Percocet Addiction: Abuse Signs, Effects & Treatment

Percocet Abuse and Addiction

Percocet is a narcotic painkiller that is a combination of the opiate oxycodone and the over-the-counter drug acetaminophen. Like other opioid drugs, Percocet is highly addictive. Nevertheless, doctors prescribe the drug to treat pain as the drug induces feelings of relaxation, increased pleasure, and reduced anxiety.

People who legitimately receive a Percocet prescription from their doctor may become addicted to the drug if they use a higher dose or continue to use the drug longer than instructed. Percocet addiction recovery programs are available to individuals who become dependent on the drug as a result of using it recreationally and to those who began using the drug under doctor supervision.

Early Signs of Percocet Abuse and Addiction

If you are concerned you may be developing an addiction to Percocet you obtained through a valid prescription, the first warning sign may be in your rate of consumption. You may feel like you need to take more of the drug to avoid experiencing pain, insomnia, or sickness. Recreational Percocet users usually begin using larger doses in the early stages of addiction to achieve a state of euphoria.

Because it is difficult to obtain enough Percocet to support an addiction without a prescription, people who abuse the drug often resort to illegal activities once they develop a dependency. People who develop an addiction after being legally prescribed Percocet may appear to frequently misplace the original prescription and regularly request new ones. Some addicts will even file a false police report to give the appearance that they need a new prescription because the original prescription may have been stolen.

In other cases, people may steal Percocet from family members who may have a current prescription or leftover pills from previous medical conditions. Many Percocet addicts engage in doctor shopping, and they visit several pharmacies to obtain the drug while reducing the likelihood of getting caught filling multiple prescriptions.

The visible characteristics of Percocet abuse can vary from person to person. Some people appear “high” or easily excitable, while others appear to be very tired or sedated. If you suspect someone you know may be abusing Percocet and developing an addiction to the drug, it is important to observe the totality of the person’s behavior. A drug treatment counselor can help you assess whether your loved one is abusing Percocet and help you find the best way to have a discussion with the person if necessary.

Medical Treatment for Percocet Addiction

Percocet causes severe withdrawal symptoms. Therefore, programs sometimes offer medically assisted treatment to manage withdrawal symptoms following detox. Among these symptoms are very intense cravings that increase the likelihood of overdose if relapse occurs.

Nowadays, it is not uncommon for treatment centers to administer a doctor-prescribed drug to curb cravings and withdrawal symptoms that usually occur when an individual stops using Percocet. The prescribed Percocet treatment drug is also typically an opioid. However, opioid treatment drugs do not produce the full euphoric effect opioid abusers experience when they use their drug of choice. Because Percocet withdrawal can be so severe, many treatment centers provide both medically assisted detox and medically supported rehab.

Why Medically Assisted Treatment Works for Percocet Addiction

The human brain naturally has opioid receptors. Abusing Percocet and other opioid drugs activates the opioid receptors, producing a euphoric feeling and/or a pain-relieving effect. Because the human body very quickly builds tolerance to opioid drugs, people who use these drugs very quickly require larger quantities to produce the euphoric effect. Because tolerance builds quickly, physiological and mental addiction also occurs rapidly with opioids.

Making matters worse, the symptoms that occur during opioid withdrawal are particularly painful and can cause severe distress. To curb the cravings and minimize the potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, some treatment centers directly administer medication to clients who are recovering from addiction to Percocet and other opioids.

How Treatment Centers Administer Medication for Percocet Addiction Treatment

Residential clients typically receive their treatment medication directly from the treatment center. Some outpatient programs also administer doses directly, while others provide clients with a prescription. The medication may come in the form of a thin, dissolvable film strip or a dissolvable sublingual tablet. For the first two days of detoxing from opioids, a treatment center may administer a mild opiate until withdrawal symptoms completely subside. After two days, clients are usually placed on a combination drug that still includes a mild opioid component.

Dosing is usually one film strip each day. In some cases, a client may be directed to take up to three film strips once daily. The effects of drugs used to treat Percocet addiction last longer than other opioids; therefore, once-daily dosing is typically sufficient. Some clients are prescribed one dose every other day. Following doctor instructions is particularly important. Forgetting a dose or taking the medication less frequently than recommended can cause withdrawal symptoms.

Concerns About Medically Assisted Percocet Treatment

There are many advantages to using a medically assisted treatment program to overcome Percocet addiction. However, the pros of using a doctor-prescribed drug to minimize withdrawal symptoms versus the cons of treatment center clients developing a dependency on the prescribed drug used for treatment remains a topic of debate. The drugs rehab centers use to treat Percocet addiction may technically be addictive, though not to the extent that Percocet and other opioids are addictive. Because opioid addiction treatment drugs induce a more subtle feeling of euphoria, people who are addicted to more intense opioids like Percocet or heroin are less inclined to recreationally abuse the drugs rehab centers use to treat Percocet addiction as these drugs do not produce the same effect as Percocet.

