Percocet Symptoms and Warning Signs

Percocet is a prescription pain reliever that is typically recommended for treating and managing moderate to severe pain. The drug’s function is similar to the combined effects of Oxycodone – a narcotic painkiller, whose properties are similar to those of heroin, morphine and acetaminophen (a fever reducer and mild pain reliever).

Like morphine and heroin, Percocet affects the central nervous system and brain by changing how the brain perceives pain. The drug influences opioid receptors in the body and causes a chain of chemical reactions that not only modify pain perception but also trigger a dopamine response in the brain. By triggering the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain, Percocet will cause you to experience feelings of pleasure and motivation.

When Percocet is consumed in large doses, it will cause a ‘high’ that is characterised by feelings of calm, relaxation, heightened pleasure, and euphoria – similar to what is experienced from using heroin.

People who abuse Percocet for recreational purposes tend to assume that this substance is a safer alternative to illicit street drugs for getting ‘high’. This is a false assumption; just because your doctor prescribed you Percocet doesn’t make it any safer than heroin or cocaine as a substance of abuse. Not only is Percocet accompanied by its own unique set of side-effects when abused, the drug can also lead to dangerous problems of dependence and addiction.

The safest and only way to use Percocet is according to the instructions of your doctor. Even then, you are still at risk of developing an addiction. Because of Percocet’s high abuse potential, the drug is often illegally sold on the streets for recreational purposes. Some of the slang terms for the drug when sold illegally on the street include Perks, Hillbilly Heroin, Roxi, Oxy, and Percs.

What is Percocet used for and who shouldn’t use it?

Percocet is typically medically prescribed to provide relief for patients suffering from moderate to moderately severe pain. It is recommended for clinical use only if there is no alternative treatment that will work – or if other medication will not provide adequate pain reduction.

For safety reasons, Percocet is generally not prescribed to patients with:

  • Asthma
  • Unusually elevated carbon dioxide levels
  • Paralytic Ileus (or dysfunctional intestine)
  • Respiratory depression
  • Sensitivity to acetaminophen
  • Sensitivity to oxycodone
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Abusing Percocet

The abuse of prescription painkillers was once assumed to be an issue that was limited to the middle or upper classes of society. However, that was in the past. Nowadays, the abuse of painkillers like Percocet is a much more pervasive problem that touches lives across various social strata and demographics. In fact, Percocet abuse (and that of other prescription painkillers) has become prevalent across all socio-economical and ethnic groups.

People who begin abusing Percocet are usually introduced to the drug via a legitimate prescription. After using the drug for a while (according to prescription), an individual can begin to develop tolerance, which will eventually lead to dependence and addiction if the drug continues to be consumed. It’s for this reason that Percocet is typically prescribed for only short-term use. The drug is so potent that regardless whether you abuse it or use it according to a prescription, the chances of developing an addiction are still high.

People who abuse Percocet recreationally take the drug to experience its desirable effects. Aside from getting ‘high’, such individuals may abuse the drug to self-medicate an undiagnosed psychological disorder, such as depression or anxiety.

Besides the above, other reasons people abuse Percocet include:

  • To avoid feeling bored
  • To change the way other people see them or how they see themselves
  • To escape a problem in real life
  • To increase comfort in social situations
  • To receive increased attention from parents or friends

Whatever your reason for abusing Percocet, it is not a wise lifestyle to continue. This is because abusing Percocet will only compound your mental health symptoms by adding new problems, such as dependence or addiction.

Effects of Percocet Abuse

Developing physical dependence or addiction to Percocet is easy once you start abusing the drug. Subsequently, quitting the drug thereafter is usually difficult without professional help. Compulsive misuse of Percocet brought on by addiction can lead to a myriad of health problems, including physical damage, such as liver failure. Continued abuse also puts you at greater risk of suffering from an overdose, as your tolerance increases. Furthermore, if you attempt to abruptly quit using the drug, you’re likely to experience the onset of possibly painful withdrawal symptoms.

When you try quitting or can’t procure a fresh dose of the drug, Percocet withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Muscle pain and weakness
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Dizziness
  • Panic attack
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever

Percocet Addiction

Percocet is a highly addictive opioid-based drug. This is in part due to one of the drug’s primary ingredients, Oxycodone, which is a highly addictive synthetic opioid. Like other opioid drugs, Percocet influences the human body by causing a flood of the neurotransmitter, dopamine, in the brain, resulting in euphoric effects and pleasant sensations of relaxation. Dopamine is responsible for triggering feelings of happiness and pleasure, as well as affecting motivation and cognition. These effects dull pain, which is what makes Percocet so effective as a painkiller. However, the pleasant effects or ‘high’ associated with the drug are addictive and thus lead people to use more in order to continually experience these feelings.

In certain cases, Percocet addiction comes about due to an increased tolerance. That is, as you continue using Percocet, your body will adapt to the effects of the drug and you’ll subsequently need higher doses before you can achieve the desired effects. Continuing to increase your dose (or frequency of use) will eventually lead to physical dependence, whereby you’ll feel you cannot survive without using Percocet. More often than not, dependence and addiction to Percocet often occur simultaneously.

