Percocet Addiction: Signs, Causes, Effects, and Treatment

Published on

Table of Contents

Percocet is a prescription medication used to manage moderate to severe pain. It combines oxycodone, a powerful opioid, and acetaminophen, a non-opioid pain reliever and fever reducer. Opioids like oxycodone work by binding to specific receptors in the brain and spinal cord, reducing the perception of pain and often producing a sense of euphoria. While effective for pain management, opioids are highly addictive and carry a high risk of misuse. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s study “Prescription Opioids and Heroin” by Volkow, N.D. (2020), the misuse of opioids like Percocet significantly contributes to the opioid crisis in the United States.

The symptoms of Percocet addiction include intense cravings for the drug, inability to control its use, and continued use despite adverse consequences. Other symptoms are neglecting personal and professional responsibilities, withdrawal from social activities, and experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using the drug.

The causes of Percocet addiction include genetic predisposition, chronic pain conditions, mental health disorders, and environmental influences. Factors such as stress, peer pressure, and easy access to prescription opioids also contribute to the development of addiction.

The effects of Percocet addiction include severe respiratory issues, liver damage due to acetaminophen, and an increased risk of overdose. Psychologically, addiction leads to mood swings, anxiety, depression, and cognitive impairments. Socially, it results in strained relationships, legal problems, and financial instability.

What is Percocet?

Percocet is a prescription painkiller composed of oxycodone hydrochloride and acetaminophen. According to the manufacturer’s description (2020), oxycodone is a semisynthetic opioid derived from thebaine that alters the brain and nervous system’s response to pain, providing substantial relief. Acetaminophen, commonly known as Tylenol, reduces fever and enhances the pain-relieving effects of oxycodone.

What Is Percocet Addiction?

Percocet addiction, or Percocet use disorder, is characterized by a compulsive need to use the drug despite its negative effects on health, relationships, and daily life. The American Addiction Centers state that individuals addicted to Percocet may require increasingly higher doses to achieve the same pain-relieving or euphoric effects, leading to a dangerous cycle of dependency. According to the study “Percocet Addiction and Abuse” by the American Addiction Centers (2019), this pattern significantly heightens the risk of overdose and long-term health complications.

Addiction involves both physical dependence and psychological cravings. Physical dependence means experiencing withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea and anxiety, when not using the drug. Psychological cravings are intense urges to use Percocet, driven by changes in the brain’s reward system.

This disorder causes significant health issues, relationship problems, and financial difficulties. Understanding Percocet addiction is crucial for recognizing the signs and seeking appropriate treatment to break the cycle of dependency.

What Are the Signs of Percocet Addiction?

Signs of Percocet addiction include increased tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, disruptions in daily routines due to drug use, and failed attempts to quit. These signs become more apparent as dependency on Percocet deepens, impacting physical health, daily behavior, and emotional well-being. According to Healthline’s article “Percocet Addiction: Symptoms and Warning Signs” by Timothy J. Legg, PhD, CRNP (2020), individuals with Percocet addiction may exhibit various physical symptoms. Below are the key signs to watch for:

Physical Dependency Signs of Percocet Addiction 

Physical signs of Percocet Addiction include: 

  • Constricted Pupils: Individuals with Percocet addiction often exhibit constricted pupils, even in low-light conditions, indicating the drug’s effect on the nervous system.
  • Persistent Drowsiness: Frequent drowsiness, often nodding off at inappropriate times, reflects the sedative effects of Percocet, making daily activities challenging.
  • Restlessness and Physical Unease: Restlessness and physical discomfort are common as the body demands more of the drug, indicating a growing dependency.
  • Unexplained Weight Changes: Significant weight loss or gain can result from altered appetite and metabolism due to Percocet use, impacting overall health and nutrition.

