Percocet is a combination medication used to help relieve moderate to severe pain.
It contains an opioid pain reliever called ‘Oxycodone’ and a non-opioid pain reliever named ‘Acetaminophen’.
Percocets have a risk for abuse and addiction, which can lead to overdose and the risk of death.
Table of contents:
Percocet effects are very addictive, which is why this medication is only prescribed by professionals.
Most Percocet abuse occurs because of recreational substance abuse. This means the drug was obtained illegally. However, the medicinal use of the drug may lead to substance abuse as well.
When a user ingests more Percocet than prescribed and gets cut off, they are likely to suffer from withdrawal.
Why Percocet is addictive
A person can become addicted to Percocet in as little as one week of taking the drug. The medication can cause someone to become addicted to its pain-relieving properties or the feeling of its psychological effects.
Those who become addicted may experience substance dependence or have significant withdrawal symptoms when they no longer take the drug.
Addiction to the pain relief
Medications like Percocet can stop providing effective pain relief when taken long-term. This is called tolerance.
When you begin to develop a tolerance to a drug, you need higher doses to get pain relief. This is normal with long-term opiate use.
How quickly a person develops a tolerance varies. Your body will begin to adapt to the medication in as little as one week of taking regular doses.
Addiction to the psychological effects
Percocet affects how a user feels because of its direct effect on the brain. Many become addicted to the way they feel when they are using this drug.
Naturally, the body can make opioids that attach themselves to brain receptors. This is how feelings are controlled.
By taking Percocet, you are tricking the brain into believing the medication is a natural opioid. This action releases dopamine into the brain, causing a euphoric feeling. Users will take more of the drug to feel this same sensation and become dependent on it.
Preventing Percocet addiction
- Start with the smallest dose possible.
- Speak to your doctor about alternative medications and therapies.
- Speak to your doctor about quitting by gradually lowering your dose, typically over a week or so.
- Don’t take this medication if it is not legitimately prescribed for you or from online websites.
Percocet strength compared to Oxycodone
Percocet gives pain relief for around five hours, whereas the effects of Oxycodone can last up to 12 hours.
One oxycodone tablet can contain up to 80 milligrams of oxycodone, which is the same amount as 16 Percocet tablets. For example, 15 mg of oxycodone will be more potent than 325 mg/5mg of Percocet. However, if they contain the same amount of oxycodone, Percocet is usually stronger because it also contains acetaminophen, which boosts its effects.
How long should Percocet be used for
The duration of oxycodone usage depends on the reason for taking it.
If you are using it to alleviate pain caused by an injury or surgery, you may only require it for a brief period, typically a few days or weeks.
However, if you have a chronic illness like cancer, you may need to continue taking oxycodone for an extended period.
In such cases, your body may develop a tolerance to the drug, which is usually not problematic. However, abruptly stopping its usage can lead to withdrawal symptoms, including pain and discomfort.
Signs and symptoms of Percocet addiction
A prescription drug addiction can lead to physical and behavioural problems.
A behavioural symptom affects the user’s actions towards themselves and others. The symptoms are almost always negative and can affect a person’s overall health. A lot of efforts are made to obtain more of the drug.
Some common behavioural symptoms a person with a Percocet addiction may show include:
- Continuing to abuse the drug
- Being incapable of reducing use.
- Obtaining a prescription illegally.
- Borrowing or stealing money to get the pills
- Spending less time in social settings.
- Struggling relationships with family and friends.
- Exhibiting agitation, aggression and mood swings.
Cognitive symptoms change a person’s mental ability. A person with cognitive symptoms may have memory problems and poor concentration.
A physical symptom changes the body and health of the user. These symptoms may cause bodily function troubles, affecting a person’s ability to get around.
Common physical symptoms a person with a Percocet addiction may encounter include:
- Feeling Exhausted
- Coordination Difficulty
- Balance Problems
- Shallow Breathing
- Difficulty Sleeping
- Slowed Heart Rate
- Loss in Weight
Withdrawal symptoms are also common for those with a Percocet addiction who try to stop taking the drug. Withdrawals lead to a lot of physical symptoms.
Percocet Withdrawal Symptoms
If you need to take Percocet for a long time, your body can get used to it. This is not usually a problem, but if you stop taking it suddenly, you could get withdrawal symptoms such as:
- feeling agitated, anxious or nervous
- panic attacks
- difficulty sleeping
- feeling or being sick (nausea or vomiting)
- noticeable heartbeat (palpitations)
The symptoms of a Percocet overdose are similar to those of oxycodone and acetaminophen.
Oxycodone overdose symptoms can include the following:
- weakness in the muscles
- trouble breathing
- different colouration in the skin
An acetaminophen overdose has the following symptoms:
- appetite loss
- pain in the stomach
- stomach swelling
- organ failure
Adults should not take more than 4000 milligrams (4 grams) of acetaminophen a day.
People wanting to end prescription drug misuse can find help from local addiction services or by seeking advice from their doctor.
It is recommended to undergo detox in a medical facility or detox centre where you will be safe and comfortable. Certain medications, such as methadone, buprenorphine, clonidine, and naltrexone, can help to minimize cravings and reduce withdrawal symptoms during detox.
A person going through Percocet detoxification will deal with withdrawal symptoms for five to seven days.
Speak to your Doctor
Speak to your doctor about alternative medications and therapies or how to gradually lower your dose, typically over a week or so.
Therapies and support
Attending therapy and support groups will help to prevent relapse (using the drug again). Relapse after withdrawal is common and carries a high risk of overdose. Seeking support is one of the best ways to avoid relapse.