You go to the doctor, expecting them to give you something they know is safe. Despite what news cycles explain about the state of the opioid crisis, you may still think you will not become dependent or misuse the medication. The truth is that anyone can be vulnerable to abusing Percocet.
Percocet is an opioid, which means it has the potential for misuse because of the way it affects the brain, as stated by Healthline.
The medication contains a synthetic form of an opioid that still has the same effects as natural opioids on your brain. It can mask pain, provide a feeling of relaxation, and influence your brain’s reward system so that you can continue to seek it out even when you face adverse consequences for doing so.
But how do you prevent drug abuse when you rely on Percocet to improve your quality of life? Learn how Percocet is meant to be taken and identify consumption that may signal the start of dependence or addiction.
An Overview Of Percocet
As stated by CNN in July 2018, Percocet is a prescription painkiller that contains oxycodone (a lab-made opioid) and acetaminophen (Tylenol). The medication is effective because it binds to opioid receptors to relieve pain, induces a pleasurable feeling, and slows down breathing.
Percocet is listed as a Schedule II drug. This means that to take or possess it legally, you must have a prescription. Schedule II drugs are known to have a high potential for psychological and/or physical dependence as well as addiction. So, why do doctors continue to prescribe it?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says opioids are effective at reducing pain because they attach to chemical messengers that travel between the brain and body. This blocks messages of pain and allows patients to go about their lives more comfortably.
Percocet is often prescribed to women who have had a Cesarean section or people with pain caused by broken bones. It is also effective at reducing fevers as it relieves pain.
Experts agree that Percocet can work wonders for patients who truly need it. Unfortunately, Percocet and other opioids are prescribed excessively.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently updated guidelines for the prescription of opioid painkillers like Percocet. One of its main recommendations is to ensure patients only take doses measured in milligrams (mg) per day.
- In the past, CDC guidelines encouraged doctors to look out for certain behaviors in “high-risk patients.” The new guidelines take into account that opioids put all patients at risk.
- Doctors who have access to state monitoring tools are encouraged to use them whenever prescribing new opioids to a patient.
- Guidelines for tapering are now much clearer than in the past.
Risks Of Percocet
All Medications Come With Risks Even When Taken As Indicated. Percocet Is Known To Cause The Following Side Effects:
- Lowered testosterone levels
- Memory issues
Percocet’s side effects can be fatal, and the acetaminophen it contains can cause irreversible damage to the liver when the medication is misused.
Senior citizens are at risk of overdosing on opioids of any kind because they tend to have chronic health issues and take various medications at the same time. Their metabolisms are also slower, and this affects how quickly drugs can be filtered by their bodies.
Percocet In The Context Of Opioid Misuse
The CDC Has Released The Following Information About Opioid Misuse Across The Country:
- In 2017, deaths because of opioids were five times higher than they were in 1999.
- In the United States, 46 people die from opioid overdoses every day.
- Rates of overdose for men were 6.1 per 100,000 people, and rates for women were 4.2 per 100,000 people in 2017.
- Overdoses are higher among non-Hispanic whites and American Indians/Alaskans than among African Americans and Hispanics.
- States such as Illinois, Washington, Maine, Maryland, Oklahoma, and Tennessee experienced increases in overdose deaths between 2016 and 2017.
How Misuse Happens
Despite the medical community’s best efforts, opioid misuse remains all too common.
Genes And Environmental Factors Can Make You More Likely To Become Addicted To Percocet If You Misuse It. A Few Examples Are:
- A family history of drug misuse or a person’s own substance abuse in the past
- Past alcohol abuse in the patient or a family member
- Unemployment or poverty
- Unprocessed childhood trauma
You can become addicted to Percocet even if these risk factors do not personally affect you. Taking another person’s prescription is another sign of misuse.
Healthline Reports That Some Common Signs Of Percocet Addiction Are:
- Attempting to obtain new prescriptions
- Stealing from family and friends to buy Percocet illicitly
- Lying about losing prescriptions
- Requesting refills frequently
People usually begin misusing Percocet by taking larger doses than their original prescription or by taking it more often than they should. A person who has misused Percocet may appear high, unusually calm, or experience quick changes in mood. Misuse can cause fatigue as well.
NIDA Also States That Some People Misuse Percocet In Other Ways. They May:
- Crush pills and snort or inject the powder
- Add the powder into water and inject the substance
Help For Percocet Abuse
If you feel that Percocet use is becoming a problem for you, know that various treatment options exist for opioid misuse. In 2012, an anonymous author published the story of his Percocet misuse for the Journal of Medical Toxicology.
It began after he was prescribed Percocet for pain after a lumbar puncture. His prescription was only for a week, but he continued to take it even after his pain was gone. He was a nurse who had access to the medication, and he slowly began diverting it.
This later spiraled into diverting morphine and abusing alcohol. He recalls how he sought help after losing his job and getting a DUI, among other negative consequences.
Not everyone who becomes addicted to Percocet has such easy access to it or experiences such drastic consequences due to their misuse. When he published his story, he had been sober for two years and eight months. His story shows that recovery is possible with proper treatment.
NIDA states that treatment should take individual circumstances into account, as no one solution with work for everyone who misuses Percocet.
- Treatment should acknowledge the chronic nature of addiction.
- Treatment needs to be offered as soon as possible to prevent addiction from further spiraling out of control.
- Addiction specialists should treat co-occurring problems in addition to substance use.
- Clients may receive one or various kinds of behavioral therapy so that they can learn how to live a drug-free life, learn what triggers their substance abuse, and become productive members of society.
- Medical detox services should be provided, as needed.
- Testing for HIV, hepatitis, and other diseases should be given to those who inject substances.
Where appropriate, clients will also receive medication-assisted therapy (MAT). The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states that MAT combines medication with counseling to better treat various aspects of substance misuse. MAT’s goals are:
- To wean people off the use of opioids, including painkillers that are being misused
- To use medication to regulate brain chemistry
- To improve one’s quality of life
- To decrease cravings and deal with withdrawal symptoms that disrupt life
Common Medications Used In MAT Are:
- Buprenorphine. This drug blocks opioid cravings and is taken as a pill or sublingual tablet.
- Methadone. This prevents withdrawal by tricking the brain into believing it is still getting the opioid of abuse.
- Naltrexone. This medication prevents feelings of pleasure in people who relapse on a drug of abuse.
Does Percocet Cause Irreversible Effects?
Yes and no. With treatment, people can eventually wean themselves off opioids like Percocet. In that sense, they can eventually live productive lives as they stop using the drug.
Percocet’s inclusion of acetaminophen could cause irreparable damage to the liver or prove to be fatal. Medications like Percocet are now limited to no more than 325 mg of acetaminophen to prevent damage to the liver.
Oxycodone can also be deadly for people with chronic breathing issues, such as asthma, as it is known to cause respiratory depression. It is possible to prevent this by making breathing conditions known to your doctor and avoiding alcohol or allergy drugs while taking Percocet.