Percocet is a brand name prescription pain reliever composed of oxycodone and acetaminophen. Oxycodone is an opioid pain reliever (a narcotic) with a high risk of abuse due to its euphoric effects.
Percocet is one of the many painkillers fueling the prescription drug abuse epidemic that is sweeping across America.
The problem does not stem from abusers alone, but also from medical providers who dispense high volumes of these drugs. According to the advocacy group Oxy Watchdog, a study revealed that compared to other prescription medications, from 2005 to 2010, the painkillers oxycodone and hydrocodone had the biggest increase in hospital discharge prescriptions.
Percocet was designed to be used in patients with moderate to severe pain under a structured pain management plan supervised by a qualified doctor. Percocet is dependence-forming but not all persons who consume this medication, whether lawfully or unlawfully, will become psychologically addicted.
Percocet Health Effects
As with most all drugs, Percocet is associated with several side effects. In general, Percocet abusers and prescribed Percocet users alike may experience the following common side effects:
- Low blood pressure
- Mood swings
- Coordination problems
- Sleep problems (too much or too little)
Further, as The Fix discusses, Percocet abuse exposes users to a host of additional health problems:
- Consumption of crushed Percocet heightens the risk of overdose, which can be fatal.
- Discontinuing the familiar dosage of Percocet use will trigger withdrawal symptoms.
- Some mental side effects of abuse include confusion, slow lightheadedness, headaches and/or depression.
- Psychological addiction frequently occurs, characterized by a focus on drug use to the exclusion of meeting work, family and personal obligations.
Percocet has different long-term and short-term health effects. In the short-term, depressed respiratory function poses a severe threat. In fact, in most deaths due to narcotic overdose, the immediate cause of death is respiratory depression; however, Percocet abuse is not associated with long-term respiratory problems.
In the long-term, Percocet abuse can cause chronic constipation and damage to digestive organs. These ailments can worsen if not properly treated, but the single greatest threat associated with Percocet abuse is liver damage. It is important to note that the damage does not arise from the oxycodone component but rather the acetaminophen, which helps to potentiate the oxycodone effects. Relatively low amounts of regular long-term use of acetaminophen (more than four grams each day) can cause chronic liver diseases, including cirrhosis. Adding alcohol to the equation only worsens the danger. Long-term Percocet abuse is also associated with heart and brain damage.
How Treatment Can Help
Getting treatment from a structured rehab program not only addresses drug abuse but can also deliver medical care and attention to all of the individual’s needs. From a prevention perspective, enrolling in treatment early in the Percocet abuse cycle can stop long-term effects from taking hold. From a management perspective, an addiction professional can make the necessary referrals to a qualified medical provider, such as a hepatologist (liver disease specialist) who can provide required treatment. Therapy can address any emotions, fears and concerns that recovering individuals with co-occurring medical conditions face.
At Black Bear Lodge, our addiction treatment team is exceptionally well qualified to treat prescription pain reliever abuse. We provide a multidisciplinary approach to rehab treatment that begins with a confidential intake with an admissions coordinator. Our patients benefit from plans uniquely tailored to their specific needs, drug histories and health concerns. Call us to learn more.