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Percocet Addiction: Information and Facts about Dependence and Treatment

"Everywhere I travel, I see communities devastated by opioid overdoses. I meet families too ashamed to seek treatment for addiction. And I will never forget my own patient whose opioid use disorder began with a course of morphine after a routine procedure." - Vivek Murthy, U.S. Surgeon General

American citizens from all walks of life have been impacted by the opioid crisis.

  • Non-users have watched friends fall prey to addiction.
  • Users have found themselves on life support.
  • Parents have watched their children die.
  • Even presidential candidates spoke on the opioid crisis during the last election.

Opioids like Percocet cause physical, emotional, and psychological damage to users and those close to them. If you use Percocet outside of a doctor's prescription, you can cause problems for yourself and others. If you use Percocet recreationally, you could become one of the more than 64,000 Americans to die from a drug overdose each year.

Getting the right information about Percocet can help you better understand your own relationship to this drug. The major questions we address in this guide include:

  • What is Percocet?
  • What are some other names for Percocet?
  • How does Percocet work?
  • Why do people take Percocet?
  • How do you become addicted to Percocet?
  • What makes Percocet different from heroin?
  • What is Percocet abuse and how dangerous is it really?
  • How do I know if I am addicted to Percocet?
  • What is Percocet addiction and what are some Percocet addiction symptoms?
  • If I stop taking Percocet on my own, will I have symptoms of withdrawal?
  • What effects of Percocet should I be worried about if I continue to take it?
  • Where can Percocet addicts go to get help for their addictions?
  • What is Percocet rehab like?

Getting the appropriate Percocet abuse facts can help you know what you need to do to recover if you have an addiction. Recovering from Percocet abuse or Percocet addiction can be difficult, but it is possible and worthwhile.

Check out this video for a glimpse of a well-known celebrity's experience with Percocet and information on how Percocet affects the body.

Read more below to find answers to your questions about Percocet, Percocet abuse, Percocet addiction, and Percocet rehab.

What is Percocet and How Does it Work?

Heroin was first used as a prescription painkiller in Germany, but quickly became illegal because of its highly-addictive properties. As a result, two German scientists developed Oxycodone. This drug was marketed as a non-addictive substitute for heroin, morphine, and opium. Many common prescription drugs for pain now include Oxycodone.

"Products containing Oxycodone in combination with aspirin or acetaminophen are used for the relief of moderate to moderately severe pain. Oxycodone is a widely prescribed in the U.S. and the controlled-release tablets are prescribed for the management of moderate to severe pain when a continuous, around-the-clock analgesic is needed for an extended period of time. Oxycodone is a widely prescribed in the U.S. In 2013, 58.8 million Oxycodone prescriptions were dispensed." - The US Drug Enforcement Agency

Percocet is a prescription drug often prescribed for patients with chronic pain. Percocet is an opioid like oxycontin, Oxycodone, vicodin, heroin, Fentanyl, and many others. Like other prescription drugs, Percocet can be helpful if taken under the supervision of a doctor, but it is often used incorrectly and unsafely.

For example, according to the CDC:
  • In 2013, over 249 million prescriptions were written for opioids (including Percocet). That's enough for almost every adult in the U.S. to have a bottle of pills.
  • Since 1999, there's been a 300% increase in opioid prescription sales. The same increase has not occurred in reports of chronic pain.
  • In 2016, 42,000 people in the U.S. died from opioid use.
  • Approximately 115 Americans die each day from an opioid overdose.
  • 40% of all opioid-related deaths involve the use of a prescription drug.
  • About two-thirds of all deaths caused by overdoses in the United States can be attributed to opioids.

Unfortunately, Percocet abuse is becoming more and more common. More often than not, those who abuse Percocet on a regular basis quickly find that they've formed a Percocet addiction. If this sounds familiar, you may be addicted to or dependent on Percocet.

