Percocet is a powerful prescription pain medication that can prove fatal if it is abused. The drug is often prescribed for the treatment of muscle and oral pain, joint injury and other types of pain. Percocet is a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen and it is highly addictive because of the oxycodone component in the drug. Percocet is classified as a Schedule II narcotic in the U.S. and can cause physical as well as psychological addiction. The drug is commonly abused by women, adolescents and seniors. Percocet can be taken orally, crushed and smoked, snorted or dissolved and injected. Some of the various street names for Percocet are percs, Paulas, blue dynamite and Roxi’s.
Addiction and Abuse of Percocet
Oxycodone is an opioid narcotic derived from the opium poppy plant and is the same source for morphine and heroin. The raw alkaloids, codeine and morphine that are produced naturally in the plant are very effective in controlling pain and creating a calm state of relaxation. As an opioid drug, Percocet binds to the opioid receptors in the brain and creates feelings of euphoria, pleasure and well-being. The drug alters the way pain is perceived in the body and it also depresses the central nervous system.
When the drug is taken as directed there is no problem with dependence, but most people who struggle with pain will take more of the drug or take it more often. This behavior allows the body to build up a tolerance to the drug and more of it will be required to be effective against pain and also achieve the euphoric high. The brain will start to identify this euphoric high as its normal, natural state and will crave the drug when the effects start to wear off. This altered brain perception is what causes the user to become psychologically addicted to the drug and is known as brain addiction.
Percocet also depresses the central nervous system and causes a slower respiratory breathing rate. The drug can cause swelling of the eyes, tongue and throat and this effect on the body raises the risk of choking, stroke, cessation of breathing, unconsciousness, coma and death.
Other adverse effects of Percocet abuse include loss of coordination, swelling of the legs and feet, depression, anxiety, hallucinations, mood swings, agitation, anger, suicidal thoughts, psychosis, liver and kidney damage and death from overdose.
Percocet addiction can hinder work performance and negatively affect personal relationships. If the drug is stopped, the addict will start to experience strong cravings and the withdrawal process will begin. Because of these symptoms, the addict may engage in risky or criminal behavior in order to obtain the drug.
Once Percocet use is stopped the withdrawal process and cravings will begin. Symptoms of withdrawal will start 12 to 24 hours after cessation and will peak within 48 to 72 hours. Depending upon how often and how much Percocet was used will usually determine how difficult the withdrawal process will be. People who have had addiction problems before will usually be facing a lifelong battle with dependence. They can be treated and learn to manage their addiction but very few will be cured. Most will experience the cycle of going into remission and then relapsing.
Percocet withdrawal symptoms include watery eyes, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, restlessness, nausea, vomiting, twitches, excessive salivation, tremors, anxiety, high blood pressure and heart rate and diarrhea. Less severe withdrawal can be done as an outpatient using the Step-Down system where the patient is slowly weaned off the drug. For those people who have a more critical addiction and will experience severe withdrawal symptoms, an inpatient rehab facility is their best option. Patients will be given medications to help ease withdrawal symptoms during the detox process. Education, behavior modification and long-term counseling will follow. By acquiring the correct tools, the recovering addict is given the opportunity to live a drug-free life.
Percocet is twice as strong as morphine and many users eventually switch to heroin because the high is the same but the price of the drug is much lower. The United States consumes over 80% of oxycodone products world wide and Percocet is a large portion of it. There were over 30 million prescriptions written for the drug in 2013 and thousands of people visit hospital emergency rooms annually because of adverse effects of Percocet. Despite these facts prescriptions for Percocet are increasing and addiction is rising.