Drug and Alcohol - Opioid Addiction

Percocet Addiction: Understanding Addiction to Percocet and Prescription Opioids

What is Percocet Addiction Like?

Percocet addiction traps many in the lethal maze of opioid addiction...but it's treatable. Learn more about Percocet addiction in our blog.

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Drug and Alcohol

Opioid Addiction

October 25, 2023

Percocet is a popular prescription opioid painkiller that contains a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen. It is commonly prescribed for the relief of moderate to severe pain, such as after surgery or for chronic pain conditions.

However, with the rise of opioid addiction in recent years, Percocet has become one of the most abused prescription drugs.

Like other opioids, Percocet works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain, producing feelings of pleasure and pain relief. Over time, individuals can develop a tolerance to Percocet, requiring higher doses to achieve the same effects. This can quickly lead to dependence and addiction.

Percocet Addiction: What Is Percocet?

The combination of oxycodone and paracetamol is sold under the trade name Percocet. Percocet is a branded painkiller medication known as oxycodone/paracetamol or oxycodone/acetaminophen. Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic opioid used in treating moderate to chronic levels of pain. It is sold under separate brand names like OxyContin and Roxicodone.

Unlike the opioid analgesic oxycodone, paracetamol is an anilide analgesic. This means it is a non-opioid or non-narcotic substance. It is also known as acetaminophen, Tylenol, and Panadol. Paracetamol is primarily used in treating fever and mild to moderate levels of pain. As a combination of both these drugs, Percocet is used in treating various conditions. 

Percocet Addiction: What Is Percocet Used For

Percocet is mainly prescribed for managing severe and acute levels of pain. It may not be similar in level of potency to morphine, but it is more powerful than Aspirin and Paracetamol. It is prescribed only when there is a moderate to severe level of pain experienced by the patient. It is widely used in our country, with over 10 million prescribers. It is highly medicinal as it is a combination of two potent opioids and opioid pain relievers. Oxycodone is a narcotic, so it changes the way our brain perceives pain signals, while Paracetamol reduces fever-related symptoms. 

What does a Percocet look like? It is available in multiple formulations, including tablets, capsules, and oral solutions. Percocet comes in immediate-release tablets with a variety of strengths like 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, and 30 mg. Capsules are available in 5 mg strength, while the oral solution is sold with 5 ml strength. There are extended-release tablets available in 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 60, and 80 mg strengths as well.

Percocet has a high abuse potential. Let's learn more about this in a few sections below. 

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Percocet Addiction: What Does Percocet Do?

Percocet is a widely prescribed medication by healthcare providers because it is very successful in managing moderate to acute levels of pain. The reason behind this is the combination of two highly effective drugs, oxycodone and acetaminophen. While oxycodone is a narcotic opioid, acetaminophen enhances the pain-inhibiting properties of the former drug. Since it is a combination drug with an opioid, it works by activating the reward center in our brain.

So, it does belong to the family of opioids. It is a synthetic drug made in laboratory premises, unlike natural opioids derived from naturally grown plants. 

Percocet works by attaching to the opioid receptors in our brain. They mimic the naturally occurring brain chemicals like endorphins and relieve pain. Percocet, too, shows its effect by altering the way our brain perceives pain. It generates a sense of high and euphoria to numb and dull the sensation of pain. However, there are a lot of adverse side effects associated with it, like slowing down the breathing rate.

While Percocet offers pain relief, it also lowers the breathing rate of the user. This can cause serious damage to the health of patients. Besides this, there are various other side effects of using Percocet, which we will discuss in the section below. 

The dangerous side effects of using medication like Percocet also indicate how important it is to use them carefully. The more effective a drug is, the more careful one has to use it safely. This drug is also one such medication that, if not used responsibly, can lead to long-term health issues like addiction. Even though most people use Percocet as per directions given by their healthcare provider, many don't. Being an opioid base substance, it does not take much time to build tolerance. 

Percocet Addiction: What Are Some Common Percocet Side Effects?

Most potent medications in the world have unwanted side effects, and Percocet is no different. It, too, has some side effects apart from the intended effect of managing pain. These side effects range from physical to mental and mild to severe. Some of them are mentioned below. 

Physical Side Effects of Percocet

Physical side effects of using Percocet may include cough, sore throat, ulcers, slow breathing, fever, stomach and leg pain, dry mouth, body swelling, hoarseness, hives, usual bruising, difficulty in urinating, indigestion, bleeding gums, blurred vision, tremors, muscle ache, chest pain, redness in the neck and upper chest. 

Mental Side Effects of Percocet

The mental side effects of using Percocet include restlessness, severe sleepiness, decreased response time and awareness, weakness, feeling warm, increased sweat and thirst, nervousness, clumsiness, confusion, drowsiness, dizziness, and heaviness in the legs. 

It is imperative to contact emergency services and your healthcare provider in case these side effects do not subside within a few days.

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Percocet Addiction: Is Percocet Illegal?

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has made Percocet a controlled substance. The federal agency places this medication as a Schedule II drug. This means that despite having recognized medical value from the medical community, it is available in a controlled manner.

