With the ever-worsening opioid epidemic and increasingly high rates of prescription pill addiction, it isn't a surprise that Percocet addiction is becoming more common with each passing year.
In fact, the opioid epidemic in the United States has gotten so bad in recent years that an astounding 46 people die every single day from prescription opioid overdoses according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you're struggling with an addiction to Percocet, it's vital that you know the risks of continuing your drug use as well as what's involved in getting the professional treatment you so desperately need.
This guide will take you through everything there is to know about dependence on this powerful opioid - what Percocet is, how addiction develops, what are the risks, how to recover, and more.
Addiction to Percocet can have some seriously damaging consequences both for your health and for your life as a whole. But the first step towards recovery is education - and that's exactly what this guide is for.
So, let's take a closer look at this dangerous drug.
Percocet belongs to a class of drugs known as opioids, meaning they are either derived from the opium poppy (like morphine and opium) or are synthetically created to have similar effects to these drugs.
Percocet itself is actually a combination of two different compounds - oxycodone (an opioid) and acetaminophen (a mild pain reliever). While it might seem strange to add an over-the-counter pain reliever like acetaminophen (better known as Tylenol) to a prescription strength opioid, the truth is that this drug actually enhances the strength of the opioid.
It does so by stimulating specialized cells in the brain and the body known as opioid receptors. These receptors are responsible for regulating pain tolerance, sedation, and certain aspects of mood as well.
And while this drug is, in fact, prescription medication and can only be legally obtained from a doctor, it still has a dangerously high risk of addiction. And that means that even people taking this drug legitimately may end up developing a dependency accidentally.
In fact, the problem of accidental dependency on prescription opioids is so severe that the CDC even states that an astounding 1 in 4 patients receiving long-term opioid therapy struggles with addiction to these pills.
Just because it's legal, then, doesn't mean it's safe.
Percocet's side effects can be quite extensive. According to Drugs.com, the most commonly experienced ones include:
From your very first dose of Percocet, you're going to feel the pain-relieving capabilities of the drug, but you're also going to feel its other effects too.
Percocet is an opiate, which means it behaves very similarly to other drugs in its class. As a result, you're probably going to feel an increased sensation of being calm and relaxed.
As the brain gets more accustomed to that intense rush of dopamine, it starts craving more and more of what caused it. Added to that, everything else that used to cause a burst of dopamine to be released - a delicious meal, the end of a great book, sexual release - all begin to pale in comparison.
As a result, the old activities you loved because they gave you pleasure simply don't hold the same appeal anymore. Now, the only thing that can cause that rush of dopamine is abusing Percocet.
And it isn't just your brain that's starting to change because of heavy Percocet abuse either. As your abuse becomes more and more common, your body starts to adapt to the continual presence of this drug as well.
It's because of these physical changes that you start developing what's known as tolerance to Percocet. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), tolerance is defined as:
when the person no longer responds to the drug in the way that person initially responded. Stated another way, it takes a higher dose of the drug to achieve the same level of response achieved initially.
And as that tolerance continues to build, you continue to increase your dosage, making your addiction more expensive, more consuming, and even more dangerous.
It's common for people to confuse the terms abuse, dependence, and addiction when it comes to the way they use their prescription medication. If you're abusing Percocet, you're most likely struggling with your body's tolerance levels. In the beginning, you might be having pain, but you might find that when you take your medication, the results just aren't the same.
It doesn't have to take long for tolerance to build up, and when it does, you may begin to abuse Percocet by taking more than your prescribed dose, by taking it more frequently than you should, or by mixing it with other drugs like alcohol.
Essentially, then, abusing Percocet simply means using it in any way that isn't prescribed.
Physical dependence is a bit different. If you're physically dependent it means your body can't function normally without the substance. Tolerance and the presence of withdrawal symptoms are two of the hallmarks of physical dependence.
Addiction, on the other hand, is different from both abuse and physical dependence. Addiction is more about the behaviors of your substance use. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is defined as "a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences."
Now, addiction and physical dependence often go hand-in-hand. They actually tend to fuel each other in most cases. But they don't always develop together.
In fact, you can actually be addicted to a drug without being physically dependent on it. And likewise, you can be physically dependent on a drug without having an addiction to it.
Denial is an incredibly common characteristic of nearly every addiction.
In fact, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, around 6 million U.S. adults met the clinical criteria for needing addiction treatment in 2016 but never received it. Of those 6 million, 93.3% didn't feel like they had a problem at all.
That's 5.6 million people living in complete denial about their addiction. And that means the overwhelming majority of drug addicts are willing to get the help they so desperately need.
