Massachusetts Center for Addiction

Percocet Addiction and Abuse


Percocet is a prescription medication that combines two active ingredients: oxycodone, a powerful opioid painkiller, and acetaminophen, a less potent pain reliever and fever reducer. Doctors commonly prescribe Percocet for moderate to severe pain, often after surgery or injury. However, the presence of oxycodone, an opioid similar to heroin, can lead to Percocet addiction in some people.

Why is Percocet Addictive?

Opioids like Percocet work by binding to opioid receptors in the brain, triggering the release of dopamine. This surge of dopamine creates a euphoric feeling, which users may chase after by taking more of the medication than prescribed. Repeated misuse can lead to a cycle of dependence and addiction, as your brain becomes accustomed to the elevated levels of dopamine and craves the drug to maintain those levels.

When Percocet use is discontinued, withdrawal symptoms may occur. This makes it challenging to quit without medical support or recovery options. The risk of addiction increases with higher doses and prolonged use.

Causes of Percocet Addiction

Percocet addiction can emerge for many different reasons. While the addictive nature of the drug itself plays a role, there are often other factors that increase an individual’s risk.

Genetic Predisposition

Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition towards addiction. Research suggests that genetics can account for approximately 40 to 60 percent of a person’s vulnerability to developing an addiction, including opioid use disorder.

If you have a family history of substance abuse, you should exercise caution when using Percocet, as your risk of developing an addiction may be higher than for others.

Chronic Pain Conditions

Percocet is commonly prescribed to manage chronic pain conditions. People experiencing ongoing pain may develop a physical dependence as the drug works to alleviate their symptoms.

Over time, this may lead to increased tolerance, requiring higher doses to achieve the same effect. The increased use can result in a higher risk of misuse and addiction.

Mental Health Issues

Individuals struggling with mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety, may be more susceptible to developing an addiction to Percocet.

The drug’s effects on the brain can temporarily provide relief from mental distress. This creates a vicious cycle where individuals continue to use the drug to cope with their psychological symptoms.

History of Substance Abuse

A history of substance abuse also increases the risk of developing an addiction to Percocet. If you have previously misused or been addicted to other substances, you should be cautious when using Percocet.

Your vulnerability to addiction may be higher due to the way your brain processes substances and the desire to escape from past traumas or challenges.

Overprescription by Doctors

Many cases of Percocet addiction have emerged due to overprescription by healthcare providers. Opioids act on your brain in powerful and potentially dangerous ways. Doctors should thoroughly assess a patient’s risk factors and monitor their opioid use closely. If you are taking Percocet, you should always follow your doctor’s instructions and express any concerns about your medication use.

Lack of Awareness About Addiction Risk

A lack of awareness about the risks associated with Percocet use can contribute to addiction. Many people may not fully understand the nature of this potent opioid and its potential for addiction.

Ensuring that you are well-informed about the potential dangers of opioid use can help you make informed decisions and recognize the signs of addiction early on.

Recognizing Percocet Addiction Symptoms

Detecting the signs of Percocet addiction early can help with timely intervention and increase the chances of successful recovery.

Physical Symptoms

  • Confusion – This can manifest as disorientation, memory issues, and difficulty concentrating.
  • Depression – Feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities.
  • Sweating – Increased perspiration, even in cool environments or without exertion.
  • Euphoria – Intense feelings of happiness or well-being shortly after taking Percocet.
  • Nausea – Experiencing upset stomach, vomiting, and digestive issues when taking Percocet.
  • Drowsiness – Feeling excessively tired, fatigued, and having difficulty staying awake.

As tolerance to the drug builds, these symptoms may become more pronounced, and other physical signs, such as slowed breathing and decreased heart rate, may also arise.

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Cravings – A strong desire to consume Percocet despite negative consequences, often causing a person to prioritize the drug over other responsibilities and activities.
  • Tolerance – Needing increasingly higher doses of Percocet to achieve the desired effect. This can lead to a dangerous cycle of increased use and dependence.
  • Withdrawal Symptoms – When not taking Percocet, a person may experience physical and emotional discomfort such as anxiety, irritability, restlessness, and insomnia.

If your addiction started with a prescription, as in the case of the nurse who shares her story, seeking treatment as early as possible can significantly improve the chances of a successful recovery.

Effects of Long-Term Percocet Abuse

Long-term abuse of Percocet, a prescription pain reliever containing oxycodone and acetaminophen, can lead to numerous physical effects on your body. These may include constipation, increased risk of overdose, and various side effects such as aches, diarrhea, and insomnia.

Percocet abuse also has significant psychological effects on your mental health. Dependency on this medication can result in mood disorders, anxiety, and depression.

Prolonged use might also interfere with your ability to cope with stress, making it difficult to function without the drug. Moreover, substance abuse can hinder the natural production of endorphins, making it challenging to experience pleasure without the drug.

The impact of long-term Percocet abuse extends beyond your personal health; it can also have detrimental social effects. Relationships with family, friends, and coworkers may be strained due to addiction, leading to increased isolation and further deterioration of mental well-being.

Additionally, the financial burden associated with purchasing or obtaining drugs illegally can edge you closer to legal problems and jeopardize your career.

As you become increasingly consumed with obtaining and using the drug, important aspects of your life often take a backseat.

Percocet Withdrawal and Detox

Understanding the typical Percocet withdrawal timeline and undergoing a structured detox process can ease the transition away from the drug. A medically supervised detox provides the safest approach to minimize health risks during this challenging phase of recovery.

Percocet withdrawal timeline inforgraphic

Timeline of Percocet Withdrawal Symptoms

When you develop a dependency on Percocet, stopping its use suddenly can cause withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms typically start 4-6 hours after your last dose and peak around 48-72 hours. The withdrawal symptoms generally occur in stages:

  • Days 1-3: Early symptoms such as anxiety, muscle aches, excessive sweating, insomnia, and increased heart rate manifest.
  • Days 3-7: Peak symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, and fever.
  • Days 8-14: While most symptoms subside, some, like anxiety and sleep disturbances, can persist.

The Importance of Medically Supervised Detox

Undergoing detox from opioids such as Percocet can be challenging and potentially dangerous. Therefore, you should consider a medically supervised detox process.

Medically supervised detox offers a safer and more comfortable means of managing withdrawal symptoms. Healthcare professionals can provide medications like buprenorphine, methadone, and clonidine to alleviate the severity of withdrawal symptoms and support your recovery.

For example, buprenorphine and methadone are used to minimize opioid cravings. Clonidine can help with anxiety, sweating, and irritability.

Medically supervised detox also allows for continuous monitoring of your condition, preventing complications and offering emotional support.

By seeking appropriate treatment, you can navigate your way toward a successful recovery.

The Path to Recovery from Percocet Addiction

Our recovery program incorporates counseling, medication-assisted treatment (MAT), and behavioral therapy to combat opioid addiction effectively. MAT is particularly beneficial for easing withdrawal symptoms and reducing cravings.

We also offer individual and group counseling, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and family therapy to tackle addiction’s underlying causes, enhance coping strategies, and improve relationships.

Call Today and Get the Help You Deserve

If you’re ready to take charge of your life and overcome Percocet addiction, don’t wait another day. Reach out to the Massachusetts Center for Addiction to discuss your options and start on the path to recovery.

With their guidance, and your determination, you can achieve lasting sobriety and find the freedom you’ve been seeking. Call our admissions team today at 844-486-0671.