Prescription drug abuse and addiction is not a relatively new phenomenon. In fact, it has been around for at least two decades starting in the mid-1990s. However, it is only recently that national attention has been drawn because of the increasing number of drug overdose deaths related to the abuse of prescription narcotic painkillers. One of the most common culprit of this increase in mortality and morbidity related to prescription painkiller abuse is Percocet, a brand of opiate that has oxycodone and acetaminophen, also known as paracetamol, as its primary ingredients.
The oxycodone component is a member of the functional class of drugs which is chemically similar to opium, heroin, and morphine and as such is classified as an opiate analgesic. The acetaminophen component is best known for its inclusion in many over-the-counter medications used for fever as well as pain. The best known brand to carry the acetaminophen ingredient is Tylenol. When Percocet was first synthesized, it was primarily intended to manage pain of acute yet severe nature. Unfortunately, in the past two decades, there has been an alarming increase in the number of Percocet prescriptions. Owing to the long-term effects of oxycodone, it is thus, not surprising to see more and more people who may require an efficacious Percocet addiction treatment.
Impact of Percocet on Users
Just like any other opiate, the addictive potential of Percocet is inherently tied to its mechanism of action. It binds to the receptors in the brain and spinal cord that are supposed to accept natural opiates. When these receptors are bounded by the molecules of Percocet, they produce a physiologic response that is similar to the action of natural opiates in the brain. Essentially, the drug blocks the transmission of pain from the spinal cord to the pain integration center in the brain. Hence, people using Percocet hardly feel any pain regardless of how severe or intractable the pain can be.
Unfortunately, since opiate receptors are not only found in pain integration areas of the brain but also in other areas, the functions of these cerebral regions are also affected. As such, feelings of euphoria, calmness, and relaxation may also be felt. Sadly, because of the central nervous system depressant effects of Percocet, the person’s respiratory and cardiovascular functioning may also be affected.
This is particularly pronounced when the drug is not consumed in the correct way. Studies show that majority of the people abusing Percocet and other narcotic analgesics typically tamper with the presentation of the drug. Percocet is formulated as a time-release tablet so that the person will have sufficient pain control over substantially longer periods of time. Regrettably, many Percocet abusers misuse the drug by crushing the pill. This floods the system with unusually high levels of the drug in a short period of time instead of slow sustained release. This makes it very dangerous and this is why it is imperative that a comprehensive Percocet addiction treatment program be sought.
Why People Abuse Percocet
One of the most common reason why people misuse Percocet is the belief that it is a prescription drug; hence, it is a safer alternative to illicit drugs like heroin. They think that the dangers of Percocet are very minimal compared to other types of psychoactive substances like crystal meth and heroin. Sadly, this is not true as Percocet overdose can be fatal. If not, there will be long-term consequences.
Individuals Needing Professional Help from Percocet Addiction
Because of the addicting nature of Percocet, it should never be used in the long-term management of severe pain. This should form a basis for the identification of individuals who may require professional help. In addition to using Percocet for a much longer time than necessary, the following may also indicate the presence of Percocet addiction in an individual.
- Development of tolerance – The person now takes substantially greater doses of Percocet as well as more frequent dosing just to achieve the same initial effects of euphoria and relaxation.
- Shows dependence on Percocet – The individual now feels he needs Percocet to function fully. If he cannot consume Percocet, he may experience painful withdrawal symptoms.
- Exhibits changes in behavior and mood – Many Percocet abusers become severely anxious, hostile, agitated, aggressive, and volatile especially when they fail to get their fix of Percocet.
- Evidence of compulsive behavior – Percocet abusers typically exhibit genuine craving for the drug. As such they will do whatever they can to obtain more of the drug.
Percocet Withdrawal Symptoms
Stopping Percocet on one’s own is possible. However, the success of recovery depends on how well the individual is able to manage the different withdrawal symptoms that occur with the cessation of the drug, usually within 6 to 8 hours from the time of last intake. The symptoms can include the following.
- Panic attacks
- Moderate to severe anxiety
- Muscle pain
- Muscle weakness
Regaining One’s Life with Percocet Rehab
While the withdrawal symptoms may seem benign, these can have serious ramifications on the overall health of the individual. However, one of the most pressing concerns among drug dependents wanting to start a new life is the risk of relapse secondary to the failure of managing the withdrawal symptoms. Since these symptoms occur with the cessation of drug intake, consuming the drug naturally eliminates the withdrawal symptoms. Inopportunely, doing so significantly undermines the initial gains of wanting to stop. It is for this reason that Percocet addiction treatment must always be initiated under medical supervision.
Detoxification is needed to help flush any remaining metabolites of Percocet from the body. This also helps prepare the person for the intensive and extensive addiction treatment that can include a variety of treatments and therapies designed to empower the person to take full control of his life even after his rehab program has already been completed. The whole treatment and rehabilitation process may take as long as 90 days as these programs guarantee the best possible outcomes for Percocet recovery.
One does not need to be a victim of Percocet addiction for the rest of his life. He can regain control of his existence with the help of the best Percocet addiction treatment.