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Psychological 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

Painkillers like Percocet can be effective in treating discomfort, but they come with a risk of psychological side effects. Opioids like Percocet can affect a person’s mental state, and lead to conditions like depression, anxiety, insomnia, and hallucinations.

Low, short-term doses of Percocet do not typically have a negative effect on a person’s health. However, even when taken as prescribed, this drug can lead to psychological symptoms like anxiety and depression.

Percocet is a combination of acetaminophen and oxycodone, which makes it an opioid. Most opioid medications come with a list of psychological side effects. If your doctor has prescribed Percocet, they have likely determined that the benefits of the drug should outweigh the potential risks.

It’s important to take Percocet exactly as prescribed. Large or frequent doses of Percocet can lead to psychological symptoms like insomnia, hallucinations, and addiction.

Can Percocet Cause Depression?

Yes. Depression is one of the most common psychological side effects of opioid medications like Percocet. Opioids suppress the systems of the body, and can cause a person to feel disinterested in things that they used to enjoy.

Additionally, research has found that people who struggle with depression are twice as likely to use opioids long-term. When a person takes Percocet over a length of time, their risk of addiction and dependence increases.

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Those who have a history of depression are more at risk for dependence and addiction. People who suffer from depression may also overuse opioids to treat insomnia and stress. Taking Percocet long-term increases the risk of recurrent and treatment-resistant depression.

Can Percocet Cause Anxiety?

Painkillers like Percocet bind to opioid receptors in the brain. This leads to pain relief and can cause feelings of pleasure and relaxation. However, medication reactions can vary widely from person to person, and Percocet can also cause unpleasant feelings like anxiety.

Some people who take Percocet may feel nauseous or irritable when on the drug. Others may feel nervous or agitated. Opioids can also cause sweaty palms and a change in heartbeat. All of these effects are symptoms of anxiety.

When a person is struggling with Percocet abuse and addiction, they may also develop a tolerance. This means they require higher doses of the drug to get the same effects.

Larger and more frequent doses of Percocet can quickly lead a person to physical dependence, where they crave the drug to feel normal.

If a person does not get the dose their body requires, they may feel severe nervousness and other symptoms of opioid withdrawal. The symptoms of withdrawal can be agonizing. People may feel extremely anxious about getting their next dose, in order to avoid withdrawal.

Percocet And Insomnia

Certain drugs can change a person’s sleep schedule, and cause them to rest too much or too little. Many people who take Percocet report suffering from sleep deprivation. Medical reports back this up, and state that people who take prescription opioids are 42 percent more likely to experience insomnia.

The body needs a certain amount of sleep in order to function properly. When a person is not getting sufficient rest, it can quickly affect other areas of their life including mood, appetite, and the ability to make decisions.

Sleep is essential to psychological health, and opioid-related insomnia can wreak havoc on a person’s well-being.

Percocet And Hallucinations

When a person has a hallucination, it means they hear, see, or feel something that is not there. Hallucinations can be auditory, visual, or tactile. While some people experience auditory hallucinations while on opioids, this class of drug more often causes visual or tactile hallucinations.

Opioid-induced hallucination (OIH) are most commonly recorded in patients who are receiving end-of-life care or treatment for cancer pain. Some opioid medications can cause people to feel they are in a dream-like state, where they have trouble separating fantasy from reality.

Graphic dreams and nightmares are also a common side effect of medications that contain oxycodone, including Percocet.

Percocet can also cause a person to feel intense itching, especially on the head and face. Some may classify this as a tactile hallucination, as the drug causes a person to feel like there is something tickling or touching their skin.

Percocet Abuse And Addiction

In 2017, more than 47,000 people died from opioid abuse. The number of drug overdose deaths involving opioids is six times higher than it was 20 years ago. Despite the alarming numbers associated with the opioid epidemic, prescriptions opioid abuse continues to rise.

While many people take Percocet as prescribed, about a quarter of patients who are prescribed opioids end up struggling with addiction. Once a person is addicted to Percocet, they will likely increase the size and frequency of their dose.

Large, frequent doses of opioids can cause a person to suffer serious psychological conditions. Being dependent on opioids can also keep a person stuck in the cycle of abuse and withdrawal, which can be mentally taxing as well.

Dealing with Percocet addiction can be overwhelming, but you do not have to battle this drug alone. Opioid addiction treatment options are available throughout the U.S.

Getting Help For Percocet Abuse

Millions of people have struggled with prescription drug addiction, but only a small percentage choose to get help. Percocet addiction is treatable through the use of addiction treatment services like medical detox, medication-assisted treatment, and various forms of therapy.

For those who struggle with an opioid addiction as well as a mental health condition like depression, dual diagnosis can be a helpful treatment approach. In a dual diagnosis treatment center, patients are treated holistically for their substance abuse as well as any underlying psychological conditions.

It is possible to recover from the psychological effects of Percocet abuse and addiction. To learn more about treatment options near you, reach out to one of our team members today.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Prescription Opioids, Understanding the Epidemic

ECRI Institute - Hallucinations Are a Very Real, but Underreported, Side Effect of Opioid Treatment

National Institutes of Health, MedlinePlus - Oxycodone

U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health - The association between insomnia and prescription opioid use: results from a community sample in Northeast Florida., Opioid-induced Hallucinations: A Review of the Literature, Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, and Treatment., Depression Effects on Long-term Prescription Opioid Use, Abuse, and Addiction.

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