Behavioral Changes of Percocet Addiction 

Behavioral signs of Percocet Addiction include: 

  • Time Spent on Drug-Related Activities: A significant amount of time spent obtaining, using, or recovering from the effects of Percocet is a clear indicator of addiction, as noted in a 2019 report from the Mayo Clinic.
  • Neglecting Responsibilities: Neglecting responsibilities at work, school, or home is common among those addicted to Percocet, as their focus shifts to drug use.
  • Withdrawing from Social Interactions: Individuals may withdraw from social interactions and hobbies, preferring isolation or the company of others who use drugs.
  • Continued Use Despite Consequences: Continued use of Percocet despite severe consequences, such as health or financial problems, indicates a deepening addiction.

Psychological Signs of Percocet Addiction 

Psychological signs of Percocet Addiction include: 

  • Rapid Mood Swings: Rapid mood swings, ranging from euphoria to severe depression, are common as the effects of Percocet wear off and cravings set in.
  • Increased Anxiety: Anxiety levels often increase, especially when Percocet is not available, leading to heightened stress and panic.
  • Persistent Sadness or Hopelessness: Persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, along with cognitive issues such as difficulty concentrating or making decisions, are also common, according to research from the American Psychiatric Association (2018).

It’s important to approach these signs with empathy and concern, understanding that they indicate a need for support and possibly professional help. Remember, not everyone will show all these signs and their severity can vary from person to person.

What Causes Percocet Addiction?

Percocet addiction is caused by how the drug affects the brain, making you feel very good and wanting to use it more. Nora D. Volkow’s study “Prescription Opioids and Heroin” (2020) mentions several factors that contribute to developing an addiction to Percocet, including genetic, environmental, and developmental factors:

  • Brain’s Reward System: Percocet increases dopamine levels in the brain, causing feelings of euphoria. This makes you want to keep using the drug to experience that pleasure again.
  • Tolerance: Over time, your body gets used to Percocet, so you need higher doses to feel the same effects. This can lead to taking more of the drug than prescribed.
  • Emotional Reliance: People may start relying on Percocet to manage stress, anxiety, or other emotional issues, making it harder to stop using the drug.
  • Genetic Predisposition: Some people are more likely to develop addictive behaviors due to their genetic makeup. If addiction runs in your family, you may be at higher risk of becoming addicted to Percocet.

What Are The Effects of Percocet Addiction?

Short-Term Effects of Percocet Addiction

Short-term effects of Percocet use include a temporary feeling of intense happiness or well-being (euphoria) and increased energy. Users often experience a decreased appetite and constricted pupils. However, persistent drowsiness and restlessness are also common, leading to dangerous situations if the user operates machinery or drives, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2020).

Long-Term Effects of Percocet Addiction

Chronic use of Percocet leads to serious long-term effects on an individual’s physical health, psychological well-being, and social relationships. These impacts are severe and complicate recovery efforts.

  • Physical Health Consequences: Chronic use leads to severe liver damage due to acetaminophen, respiratory issues, and a higher risk of overdose.
  • Psychological Disturbances: Long-term use causes significant mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and cognitive impairments.
  • Social and Relationship Issues: Addiction leads to strained relationships, social isolation, and financial problems.

What Are the Long-Term Health Impacts of Percocet Use?

Long-term misuse of Percocet significantly impacts health, affecting both physical ailments and psychological disturbances, each contributing to the cycle of addiction. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s report “Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States” (2020) highlights the severity of these impacts on recovery efforts.

1. Physical Health Consequences of Percocet Use

Chronic use of Percocet poses a substantial risk to physical health, notably causing liver damage due to its acetaminophen content. increased Percocet use also leads to higher tolerance, raising the risk of both severe breathing issues and fatal overdose.

2. Psychological Disturbances of Percocet Use

The impact of prolonged Percocet use on mental health is profound, with notable consequences including anxiety and depression. This is largely due to the alteration of the brain’s reward mechanism, which diminishes the ability to derive pleasure from natural rewards and complicates decision-making, thereby fueling the cycle of addiction.

3. Insight Through Personal Experience of Percocet Use

Drawing from a personal account, John Doe’s story in the Journal of Medical Toxicology (2012) starkly illustrates the transition from medicinal use to dependency. This narrative highlights the deceptive nature of opioid addiction, which often starts from a legitimate medical need but quickly evolves into a relentless chase for euphoria.