Percocet is the brand name of a drug including:

  • Oxycodone - a semi-synthetic opioid
  • Acetaminophen - the same drug present in common over-the-counter painkillers such as Tylenol.

"As the body's tolerance grows stronger, the need for stronger drugs also grows. Vicodin and Norco lead to Percocet, which leads eventually to Oxy, which (if you survive the Oxy) leads to a much cheaper and easier to get drug than these boutique prescription pills: heroin. Keep in mind, everything you need to gain a crippling heroin dependence is available to you via your local physician and/or pharmacist." - Brian W. Foster

On the street, Percocet is known as:

  • Percs
  • Perks
  • Hillbilly heroin

Common Questions About Percocet

Is it an opioid?

Yes. Opioids are a class of drugs derived from the Opium plant. They include heroin, synthetic drugs like Fentanyl, and several prescription pain medications.

Is it a painkiller?

Yes. Used correctly and as prescribed by a doctor, Percocet is often used to control pain from injuries or after surgeries. Oxycodone, one of the two ingredients, is an analgesic. This means that it is marketed as a pain reliever.

Is it a narcotic?

Yes. A narcotic is defined as a substance that affects mood or behavior sold for nonmedical purposes. Often, Percocet addicts or Percocet abusers will take Percocet for a feeling of relaxation.

Is it a controlled substance?

Yes. Percocet can only legally be acquired with a prescription from a doctor.

Can it be bought on the street?

Yes. Percocet can be bought illegally under the names "perks," "percs," and sometimes "hillbilly heroin."

What does Percocet treat?

Percocet is a pain reliever that treats moderate to moderately severe pain caused by injury, surgery, or other situations.

What class schedule is Percocet?

Percocet is classified as a schedule II drug by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. This means that there is a high likelihood of Percocet abuse that could lead to a psychological or physical dependence on Percocet.

What forms does it come in?

Percocet comes in the form of a pill. These can be

  • 2.5 mg tablets in the form of pink ovals with "PERCOCET" on one side and "2.5" on the other
  • 5 mg tablets in the form of blue circles with "PERCOCET" and "5" on one side and a line dividing the circle in half on the other.
  • 7.5 mg tablets that come in the form of peach ovals with "PERCOCET" on one side and "7.5/325" on the other.
  • 10 mg tablets that come in the form of yellow capsules that say "PERCOCET" on one side and "10/315" on the other.
Who makes it?

Percocet is made by Endo Pharmaceuticals, a branch of Endo International.

What are the legal ramifications of having Percocet without a prescription?

Having Percocet without a prescription is illegal and can result in prison time and criminal fines. The amount you can be fined depends on the state in which you are arrested. Having Percocet with the intent to sell it to others who do not have a prescription is a federal felony and can result in longer prison times and higher criminal fines.

How Percocet Works in the Body

Like heroin and morphine, Percocet affects the brain and the central nervous system. It changes the way the brain perceives pain and elicits a dopamine response in key regions of the brain.

Check out this video for a visual representation of the brain's interaction with opioids.

Understanding Percocet Abuse & Addiction

The most recent Percocet abuse statistics shed a great deal of light on how detrimental Percocet use has been in the United States. By 2008, there had been more than 300,000 emergency room admissions because of prescription drugs like Percocet. From 2004 to 2008, the number of ER visits because of medications like Percocet increased by 152%.

It's obvious that Percocet abuse is a very serious problem, and there are so many people who continue to use it without realizing how damaging it can be to them. It is important to see the difference between Percocet abuse and Percocet addiction, because they are not the same thing. Percocet abuse refers to the act of using Percocet outside of a doctor's prescription.

It can involve using it without a prescription, or altering the medication and taking it in a way that's different from swallowing the pills. If you aren't compelled to take Percocet and use it on a regular basis, and it is purely recreational, it is not an addiction. Still, that doesn't mean that it won't become an addiction in the future.

