Percocet is a drug designed to help curb and control moderate pain. Percocet is made up of two medications: oxycodone (a narcotic) and acetaminophen (an analgesic). The two medications amplify one another.
First, the narcotic helps the person feel relaxed, while the analgesic reduces pain and stiffness. These two drugs combine to enable the person to feel better and function normally. When Percocet is taken correctly, it can be an incredible weapon in the fight against pain. The problem is that many people don’t take Percocet properly. An estimated 3.8 million people aged 12 or older are current misusers of pain relievers. This number represents 1.4 percent of the population aged 12 or older.1
A Powerful Pathway
Acetaminophen by itself is not considered to be addictive. It can kill pain but does not cause the sorts of physical and structural changes that are associated with addiction. Oxycodone, on the other hand, is associated with addiction. When a user takes a Percocet tablet, the oxycodone component of the pill splits away and travels to the brain. The brain is accustomed to working with a chemical called dopamine when it needs to prepare for something pleasurable or work through something painful.
Over time, the brain begins to respond less enthusiastically to Percocet. Receptors turn off, and the brain produces fewer chemicals of its own. Soon, the user takes more Percocet, just to keep up with the chemical imbalance. Soon, the drug use becomes compulsive, as the user can no longer function normally due to those chemical changes. In short, the addiction has taken hold.
Effects on the Liver
While the person taking Percocet may be doing so to feel the effects of the narcotic, the acetaminophen in each pill is still entering the system. Acetaminophen is processed by the liver, so when a user ingests large amounts of acetaminophen, liver damage may result.
However, Percocet addiction can do more than just damage the liver. In fact, people who abuse Percocet and other narcotics are in danger of drug overdose. Narcotics can slow down the heart rate and cause people to breathe slowly as well. Overdose can even lead to death. It might sound like a relatively rare occurrence, but in reality, many people succumb to narcotic overdoses each year. Some people overdose on drugs that they think are Percocet, but which are actually completely different drugs altogether.2
Taite had abused Vicodin and alcohol for years until, in her mid-20s, she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. “I was able to stay clean, by the grace of God, during my pregnancy, but my son was born via C-section. I went home with a baby and a bottle of Percocet.” Six months later, with her baby in the car seat, she’d be arrested for prescription fraud. Other arrests would follow, but three years later, Taite entered a 90-day treatment program and began learning how to live clean and sober.
“My son is now 15 years old and has no memory of me in active addiction. He is one of my best friends, though, and knows my story well. We talk very honestly about drugs, alcohol and many other things. He is an everlasting source of joy in my life.”Taite, Heroes in Recovery
How Abuse Can Harms a Pregnancy
Percocet is considered a Class C medication, which means it can cause breathing problems or addiction problems in an unborn baby.2 Women who abuse Percocet during pregnancy could cause a great deal of harm to the babies growing inside them. Some babies can be successfully treated after birth with medical care. Extra nutrition, low lights and extra warmth are used to help babies work through any withdrawal symptoms. However, some babies need additional treatment. Some babies even develop lifelong issues from Percocet abuse.
Signs of Addiction
Every addiction is a little bit different, so the signs of addiction may vary from person to person. Here are some signs to look out for that can point to Percocet abuse.
Signs of Percocet addiction include some of the following symptoms:
- Low blood pressure
- Slow breathing3
Percocet addiction is often incredibly difficult to the addict’s family. A user will often steal or lie to family members, which erodes trust. It can be difficult to confront someone with a Percocet addiction. In some cases, it’s best to bring the family doctor into the discussion. If the doctor has been writing the prescription, the doctor should know about the situation. A family may decide to include the doctor in a formal intervention conversation in which all members of the family discuss the addiction behaviors they’ve noticed, and they ask the addict to get help. Other times, a family makes an appointment with the doctor, and they hold private conversations with the addict there. In either case, the addiction issue should be brought into the open and discussed. The longer it hides in the shadows, the more potential damage can be done to the person’s body.3
At Michael’s House, we specialize in providing treatment to individuals who struggle with Percocet addiction. At our beautiful facility, we provide around-the-clock care that can help people recover from the chemical and mental damage caused by the addiction, and we provide support that allows the entire family to heal. We would like to talk with you about the treatment process and answer any questions you have. Please call us at 760-548-4032 today to learn more.
1 “Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States:Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.” 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Web. 10 July 2017.
2 “Percocet: Uses, Dosage, Side Effects & Warnings.” Drugs.com, 06 May 2017. Web. 10 July 2017.
3 “Prescription drug abuse.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 19 Sept. 2015. Web. 10 July 2017.