If you’ve been prescribed an opioid like Percocet when recovering from surgery or an injury, you’re not alone. Percocet, which contains the active ingredient oxycodone, is a commonly used opioid to treat moderate-to-severe pain for acute injuries or long-term chronic pain. Although it has therapeutic benefits and helps those battling chronic pain, it’s considered highly addictive. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 20.4 percent of adults had chronic pain in the past three years, with another 7.4 percent enduring pain that limited their lives and work activities. When doctors have exhausted all other resources, drugs like Percocet are prescribed to step in and help them manage their symptoms.
Today, prescription opioids are prescribed far less than they were in the early 1990s, which led to the current state of affairs and the severity of the opioid crisis we’re in today. Drugmakers convinced the medical community that opioids like oxycodone were safe and non-addictive, leading to a significant influx in prescriptions. In a few years’ time, government officials realized that wasn’t true. Doctors suddenly cut off both pain patients and people abusing the system, leading to a rise in heroin use, followed by the emergence of the potent opioid fentanyl, which is 50 times stronger than heroin. Percocet addiction still runs rampant, and those going through it require treatment to overcome their affliction.
Until recently, prescribing opioids was frowned upon in the medical community because of the crisis. However, with the rise of COVID-19 and long COVID-19 symptoms, doctors have been prescribing more of these drugs to combat long-term pain caused by the virus. Long haulers, as they’re called, are raising addiction fears again throughout the medical community. Doctors have noticed success in treating these symptoms, but many view this as a short-term fix because of the long-term implications caused by opioids, such as addiction. Percocet is one of the more common drugs used because it’s a fast-acting opioid that provides instant relief, but it’s leading to a potentially new wave of addicts.
As it stands, the CDC reported that 2021 was the deadliest year on record for overdose deaths. For the first time in history, the United States surpassed 100,000 overdose deaths in the country, a dramatic increase from the year before. The start of the pandemic in 2020 led to 78,056 deaths, an increase of 28.5 percent. Opioids were responsible for 56,064 of those deaths. However, fast forward one year, opioids led to 75,673 overdose deaths, accounting for close to the total of all drugs just one year before. The CDC also notes that deaths from prescription pain medication like Percocet also increased.
No matter your stance, you cannot deny the impact drugs like Percocet have had on an entire generation. While many people can use these drugs as prescribed, many more can’t. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that 3.3 percent, equating to 9.3 million people, reported abusing prescription drugs in 2020. If you’re battling a Percocet addiction and don’t know where to turn, Serenity at Summit can help.
What Is Percocet?
Percocet is an opioid pain reliever that can be used in the treatment of chronic pain, after a medical procedure, or for acute pain. The drug contains oxycodone hydrochloride and the over-the-counter pain reliever called acetaminophen. Percocet comes in 5 mg (milligrams), 7.5 mg, and 10 mg options, typically with 325 mg of acetaminophen. The addition of acetaminophen adds an additional layer of pain relief.
Percocet belongs to a broader class of drugs known as depressants and shares that title with benzodiazepines, alcohol, and barbiturates. Although it affects the body differently from these drugs, it induces similar outcomes. Percocet also has several nicknames you should look out for, including Percs, Perky-C’s, Hillbilly Heroin, and Blues.
When ingested, Percocet causes intoxication that many users say is like putting on a warm blanket on a cold day. Many people say they became addicted after their first time using the drug because it was the “missing puzzle piece in their life.” Their emotional and physical pain melted away, leading them to become addicted. Despite the euphoria it produces, Percocet is dangerous because it contains acetaminophen. Using too much can lead to liver and kidney issues and addiction. If you’re prescribed this medication, you must use it exactly as your doctor prescribed.
If you’re concerned about yourself or someone else developing a Percocet addiction, you must familiarize yourself with the signs.
What Are the Signs of Percocet Addiction?
In the earliest stage of use, identifying a drug addiction isn’t as simple as television or movies make you believe. Many people are considered “functioning addicts” and won’t show any outward symptoms. This can last for several years, but eventually, it’ll catch up to them. Whether it’s empty bank accounts that prompt them to steal or failing health due to abuse, it’ll be hard to hide. For others, it may be more obvious. As long as you know the signs and symptoms of Percocet addiction, you’ll be a step ahead and may be able to offer help earlier than someone unfamiliar.
What makes Percocet addiction even more challenging to see is that it walks a fine line between pain relief and addiction. Those using the drug successfully, we might add, may not see a problem with their use. It allows them to function and participate in life. For that reason, you need to know the signs. The first sign is drug tolerance, meaning you need more Percocet to feel the desired effects. If you use more than you should, it’ll lead to a chemical dependency, which is when you go into withdrawal if you lower the dose or run out. Finally, addiction is the last stage. This is where you’ll do whatever it takes to get more Percocet.
Below are behavioral signs to look out for if you’re concerned about Percocet addiction:
- Mood swings
- Decreased performance at work or school
- Lying about drug use
- Trying to stop or slow down but failing despite multiple attempts
- Isolating to get high
- Losing interest in activities that once brought joy to the individual
- Hiding drugs around the house
Opioid withdrawal is extremely uncomfortable and should never be done alone. In the next section, we will cover what Percocet addiction treatment looks like at our facility.
What Is Involved in Percocet Addiction Treatment?
You may overlook the severity of Percocet withdrawal because it’s not considered “deadly” like benzodiazepines or alcohol. However, it’d be foolish to do so because the discomfort can lead to relapse, which can lead to a fatal overdose if you’ve lost your tolerance. If you’re serious about getting sober, you need to do it the right way and go through treatment. The first step is medical detox, a process that assists your body in eliminating oxycodone and other substances from your body. You’ll receive around-the-clock care and be given medication to ease the process. Going about it this way is far less stressful on your body.
After three to seven days in detox, you’ll move into the next level of care, which is either inpatient or outpatient care. If you have a long history of relapse or use other drugs to boost the high from Percocet, you’ll be admitted to a more intensive level of care. Those who took Percocet as prescribed but needed extra help to overcome it will benefit from outpatient care. No matter which direction is best for your specific case, you’ll be exposed to various therapies geared toward long-term abstinence. Once complete, Serenity at Summit will help you with aftercare, provide you with a list of 12-step programs, and connect you to fellow alumni. You’ll never walk this journey alone, even once you finish our program.
How Dangerous Is a Percocet Overdose?
No matter what drug you’re consuming, overdosing on it can lead to death. Percocet is no exception to that rule. As a depressant, if you were to take too much, it can depress your breathing to the point of suffocation. Fortunately, drugs like Narcan (naloxone) exist and will reverse an opioid overdose immediately. Although it’s dangerous, options are available. If you witness a Percocet overdose, you must call 911 right away and share all of the information you know with them. They’ll instruct you on what to do next. If you or someone you know takes Percocet, having a prescription for Narcan can save lives.
Percocet Abuse Statistics
- A disturbing 78,056 people lost their lives because of opioids like Percocet in 2021.
- West Virginia had the highest level of opioid-involved overdose deaths per 100,000 persons in 2018
- Hawaii wrote the least prescriptions for opioids per 100,000 persons in 2018.