The reason behind the restriction is the high potential for abuse.

Understanding Percocet Addiction

Percocet addiction, also known as opioid use disorder, is a chronic medical condition characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because prolonged use of opioids can alter the structure and function of the brain, leading to changes in behavior and decision-making.

Addiction to Percocet can develop in individuals who have a legitimate prescription for the medication, as well as those who obtain it illegally. Some people may begin using Percocet as prescribed but then gradually increase their dosage without consulting a doctor. Others may misuse or abuse Percocet from the beginning, seeking its euphoric effects.

This medication, when used over an extended period or with more frequency, can cause the patient to become dependent. Percocet addiction deteriorates the physical and psychological health of the user. Researchers and experts have observed that it's not uncommon for people to misuse Percocet. 

People with opioid use disorder (OUD) or opioid addiction switch between medications, and Percocet is one of them. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates nearly 54 million people abuse prescription opioids at least once in their lifetime. This misuse is not unintentional but deliberate for non-medical purposes.

Percocet addiction happens when someone:

  • Consumes more than the amount prescribed by the doctor

  • Consume more frequently than what is prescribed by the doctor

  • Using someone else's prescription

  • Doctor shopping 

  • Obtaining Percocet when the course is already complete

  • Purchasing from illegal sources like the black market

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Is Percocet Safe?

It is not necessary to automatically become dependent on Percocet if one starts using them. Not everyone necessarily becomes addicted to them. Addiction is a brain condition that develops over time. First, tolerance is built into the user.

This means once a person starts using drugs like Percocet regularly, they soon experience a lower amount of euphoria. They would be unable to experience the same type of high in the old dose. As a result, they increase the dose to get as high as before.

Similarly, if one tries to quit the substance, they are unable to do so. This is called physical dependence. Whenever they lower the amount of dose or completely stop the intake, they experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Some common withdrawal symptoms include craving, sweating, vomiting, upset stomach, irritation, rapid heartbeat, sweating, and a general state of unease. 

What Are the Symptoms of Percocet Addiction?

It is difficult to recognize the early signs and symptoms of addiction when one is not looking for them. People are good at hiding them, so it's not easy. However, if you think someone close to you might be misusing Percocet, there are ways to ensure this. There are various symptoms and signs of Percocet addiction. The commonly exhibited ones are listed below. 

Common signs of Percocet addiction are using more than directed by a medical professional, using the medication for non-medical use or for mental health issues, exhibiting withdrawal symptoms, engaging in risky behavior, having disinterest in activities once enjoyed before, and neglecting personal and professional responsibilities. 

Some symptoms experienced by people with Percocet addiction are confusion, depression, mood swings, sweating, low blood pressure, difficulty in sleeping properly, reduced breathing rate, and trouble in making coordinated movements. 

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How to Treat Percocet Addiction

Percocet addiction can develop in an individual due to various reasons. Some became unintentionally dependent on the substance, while others deliberately misused it to get high. Those who are prescribed Percocet can innocently take higher doses of it without knowing the consequences. All this can lead to Percocet addiction.

Most narcotic painkillers have the risk of creating tolerance and eventual drug dependence among their users. Percocet has found its way among the various other cheap street drugs and has become a reason for thousands of addiction cases. The best and most effective way to get rid of this addiction is through Percocet addiction treatment. 

Addiction treatment for Percocet has several approaches. Depending on the patients and their condition, an individualized treatment plan has to be formulated. It's ironic, but several prescription medications assist in getting rid of addiction. They help in reducing the intense symptoms of Percocet addiction. They are often used in the detoxification phase to manage withdrawal symptoms.

Percocet Detox

During Percocet detox, medications like Buprenorphine or Methadone can be given to the patients. They have both shown effective results. A formal medical detox is essential for getting rid of the substances left in the body. It is generally the first stage of any addiction treatment, and Percocet is no different. 

Behavioral Therapy

Another essential component while treating Percocet addiction is behavioral counseling. The physical dependency will be taken care of by detoxification and a variety of rehabilitation programs. Similarly, the negative impact of the drug on the mental health of the user is addressed by psychotherapies and counseling.

These sessions identify the underlying behavior contributing to abusive behavior. Once recognized, professional therapists work with patients to replace them with positive habits. They learn new healthy coping mechanisms to deal with their intrusive thoughts and past actions. A good rehab center also offers counseling to family members and spouses of the addicted patient. This way, they can understand and support their loved ones. 

Struggling With Percocet Addiction? Reach Out Today to The Edge Treatment Center

If you or someone you know is struggling with Percocet addiction, it's important to seek help as soon as possible. The longer the addiction goes untreated, the higher the risk of serious consequences such as overdose and death.

At The Edge Treatment Center, we specialize in treating opioid addiction and have a team of dedicated professionals who understand the complexities of this disease. Our evidence-based treatment programs include medication-assisted treatment, therapy, and support to help individuals overcome Percocet addiction and maintain long-term recovery.

Reach out today to learn more about our proven, evidence-based treatment for Percocet addiction.

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If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, there is hope. Our team can guide you on your journey to recovery. Call us today.