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Percocet addiction signs, symptoms, and treatments

Reading time: 7 mins

Percocet addiction is the compulsive seeking and use of Percocet that can occur in both misuse and intended use of the painkiller. 

Repeated Percocet use can cause several side effects. The symptoms of Percocet addiction include agitation, mood swings, difficulty sleeping, reduced breathing rate, and depression. Other possible side effects of Percocet addiction can be categorized into physical, psychological, and social symptoms. 

The causes of Percocet addiction are genetics, previous mental illness, and a family history of prescription drug abuse. 

Opioids like Percocet can also result in serious health consequences. The effects of Percocet addiction include slowed breathing, vision problems, exacerbation of pre-existing mental health problems, involvement in criminal activities, social withdrawal, and suicidal ideation.

What is percocet addiction?

Percocet addiction is a disorder characterized by the uncontrollable use of Percocet despite negative consequences. Someone who is addicted to Percocet may take the prescription medication for recreational purposes and not for medical reasons. 

The euphoric effects of a Percocet high may lead individuals to either self-medicate or use the drug non-medically. This unintended use of the drug can quickly escalate into chemical dependence and addiction.

What are the causes of percocet addiction?

The causes of Percocet addiction are multifaceted and can include factors. The causes of Percocet addiction are listed below. 

  • Biological factors: Some biological factors that can contribute to someone’s risk for Percocet addiction include genetics and gender. Addiction can run in families and someone who has a blood relative with prescription drug addiction may be more likely to abuse Percocet. An article on women & opioids from the Kansas Board of Pharmacy suggests that women are also more likely to abuse prescription opioids because they experience more severe pain than men.
  • Psychological factors: People with co-occurring mental health disorders, novelty-seeking personalities, and impulsivity are more likely to be addicted to Percocet. Certain mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression and substance use disorders often coexist. Meanwhile, novelty-seeking personality and impulsivity are both associated with risk-taking behaviors that are commonly seen in different kinds of addictions.
  • Social factors: peer pressure, ease of access to prescription medications, and inadequate knowledge about prescription drugs and their risks all contribute to an increased risk of developing Percocet addiction.

What are the effects of percocet addiction?

The effects of Percocet addiction can be both physical and psychological, as well as temporary and permanent, and they can have a significant impact on a person’s health, relationships, and well-being. The effects of Percocet addiction are listed below.

  • Physical effects: The physical side effects of Percocet abuse include dizziness, fatigue, stomach pain, constipation, headache, and diarrhea. Physical effects tend to be less severe and should subside within a few days.
  • Psychological effects: Serious psychological problems that result from Percocet addiction include anxiety, depression, confusion or unusual behavior, paranoia, insomnia, and hallucinations.
  • Short-term effects: The most commonly reported short-term effects of prolonged Percocet use are reduced breathing rate, drowsiness, nausea, unconsciousness, and coma. These effects are also seen in the misuse of other opioids.
  • Long-term effects: Continued abuse of Percocet can result in physical and psychological dependence, tolerance, chronic constipation, suppressed immune system, kidney failure, osteoporosis, and sexual dysfunction.

What are the signs and symptoms of percocet addiction?

man sitting at the waterside

Symptoms of Percocet addiction range from physical to psychological and social. The most common signs and symptoms of Percocet addiction are listed below. 

  • Agitation: When a substance no longer affects an addict the way it initially did, there is a need for more of the drug to achieve the desired effects that the person seeks. This intense craving for the drug can put a Percocet addict under a lot of stress, leading to agitation and restlessness.
  • Mood swings: Someone struggling with Percocet addiction may experience unexplained mood swings. A person may also show shifts in the mood when Percocet is not readily available for consumption. A symptom commonly seen in other addictions, mood swings are also one of the ways that prescription opioids affect the brain.
  • Difficulty sleeping: An addicted brain directly impacts the circadian rhythm, which is the biological clock that operates an individual’s sleep-wake cycle, according to an article on circadian rhythm sleep disorders from the Cleveland Clinic. Sleep problems due to Percocet addiction include insomnia, broken sleep, and overall poor sleep quality.
  • Reduced breathing rate: High doses of opioids like Percocet can cause respiratory depression, which reduces a person’s breathing rate. Slowed breathing can be fatal as it can cause a person to completely stop breathing.
  • Depression: Some people start abusing Percocet to self-medicate undiagnosed psychiatric disorders, including anxiety, fear, or depression. However, self-medication does not improve symptoms of certain mental health conditions and even worsens depression symptoms.
  • Stealing or forging prescriptions: Since Percocet requires a prescription, someone who is addicted to the medication may have a hard time getting it. As a result, a Percocet addict may try to acquire the drug through illicit means such as stealing or forging prescriptions.
  • Doctor shopping: refers to the act of seeing multiple doctors to obtain extra prescriptions for controlled substances, according to an article on doctor shopping and what it means for GPs from The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. Someone who struggles with Percocet addiction may engage in this practice due to the compulsive need to fuel the addiction. 

