Percocet is an opiate analgesic and is one of the most widely abused prescription painkiller medications in the United States. It is a combination pain medication that includes both oxycodone and acetaminophen.
How Percocet Works
Percocet works by binding with opioid receptors in the brain, which alters the way an individual experiences pain. Like other opioid-based drugs, taking Percocet for an extended period can alter brain chemistry. An individual’s body may cease to naturally produce the brain chemicals needed to experience pleasure and dull pain. Consequently, without the presence of Percocet in the body, there are no natural brain chemicals to help users feel good, and users begin to immediately experience a sense of pain, sadness, and unhappiness.
In addition to numbing pain, Percocet also affects the brain’s center for respiratory control. Frequent use of Percocet can slow down the respiratory system, causing blood oxygen levels to fall below normal. Taking Percocet at normal doses also affects the cardiovascular system. The medication causes an abnormal widening of the blood vessels. Even when used as prescribed, users may experience flushed skin, a skin rash, and sweating. When Percocet is abused, these side effects are intensified.
Percocet and Vicodin: A Deadly Combination
Some individuals who are addicted to Percocet combine this medication with Vicodin, another prescription pain medication. Both Percocet and Vicodin have significant effects on the brain and central nervous systems. Combining these medications is extremely dangerous and life-threatening. Percocet and Vicodin cause drowsiness; when taken together, the body can lose consciousness for several hours, causing a loss of blood flow to certain parts of the body. This can cause muscle and nerve damage. Both Vicodin and Percocet contain acetaminophen. When combined, the amount of acetaminophen may be enough to cause acute liver toxicity.
Symptoms of Percocet Addiction and Overdose
Many individuals who become addicted to Percocet begin using it when prescribed for pain management by their doctors. Other individuals may experiment with Percocet at parties or with friends. Initially, users feel a rush of euphoria as pain is dulled. When users become addicted, however, these euphoric feelings are replaced by a constant craving for more Percocet. Symptoms of addiction include:
- Feeling a constant need for Percocet to handle physical pain and emotional stress
- Obsessing over how to obtain more and planning your day around Percocet use
- “Doctor shopping” for multiple prescriptions
- Stealing from family or friends, either Percocet or money to purchase more pills
- Crushing or chewing Percocet for a faster high
Individuals who are addicted to Percocet will put their need for the drug above everything else, including their own safety and the safety of those around them. Users may drive or operate heavy machinery under the influence, fail to show up for work or school, and exhibit no concern for how their behavior affects others.
In some individuals, a Percocet addiction drives users to abuse increasingly greater quantities of the drug. When this happens, a user is at risk for overdose. Symptoms of a Percocet overdose include:
- Low blood pressure, slow heartbeat, and weak pulse
- Bluish fingernails, yellowish skin or eyes
- Difficulty breathing
- Profuse sweating
- Drowsiness/extreme sleepiness
If an individual suffers a Percocet overdose, heart attack and even death may occur. Immediate medical treatment is necessary.
Managing Percocet Withdrawal Symptoms
Physical dependency on Percocet can result in severe withdrawal symptoms. Gradual detox programs are necessary to manage these symptoms and avoid potentially life-threatening complications, including seizures and convulsions. Percocet withdrawal symptoms include:
- Fever and flu-like symptoms
- Nausea and vomiting
- Runny nose and eyes
- Muscle pain
Seeking Help for Percocet Addiction
While Percocet is very effective at managing pain, it is also habit-forming and highly addictive. If you or a loved one are struggling with Percocet addiction, seeking help is the first step towards overcoming this addiction. The rehabilitation process begins with a supervised detoxification. When a client is no longer physically dependent on Percocet, rehabilitation through counseling and life skills sessions can help address the client’s emotional addiction. Many individuals begin using Percocet after an accident injury, but continue to use the medication even after their body has healed because Percocet helps to “numb” other causes of pain in their lives. It is important to address the emotional issues which underlie the drug abuse, including anxiety and depression, to help an individual overcome addiction.
Overcoming Percocet Addiction
Percocet addiction can lead to serious, life-threatening consequences. A rehabilitation center like Best Drug Rehabilitation, which offers detox, is best equipped to help a Percocet user through the withdrawal process. When choosing a Percocet rehabilitation center, select a program that integrates professional treatment with detox treatment, counseling, and a strong aftercare program. Since Percocet is legal and popular among prescription drug addicts, the medication is easily obtained. It is essential that users are equipped with the necessary skills to resist falling back into old behavioral patterns after rehab. With the right program, however, users can overcome their addiction and return to being productive members of society.