Percocet is a brand name medication that contains both acetaminophen and oxycodone. This drug is commonly prescribed for the treatment of pain. However, you may find yourself abusing it because of the euphoric effects that it creates.
What Is It?
As we mentioned above, Percocet is a combination medication that contains acetaminophen and oxycodone. The acetaminophen component is an antipyretic analgesic while the oxycodone is a semisynthetic opioid analgesic medication that provides effects that are similar to methadone and codeine.
The oxycodone component is dangerous because it can cause you to experience psychic effects as well as lead to the development of an opioid use disorder that is characterized by tolerance and physical dependence.
To this end, you should only use Percocet exactly as your doctor prescribed and directed. If possible, you may only want to take this medication under the direct supervision of qualified healthcare professionals. This is because the drug will work directly on your CNS - central nervous system - to help in relieving pain, as well as to produce calming and euphoric effects.
The drug is quite effective. This is because it can produce immediate relief from pain for about 5 hours. This is why it is such a strong pain relief medication that is only prescribed for the treatment of short term pain that is intense - such as after experiencing a traumatic event or going through a surgical operation.
That said, Percocet has a lower risk of causing you to develop a substance use disorder in comparison to other substances like morphine, heroin, and OxyContin. However, this risk still exists and this is why you need to take this drug carefully.
Even so, the drug is still abused widely due to the narcotic effects that it produces. If you take a high dose, you may experience euphoria that is similar to what you would feel if you were on heroin.
Although these sensations might initially seem pleasurable and desirable, they would soon lead to the development of a severe substance use disorder, or an addiction to Percocet.
What Are The Effects?
Percocet is commonly prescribed in the medical setting due to the short term pain relief that it produced. It works well if your pain is not chronic - such as if you experienced it after sustaining an injury or from going through surgery.
However, the drug is like morphine and heroin in the sense that it will affect the central nervous system and the brain. By so doing, it can change how your brain perceives the sensations of pain that you may be feeling.
It also acts on the opioid receptors located across your body. By so doing, it will initiate various chemical events that can:
- Elicit dopamine responses; this neurotransmitter is responsible for the functioning of the reward system of the brain, controlling your feelings of motivation and pleasure, and reinforcing any behavior that causes it to be released
- Heightened pleasure
- Modify your pain perception
Percocet is also like any other opioid drug in the sense that it can cause you to develop tolerance and dependence. It also has oxycodone among its components, meaning that you could suffer many other side effects when you take it. These side effects include but are not limited to:
- Abdominal pain
- Memory loss
Signs to Look For If Someone Is Abusing Percocet
A good way to tell if someone has been abusing Percocet is by checking if they are displaying some of the side effects that are commonly associated with this drug. These side effects include:
- Dry mouth
- Slow breathing
- Tiny pupils
Since the drug is typically prescribed for use in the short term, if your loved one gets addicted to it, they are most likely going to engage in risky and illegal behavior to be able to procure the drug. Abusing the medication can also lead to many other problems in their life, including:
- Being involved with the criminal justice system as a result of Percocet use and abuse
- Chronic unemployment
- Damage to the heart
- Eye problems
- Family discord
- Financial problems
- Finding alternative ways to get more of the drug
- Increasing the frequency and dosage of the drug without consulting a doctor
- Job loss
- Lung damage
- Mental health problems
- Seeing multiple doctors
- Seeking out drug dealers
- Sexual dysfunction
- Social isolation
- Strained relationships
- Suicidal ideation
- Suicide attempts
Short and Long Term Symptoms of Percocet Addiction
Continued Percocet abuse will eventually give rise to the development of an opioid use disorder. Also known as an addiction, this condition can manifest itself in various ways and affect different aspects of your life.
It is essential that you learn how to recognize some of the common signs and symptoms of a Percocet addiction. By so doing, you will be able to stop the problem in its track before it causes you to suffer more than you have to.
These signs include:
a) Physical Symptoms
- Coordination difficulties
- Motor skill difficulties
- Problems with balance
- Shallow breathing
- Sleep problems
- Slowed heart rate
- Slurred speech
- Weight loss
- Withdrawal symptoms when you stop using Percocet
b) Behavioral Symptoms
- Abusing the drug even when doing so results in negative effects
- Abusing this medication even when you realize that doing so is a dangerous habit
- Attempting to get more of the drug through false prescriptions or other illicit means
- Attempting to reduce or stop using Percocet but finding that you are no longer able to
- Borrowing and stealing money so that you can fund your growing drug habit
- Borrowing and stealing Percocet
- Social withdrawal
- Taking the drug for longer time periods or in greater quantities than you anticipated
c) Psychosocial Symptoms
- Mood swings
- d) Cognitive Symptoms
- Lack of focus
- Memory problems
- Poor concentration
- Poor decision-making
If you check into an addiction treatment and rehabilitation center, the recovery professionals at the center will try to determine if you have a severe substance use disorder. In the process, however, they will not just examine the physical side effects of abusing this drug. Instead, they will also assess you for other behavioral signs and symptoms that could point out the fact that you are addicted to Percocet.
For instance, they will want to know if you have been taking more of this drug than your doctor prescribed. If this is the case, then it is highly likely that they will inform you that you have a problem.
Additionally, using Percocet is any other way than your doctor intended would be considered to be a warning sign of an opioid use disorder. For instance, you may have been injecting, snorting, chewing, or crushing the medication.
Percocet Overdose Risks
One of the major risks that you stand to suffer if you abuse this drug is that you could experience a drug overdose. This overdose situation could turn out to be fatal. It is often accompanied by the following signs and symptoms:
- Cold and clammy skin
- Cyanosis (or a blue tinge to the lips, fingernails, and skin)
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of consciousness
- Markedly constricted pupils
- Muscle weakness
- Profound sleepiness
- Respiratory failure
If you experience any of these signs and symptoms - or you witness someone going through them, it is imperative that you seek emergency medical services. This is because a Percocet overdose could prove to be fatal.
Best Options for Recovery
The only way you can overcome your opioid use disorder involving Percocet is by checking into an addiction treatment and rehabilitation center. By so doing, you will receive a wide variety of recovery services to help you deal with your growing Percocet abuse and addiction.
After being taken through an initial assessment, the program will offer you medically supervised detox services. The goal of these services will be to ensure that you do not suffer too much from your withdrawal symptoms. They will also be attempting to help you overcome your physical dependence on Percocet.
Some of the symptoms of withdrawal that you may suffer during this stage of treatment include:
- Joint pains
- Muscle pain
- Runny nose and eyes
- Stomach cramps
- Upset stomach
After the detox stage, you will be provided with other rehabilitation services to help you overcome your psychological, behavioral, and emotional dependence on Percocet. In the long term, these services could reduce your addiction and completely eliminate it.
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