Percocet is one of the most commonly misused prescription drugs. It is made up of oxycodone and acetaminophen. Percocet addiction stems from the oxycodone component of this analgesic, which is an opioid. The side effects of Percocet range from mild nausea to multiple-organ failure. Regular consumption, even with the prescribed dosage, can have a dangerous impact on the psychosocial and physiological well-being of an individual.

How is Percocet Abused?

Percocet abuse usually occurs after prolonged usage of the drug. The abuse can be in the form of consumption of higher than prescribed amounts or by smoking, snorting or chewing the tablets. All of these result in the fast absorption of oxycodone, leading to an immediate feeling of mental calmness and euphoria.

How Addictive is Percocet?

Is Percocet addictive at small doses? Yes, it can be. The oxycodone in Percocet has the ability to quickly induce dependency in the person consuming it. If monitored properly, small doses can yield the desired pain relief with minimal side effects. However, prolonged use or the consumption of higher doses, even while following a proper regimen, can bring about an increased risk of dependency and addiction.

Long-Term Percocet Side Effects

Percocet abuse can lead to several undesirable side effects. Side effects may be physical or behavioral, ranging in intensity from mild to severe.

Physical Side Effects

The physical side effects associated with Percocet abuse are:

  • Itching – Percocet consumption can result in an opioid-induced chronic itching. The exact cause is not known. Histamines are thought to be involved in itching caused by Percocet.
  • Fatigue – Fatigue is a common side effect of Percocet. The calming effect of oxycodone can result in sleepiness and general fatigue.
  • Constipation – Just like all opioids, Percocet causes constipation. This result is due to the fact that opioids directly interact with the central nervous system, which also controls bowel movements.
  • Headache – Percocet can cause medication overuse headaches (MOH).
  • Rash – Sometimes, drug interactions with oxycodone can result in hives and rashes
  • Liver problems – Prolonged consumption of acetaminophen has been linked with liver-related issues
  • Sexual side effects – Prolonged consumption of Percocet can impact sexual health. Opioids can result in an overall decrease in sexual health, including erectile dysfunction, irregular menstrual cycles, and infertility.

Behavioral Side Effects

Long-term Percocet abuse can result in changes in the social outlook and behavior of an individual.  Long-term behavioral side effects of Percocet use include:

  • Reduced focus
  • Aggression
  • Mood swings
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Lethargy
  • Social withdrawal
  • Discord in relationships
  • Inability to function at maximum efficiency

Percocet Abuse Facts and Statistics

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that in 2016, approximately 11.1 million people misused prescription opioids. Out of these, approximately 3.7 million people misused oxycodone-based drugs including Percocet.

The main reasons behind prescription misuse were:

  • 62.6% wanted to relieve physical pain
  • 13.2% wanted to “get high”
  • 8.4% wanted to relax

Additionally, people misused prescription drugs for emotional support, insomnia, to experiment and to relieve symptoms of other drugs.

  • Prevalence in Men. In 2016, approximately 5 million men reported misusing prescription pain medications. The most likely reason for opioid addiction in men is social pressure.
  • Prevalence in Women. In 2016, approximately 4 million women were reported to misuse prescription pain medications. Women are more sensitive to pain and are more likely to abuse painkillers. Also, they possess a stronger tendency to develop a dependency on drugs.
  • Teen Abuse. In 2017, approximately 214,000 teens reported abusing painkillers including oxycodone. In a future trend study conducted by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, prescription oxycodone usage fell from 3.6% to 2.3% in 12th graders between 2015 and 2018.
  • Senior abuse. Approximately 7.2% of women aged 65 years or more have been reported to misuse pain medications including oxycodone, as compared to 2.8% of men.

Percocet Abuse & Treatment Trends in South Florida

The Florida Medical Examiners Commission reported that 8,572 people used prescription opioids for non-medical reasons in 2016. It also reported that between 2015 and 2016 there was a steady increase in the number of deaths caused by prescription oxycodone.

The National Forensic Laboratory Information system reported approximately 2.7% of total drug reports were on oxycodone usage.

Percocet Overdose Symptoms

Percocet overdose can occur as a result of snorting, smoking or chewing the tablet, or ingesting higher than the recommended dose of the drug. This practice can result in serious and sometimes fatal consequences. Percocet overdose symptoms include:

  • Extreme difficulty in breathing and weak respiratory function
  • Drowsiness and fatigue.
  • Cyanosis (blue lips and nails)
  • Low blood pressure and blood sugar
  • Feinting
  • Coma
  • Seizures

How to Get Off Percocet Addiction

It can take anywhere from a few weeks to months to get off Percocet. Self-realization is the first step in any addiction treatment process. Once an addiction is recognized, there are several treatment options, each tailored to the requirements of the patients.

  • Detox. The first step of any treatment strategy includes getting rid of any residual drug from the system. Percocet addiction retrains the brain to a different state of reality. Percocet detox results in severe withdrawal symptoms including hallucinations, muscle weakness, fatigue, tremors, and nausea.
  • Residential. There are many facilities that provide residential treatment. Patients can stay at Percocet rehab centers to undergo therapy and participate in group activities to improve their overall well being. Also, at treatment centers, withdrawal symptoms are closely monitored by medical professionals.
  • Outpatient. In this case, a patient regularly visits a facility for treatment appointments, but the overall process happens at their own home. Outpatient treatment options are riskier in nature. The patient’s determination and family support play a huge role in this method.
  • Dual Diagnosis. Dual Diagnosis refers to when an individual has a substance use disorder and a co-occurring mental health disorder. Both conditions should be treated to increase the chances of a successful recovery.

Key Points: Understanding Percocet Side Effects and Addiction

Some important points about Percocet side effects and addiction are:

  • Percocet is prescribed for pain relief in cases where traditional medicines did not yield effective results
  • Depending on the dosage, the analgesic effect of Percocet can last up to six hours.
  • Consequently, when trying to wean off Percocet, the withdrawal symptoms are severe, including headaches, vomiting, difficulty breathing, insomnia, etc.
  • Percocet addiction treatment can happen as an inpatient or outpatient program, depending on the severity of the addiction.

Contact The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health for carefully designed and monitored treatment programs that can help people facing a substance use disorder. Take the first step toward a healthier future, call today.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.