Percocet Abuse and Addiction Treatment: Risks, Support & Resources
Last Updated: November 2, 2023
Percocet abuse and addiction are dangerous and can lead to a potentially fatal overdose, but treatment can help reduce the risk.
Understanding Percocet Abuse
Percocet, a combination of the opioid oxycodone and the analgesic acetaminophen, is abused for its narcotic component, oxycodone, and is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the U.S. More than 2.7 million Americans received a Percocet prescription in 2020.
Oxycodone is a strong opioid that is 1.5 times more potent than morphine. Like other opioids, oxycodone fights pain by acting on the mu opioid receptors of the central nervous system. However, the drug also triggers the brain’s reward circuit, causing euphoria, sedation and relaxation. Over time, this can lead you to crave repeated and higher Percocet doses and, eventually, to addiction.
Signs of Percocet Abuse
Signs often become evident to friends and family when someone starts abusing a drug like Percocet. Some signs of Percocet abuse center around changes in behavior, while others may reflect the person’s physical health.
- Spending time with different friends than usual
- Having interpersonal problems
- Getting in trouble at school, work or with the law
- Losing interest in favorite activities
- Changes in physical appearance, including poor hygiene
- Changes in sleep patterns
Causes and Risk Factors of Percocet Addiction
Although anyone can become addicted to Percocet, some people are more likely to develop a problem with the drug. Certain risk factors can predispose a person to a Percocet addiction. If you or a loved one have risk factors for a Percocet addiction, it is important to be vigilant about an addiction developing. Risk factors include:
- Taking more Percocet than your doctor prescribed
- Using Percocet more often than instructed by your doctor
- Taking Percocet not prescribed to you, including borrowing or buying someone else’s Percocet
- Exaggerating your symptoms to try to get more Percocet
- Visiting multiple different doctors (“doctor-shopping”) or pharmacies to try to obtain Percocet
Long-term Effects of Percocet Addiction
Percocet addiction is always dangerous, and the risk of a potentially deadly overdose is ever-present. However, Percocet addiction also has additional long-term side effects impacting several organs and bodily systems, including:
- Chronic constipation
- Intestinal blockages
- Sleep apnea and other breathing problems
- Heart attack and heart failure
- Heightened pain sensitivity
- Hormonal problems
- Immune system problems
- Sexual dysfunction and infertility
Can You Overdose on Percocet?
It is possible to overdose on Percocet. An overdose can occur even if you take the drug exactly as prescribed, especially if you mix it with other central nervous system depressants like alcohol or benzodiazepines. The risk of a Percocet overdose can increase if you take more of the drug than prescribed, take it more often than prescribed or buy it off the street. Signs of a Percocet overdose include:
- Slowed or shallow breathing
- Bluish skin and nails
- Pinpoint pupils
- Loss of consciousness
- Limp muscles
A Percocet overdose is a medical emergency. If you suspect someone is overdosing on Percocet, you should administer naloxone (Narcan) if available and call 911. You will not get in trouble for trying to save someone’s life.
When you take Percocet regularly, your body becomes used to the presence of the drug and starts to adapt accordingly. Therefore, if you suddenly stop taking Percocet, your body struggles to adjust, causing withdrawal symptoms. Percocet withdrawal symptoms can last for up to five days and include symptoms like:
- Muscle aches
- Trouble sleeping
- Increased tear production
- Runny nose
- Enlarged pupils
- Stomach cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
Treatment for Percocet Addiction
Realizing that you have a problem with Percocet is the first step to overcoming your addiction. Fortunately, treatment programs are available to help you quit Percocet and stay off the drug for good. Some Percocet treatment centers, like The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper, provide a full continuum of addiction care services, helping you stop Percocet and supporting you as you maintain your recovery over the long term.
Medical detox is the first step in overcoming a Percocet addiction. In medical detox, you are weaned off Percocet while under round-the-clock care from doctors and nurses. Any Percocet withdrawal symptoms are treated as they arise, and you may start medication-assisted treatment (MAT) as medically appropriate.
After medical detox, your body is cleansed of Percocet, but you still need to begin the hard work of rehab. You can start your recovery in inpatient rehab by living onsite in a sober setting. In rehab, you will undergo intensive individual and group therapy sessions to explore why you began relying on Percocet in the first place. You will also learn coping skills to help you lead a Percocet-free life.
Following inpatient treatment, you can begin to reenter the outside world and learn to maintain your recovery while working or going to school. In outpatient treatment, you live at home but still undergo rehab via telehealth. Following rehab, you can maintain outpatient focus on your recovery by enrolling in aftercare programs like alumni groups or 12-step programs.
Addressing Co-occurring Disorders
Mental health conditions like anxiety and depression are common in those with substance abuse disorders. More than 25% of those with substance abuse issues also have an underlying mental health problem. Treating your mental health issues increases your chances of success in your Percocet addiction recovery. Fortunately, treating your Percocet addiction and any mental health issues you may have is possible in rehab.
Is Percocet Addiction Treatable?
Percocet addiction is treatable. While addiction is a lifelong condition, it is possible to live a Percocet-free life with help. Starting with medical detox and going through inpatient and outpatient rehab programs can lead you to recovery from Percocet.
If you or a loved one struggle with Percocet, help is available. Call our Recovery Advocates at The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper to learn how we can help you overcome your Percocet addiction for good. Don’t wait: contact us today to learn more.
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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.