When it comes to addiction to Percocet, that denial is sure to carry over. And to make matters worse, you may have received these pills from a real prescription. This can make it even more confusing whether your habits are legitimate or not.
However, if someone you love is exhibiting any of the most common Percocet addiction behaviors, they just might be addicted. Maybe they've started going to multiple doctors to get their prescriptions, or perhaps they've even started forging them in order to get their hands on more.
This kind of dishonesty is a serious indicator of a real problem with addiction. And there are other signs of pill abuse to watch out for in others too such as:
While seeing the signs of addiction in others can be tough, it can be even harder to admit that you're the one with the Percocet abuse problem.
That's because drug addiction fundamentally alters your brain. Your way of thinking, your mood, your personality, and how you make sense out of the world around you are all changed by your substance dependence.
And a drug-seeking brain has an especially hard time admitting that there's a problem when the solution is to stop using drugs.
That's why it's incredibly important for you to be as objective as possible when looking at your own behaviors. Easier said than done though, right?
Thankfully, there are a number of self-assessment options available to help you see the truth behind your actions. These options include online quizzes, self-assessment tools, and the DSM-V.
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As with any other dependence problem, addiction to Percocet can wreak havoc on your personal life.
Not only can habitually abusing this drug cause you to lose your job, get in trouble with the law, jeopardize your friendships, and alienate your family, it can also cause severe short-term and long-term effects that might change your life forever.
Understanding the consequences of your Percocet addiction, then, might end up being one of the best means of convincing you to get help today.
Percocet can lead to a few dangerous short-term effects.
In addition to the side effects listed earlier, abusing Percocet can cause a dangerous impairment in consciousness and judgment. This can lead to putting yourself in dangerous situations like operating heavy machinery or vehicles.
Percocet addiction can also increase the risk of abusing multiple drugs at once - an act that can make the risk of complications far more likely.
But without a doubt, the most serious short-term side effect of abusing Percocet is the fact that you might experience an overdose from too much abuse.
And an overdose isn't just a frightening scene to watch - it can actually end up costing you your life.
According to Drugs.com, some of the most noticeable symptoms of Percocet overdose include:
In the long-term, Percocet addiction can cause a variety of severe health problems.
Liver damage, for example, is incredibly common among Percocet abusers. This is due to both the toxicity of opioids in general as well as the acetaminophen in the drug which has been shown to be problematic for the liver.
Severe and chronic constipation is another problem that many opioid abusers encounter. That's because in addition to having opioid receptors in the brain, we also have them in our intestines as well. And just as opioids sedate the mind, they also slow down the functioning of the gastrointestinal system.
And lastly, addiction to opioids like Percocet may be linked to severe brain damage. According to NIDA, the depressed respiration so common in opioid abuse can cause a condition known as hypoxia. This condition can have both short- and long-term psychological effects including brain damage.
In the end, addiction to Percocet can cause some very serious and very damaging long-term effects.
It doesn't take long for you to become addicted to Percocet, and if you try to quit on your own, you can experience painful physical and psychological problems known as withdrawals. Like other drugs in its class, these withdrawal symptoms that can be really hard to get through.
In fact, according to the online drug addiction community BlueLight, opioids like Percocet are tougher to get through than drugs like crack cocaine, methamphetamine, alcohol, and oxymorphone (Opana).
Former addicts recovering from Percocet abuse problems report feeling symptoms similar to those of the flu - though to a much more severe degree. Some have even reported that these symptoms are 10 times as severe.
In addition to the overpowering physical symptoms of Percocet withdrawal, you'll also likely experience a number of psychological difficulties as well.
And don't be fooled - what goes on in your head during this phase can be just as excruciating as what goes on in your body.
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While the symptoms of Percocet withdrawal are undoubtedly quite painful to endure, they aren't dangerous on their own.
Can Percocet cause seizures? No.
Does Percocet withdrawal cause comas? No.
In the end, the withdrawals alone from this drug aren't going to end up costing you your life.
While the withdrawals alone from most opioids like Percocet aren't fatal, they can bring with them some very serious complications. And these complications can actually end up costing you your life without proper medical care.
Aspiration, for example, is a condition where a patient accidentally inhales their own vomit. This medical condition can lead to choking, pneumonia, and even death.
The combination of profuse vomiting and uncontrollable diarrhea can also lead to malnutrition and dehydration. These conditions can consequently lead to other dangerous complications as well such as heart attacks.
Another danger associated with Percocet withdrawal is the threat of accidental overdose. To explain, opioids are notorious for building up dependency at a particularly rapid pace.
In fact, some patients show signs of tolerance within just a few hours of taking high doses of opioids (a condition known as tachyphylaxis).
