Medications and drugs are classified into different drug “schedules” by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), depending on medicinal value and potential for abuse, diversion, and dependency.
Percocet is a brand name, prescription medication that is a combination of the over-the-counter pain reliever acetaminophen and the opioid narcotic painkiller oxycodone. Percocet comes in tablets of varying strengths that are meant to be ingested as needed for pain relief.
The DEA classifies Percocet as a Schedule II drug due to its addictive qualities and high potential for diversion and abuse. Abusers may crush Percocet tablets and then snort, smoke, or dissolve and inject the resulting powder, bypassing the drug’s intended method of absorption and increasing the risks for a potentially fatal overdose.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers prescription drug abuse an epidemic in the United States, as 44 people die every day from a prescription drug overdose. Many times, these overdose fatalities involve alcohol or other drugs in conjunction with opioid narcotics such as Percocet. Mixing other drugs or alcohol with Percocet is extremely dangerous as the interaction of the drugs may suppress vital life functions with tragic and unintended consequences. An overdose is a medical emergency, and symptoms may include extreme drowsiness, nausea, dark urine, jaundice, stomach pain, confusion, seizures, slowed heartbeat, and shallow breathing.
Percocet is a combination drug, so users may experience side effects from both of the main active ingredients. Liver damage is one of the main side effects of acetaminophen, while oxycodone may cause various symptoms, such as:
- Blurred vision
- Dry mouth
- Slowed respiration
- Impaired cognition and motor functions
Percocet Abuse and Dependency
Opioid narcotics bind to opioid receptors in the central nervous system throughout the body and brain, blocking pain sensations and relaxing users. Regular use may lead to the brain developing a tolerance to certain levels of Percocet, requiring the user to take more and higher doses in order to feel the drug’s same effects. The oxycodone in Percocet also stimulates the production of dopamine, one of the brain’s neurotransmitters responsible for feelings of pleasure.
Abusing Percocet often causes a rush of euphoria, or “high,” that users may be keen to reproduce. The more the brain begins to rely on Percocet to produce its “happy cells,” the less it will produce them on its own, and the user may become physically and psychologically dependent on the drug.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that 4.5 million people were considered current abusers of prescription pain reliever in 2013, meaning that they had used these medications recreationally, or for non-medical purposes in the month prior to the survey. The CDC further estimates that close to 2 million Americans aged 12 or older were considered to have problematic abuse or dependency issues with opioid painkillers in 2013.
Once you have become emotionally and physically dependent on, or addicted to, an opioid narcotic such as Percocet, comprehensive care can help you to regain a healthy physical and mental balance through psychotherapy and detox. When you are dependent on an opioid drug, you may experience flu-like withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings when you stop taking the drug. Stopping Percocet suddenly may also cause you to feel depressed, anxious, restless, and have trouble sleeping; as a result, detox generally involves a weaning process in order to avoid these withdrawal side effects. Medications may be used during medically assisted detox to help manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
Highly credentialed treatment specialists at Axis can help you to develop an individual and comprehensive care plan that suits your unique circumstances, so you can leave Percocet behind for good. Call today for more information.