For a variety of reasons, addiction to Percocet can be injurious to your quality of life. For instance, developing such a condition can endanger your relationships, finances, finances, career, education, and most importantly, your health.

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Percocet Overdose

If you abuse or are addicted to Percocet, you’re at great risk of eventually overdosing. A Percocet overdose occurs when you use more of the drug than your body can process. This can prove fatal.

If you suspect you’re suffering a Percocet overdose, seek immediate medical attention. Contact emergency medical services if you notice any of the following symptoms shortly after using Percocet:

  • Cyanosis (blue-tinged skin, fingernails or lips)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Markedly constricted pupils
  • Muscle weakness
  • Profound sleepiness
  • Respiratory failure
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma

The danger of a Percocet overdose is more likely if you are abusing the drug alongside other central nervous system depressants such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, or other opioids.

Long-Term Effects of Percocet Abuse

A host of long-term effects can result from continued abuse of Percocet. Some commonly reported complications that arise after an extended period of Percocet abuse include:

  • Dry mouth and mucous membranes
  • Chronic constipation or slowing of the intestinal tract
  • Menstrual problems in females, such as irregular periods
  • Erectile dysfunction in males
  • A perforated nasal septum (amongst those snorting the drug)

People who inject the drug face a wider range of risks, including:

  • Hardening of the veins
  • Skin infections
  • Heart infections
  • Contraction of hepatitis, tuberculosis, HIV, and other communicable diseases

Aside from the health dangers associated with long-term abuse of Percocet, there are a variety of other consequences to take into consideration; a particularly serious one is the increased risk of suicide. Studies have shown that individuals who abuse opioids are at a higher risk of attempting and actually completing suicide. This is likely caused by the devastation living with an opioid addiction can cause, as well as the depression that follows after an individual quits.

Depression is typically brought on by the sudden shortage of excess dopamine in the brain, causing the user to be unable to feel pleasure. That is, without drugs to cause a false surge of dopamine, it will take the brain a while to regulate its dopamine production to normal levels.

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Percocet Abuse Treatment

A medically supervised detox is an ideal first step to take in the treatment of Percocet abuse and addiction. A medically supervised/assisted detox will ensure your withdrawal symptoms are minimised in their severity and that you’re at less risk of suffering a relapse. This can be accomplished by gradually weaning you off the drug through a tapering schedule.

If medically assisted treatment provided, you can also be given medication such as methadone or buprenorphine (if necessary) to manage your symptoms. Such drugs will help minimise cravings and symptoms of Percocet withdrawal.

The detox process is only the beginning of treatment for Percocet addiction. As detox only cares about the physical aspects of any addiction, it should be immediately followed by rehab, which will care for the psychological aspects of addiction.

Rehabilitation therapy after detox will greatly reduce your chances of suffering a relapse. Rehab therapy options include outpatient and inpatient programmes. Inpatient treatment may last for 30, 60 or 90 days. It is known to offer the most comprehensive treatment, coupled with the best results.

During rehab, a variety of therapies will be implemented to guide you towards making a full recovery by equipping you with a variety of tools and coping mechanisms to help you attain long-term abstinence. Therapy sessions may focus on identifying triggers and stressors that typically cause you to abuse drugs and will teach you how to avoid (or deal with) such factors. Triggers and stressors may comprise people, places or things that you associate with drug use.

12-step recovery programmes that utilise group and peer support can also help you stay focused on your journey to abstinence. The important thing is that your treatment plan is personalised to suit your unique circumstances and care for your specific needs.


How long will it be until Percocet withdrawal begins?

Withdrawal symptoms can take hold within a few hours after the last intake of Percocet has left your body. How long it takes before withdrawal begins is also dependent on the half-life of the drug in question. Because Percocet is available in an extended-release version – as well as a regular release version – how long it takes withdrawal to commence will depend on what type of Percocet is consumed.

The standard formula has a half-life of about three hours, while the extended version has a half-life of roughly four to five hours. Therefore, withdrawal symptoms for most patients can begin to manifest within 24 to 72 hours after the last intake.

What Recovery Programme is Right for Me?

The recovery programme that is right for you is dependent mostly on the intensity of your addiction. If your addiction is less severe, an outpatient programme will be capable of helping you make a full recovery. However, if addiction is severe, then an inpatient programme is best.

The best results are often attained when inpatient and outpatient treatment programmes are combined. By evaluating you, experts can recommend the appropriate recovery programme to address your individual needs.

How Long Does Percocet Withdrawal Last?

The duration isn’t fixed, as it is often dependent on factors such as the physiology of the addict, severity of addiction, and whether Percocet was being combined with other substances. Generally, withdrawal symptoms can be at maximum intensity for about five to seven days.

Can I Overcome Percocet With Just Detox?

Detox is only the first step to overcoming Percocet addiction and is thus insufficient on its own to make a full recovery. Detox-only focuses on the physical aspects of your addiction and neglects those of a psychological nature. If the psychological aspects aren’t treated in rehab, you’ll stand a greater risk of suffering a relapse, which can have potentially fatal consequences.

Can You Die From Percocet Withdrawal?

Percocet withdrawal symptoms are generally not fatal. However, if not properly managed, symptoms can lead to health complications, which in turn could prove fatal (for example, breathing in vomit can lead to a lung infection).

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