However, tolerance to opioids also drops especially quickly. As a result, a Percocet addict may go through detox only to relapse only to fatally overdose on the same dosage they were getting high on a week earlier.
It's an incredibly serious problem that makes it all the more important that you undergo only the most successful recovery programs available.
Just as everyone experiences addiction differently, so too will withdrawal timelines differ from person to person. While one person may be back on their feet within just a few days, others may struggle with symptoms for weeks at a time.
It all depends on a number of factors ranging from unique genetic makeup and the severity of the addiction to individual body type and the strength of your support system.
That being said, most opioid withdrawals tend to last for around 4 to 10 days.
Starts about 12 hours after your last dose and lasts for several days. Symptoms include:
Usually begins around day 3 of withdrawal and can last up to a week. Symptoms include:
Getting clean from your addiction to Percocet can take some work - that much is clear. But luckily, there are a number of medications that you can use to reduce both the severity and duration of your withdrawals.
Depending on what kind of detoxification program you're in, your physician may prescribe a variety of medications to help you get through your withdrawals comfortably and safely.
These drugs may include anti-anxiety medications like Ativan to help ease psychological symptoms, sleep aids to treat your insomnia, Imodium and other OTC drugs for gastrointestinal problems, and more.
It's worth remembering, though, that some of these drugs may be addictive, so it's important that they are only taken under the supervision of a medical professional.
This type of medicated therapy aims to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and eliminate cravings by using low-grade opioids as treatment.
Drugs like buprenorphine and methadone activate the same opioid receptors as drugs like Percocet, though to a much smaller degree. As a result, they become stimulated enough to stave off certain uncomfortable symptoms without causing any euphoria or sedation.
However, there are some risks involved in using ORTs. Since these drugs are technically opioids themselves, they do carry a risk of addiction. As a result, you may end up using an ORT to get through Percocet withdrawals only to find yourself addicted to those same ORTs afterwards.
Without a doubt, checking into a Percocet treatment program is by far the safest way to recover from your addiction.
But what are the different kinds of programs available? How do they help in recovery? And how do you know which one is right for you?
It all may seem a bit overwhelming right now, but once you learn a bit about the process, you'll be even more prepared for treatment, sobriety, and eventually for long-term recovery.
As we've seen, getting through the withdrawals associated with this powerful opioid can be an incredibly tough process. The physical symptoms can be excruciating, the psychological ones can be just as relentless, and if you don't have proper care, the complications can be deadly.
That's where a professional detox program comes in. Percocet detoxification in an expert treatment center ensures that you have access to medical care 24/7 so you won't have to worry about any risks to your safety.
Beyond that, though, professional detox can also provide you with powerful medications that can make your withdrawal symptoms much more manageable.
A medicated detox program uses these drugs exclusively during your detoxification while a holistic program tends to rely on proper nutrition and exercise to help support the body.
Ultimately, a professional detoxification program for Percocet addiction is by far the safest and smartest way to start your journey towards recovery.
Once you've completed your detoxification, it's time to move on to Percocet addiction rehabilitation.
While detox may have focused on curing your body's addiction, rehab puts the emphasis on healing your mind's addiction. Through counseling, group therapy, and a variety of behavioral therapies, you'll learn powerful new ways of coping with your cravings.
Added to that, you'll also learn more about addiction and will also discover what caused your addiction in the first place. Many times, an addict is using drugs simply to help them cope with emotional trauma from the past, an underlying mental disorder like depression or anxiety, or they are using drugs to fill some other hole in their lives.
Rehabilitation will help you get at the core of your addiction, so you can solve the problem at its root.
Finding the right facility for your Percocet addiction can be tough. There are often plenty of options to choose from, and it can even be hard to tell them apart at times.
Added to that, it can be hard to know exactly what you should even be looking for.
That's why we've put together a list of questions you'll definitely want to find the answers to in your search for a Percocet addiction treatment facility. They'll help you get to the heart of what a program is about and help you decide if a facility is right for you.
Like so many other medications, Percocet has its appropriate uses. However, it was never intended to be used long-term, and when it is, the consequences can be devastating. If you've been using Percocet and you've become addicted to this powerful opioid, it's important to get help as soon as possible.
At Northpoint Recovery, we're proud to offer the best inpatient treatment that the Boise, Idaho area has to offer. Our modern and comfortable facilities are designed to make your stay here as pleasant as possible.
Our programs are based on empirical evidence, are nationally accredited, and are without a doubt one of the best ways to improve your likelihood of maintaining sobriety.
But most importantly, each and every one of us here at Northpoint Recovery is 100% dedicated to your full recovery. It's our pride, and it's our passion. Just have a look at what some of our patients have said about their stay.