The Danger of Percocet: Understanding Addiction and Its Effects on the Body and Mind

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Percocet is a commonly prescribed opioid pain reliever composed of oxycodone and acetaminophen. It’s typically used to treat moderate to severe pain after surgery or chronic pain associated with cancer or a long-term injury. Although the drug effectively alleviates pain, it also has a high potential for abuse. Understanding the dangers of Percocet addiction and how misuse can quickly spiral into more dangerous drug use can help you or a loved one recognize the signs of addiction and seek treatment.

The Danger of Addiction

Drug addiction is a disease that can adversely affect a person’s brain and body, resulting in an ability to control their substance use despite the harm it’s causing. It usually occurs gradually, starting with experimental use of a recreational drug in social situations or being prescribed a powerful painkiller your body becomes physically dependent on.

How quickly and severely an addiction grows depends on the drug being used. For example, prescription opioids are notorious for their high addiction risk, causing individuals to quickly develop substance abuse issues. In 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported 10.1 million people misused prescription opioids in the previous year.

Over time, repeated drug use can result in needing larger doses to get high. As your drug use increases, you may start needing the substance just to feel normal or experience strong cravings when not using, making it extremely difficult to quit.

Understanding Percocet Addiction

When used correctly, Percocet can help regulate pain. However, misusing Percocet can cause the user to experience a euphoric high, encouraging repeated use that can result in a substance abuse problem. Because of its high potential for abuse, Percocet is designated as a controlled substance and should be taken with caution. The longer Percocet is abused, the higher the chance a person has of developing an opioid use disorder, which can result in seeking additional drugs.

Signs and Symptoms of Percocet Addiction

Signs and symptoms of Percocet abuse can vary, depending on the person and factors such as dosage amount, length of time the drug has been abused and whether it’s being taken with additional drugs. If you’re worried a loved one may be abusing Percocet, common behavioral signs to look for include:

  • Borrowing or stealing money to purchase Percocet
  • Taking Percocet in larger quantities or for longer than prescribed
  • Withdrawing socially
  • Abusing Percocet even after experiencing negative health effects
  • Attempting to obtain an illegal prescription for Percocet
  • Trying and failing to reduce Percocet use

Physical Effects

Abusing Percocet can have numerous physical effects on the body, including:

  • Slurred speech
  • Weight loss
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Kidney or liver damage
  • Shallow breathing
  • Constant scratching of the skin
  • Fatigue or exhaustion
  • Constipation

Some users may experience withdrawal symptoms when attempting to quit Percocet, encouraging them to resume usage to alleviate these unpleasant effects. Withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Watery eyes
  • Running nose
  • Excessive sweating
  • Tremors
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Powerful physical cravings

Psychological Effects

Percocet addiction can cause mental health and interpersonal issues, making it difficult to maintain employment or healthy relationships with friends, family or colleagues. Common psychological effects of Percocet abuse include:

  • Poor concentration
  • Poor decision-making
  • Lack of focus
  • Memory issues
  • Anger or agitation
  • Aggression
  • Mood swings
  • Suicidal ideation or attempts

It can also exacerbate existing mental health issues or lead to new disorders. When someone is struggling with a substance use disorder and mental health condition simultaneously, they’re referred to as co-occurring disorders. Common co-occurring mental health disorders people may experience alongside Percocet addiction include:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Other substance use disorders

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Percocet Overdose Effects

Prescription opioids, including Percocet, pose a high risk for overdose. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prescription opioids accounted for nearly 21% of all opioid overdose-related deaths in 2021. If you’re worried a loved one may have overconsumed Percocet, overdose warning signs to look for include:

  • Vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Memory loss
  • Nausea
  • Labored breathing
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma

Medical attention should be sought immediately if you believe someone is overdosing on Percocet.

How Percocet Addiction Can Lead to Using More Dangerous Opioids

Because Percocet is a drug doctors can legally prescribe, it’s often viewed as less dangerous than illicit opioids, such as heroin. However, it works in the body the same way as heroin, causing a physical tolerance to grow quickly and spiral into a full-blown addiction. If someone with an opioid addiction has trouble acquiring more Percocet, they may revert to using more dangerous opioids sold on the street to achieve the same euphoric high.

Often, opioids sold through illicit drug markets are mixed with synthetic opioids, including fentanyl. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and is typically combined with heroin and other drugs to increase their euphoric effect. However, many people don’t know when fentanyl is mixed with another drug, and it only takes a small dosage to be lethal. This can increase your risk of overdosing, resulting in coma, brain damage or death.

Treatment for Percocet Addiction

As difficult as overcoming a Percocet addiction can be, it isn’t impossible. Professional addiction treatment can help you combat the unpleasant and sometimes painful withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit, preventing relapse and helping you sustain long-term recovery.

Depending on the severity of your substance abuse, medical detox is often the first step in overcoming a Percocet addiction. During detox, you’ll be closely monitored by medical professionals and prescribed replacement medications to make withdrawal symptoms more bearable. The length of detox depends on how long a drug was being abused and how large the dosages were. Although the withdrawal process looks different for everyone, the most uncomfortable symptoms usually occur about two to three days into detox, with the most severe symptoms fading after about four or five days.

Once physical withdrawal symptoms subside, psychological symptoms become the primary focus. Many people choose to enter rehab after detox to work through their mental health struggles. Those with a severe addiction who experience withdrawal symptoms may find inpatient treatment the most helpful. During inpatient rehab, individuals live at the facility and receive an individualized treatment plan outlining the services best suited for their needs, including counseling, therapy or educational services.

The point of inpatient treatment is to provide a safe, secure environment away from drugs or triggers contributing to substance use so you can focus solely on recovery. By attending therapy and counseling sessions, you’ll work to uncover underlying issues contributing to Percocet use. Some people may be diagnosed with co-occurring mental health disorders and receive treatment to manage symptoms.

Percocet Detox and Addiction Treatment at Mayflower Recovery

Entering treatment for a Percocet addiction is a difficult decision, but it may be the best option for your physical and mental well-being. At Mayflower Recovery, we offer a personalized approach to addiction treatment, ensuring you receive the help you need for your unique situation.

Mayflower Recovery is a state-of-the-art residential recovery center in the greater Boston area, providing acute detox and inpatient rehab services to help people take their first steps toward sobriety. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, contact us today at (978) 737-7937. We’ll work with you to get the help you need to achieve long-lasting recovery.

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