Drug addiction is a chronic disease characterized by compulsive, or uncontrollable, drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences and long-lasting changes in the brain. The changes can result in harmful behaviors by those who misuse drugs, whether prescription or illicit drugs." - National Institute on Drug Abuse

Percocet Addiction Facts You Should Know

It's common for people to have Percocet addictions without really realizing that that's what has happened to them. Far too many continue on in their Percocet use, and they feel as though they can stop using it any time they want to. In fact, sometimes people do try to stop using Percocet, and they find that they're not able to, and only then is their addiction discovered.

Maybe you feel in control of your Percocet use, but you do wonder if you have an addiction. Some common Percocet addiction signs might include:
  • You've found that you're forming a tolerance and the medication doesn't work as well for you as it once did.
  • You're being told that you're showing signs of Percocet addiction by your family
  • You've gotten prescriptions for Percocet from multiple doctors
  • You'd rather be isolated from others and continue using Percocet than socialize
  • You're struggling in your relationships

"Too often, doctors prescribe potentially dangerous medications to patients who shouldn't be getting them, and what they prescribe is influenced by the pills patients ask for. Patient requests for certain medications - such as the powerful narcotic Oxycodone - substantially affected physician-prescribing decisions, despite the drawbacks of the requested medications."
- BusinessInsider's account of a 2014 study from the Medical Care journal
This report highlights just how much of a role doctor's prescriptions play in building dependence on Oxycodone around the United States.

Often, Percocet addiction begins with a prescription for Percocet or another prescription opioid. If someone misuses the drug or has a genetic tendency towards addiction, this can cause problems.

Watch this video to understand how the body can so quickly become dependent on opioids like Percocet.

To understand just how easy it is for Percocet addiction to take shape, consider this account from a Registered Nurse who became addicted after being legally prescribed the drug:

"The best way I can describe the feeling I had when taking the Percocet is that all was right with the world. I felt that I could function at a higher level, and that I had more energy and motivation. Stressful situations seemed easily manageable, and I felt more focused on whatever I happened to be doing. I did not perceive that anything was wrong with taking the Percocet after the reason it was prescribed had resolved, because after all, they had been prescribed to me. Maybe I did know better, but the feeling I received from the medication pushed any questions I might have had out of my head."

~ How One Percocet Prescription Triggered My Addiction

Like the nurse quoted above, many who take Percocet legally enjoy it so much that they continue to take it long after it's necessary for pain management.

Percocet and heroin are surprisingly similar in their chemical makeup and effect on the body. However, there are several ways in which Percocet and heroin are different:

  • Form of ingestion - Percocet is taken orally, as a pill, while heroin is injected intravenously. This means that the effects of heroin are felt all at once, while the effects of Percocet can often be felt for a longer period of time and appear gradually.
  • Hygiene - because heroin is injected, many factors affect the relative safety of using heroin. These factors include the site of injection and the cleanliness of the needle. Because Percocet is consumed orally, there are fewer hygienic risks.
  • Regulation - the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration regulates the production of Percocet. Each tablet of Percocet is consistent in the amount of Oxycodone it contains and what other drugs are included in the pill. Because heroin is not legally produced, no group exists to enforce consistent dosing or even to ensure that other substances are not mixed in.

Click here to learn more about the similarities and differences between heroin and Percocet.

What Percocet Addiction Looks Like

As Jamie Lee Curtis once said about addiction, "This is a family disease."

Percocet addiction or addiction to prescription drugs doesn't just affect you. Iit affects everyone around you and everyone who cares about you.

Percocet addiction can change your personality, interests, and physical health. When you are addicted, you make Percocet your highest priority.

Percocet addiction has a negative impact on all parts of your life. It can even affect your relationships with those closest to you. Is that something you want to see happen, or do you want to seek help?

There are several warning signs to let you know if you are addicted to Percocet. Percocet addiction is different from Percocet abuse. It's important that you are honest with yourself about what you are experiencing. The following symptoms could be signs of Percocet addiction:

  • You are using Percocet outside of what the doctor prescribes.
  • You are anxious, irritable, or angry when you are late taking your next dose or don't have another to take.
  • You choose to spend time alone, taking Percocet, instead of with friends and family.
  • You find you have to take more Percocet to feel the same way that a single pill made you feel in the past.

