Percocet: A Highly Addictive Pain Killer

Percocet: A Highly Addictive Pain Killer

Percocet, praised for its ability to relieve pain, is also one of the most widely abused prescription drugs in the U.S. A powerful combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen, millions of people use Percocet for increasing their quality of life when suffering chronic pain. However, it can be quickly addictive – prompting physicians and patients to gain a better understanding of the drug before they begin to use it.

Oxycodone is a manmade opiate, a drug made from derivatives of the opium plant. In comparison with other opiates, oxycodone has stimulating effects, adding to the drug’s popularity among users.
Combining the oxycodone with acetaminophen (creating Percocet) results in a highly effective pain-relieving formula that is listed as a Schedule II prescription. Schedule II drugs are those that are controlled by specific laws and carry the highest risk of abuse. Oxycodone itself can be taken orally, rectally or through an I.V. – with the greatest results from the injection form.

Percocet shows a similar method of action as morphine, and pills should not be split or chewed up. The time release element of Percocet tablets means they are meant to relieve pain gradually over time – and the results could be deadly if too much is consumed. This creates an especially dangerous situation for people who purchase Percocet illegally over the Internet, as these drug amounts are often not regulated.

Due to its highly addictive nature, patients are encouraged to guard their prescriptions carefully. Dosages lasting more than 14 to 21 days are considered extended, and can create an addiction because Percocet stimulates a system of “rewards” in the brain’s chemistry. Strong cravings can quickly emerge, and the drug can also cause a dangerous lack of awareness.

If Percocet is abruptly removed, some patients can show withdrawal symptoms due to physical dependence. Physical dependence, while not the same as addiction, can still cause serious side effects. Addiction can be suspected when the person begins to need Percocet to change or regulate their mood, or to feel balanced. In many cases, a person doesn’t even realize they have an addiction until the drug is stopped and side effects of withdrawal set in.

Percocet side effects include lightheadedness, dizziness or nausea; constipation, itchy skin or mood swings. Some patients will experience decreased saliva and testosterone levels. In large enough amounts, Percocet can cause fatal respiratory symptoms or long-term damage to the liver. Clammy skin and decreased heart rate, along with vomiting, can also indicate an overdose.

Women are more likely to receive prescriptions for Percocet, and also more likely to become addicted. However, young adults in the age span of 12 to 17 and then from 18 to 25 are showing the highest climb in rates of abuse. Even older adults are at risk for Percocet addiction because they take the most prescribed drugs of any age group.

Before prescribing Percocet, health care providers should know if a person has a history of drug addiction or certain diseases, like liver disease or kidney problems. Doctors should also know if a person has thyroid problems or seizures.

If a patient decides to recover from Percocet addiction, medical observation is needed due to the drug’s strong physical effects. Counselors and addiction therapists are also needed to help patients cope with the psychological effects of Percocet addiction.

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