Percocet is a prescription combination medication, given to relieve pain that’s moderate to severe. Percocet is a brand-name drug that contains oxycodone and acetaminophen. Oxycodone is an opioid, also referred to as a narcotic. Acetaminophen is an over-the-counter pain reliever found in brand-name medications like Tylenol.
When someone uses Percocet, the hydrocodone binds to their opioid receptor sites. These sites are found throughout the body, but hydrocodone and other opioids especially affect the receptors in the central nervous system. Then, in doing so, Percocet can alleviate pain by changing the person’s emotional response to that pain.
While Percocet can be an effective way to relieve pain, it has risks. For example, hydrocodone is a schedule II controlled substance in the United States. Schedule II substances aren’t available without a prescription, and they’re determined to have a high risk of abuse and addiction.
Percocet abuse can occur because someone uses it to experience pleasant feelings or a euphoric high. This effect occurs when opioid receptor sites are activated, and the brain releases dopamine as a result. Dopamine is described as a feel-good naturally occurring neurotransmitter in the brain. The risk of Percocet abuse is more significant when high doses are used.
Addiction to Percocet occurs when the brain’s reward response is activated.
Along with abuse and addiction, dependence can also occur. Any opioid, whether it’s heroin or prescription pain medicine, can lead to dependence. What happens is that the central nervous system adjusts to the presence of hydrocodone with repeated use. Then, the CNS functions based on the presence of the hydrocodone, and it may stop producing as much of its own dopamine or pain-fighting neurotransmitters.
When this happens, if someone tries to stop using Percocet suddenly, they are likely to go through Percocet withdrawal.
Percocet withdrawal refers to symptoms experienced as the central nervous system attempts to return to a sense of normalcy following regular exposure to hydrocodone.
The severity of Percocet withdrawal someone experiences can vary depending on their history of usage and how much they were regularly using. Withdrawing from any opioid can be difficult, and often requires professional assistance.
Even if someone doesn’t abuse Percocet, but uses it exactly as prescribed, they may experience symptoms of withdrawal. Many doctors and medical professionals will recommend patients gradually lower or taper their dosage of Percocet, rather than abruptly stopping.
Percocet Withdrawal Symptoms
With Percocet withdrawal symptoms, they can be very uncomfortable and difficult to manage. Not everyone will have all symptoms, but some of the potential Percocet withdrawal symptoms a person may experience include:
- Watery eyes
- Aches and pains
- Restlessness and irritation
- Runny nose
- Muscle pain and joint pain
- Abdominal cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Elevated blood pressure
- Shallow breathing
- Elevated heart rate
With Percocet withdrawal symptoms, they are the often the opposite of the effects of using the drug.
The hydrocodone in Percocet is a central nervous system depressant, so it slows activity controlled by the CNS. For example, Percocet can slow breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. It can also cause drowsiness, relaxation, and sedation.
The effects of Percocet withdrawal can be the exact opposite of these symptoms.
Some of the symptoms of Percocet withdrawal are more psychological than physical. The psychological symptoms can also last longer than the physical symptoms.
Examples of psychological symptoms of Percocet withdrawal include anxiety, panic, intense cravings and extreme mood swings. Also possible is depression, loss of motivation, changes in concentration and cognition, and feeling angry.
Percocet Withdrawal Timeline
The Percocet withdrawal timeline refers to how long the symptoms of withdrawal last. Much as is the case with the severity of the withdrawal symptoms, the Percocet withdrawal timeline can vary.
Reasons it could vary include how long someone used Percocet, whether they were simultaneously dependent on other substances, and whether they had underlying mental or physical health concerns.
While every situation is unique, typically a Percocet withdrawal timeline might look like the following:
- The oxycodone in Percocet has a relatively short half-life, so for some people, the symptoms of withdrawal might begin within four to six hours after the last dose is used. For others, it may be longer before they experience the initial symptoms. The earliest symptoms of Percocet withdrawal are usually fairly mild and can feel like having the flu. For example, a person may start to feel some muscle pains, and feel tired or groggy.
- Within three days most people will experience peak Percocet withdrawal symptoms. These are usually the most severe and can include gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea and vomiting, problems sleeping, anxiety and agitation.
- The majority of people will see that their Percocet withdrawal symptoms start to get better within a week. Some people may have ongoing symptoms of depression or anxiety, however. This is especially true if they were very heavy or long-term Percocet users.
Percocet Withdrawal Treatment
With opioids like hydrocodone, certain medications are approved for the detox treatment process. Some of the medications approved to help treat opioid withdrawal symptoms include:
- Methadone: This isn’t always the preferred treatment option for opioid withdrawal. Methadone is itself a weak, long-lasting opioid. While it can help eliminate withdrawal symptoms from other opioids and reduce cravings, many people become dependent on this instead.
- Buprenorphine: Buprenorphine is also a weak opioid, although it’s shorter-acting than methadone. Buprenorphine has a lower risk of abuse and overdose than stronger opioids, but again it may not be the best Percocet detox treatment option.
- Naltrexone: This is a drug that’s used to help block opioid receptors. It doesn’t reduce cravings for Percocet or eliminate withdrawal symptoms, but instead, it keeps someone from getting high if they relapse.
- Lofexidine: This is available under the trade name Lucemyra, and the FDA recently approved it for the treatment of a broad set of opioid withdrawal symptoms.
Along with prescription medications that are specifically approved for opioid withdrawal, if a person receives medical care during this time, there may be other treatments provided to them that treat specific symptoms as they occur.
Percocet Detox Centers
A person who is stopping their use of Percocet has different options in terms of going through detox and withdrawal. One option is to try and do it on their own. This is not a recommended option.
While opioid withdrawal isn’t typically life-threatening, it’s difficult. The chances of relapsing are high when someone tries to go through Percocet detox on their own.
Another option is to go through detox and withdrawal on an outpatient basis but under the supervision of a medical professional.
This may be a suitable option for someone who isn’t a heavy or long-term Percocet user and is likely to experience only mild withdrawal symptoms.
Then, there is the option to go to a professional Percocet detox center. For someone who is a longer-term Percocet user, this is almost always the best option.
A professional Percocet detox center offers inpatient, around-the-clock medical care. Symptoms can be treated to improve comfort and reduce severity. Both physical and psychological healthcare can be provided.
Many Percocet detox centers are also part of a rehab facility. This is helpful because once someone completes the Percocet detox process, they can then immediately begin addiction treatment.
To learn more about Percocet detox centers, and the withdrawal process as well as opioid addiction treatment, contact Amethyst Recovery Center.