Percocet is a very powerful and dangerous drug that has serious medical and physical consequences with continued use. Some of the short and long-term effects of Percocet include:

  • Risk of kidney disease
  • Risk of respiratory failure
  • Constant upset stomach
  • Heart complications
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Risk of having suicidal thoughts

Fortunately, these aren't side effects that you are destined to live with for the rest of your life. Help is available for you that can assist you with recovery.

Withdrawal Symptoms When Stopping Percocet Cold Turkey

When you stop taking Percocet on your own, you will probably develop withdrawal symptoms that might include:

  • Muscle and bone pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Chills or a fever
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Seizures
  • Depression symptoms
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Uncontrollable leg movements
  • Severe cravings

These withdrawal symptoms of Percocet are caused by the body's inability to function without the drug after becoming dependent on it. Some of these symptoms are opposites of the common side effects of taking Percocet. The most common side effects of Percocet are:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Euphoria
  • Slowed breathing

Percocet withdrawal symptoms are both dangerous and unpleasant. It's best to stop using Percocet with professionals who can help you by alleviating your withdrawal symptoms. This allows for a much easier transition into being drug-free.

Because Percocet is made up of two different drugs, there are two different types of Percocet overdoses possible.

  • The first type of Percocet overdose is an overdose of acetaminophen. This causes damage to the liver.
  • The second type of Percocet overdose is an Oxycodone overdose. Oxycodone can affect the part of the brain that reminds us to breathe, so during an overdose, the user stops breathing completely. This can cause damage to the brain and other organs when they are deprived of oxygen.

Signs that someone is experiencing a Percocet overdose include:

  • Blue lips and fingernails
  • Gurgling or lack of breathing
  • Unresponsiveness

Dr. Sarah Wakeman recommends checking if someone is unconscious by rubbing your knuckles on their collarbone. This will wake someone who is simply sleeping, but not someone who has overdosed.

Because of these dangerous possibilities of overdosing on Percocet, MedlinePlus recommends always having Naloxone available when using Percocet or any form of Oxycodone. This is a medication designed to negate the most dangerous symptoms of opiates in the nervous system.

"Naloxone works by blocking the effects of opiates to relieve dangerous symptoms caused by high levels of opiates in the blood. You will probably be unable to treat yourself if you experience an opiate overdose. You should make sure that your family members, caregivers, or the people who spend time with you know how to tell if you are experiencing an overdose, how to use naloxone, and what to do until emergency medical help arrives."

~ MedlinePlus

What Percocet Recovery Looks Like

Percocet addiction is serious but not something you cannot overcome. Percocet withdrawal on your own can be dangerous (as you see above), so it's important to know your recovery options and the best ways to avoid a relapse.

Percocet Addiction Information

Percocet Withdrawal and Detox

Because of the changes that occur in your body when you become addicted to Percocet, it's both difficult and dangerous to quit taking Percocet too quickly or suddenly. It's also dangerous to do so alone and unsupervised by medical professionals.

Detox programs provide trained professionals and a safe environment to detox from Percocet.

It's important to understand the difference between withdrawal and detox.

  • Withdrawal is what happens when you suddenly stop taking a drug that your body has become accustomed to - like Percocet. Symptoms of withdrawal can be harsh, unpleasant, and dangerous, like those listed above. The most dangerous side effects of Percocet withdrawal include seizures and suicidal thoughts.
  • Detox is the entire process of removing a drug - like Percocet - from your body. This includes but is not limited to the withdrawal stage. This process can also be dangerous if it is done too quickly or in the wrong way. Though often still unpleasant, there are many safe ways to detox from drugs like Percocet.