Other possible Percocet addiction symptoms include:

  1. Dry mouth
  2. Headaches
  3. Light-headedness
  4. Difficulty with coordination
  5. Low blood pressure

How to overcome percocet addiction

One can overcome Percocet addiction by attending a formal treatment program that can support their specific necessities during recovery. A Percocet addiction treatment program may include supervised detox, psychological interventions, relapse prevention and management strategies, and peer support groups. 

Some opioid users opt for hospital treatment. A hospital can effectively provide complete health care, but Percocet treatment addiction programs take a holistic approach in dealing with the disorder, as these programs treat the physical and psychological aspects of the addiction.

What are the risk factors for percocet addiction?

Woman in pain crying

Several risk factors can increase the likelihood of developing Percocet addiction. The risk factors for Percocet addiction are listed below. 

  • Genetics: substance abuse problems run in some families. Certain genetic structures can increase a person’s vulnerability to drugs of abuse.  An article titled, “Genetics: The Blueprint of Health and Disease” from the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that almost half an individual’s susceptibility to addiction may be dictated by genetic factors.
  • Gender: Women are more likely to misuse and abuse prescription opioids like Percocet. This is because women are at a greater risk of suffering from chronic pain than men, and are much more likely to seek help from doctors for pain-related problems. As a result, women are at increased risk of using and abusing opioids.
  • Prior addiction to other substances: Someone who has past or current addiction to other substances such as alcohol or tobacco is more likely to experiment with a different substance of abuse.
  • Comorbid mental health disorders: People who struggle with mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder are more prone to Percocet addiction. Similarly, being addicted to prescription opioids increases one’s likelihood of developing psychological disorders.
  • Easy access to Percocet: Being prescribed Percocet or having the drug in one’s home medicine cabinet means easier access to the painkiller and may cause a person to become addicted to it.

How do you treat percocet addiction?

Percocet addiction may be treated using several approaches, including medical detox, inpatient treatment programs, outpatient therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and 12-step recovery programs. 

Medically monitored detox is often the first step in treating Percocet addiction. Medical detox involves taking an individual off of Percocet slowly under medical supervision so that withdrawal symptoms do not lead to a relapse.

Withdrawal symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable and medications may be needed to help manage cravings and withdrawal from Percocet. Medications such as methadone or buprenorphine may be administered to ease the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. 

After undergoing detox, it is important to follow up with rehabilitation programs to avoid relapse. Rehabilitation therapy options include inpatient and outpatient treatment programs. Inpatient therapy entails living at the treatment facility, away from access to Percocet and other triggers. Inpatient facilities also provide individual or group counseling sessions.

Outpatient programs allow the recovering individual to live at home while visiting a counselor on a fixed schedule. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is another widely used approach in Percocet addiction treatment. CBT helps recovering addicts modify their attitudes and addictive behaviors related to Percocet abuse. 

On the other hand, 12-step recovery programs like Narcotics Anonymous are a form of group therapy that allows people in recovery to have the support of other individuals who share the same struggles.

Why is using percocet addictive?

Using Percocet is addictive because the medication releases a boost of dopamine, a brain chemical that relieves pain and increases feelings of motivation and pleasure. Percocet is a prescription painkiller that contains the opioid oxycodone and the non-opioid pain reliever acetaminophen, according to the drug information label on Percocet published in DailyMed

It is prescribed as a short-term treatment for the symptoms of moderate to severe pain. Percocet is typically used for both acute pain that is experienced a few days after surgery as well as chronic or long-term pain due to conditions such as cancer or arthritis. 

The legitimate medical use of Percocet has a few advantages, including its effectiveness in treating pain and improved pain reduction abilities with the inclusion of acetaminophen in Percocet. However, if used improperly, Percocet has a plethora of disadvantages such as the risk of physical and mental dependence and withdrawal problems associated with the unintended use of the painkiller. 

Percocet is highly addictive because it stimulates the brain’s reward center and allows its users to feel happy or rewarded despite an illness being in place. When taken in large doses and over an extended length of time, individuals can become addicted to this boost of reward caused by Percocet.

When is percocet addiction counseling necessary?

Two women and a man having a conversation.

Percocet addiction counseling is necessary when addressing not only the symptoms but also the root causes of the disorder. Additionally, when combined with medically-assisted treatments, counseling plays an important role in preventing relapse. 

Individual, group, and family counseling sessions are also useful in teaching the best ways on how to approach a loved one who is struggling with Percocet addiction. Family members may need counseling to maintain healthy communication with their loved ones and make them understand the importance of getting help and undergoing an appropriate treatment plan.

What are the symptoms of percocet addiction withdrawal?

The symptoms of Percocet addiction withdrawal can manifest in both physical and emotional ways, including but not limited to nausea and vomiting, abdominal cramps, cold chills, intense cravings for Percocet, depression, agitation, increased irritability, mood swings, and anxiety.

Withdrawal symptoms can vary from person to person and can range from mild to severe. The intensity and duration of withdrawal from Percocet also depend on the severity of dependence. In general, symptoms tend to peak on the second or third day of abstinence from the substance, according to the 2009 clinical guidelines for withdrawal management and treatment of drug dependence in closed settings from the World Health Organization.