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Physical Effects Of Percocet Abuse And Addiction

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

May 9, 2019

Many people think it’s safer to abuse prescription pills than illicit drugs. However, opioids like Percocet can lead to serious health problems. People who abuse Percocet or take the drug recreationally are at risk for physical side effects including nausea, constipation, and withdrawal.

Percocet is typically prescribed to treat pain from an injury or surgical procedure. Because Percocet contains acetaminophen and oxycodone, it’s classified as an opioid. Doctors will usually only prescribe this medication short-term, because of the high potential for abuse.

Percocet comes with uncomfortable side effects, even when taken in small doses or as prescribed. When a person abuses Percocet or uses the drug to get high, they are at risk for increased physical side effects such as slow breathing, dizziness, and overdose.

Percocet is highly addictive. If a person takes this drug over a long period of time, they will likely become physically dependent. When a person is physically dependent and mentally focused on the drug, they are in a full-blown addiction. This can also cause a person to experience withdrawal.

What Does Percocet Do To Your Body?

When a person takes an opioid narcotic like Percocet, the medication binds to opioid receptors in the brain. This blocks physical discomfort, and changes the way the body responds to pain. Some people may also get a sense of euphoria or well-being from Percocet, which is what makes the drug addictive.

Percocet is an oral tablet. People who struggle with Percocet abuse may change the method of use, by crushing and snorting the pill. This causes the drug’s pleasing effects to hit the body immediately.

The effects of the drug release over a period of several hours. If a person takes too much Percocet, they are at risk for hazardous physical effects, including overdose.

What Are The Short-Term Physical Effects Of Percocet Abuse?

Even when taken as prescribed, Percocet can have a major effect on a person’s health. Many people struggle with painful side effects, and one in four people with opioid prescriptions end up dealing with an addiction.

It’s important to recognize the short-term physical effects of Percocet on the body. These symptoms may recur, but even the short-lived side effects can be agonizing.

Percocet abuse can lead to physical side effects that include:

  • headaches
  • dry mouth
  • constipation
  • stomach pain
  • drowsiness
  • pinpoint (narrowed) pupils
  • dizziness
  • abdominal pain
  • sweating
  • slow breathing

Does Percocet Make You Itch?

Percocet and other opioids can lead to additional side effects, including severely itchy skin. Opioids interact with the central nervous system, and the drug’s effect on neurotransmitters may lead to this intense itching.

Some people may also experience an allergic reaction to the ingredients in Percocet. In addition to oxycodone and acetaminophen, some versions of the drug may contain aspirin, ibuprofen, or several different dyes.

People who are allergic to any of these ingredients may experience a rash or hives on the skin. Allergic reactions to Percocet can also cause side effects that make it difficult to breathe, including swelling around the lips, mouth, or throat.

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Long-Term Side Effects Of Percocet Abuse

Those who take Percocet for extended periods of time will likely develop a physical dependence on the drug. Dependence occurs when your body needs a certain amount of Percocet to function normally.

People may also struggle with tolerance, where they require a larger dose over time. By the time a person becomes dependent on Percocet, the drug has already had a profound impact on the body and mind. They may suffer from symptoms such as sedation, bloating, and clouded thinking.

If a person is dependent on Percocet, they may also begin to experience withdrawal symptoms. This can lead a person to take higher or more frequent doses, or resort to buying pills off the street.

Percocet Abuse And Withdrawal

When a person is addicted to Percocet, their body craves the drug in order to feel normal. If a person stops using Percocet abruptly, they will likely experience withdrawal symptoms. The symptoms of acute opioid withdrawal can be agonizing, and in some cases, life-threatening.

Physical effects of Percocet withdrawal include:

  • agitation
  • change in heartbeat
  • fever
  • sweating
  • confusion
  • runny nose
  • teary eyes
  • shivering, chills
  • goosebumps
  • muscle aches
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • seizure

Many people who are addicted to Percocet and other opioids want to stop, but they may have difficulty getting through the symptoms of withdrawal. To successfully get off Percocet, you or your loved one may require the help of a medical detoxification program.

Percocet Abuse And Overdose

Every day, 46 people in the U.S. die of an overdose involving prescription opioids. Over the last twenty years, this class of drugs has led to the deaths of more than 218,000 people.

When it comes to fatal prescription overdoses, oxycodone is one of the top three most commonly involved drugs. While many people are aware of the growing problem of prescription overdoses, the rates of abuse and addiction continue to climb.

To truly combat the fatal opioid epidemic in the U.S., we need a better understanding of how to effectively treat opioid abuse and addiction. Fortunately, rehab centers across the U.S. exist in order to help people successfully overcome opioid addiction.

Getting Help For Percocet Abuse And Addiction

There are a range of addiction treatment services to benefit those who are battling Percocet abuse and addiction. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) therapies (such as Zubsolv or Suboxone) help to relieve withdrawal symptoms and minimize drug cravings. MAT can also help to prevent relapse.

Those who suffer from the ongoing physical effects of Percocet abuse may also benefit from medical detoxification. In these programs. Patients are provided emotional support and medical care in order to treat the physical effects of addiction, as well as the root issue.

We are here to help you or your loved one find the help you need. For more information on the physical effects of Percocet abuse and addiction, contact one of our treatment specialists today.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Prescription Opioid Data

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Understanding the Epidemic

National Institutes of Health, MedlinePlus - Oxycodone

U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health - Oxycodone

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