While Percocet addiction is certainly a major problem that our society is faced with, the original intent of the medication was simply to treat moderate to severe pain. Percocet is a combination drug composed of oxycodone (opioid drug type) and acetaminophen (analgesic and antipyretic drug type).
Oxycodone can be very effective for treating pain, however, due to it’s ability to produce feelings of euphoria in the user, it has a high potential for abuse. Often times this can lead to percocet addiction. I met many patients with Percocet addiction during the time I spent working as a Substance Abuse Counselor at an Opiate Treatment Program. Interestingly, about 80% of them stated they were prescribed percocet by their doctor for pain due to an injury or surgery, and prior to that never experienced any drug problems.
Some said they were hooked right away, while others said it wasn’t until they were told to stop taking the medication that they realized how addicted they were.
Unfortunately, after taking Percocet for an extended period of time, the body can become physiologically dependent upon it. This doesn’t mean that the person is addicted, necessarily, but in many cases it can lead to Percocet addiction.
There are also many situations in which individuals become addicted to percocet by using it recreationally, due to them enjoying the effects it produces.
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Addiction is the continued repetition of a behavior despite adverse consequences.
Common examples of negative consequences due to Percocet addiction are:
- Missing work, school or other important responsibility’s.
- Going to jail.
- Spending so much money on Percocet there is not enough to pay bills.
No one sets out to become addicted to Percocet. Very few people who start using it are aware of the fact that one can become physiologically dependent upon it. It can start off seemingly harmless. Someone might have shoulder surgery and take Percocets for pain during the healing period.
Someone else might be offered Percocet at a party for recreational use. After prolonged use they can become more at risk to develop percocet addiction.
Who gets Percocet Addiction?
Though anyone has the ability to become addicted to Percocet, there are two main factors that have been shown to increase the probability and likelihood of this happening:
- Genetic predisposition – Children of addicts are 8 times more likely to develop an addiction.
- Poor coping skills.
Also, after working with many people with Percocet addiction, I noticed one major theme in common. About 90% of them stated that percocet gave them incredible amounts of energy, even starting with the first dose.
This is interesting, since oxycodone, the narcotic component to percocet, has analgesic and CNS depressant effects. The average Joe who takes a percocet will be sedated and sleepy.
So how then, can the same substance produce opposite effects in different individuals? After reading the book End Your Addiction Now: The Proven Nutritional Supplement Program That Can Set You Free, I learned exactly why this happens.
The author, Dr. Charles Gant, states that different drugs mimic different neurotransmitters. Percocet and other opioids mimic endorphins, which are neurotransmitters that Dr. Gant refers to as our “natural pain-killers”. When a person is deficient in this type of neurotransmitter and starts taking Percocet, they are at a higher risk for developing percocet addiction.
By taking a drug that actually helps balance their brain chemistry, albeit unnaturally, this can result in more energy, happiness and enjoyment of life. Now you see how it’s possible for the same substance to produce opposite effects in different individuals.
In my opinion, this is one of the key factors determining whether or not someone will become addicted to a substance. A key factor that unfortunately is not yet common knowledge. Check out the complete list of neurotransmitters and drugs that mimic them.
Percocet Addiction Signs
Percocet addiction is one of the easiest addictions to hide. The majority of people addicted to percocet use it orally or crush it up and snort it, making it simple to hide from friends, co-workers and loved ones.
A smaller percentage perform cold water extractions, which is a method of removing the acetaminophen to reduce liver toxicity. This method is time consuming and a bit of a process. For the individuals that snort Percocet, sniffling is a common sign of use, though most will say they have a cold or allergies if asked about it.
With individuals who have a Percocet prescription, a common sign of addiction is running out of their medication early every month. Many try to get around this by doctor shopping, which is going to different healthcare providers for controlled substances without the prescriber’s knowledge of the other prescriptions.
Some other signs of Percocet addiction include:
- Increased time spent thinking about using and obtaining more Percocet.
- Mood swings.
- Tendencies to isolate.
Percocet Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms
After a person has been using percocet for an extended period of time they are likely to develop a physiological dependence to the medication. Depending on the daily amount and the individual, this could happen in as little as a few weeks. After stopping Percocet abruptly after a dependence is established, they will go through opiate withdrawal.
Common symptoms of opiate withdrawal include:
- Runny nose
- Gastrointestinal distress
There are many criteria that determine the severity and duration of these withdrawal symptoms, the two main ones being:
- The amount of Percocet used daily on average.
- The length of time a person has been using Percocet.
Percocet Addiction Treatment
There are many different treatment options for Percocet addiction. I am of the opinion that no two individuals are the same. What worked for one person might not work for another.
Some common forms of Percocet addiction treatment include:
- Detox facilities – The patient is overseen by trained medical staff and given medications that help alleviate opiate withdrawal symptoms for 2-3 days.
- Inpatient treatment – They stay at a facility and learn coping skills and addiction education with counselors and other profressionals. Often followed directly after detox and lasting 7-90 days.
- Outpatient treatment – They get to sleep at home and must attend group and individual counseling at the facility, usually 1-9 hours per week.
- Twelve step meetings – They attend hour long meetings with other addicts, the focus is on powerlessness, spirituality and peer support.
- Medication-assisted treatment – The patient is prescribed one of the following opiate replacement medications: Suboxone, Subutex, methadone or Vivitrol.
Percocet addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease. I’ve both heard and read many times that it takes on average 7 times in treatment before an addict finally gets sober. This number is dismal, especially considering the high price of most of the options listed above. These are some of the most common treatment options.
Some people choose to detox from Percocet at home. For detoxing from Percocet at home, I highly recommend an opiate withdrawal detox formula such as:
Percocet Addiction Recovery
Recovery is a process. Many loved ones of addicts think a quick stay in treatment is all it takes to cure Percocet addiction. I wish this were the case. Addiction is such a cunning disease that it takes ones full attention and effort to make any progress towards getting better.
Learning how to live life without the use of substances happens quickly for some, slowly for others. After an addict quits drugs and works on themselves recovery can become possible. Abstinence is merely the cessation of substance use. Recovery is when a person takes an honest look at themselves and finds out what parts of them need to be improved or healed, and then taking action. Having a strong support group and being honest with oneself are two keys to recovery.
By admitting one has a problem and taking steps to overcome it recovery from Percocet addiction is possible.
If you have any questions on Percocet addiction, please don’t hesitate to leave it comment box below.