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Percocet Addiction, Abuse, And Treatment Options

David Hunter, MA.Ed, LPC

Medically reviewed by

David Hunter, MA.Ed, LPC

January 30, 2019

As a commonly abused prescription opioid, percocet is a potent painkiller. When abused, it can produce the same euphoric feeling as heroin, making it dangerously addictive in high doses.

What Is Percocet (Oxycodone)?

Percocet is a painkiller that is only available with a prescription. Percocet combines oxycodone (an opioid) and acetaminophen (the pain reliever in Tylenol). When used as prescribed, Percocet provides quick relief from moderate to severe pain, for up to five hours.

Oxycodone is available in another form, as an extended release painkiller, called OxyContin. This medication can provide pain relief for up to twelve hours.

Oxycodone Percocet Abuse And Addiction

Percocet is most often prescribed to individuals who need relief from intense pain usually following an injury, surgery, or other trauma. If a person takes more Percocet than prescribed, it can induce a feeling of calm, stress-free euphoria, and that can lead to continued abuse.

Continued Percocet abuse can lead to tolerance, which means the person feels they need to take more pills to feel the same effects. This can lead to dependence and eventually, the person can become addicted to Percocet, or other opioids if Percocet becomes unavailable.

Percocet Addiction Signs

Individuals struggling with an addiction to Percocet may struggle to find Percocet when their prescription runs out. This can lead to some drug seeking behaviors, including:

  • repeated visits to the doctor claiming continued pain
  • seeing several doctors in an attempt to get more prescriptions for Percocet (this is often referred to as ‘doctor shopping’)
  • using fake prescriptions
  • looking for drug dealers
  • asking others for their prescription painkillers
  • seeking other opioid painkillers to take instead

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Side Effects Of Percocet Addiction

Percocet provides quick relief for significant pain, when taken as prescribed. If abused, a person can develop an addiction to Percocet. There are several physical, cognitive, and psychosocial side effects of Percocet abuse.

Physical side effects of Percocet abuse:

  • fatigue
  • sleep disturbances
  • breathing issues
  • exhaustion
  • weight changes
  • slowed heart rate
  • coordination problems
  • slurred words
  • constipation

Cognitive and psychosocial side effects of Percocet abuse:

  • poor decision-making
  • memory problems
  • struggling with concentration and focu
  • mood swings
  • agitation and aggression
  • anger

Percocet Statistics

  • More than 130 people die every day from an opioid (like Percocet) overdose
  • 80% of heroin addicts started with prescription opioids, including Percocet
  • Opioid overdoses increased 70% across the Midwest from 2016-2017
  • Over 47,000 people died in 2017 from an opioid overdose
  • It is estimated that two million Americans, or more, are addicted to opioids

Percocet And Fentanyl

In recent years, illicit prescription pills have invaded the drug trade. With the huge influx of fentanyl into the United States, drug dealers began making fake Percocet and Vicodin with a pill press, and instead of oxycodone or hydrocodone, the pills were laced with fentanyl, with catastrophic effects.

Because fentanyl can be fatal at dose of less than two milligrams, it is usually measured using micrograms (μg or 1000 mg). Micrograms are often misread as milligrams, and is likely to have caused many fatalities among people abusing these ‘fake’ pills.

Purchasing any substance or pill off the street is not safe. Just because it looks like a prescription pill, does not mean it came from a pharmacy. These counterfeit pills have caused countless deaths, including the death of known celebrity, Prince. A number of pills found at the residence were counterfeit fentanyl, and toxicology reports revealed fatal levels of fentanyl in his body.

Opioid addiction does not have specific demographic, and people are sometimes surprised to realize that people they know, love, or look up to, are struggling with an opioid addiction. Thankfully, there are substance abuse treatment options available for opioid addiction.

Treatment For Percocet Abuse And Addiction

Opioid addiction, like Percocet, is complex and each person may require individualized substance abuse treatment. Some facilities offer specific programs referred to as opioid treatment programs (OTP) specialize in opioid addiction. These facilities are equipped to treat a Percocet addiction.

A medically supervised detox program is intended to help a person stop abusing opioids, like Percocet. Utilizing this program can help ease some of the discomfort associated with opioid withdrawal. A treatment plan will be devised to determine what medications may be needed to help with the process. Coupled with therapy, medications like benzodiazepines and naloxone may be used.

Percocet addiction is complicated and it can be quite difficult to stop alone. Finding support and treatment can help a person struggling with Percocet addiction to stop abusing opioids. There are plenty of options available, and individuals who are qualified to help start the process. We can help you, just contact us today.

National Institute on Drug Abuse - Opioid Overdose Crisis

Medline Plus - Oxycodone

Carver County Sheriff Department - Prince Investigation

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - 2016-2017 NSDUH Estimated Totals By State

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