outpatient substance abuse counseling.
OTPs are individualized and focus on the specific needs of each resident. Our addiction specialists are here to help you find the best treatment options for you or your loved one. Reach out to us today.Sources
National Association of Boards of Pharmacy - Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program
Drug Enforcement Administration - Dangerous fentanyl masked as counterfeit oxycodone, 20,000 pills seized in the Bronx and Manhattan
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - 2016-2017 NSDUH Estimated Totals By State
National Institute on Drug Abuse - Opioids