Percocet is a prescription medication that contains oxycodone and paracetamol. Oxycodone is an opiate analgesic used to treat moderate to severe pain. This medication can be used as needed or given in an extended-release tablet if long-term pain management is necessary. Oxycodone relieves pain by changing how the brain and central nervous system respond to pain signals. Many people use oxycodone without suffering any ill effects, but some people become physically dependent on the drug and then develop an addiction.
Physical dependence is a result of repeated exposure to a substance. The body becomes accustomed to the presence of the drug and begins to require the substance in order to function normally. Opiates like oxycodone have a high abuse potential, and dependence on these substances can develop very quickly. Some people become dependent on oxycodone after using the drug for legitimate purposes but do not necessary develop an addiction. Addiction is a disorder in which an individual repeatedly seeks out and uses the drug despite negative consequences.
Withdrawal occurs as a result of physical dependence. The symptoms of Percocet withdrawal result from lessening or stopping use of the drug. As an opiate, medical detox is generally recommended for Percocet withdrawal, to ensure individuals are safe and comfortable throughout the process and to decrease the likelihood of relapse.
Specific withdrawal timelines vary greatly according to various factors, such as the severity of Percocet dependence, the length of time abusing the drug, the dosage levels during active abuse, and the presence of any other substances of abuse.
In addition, Percocet withdrawal timelines are affected by individual factors, such as the person’s physical makeup, mental health status, any co-occurring medical issues, and history of substance abuse.
Despite this variation in individual withdrawal processes, Percocet withdrawal generally takes 5-10 days; though some symptoms may continue for weeks and months following cessation of use. In cases of medication management, the full withdrawal process may take months or even years as the person is slowly weaned off the replacement medication over an extended period of time.
Effects of Percocet Abuse
Percocet can cause side effects even when used correctly. Most side effects are relatively mild and subside on their own, but misusing this medication can cause side effects to be more severe.
Common side effects of oxycodone, the primary drug in Percocet, include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Dry mouth
- Stomach pain
- Changes in mood
Increased doses of oxycodone can cause more serious effects. Misusing the drug, such as dissolving tablets in water and injecting the solution or snorting crushed tablets, also increases the likelihood of negative side effects.
More serious side effects of oxycodone include:
- Increased or decreased heart rate
- Chest pain
- Hives, itching, or rash
- Swelling in the face, mouth, or extremities
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Difficulty staying awake
Overdose is one of the most dangerous results of Percocet abuse. The chances of an overdose increase after going through withdrawal, because tolerance to the drug is decreased. People who abuse Percocet have a high tolerance to the drug; after a period of abstinence, tolerance drops – so a dose that was previously well-tolerated can result in an overdose.
Overdose occurs when the body cannot process the amount of the drug that’s been taken.
Symptoms of overdose include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Trouble staying awake
- Muscle weakness
- Change in pupil size
- Bluish skin, fingernails, or lips
- Loss of consciousness or coma
Symptoms of Percocet Withdrawal
Percocet contains both oxycodone and paracetamol, but only oxycodone causes withdrawal symptoms. Oxycodone withdrawal syndrome is similar to that experienced from other opiates. White opiate withdrawal is very unpleasant, it is not usually dangerous, and it rarely results in medical complications.
The beginning symptoms of oxycodone withdrawal include:
- Muscle aches
- Difficulty sleeping
- Runny eyes and nose
Symptoms can become more severe as the withdrawal syndrome progresses. Later symptoms of oxycodone withdrawal include:
- Abdominal cramping
- Dilated pupils
Symptoms typically appear 1-2 days after the last use of Percocet. The acute physical symptoms last from several days to two weeks.
Withdrawal often results in psychological symptoms, such as changes in mood and anxiety levels. These symptoms, as well as drug cravings, can remain for several months.
Withdrawal can make it difficult to refrain from drug use without the help and supervision of others. Because of this, many people choose a comprehensive treatment program that includes medical detox and ongoing support.
Detox is the process through which the body rids itself of addictive substances.
When going through withdrawal from Percocet, pharmacotherapy is typically used. Various medications can be used to treat the symptoms of oxycodone withdrawal. The most common method of medical detox uses opioid agonists, which are medications that mimic the effects of opiates.
Methadone is the most commonly used opioid agonist. This medication is given in frequent doses to replace the drug of abuse, and it is then tapered until it is no longer needed. By mimicking the effects of opiates, methadone relieves symptoms of withdrawal and prevents cravings. Methadone is sometimes used only during the detox process, but some people use it as a maintenance medication throughout the addiction recovery process.
Buprenorphine is used in a similar way to methadone, but it is a partial opioid agonist, so it mimics only some of the effects of oxycodone. This helps prevent the drug from being abused, because increased dosages of the drug do not cause the “high” experienced when abusing other drugs.
Withdrawal from Percocet is often the beginning of the recovery process in opiate addiction. Additional treatment beyond detox is needed in order to overcome addiction. Long-term therapy and medication is often the most effective means of overcoming Percocet addiction. An effective detox program will offer avenues through which you can find the right treatment program for your individual needs.