Percocet Addiction: Who’s At Risk?

The risk of dependency is high for individuals with past substance use or mental health issues. Recognizing personal and familial history as risk factors is crucial. The Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) notes that high doses and long-term use increase dependency risks, highlighting in their guidelines on opioid use (2020) the importance of vigilance for dependency signs such as urgent medication needs or non-medical use.

How Do You Treat Percocet Addiction?

Percocet addiction treatment is customized, starting with medically supervised detox for safe withdrawal. Combining medical, psychological, and social support is critical for success. Key steps and methods follow.

1. Medically Supervised Detoxification

The initial phase focuses on safely managing withdrawal symptoms under medical supervision. This helps minimize discomfort and ensure the person’s well-being throughout the process.

2. Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medications like buprenorphine or methadone are used to reduce cravings and ease the transition off Percocet. These medications act on the brain’s opioid receptors, mitigating withdrawal symptoms and helping individuals focus on other aspects of treatment.

3. Therapy

Various therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), are crucial components of treatment. These approaches help individuals develop coping mechanisms for managing cravings, addressing underlying issues that contribute to addiction, and fostering healthier ways of thinking and behaving.

4. Additional Support Systems

Recovery is enhanced by support networks, including family therapy to rebuild relationships affected by addiction, support groups for communal connection and support, and holistic practices like acupuncture and yoga for stress relief and well-being.

What Results Can You Expect from Treatment?

Percocet addiction treatment leads to reclaiming lives and well-being, addressing both physical and psychological dependence for long-term recovery. 

1. Achieving Effective Treatment From Percocet Addiction

Effective treatment for Percocet addiction is achievable. The success of treatment depends on the comprehensiveness of the approach, the individual’s dedication to recovery, and the availability of continuous support systems to prevent relapse.

2. Treatment Strategies For Percocet Addiction

Beyond medication and therapy, Percocet addiction treatment includes Contingency Management (CM) and 12-step Facilitation Therapy, creating a supportive community. Holistic methods such as acupuncture, yoga, and meditation complement traditional treatments by fostering overall well-being. This approach seeks to heal both mind and body.

3. Counseling For Percocet Addiction 

Counseling is crucial throughout Percocet addiction treatment, from detox to recovery, aiding in understanding addiction’s roots, managing cravings, preventing relapse, and addressing mental health issues for sustained sobriety.

4. Recovery from Percocet Addiction

Recovery from Percocet addiction is entirely possible. It is a long-term process that requires dedication, lifestyle changes, and often ongoing treatment and support. But the good news is that many people achieve sustained recovery and go on to lead fulfilling lives free from addiction.

How to Manage Withdrawal Symptoms and Strategies?

Managing withdrawal from Percocet requires a strategic approach to address both physical and psychological discomforts. A key study by Hoffman et al., 2020, titled “Combining Detoxification with Behavioral Therapies in Opioid Addiction Treatment,” underscores the importance of combining medically supervised detoxification with behavioral therapies. This dual approach is crucial for a successful transition from dependency. Here are a few examples:

1. Medically Supervised Detox of Percocet Addiction 

Essential for safely managing the acute physical symptoms of withdrawal. A controlled, medical environment ensures the patient’s safety during this critical period.

2. Behavioral Therapies for Percocet Addiction 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and other psychological strategies are pivotal. They provide individuals with the tools needed to navigate the psychological aspects of addiction and withdrawal.

3. Support Networks for Percocet Addiction 

The role of community and support groups cannot be overstated. They offer the necessary emotional support, fostering resilience throughout the recovery journey.

Addiction By The Numbers: A Statistical Overview 

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the opioid crisis was declared a public health emergency in 2017, contributing to an alarming rate of approximately 115 opioid-related deaths daily in the United States. 

1. Prescription Misuse 

Percocet plays a significant role in this crisis. The Department of Health and Human Services reports that up to 29% of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain may misuse them.