Any detox process is just the first step in recovering from Percocet addiction. Other support - such as counseling - must continue after detox to combat the psychological side of the addiction.

There are four main medications that professionals use to aid in the Percocet detox process.

  • Clonidine is a drug that has been shown to have great success in suppressing withdrawal symptoms quickly - sometimes in just 14 days. Clonidine is a non-opioid drug that can help you detox from Percocet quickly. It should be paired with counseling and Naltrexone to prevent relapse.
  • Buprenorphine (Suboxone) is another drug that, when used correctly, can help you detox from Percocet. Buprenorphine also contains opioids, but in smaller and less powerful doses than opioids used recreationally. It is important that Buprenorphine is given at the right time - once the patient has reached a minimum of a 5 or 6 on the Clinical Opiates Withdrawal Scale. This scale measures the intensity of withdrawal based on eleven common symptoms.
  • Methadone is another opioid that is sometimes used to treat opioid addiction. Methadone takes longer to produce the same effects as Percocet or other opioids. It also combats several of the most common withdrawal symptoms of Percocet, including: high blood pressure, diarrhea, and depression. Methadone can be dangerous because it can also cause dependency and addiction, so most experts limit the amount of methadone they will give to a patient detoxing from Percocet or other opioids.
  • Vivitrol (Naltrexone) helps in reducing cravings of people recovering from addiction to Percocet or other opioids. It is often used as a second step after methadone or Buprenorphine. It can be taken daily as a pill, or injected monthly.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehab for Percocet Addiction

Inpatient Rehab

Inpatient rehab is when a patient goes to live in a facility for the course of their recovery from Percocet addiction. The benefits to inpatient recovery include:

  • Constant supervision - This decreases the risk of medical emergencies during withdrawal. It also ensures that a relapse does not occur.
  • Structure - Most inpatient rehab facilities provide their patients with a full schedule of activities. This means that patients have less time to seek out or think about Percocet or other opioids.
  • Time away - Often, those who are addicted to Percocet recover best by removing themselves from their normal situation. Inpatient rehab allows the patient to focus on themselves and not be influenced by friends, family, or environment.
  • Support - Inpatient rehab facilities offer 24/7 support for those going through withdrawals or cravings. This decreases the chance of a relapse because someone is always there to encourage and enforce sobriety.

Some of the downsides to inpatient rehab for Percocet addiction include:

  • Time - Those staying at an inpatient rehab facility while they recover must have the time to take off of work or school to recover. They will likely not be allowed to leave the treatment facility during their stay.
  • Removal from Support System - For many people, being away from their friends and family during their recovery can be difficult. In inpatient facilities, patients have limited, supervised contact with outsiders in the hopes of cutting off all contact with those who would encourage the patient to use again.
  • Money - Because inpatient treatment is all-inclusive, it is often the most expensive treatment option for those recovering from Percocet addiction.

Inpatient rehab tends to have the highest success rate of all treatment options for those recovering from addictions.

Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient rehab is a treatment process in which a patient comes to the rehab facility regularly but does not live there. Benefits include:

  • Time - It is possible for someone to go through outpatient rehab and continue to work, go to school, or otherwise continue their normal life.
  • Money - Outpatient rehab is often cheaper than inpatient rehab because the patient is paying only for treatment, not also living costs.
  • Support system - For those with supportive friends and families, outpatient treatment can be a good option. They can continue to be around their loved ones while they recover from their addiction.

Like inpatient rehab, outpatient rehab has downsides, too.

  • Unsupervised time - Any time spent outside the treatment facility is time where a thought about Percocet could lead to seeking out or using Percocet. Outpatient treatment means that the patient has a lot of unsupervised time that could easily turn into a relapse to Percocet addiction.
  • Unenforced appointments - Those in outpatient rehab are left on their own to make sure they get to appointments on time and cope with cravings in a healthy way. Often, addiction can damage our willpower. Even the strongest-willed addict has the potential to relapse when left unattended or experiencing withdrawal symptoms after missing an appointment.

