The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that the number of Americans suffering from pain-related issues is higher than the combined number of people living with diabetes, heart disease, and cancer patients. Many pain medications are available to people through prescriptions and as over-the-counter drugs. Percocet, a combination drug is a prescription medicine for acute pain resulting from surgery, illness or trauma.
What is Percocet?
Percocet is the brand name of a pain reliever combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen. It is manufactured by Endo Pharmaceuticals. Opioids are substances that resemble natural products derived from the opium poppy. The oxycodone component of Percocet is a semi-synthetic opioid, meaning it is derived from a naturally occurring opiate; in this case, thebaine.
Percocet is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance. This classification means that it has a high potential for abuse. It falls in the category of opioid analgesics, which reduce pain by blocking pain signals through the central nervous system and simultaneously induce euphoria and calmness.
What Does Percocet Do?
Percocet is used for managing moderate to severe pain. The oxycodone in Percocet binds to a mu-opioid receptor, which is a type of protein found on the cell surface. The binding does not let pain signals reach the brain. The drug also increases levels of dopamine, serotonin and other associated hormones, resulting in feelings of calmness, pleasure, and satisfaction. Acetaminophen is said to enhance the effect produced by oxycodone.
Dosage and Administration
Percocet is available in four different formulations in the form of a tablet for oral administration. The different Percocet dosages are:
- 2.5 mg oxycodone/325 mg acetaminophen
- 5 mg oxycodone/ 325 mg acetaminophen
- 7.5 mg oxycodone/ 325 mg acetaminophen
- 10 mg oxycodone/325 mg acetaminophen
Usually, the adult dosage is limited to one tablet every six hours, depending on the severity of the pain. The physician decides the maximum adult dosage of Percocet depending on the requirements and tolerance ability of the patient. The maximum daily dosage for acetaminophen should be less than four grams.
Percocet is available in a tablet form for oral administration. The common methods used for taking Percocet are:
- Ingesting. The recommended method of taking Percocet pills is through oral ingestion. This method is the proper method and results in the desired effects for pain management with minimal, immediate side effects.
- Smoking. Smoking Percocet is considered Percocet abuse. People smoke the drug because it is the fastest way for oxycodone to reach the brain and produce feelings of pleasure and calmness.
- Snorting. Crushing and snorting Percocet is another method used to feel the effect of oxycodone quickly. Snorting through the nose results in immediate absorption of the drug into the bloodstream. Crushing and snorting Percocet is also considered misuse.
- Chewing. Chewing Percocet is another administration method that results in fast absorption of the drug in the bloodstream. Chewing the drug is considered misusing it.
What Does Percocet Look Like?
The shape and color of Percocet pills vary depending on their strength:
- Strength 2.5/325 mg is an oval, pink Percocet tablet, with 2.5 stamped on the surface
- Strength 5/325 mg is a round, blue Percocet tablet, with 5 stamped on the surface
- Strength 7.5/325 mg is an oblong, orange Percocet tablet, with 7.5 stamped on the surface
- Strength 10/325 mg is an oblong, yellow Percocet tablet, with 10 stamped on the surface
The other brand names of Percocet are:
- Xartemix XR
Other names and Street names for Percocet
Apart from being recognized by its commercial brand names, Percocet has other names that are mostly utilized by drug dealers and people buying the drug illicitly.
Some street names for Percocet are:
- Hillbilly Heroin
- Blue dynamite
Side effects of Percocet
Since Percocet is an opioid-based analgesic, its long-term use or improper use can trigger many side effects. Addiction is one of the leading side effects of Percocet ingestion. The reason many people get addicted is that they start using successively higher doses to achieve the same feeling of pleasure and calmness. Other side-effects related to the use of Percocet are:
- Skin rash
- Tremors or seizures
- Miosis or pupil constriction
- Abdominal pain
- Trouble breathing
- Fast heartbeat or palpitations
- Metabolic disturbances, including low blood sugar
- Liver damage
In the case of breast-feeding mothers, small amounts of oxycodone can pass to the baby through breast milk resulting in sleepiness, breathing issues and death in some cases.
How Long Does Percocet Stay in Your System?
Percocet can be detected in several different tests. The type of sample taken will determine how long Percocet is detectable. In general, Percocet can be detected:
- In a blood sample for up to 24 hours after intake
- In a urine sample for up to four days after intake
- In a hair sample for up to 90 days after intake
- In breast milk for up to 24 hours after intake
How long a drug stays in the body depends on various factors including the dosage consumed, how healthy organ systems are, the person’s age and most importantly, the drug’s half-life.
A half-life is the time it takes for half of the drug to metabolize out of the body. In the case of Percocet, the half-life of oxycodone is approximately three to five hours and thus on an average, it would take 24 hours to be completely flushed out of the body.
Is Percocet Addictive?
Yes, Percocet is an addictive drug. The addictive properties are attributed to the presence of the oxycodone as one of the active ingredients. Oxycodone tricks the brain into a false feeling of euphoria by increasing the “feel-good hormones” such as dopamine and serotonin.
The common observable signs of Percocet addiction are:
- Social awkwardness
- Loss of focus
- Abrupt weight loss
- Excessive exhaustion and lethargy
- Aggression and mood swings
- Cognitive impairment
One danger of Percocet is the risk of overdose. Percocet overdose symptoms are similar to that of oxycodone overdose which may include respitory depression, clammy skin, seizures and vomitting. Percocet overdose can cause a range of health effects including permanent brain damage.
The addictive nature of Percocet can lead to an array of risks and it is imperative to seek help if you begin to show signs of addiction.
Key Points – Understanding Percocet
Keep the following key points in mind when considering Percocet:
- The active ingredients of Percocet are oxycodone and acetaminophen
- Percocet is prescribed only when alternate forms of pain treatment have been unsuccessful
- Percocet has a high potential for abuse due to the presence of oxycodone, which can alter many signaling pathways in the brain
- Long-term use of Percocet can result in numerous psychological and physiological issues, including addiction, multiple organ failure, and death
If you or a loved one struggle with Percocet addiction, help is available. Contact The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health to speak with a representative. Learn how addiction treatment can put you or your loved one on the path to a healthier future, call today.
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Drug Enforcement Administration. “Controlled Substances Schedules.” May 2019. Accessed July 22, 2019
National Institute of Drug Abuse. “Street & Commercial Names.” July 2019. Accessed July 22, 2019
Drugs.com. “Oxycodone.” June 1, 2019. Accessed July 22, 2019.
National Center for Biotechnology Information. “Oxycodone.” October 31, 2018. Accessed July 22, 2019.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “The Neurobiology of Drug Addiction.” January 2007. Accessed July 22, 2019.
Endo Pharmaceuticals. “Percocet.” July 2018. Accessed July 22, 2019.
Doe J. “My Story: How one Percocet Prescription Triggered my Addiction.” Journal Of Medical Toxicology, December 2012. Accessed July 22, 2019.
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