What Is Percocet?
Percocet is a brand-name, combination drug available by prescription only. The combination component of Percocet is oxycodone, which is an opioid analgesic. Acetaminophen is another ingredient in Percocet. An opioid analgesic is also called a narcotic.
Opioids work on the brain and central nervous system in very specific ways. They are believed to bind to opioid receptor sites in the central nervous system, creating a slow-down effect. When this happens, it can help change a person’s emotional response to pain, as well as how pain signals are sent between the body and brain. The acetaminophen, which is an over-the-counter pain reliever, is added to improve the pain-relieving abilities of Percocet.
Percocet is intended to be prescribed only in certain situations including to relieve pain that’s moderate to severe in the short-term. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration in the U.S., Percocet is a Schedule II controlled substance. Schedule II controlled substances are believed to have a high potential for abuse and addiction, despite their medical uses.
The longer someone uses Percocet, the more likely they are to become addicted as well as dependent on it.
The side effects of Percocet that can occur, regardless of the manner in which someone is using it, include:
- Low energy
- Nausea and vomiting
With any opioid, an overdose is possible as well. When opioids affect a person’s central nervous system and slow down its functionality, this means breathing and heart rate are slowed as well. If someone takes a dose of Percocet that’s higher than what their central nervous system can handle, the may experience an overdose. A Percocet overdose can be fatal.
Recreational Use of Percocet
Something is happening in the U.S. right now described as the opioid epidemic. The oxycodone in Percocet is a big part of that epidemic. People recreationally use Percocet and other opioid medications to achieve a high.
When someone uses Percocet, especially large doses, it can not only relieve pain but can have other pleasant short-term effects. For example, some people feel euphoria when they use opioid medications or a pleasurable sense of well-being. It’s also possible to experience relaxation and drowsiness, which users may find desirable.
When opioids are used, and especially abused at high doses, these pleasurable responses are the result of the drug’s effects on neurotransmitters in the brain. Dopamine, in particular, can cause these effects.
As this happens, the brain’s reward response may be stimulated, which is what can lead to addiction.
Using Percocet to achieve these certain pleasant effects would be considered recreational use.
Signs of Percocet Abuse
Prescription drug abuse is essentially any situation where someone is using a medication like Percocet outside of how it’s prescribed and intended to be used. It’s not the same as addiction, although Percocet abuse can give rise to addiction. Signs of Percocet abuse can include:
- Taking it without a prescription (often by taking it from family members or friends)
- Buying Percocet illegally
- Using Percocet for longer than prescribed
- Taking higher doses than instructed by a medical professional
- Crushing the Percocet to snort it or liquefy and inject it for a more powerful high
- Developing a tolerance and needing higher doses to get the same effects
These are all behavioral signs of Percocet abuse, but how do you know if someone is using Percocet based on outward signs? Signs someone is using Percocet, especially at higher doses can include:
- Mood swings
- Changes in sleep patterns including sleeping too much or too little
- Seemingly slower breathing
- Coordination problems
- Small pupils
- Nausea or vomiting
- Problems with decision-making
- Reduced motivation
Percocet Addiction Symptoms
Percocet abuse is different from addiction. Addiction is a chronic, diagnosable condition that occurs with repeated exposure to an addictive substance like Percocet. When someone is addicted to something like Percocet, they will often need professional treatment. With a Percocet addiction, the person isn’t able to stop using the drug on their own.
Signs and symptoms of Percocet addiction can include:
- Taking Percocet even when there are negative physical side effects
- The use of Percocet affects a person’s relationships and other areas of their life
- Most of a person’s time and energy goes towards getting opioids and using them
- Strong, intense cravings occur
- Someone may stop fulfilling obligations in other areas of their life, for example at school or work
- A person with an addiction to Percocet may take larger amounts of the drug or take it for longer than they intend to
- Someone who’s addicted may want to stop using Percocet, but they’re unsuccessful
Percocet Dependence Signs and Symptoms
Percocet can lead not only to addiction, which is a complex psychological disorder, but also dependence. Dependence is a physiological condition. When someone is dependent on Percocet, their central nervous system has become dependent on the effects of the presence of the drug.
When someone is dependent on Percocet, if they try to stop using it suddenly, they may have symptoms of withdrawal. Symptoms of Percocet withdrawal can include:
- Muscle aches and pains
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid heart rate and blood pressure
- Sleep disturbances
Percocet Abuse and Addiction Statistics
The following are some of the most important things to know about not only Percocet specifically, but also the opioid epidemic in the United States:
- The Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency for the opioid epidemic in 2017
- There are an estimated 115 people that die in the United States from opioid overdoses every day—this includes not only prescription opioids but also heroin and synthetic opioids like fentanyl
- Anywhere from 21 to 29 percent of people prescribed an opioid for chronic pain misuse them
- It’s believed that an estimated 80 percent of people who use heroin started by abusing prescription opioids first
- Opioid overdoses went up 30 percent from July 2016 to September 2017 in 52 areas throughout 45 states in the U.S.
- Oxycodone, which is the active ingredient in Percocet, is among the top three opioids in the U.S. that have led to the most overdoses and deaths
- In 2011 there were an estimated 32 million prescriptions written for Percocet
- The United States Department of Justice reports that more than 13 million Americans abuse oxycodone
If you are struggling with Percocet or your loved one is, it doesn’t have to continue being your reality. We encourage you to contact us at Amethyst Recovery Center where we provide detox and individualized Percocet addiction treatment programs.