For these reasons, outpatient treatment is often less effective than inpatient treatment. Those who have gone through outpatient rehab are more likely to relapse.

12 Step Programs for Prescription Drug Addiction

There are many groups worldwide that aid addicts in recovery with group meetings and encouragement. Often, participants in these groups work through 12 steps in their path to recovery.

One of the most popular 12 step programs for those recovering from Percocet addiction or addiction to other opioids is Narcotics Anonymous. Narcotics Anonymous recommends attending a meeting every day for 90 days as you first begin your journey to recovery.

Narcotics Anonymous is not affiliated with a religion, but the 12 steps include a belief in a Higher Power. This Higher Power can refer to any number of religions or other ideas, and is very inclusive in its meaning.

The 12 steps of NA are:

  1. We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction; that our lives had become unmanageable.

  2. We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

  3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.

  4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

  5. We admitted to God, ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

  6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

  7. We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

  8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

  9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except where doing so would injure them or others.

  10. We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted to it.

  11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Often, programs like Narcotics Anonymous can be helpful for those still recovering from Percocet addiction. Groups like this can be a good source of accountability to prevent relapse.

Addiction Treatment Approaches for Recovery

There are many types of therapy and counseling form which to choose when recovering from Percocet addiction. They include:

Cognitive behavioral therapy

  • Focuses on developing healthy coping strategies for problems. These problems include those that caused Percocet addiction or those caused by your addiction to Percocet.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy has been found successful both alone and together with other therapies.

Individual therapy

  • One-on-one therapy between a recovering addict and a therapist.
  • Individual therapy can be individualized cognitive behavioral therapy (above) or psychoanalysis.

Family counseling

  • Group sessions between therapists and whole families, of which one member has suffered from Percocet addiction.
  • Family counseling addresses the ways in which an addict or former addict has hurt their family or other loved ones. It also provides ways to make amends and for families to hold the former addict accountable for his or her sobriety.

Group therapy

  • Group sessions that include one or more therapists and several people struggling with the same problem (for instance, Percocet addiction)
  • Group therapy allows individuals to see that they are not alone in their struggle or recovery.

Holistic therapy

  • Focuses on the health and strength of all parts of the person - physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental
  • Holistic therapy can often lead to big lifestyle changes. It addresses more than the addiction to Percocet - it focuses on balancing health in all areas to treat the underlying cause of the addiction.

Motivational enhancement therapy

  • Aims to help patients who have not yet decided to stop their addiction or who are unsure of committing to therapy
  • Motivational enhancement therapy involves no more than 5 therapy sessions. In these sessions, addicts or patients talk through their addiction and healthy coping strategies.
Northpoint Washington Rehab

Percocet Addiction Treatment Programs in Washington State Can Help You

You may realize that you have an addiction to Percocet, and that thought might make you feel a bit apprehensive about what your next step should be. It's best to not attempt to stop Percocet on your own. The withdrawal symptoms you might experience can be severe. If you were to relapse, your risk of overdose could be quite high because of changes in tolerance levels.

"The best advice I can give to anyone going through a rough patch is to never be afraid to ask for help." - Demi Lovato

If you suspect that you or someone you know is addicted to Percocet, it's best to get professional help soon. You can take our quiz to determine if someone is at risk of addiction. Or, sign up for a free phone addiction assessment with a trained expert.

If you're interested in reading others' accounts of addiction, check out our blog.

If you conclude that you're addicted to Percocet, the next step is to ask someone for help. In this way, you can stop using Percocet before it's too late.

The best way to stop using Percocet is to do so in a controlled, medical environment such as Percocet addiction treatment centers in Washington.

At Northpoint Recovery, we know how you feel about realizing that you have an addiction to this dangerous drug. We've had the privilege of working with so many people who have suffered with this type of addiction, and we've been able to help them successfully overcome it. We'd love to work with you as well. To learn more, or to get started right away, please contact us.

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