2. Transition to Illicit Use 

A disturbing trend is the progression from prescribed medications like Percocet to illicit opioids. A large portion of heroin users began their opioid misuse with prescription drugs, illustrating a dangerous path from legal use to addiction.

3. Percocet Compared To Other Opioids 

Percocet combines oxycodone, an opioid, with acetaminophen, which sets it apart from opioids like fentanyl, hydrocodone, and morphine which don’t include this additional component. While effective for moderate to severe pain, Percocet carries the addiction potential typical of opioids, plus a risk of liver damage from acetaminophen. 

What’s Been Done to Address Addiction?

From policy initiatives to individual actions, a multifaceted approach is crucial in addressing the complexities of Percocet addiction and the broader opioid epidemic.

1. Legislation

The U.S. combats the opioid crisis with laws like the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, the 21st Century Cures Act, and the SUPPORT Act, aiming to lower opioid demand and supply, mitigate harm, improve treatment access, refine prescribing, and increase naloxone access to counter overdoses.

2. Preventative Strategies To Avoid Percocet Addiction

Preventing Percocet addiction involves careful pain management, using non-opioid alternatives, following prescription dosages, not mixing with other substances, and properly storing and disposing of unused Percocet via take-back or mail-back programs to lower addiction risks.

3. Embracing Treatment For Change

Treatment for Percocet addiction is key to regaining health and control. Lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise, and mindfulness are crucial for recovery and regaining control. Transforming lifestyle and mindset, supported by commitment, leads to a fulfilling life.

What Legal Issues Arise From Unprescribed Percocet?

Possessing Percocet without a prescription leads to legal consequences, including fines, criminal charges, and potentially imprisonment, depending on the jurisdiction’s laws.

How Can Loved Ones Support Someone With Percocet Addiction?

Loved ones offer support by encouraging treatment, providing emotional support, learning about addiction, and possibly participating in family therapy sessions.

What’s New in Opioid Addiction Research?

New research in opioid addiction focuses on improving medication-assisted treatments, understanding the genetic factors of addiction, and developing non-addictive pain management alternatives.

How Can Doctors Prevent Percocet Addiction?

Doctors prevent Percocet addiction by conducting thorough risk assessments, educating patients on the risks of addiction, prescribing the minimum effective dose for the shortest time, utilizing prescription monitoring programs, and exploring non-opioid pain management alternatives.

What Misconceptions Exist About Percocet Addiction?

Common misconceptions include the belief that addiction is a moral failing or choice and that people stop using opioids through willpower alone without needing professional help.

How Does Addiction Impact Work and Employment?

Addiction leads to decreased productivity, absenteeism, increased risk of accidents, and potentially job loss, affecting both the individual’s career and workplace dynamics.

What Are Pain Management Alternatives to Percocet?

Alternatives include non-opioid medications, physical therapy, acupuncture, cognitive behavioral therapy, and lifestyle changes to manage pain.

How Can Community Education Reduce Opioid Risks?

Community education raises awareness about the risks of opioid misuse, safe prescribing practices, and the importance of proper medication disposal, helping to reduce opioid addiction rates.

Does Percocet Addiction Affect Mental Health?

Yes, Percocet addiction affects mental health by altering the brain’s reward system and impacting dopamine release. This leads to difficulties in experiencing pleasure from daily activities and contributes to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. The addiction’s impact on judgment, emotion, and self-control further complicates mental well-being. 

What Are Treatment Success Rates for Percocet Addiction?

According to a study from the Recovery Research Institute, the success rates for overcoming Percocet addiction improve over time. About 1.2% of people report being successful in their first year after beating opioid addiction. This success rate grows to 2.2% between one to five years of recovery. This shows that continued support and help are key to long-term success in recovery from Percocet addiction.

Share Our Blog With Someone It Might Help!


Getting help doesn't have to be scary, we are here for you.

When you are ready to rid your body of the toxic substances, contact us. We can make it easier and safer for you.