The short answer is yes. Percocet is a potent prescription painkiller that consists of the synthetic opioid oxycodone and acetaminophen (Tylenol). Opioids, sometimes referred to as narcotics, are drugs prescribed by doctors to treat persistent or severe pain.
Opioids are often derived from naturally-occurring alkaloids in the opium poppy (e.g., codeine, morphine, and thebaine) but sometimes are fully synthetic, human made compounds (e.g., fentanyl) that act on the brain in the same way. Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic opioid derived from thebaine.
Opioids work by binding to proteins known as opioid receptors on nerve cells in the brain, spinal cord, and other parts of the body. When this occurs, the opioids block pain messages transmitted from the body through the spinal cord to the brain.
While opioids they can effectively reduce pain, they carry some risks, and many have a high potential for addiction. The risk of addiction is particularly high when opioids are used to treat chronic pain over an extended period.
Opioid Tolerance and Dependence
When Percocet is ingested, it releases a massive amount of dopamine—a chemical messenger in the body that produces intense feelings of well-being (euphoria). When used regularly, both tolerance and dependence can form, which are hallmark indications of opioid addiction.
Tolerance develops due to repeated exposure to drugs or alcohol. After a prolonged period of regular use, the user’s body will eventually become accustomed and develop a reduced response to the drug. Consequently, they will need ever-increasing amounts of the substance to experience the desired effects.
Dependence also develops over time as neurons in the brain grow accustomed to repeated exposure to intoxicating substances, and can no longer function normally without them. When someone has become dependent on a substance, they will encounter highly unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit using. These effects are often the main reason why people relapse.
While dependence and tolerance are two key factors in the development of addiction, they are not addiction in and of itself. Addiction is also characterized by compulsive drug-seeking behavior and an obsession with obtaining and using a substance despite the incurrence of adverse effects in many areas of one’s life.
Symptoms of Percocet Addiction
Percocet addiction can lead to several side effects, including the following:
- Mood swings
- Low blood pressure
- Slowed breathing rate
- Impaired coordination
Other Life Complications
Percocet abuse can cause severe social problems in addition to physical and mental conditions. Users may engage in risky, impulsive, or generally detrimental behavior, such as driving while intoxicated, becoming involved in illegal activity, and failing to fulfill important work, school, and family obligations.
As noted, the development of dependence is followed by the onset of withdrawal symptoms when the person is not using. Percocet withdrawal symptoms may include the following:
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Anxiety and depression
- Nausea and vomiting
- High blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Muscle aches and pains
Signs of Overdose
A person who is dependent on Percocet may be more likely to use other drugs such as alcohol or heroin. Although an overdose of Percocet on its own can be lethal, death is much more likely to occur if Percocet is used in combination with other central nervous system (CNS) depressants.
A person in the thralls of a Percocet overdose may exhibit the following symptoms:
- Muscle weakness
- Limpness of extremities
- Respiratory distress
- Extreme fatigue
- Gurgling sounds
- Body spasms
- Bluing of lips and nails
- Fainting spells
- Respiratory arrest
Ingesting high doses of Percocet can also lead to acute acetaminophen poisoning, which is life-threatening. Symptoms include the following:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Profuse sweating
- Clammy skin
Other complications of a Percocet overdose may include liver damage, kidney or liver failure, urinary tract infection, chronic constipation, and a compromised immune system.
Treatment for Percocet Addiction
Treatment for Percocet addiction usually begins with a medical detox and is closely followed by comprehensive care that includes:
- Peer support group
- Aftercare planning
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Individual, group, and family counseling
- Health and wellness programs
By promoting participation in multiple therapeutic activities using an integrated approach, we aim to foster long-term abstinence and reduce the likelihood that clients will relapse after discharge.
Midwood Addiction Treatment is dedicated to helping people reclaim their lives and free themselves from the chains of addiction. We employ highly-skilled addiction specialists who provide clients with the tools, resources, and support they so desperately need to achieve abstinence and maintain long-lasting sobriety and wellness.
If you or your loved one is struggling with an addiction to opioids, other drugs, or alcohol, please contact us as soon as possible to discuss treatment options and discover how we can help!