Nevertheless, anyone can become dependent on a Percocet addiction recovery drug with long-term use. In fact, some Percocet addicts worry that undergoing medically assisted rehab would require them to trade one addiction for another instead of actually helping them get clean. However, rehab programs have a procedure in place to help clients discontinue the use of the addiction treatment drug at the right time in their recovery plan.

What Happens If You Become Dependent on a Percocet Treatment Drug

Percocet abusers who seek medically assisted treatment may technically develop a dependency on the treatment drug with long-term use. However, if dependency develops, the process of transitioning off the treatment drug is generally a much milder process. When an opioid treatment drug is used within the context of Percocet rehab, opioid addiction treatment specialists taper down the treating dose gradually to eliminate the dependency when the client is ready to stop using the medication.

Medical Detox for Percocet Dependency

Quitting Percocet “cold turkey” can be dangerous due to the potential severity of the associated withdrawal symptoms. Supervised medical detox is advisable. A medical detox center will provide the 24-hour medical supervision and the support you need to make the detox process less dangerous and more comfortable.

Detox typically lasts a few days just prior to the start of a long-term treatment program. After detoxing, the next step is to begin the rehab process to help the client overcome addiction once and for all. Because the client will likely be at risk of developing withdrawal symptoms that may threaten his or her sobriety, treatment centers will often administer medication to bridge the gap between completing the detox process and beginning the treatment curriculum. The period following detox is critical; therefore, the client’s recovery plan will most likely include a treatment program that will continue to provide 24-hour supervision.

Residential Treatment for Addiction to Percocet

Residential treatment programs are most often advised for clients who have an addiction to an opioid, including Percocet. During a residential program, the client resides on-site at the treatment center. Treatment center staff provide all meals and coordinate the necessary medical appointments, therapy sessions, and social activities.

Many treatment centers also designate specific days on which clients’ family members may attend family counseling sessions and workshops at the treatment center. Residential programs provide a safe, drug-free, structured environment that enables the clients to solely focus on recovery. The duration of residential programs may range from several weeks to several months.

Alternative to Residential Treatment Programs

If treatment center staff determine that an individual is better off continuing to live at home while receiving treatment, an alternative program structure may be available. Some treatment programs offer an option that allows clients who have a stable, drug-free, supportive home environment to return home at night. The client attends an intensive treatment program on-site all day and leaves the treatment center in the evenings only to sleep.

This option may be offered to people who have very small children at home or severe anxiety that makes sleeping at a residential center more difficult. Treatment specialists assess each client’s needs to determine which program features are likely to be the best match for the individual’s needs.

Outpatient Treatment for Percocet Addiction

Outpatient treatment is a more flexible option that requires the client to commit to returning to the center for treatment and recovery activities based on his or her prescribed schedule. An intensive program will require the client to return to the schedule daily, while individuals who are further along in their recovery may require fewer hours of treatment each day or the client may travel to the center fewer times each week.

The flexibility that outpatient treatment offers allows clients to maintain work and family responsibilities while continuing in rehabilitation. Most people who seek treatment for an addiction to Percocet initially enter residential treatment and graduate to outpatient treatment after completing the residential program.

Diversity in Percocet Treatment Modalities

Rehab specialists understand the need to provide treatment that caters specifically to the individual. Nowadays, most centers take on a more holistic approach to treating addiction. Spirituality, nutrition, physical health, and pre-existing mental conditions are now taken into consideration much more often than in the past.

Many rehab facilities incorporate meditation, faith-based services, exercise, nutritional plans, social activities, and excursions into the treatment curriculum. As a result, rehab clients learn to overcome addiction in a manner that is more consistent with their cultural or religious background, lifestyle, and interests.

Some programs are located in remote settings and offer a nature-themed curriculum, while others are conveniently located throughout major metropolitan areas to serve people who have busy lifestyles and require close proximity. Treatment centers also connect clients with recovery groups that are compatible with the individual’s personal interests.

Taking the First Step Toward Recovery From Percocet Dependency

If you are addicted to Percocet, you likely have many concerns about seeking treatment. Withdrawal is a legitimate concern, but medically assisted treatment is available. If you are considering medically assisted treatment, you may be wondering how likely it is that you will become dependent on your treatment drug. A treatment specialist can answer all your questions and help you understand the risks and rewards of taking the first step toward recovery. Even if you are unsure about whether you think treatment is the right decision for you, a treatment counselor will listen and help you understand the process of getting clean and sober.

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Reviewed By:

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis completed medical school at The University of Mississippi Medical Center and residency in general psychiatry in 2003. He completed a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 2005. Following this, he served as Chief Medical Officer for 10 years of Brentwood Behavioral Healthcare a private health system including a 105-bed hospital, residential treatment, and intensive outpatient services.

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