Percocet, like many pain killers, has the potential for abuse because while relieving pain, it also induces a strong feeling of euphoria. Like any drug that may have addictive properties, it is important that patients are aware of the risks, and that they know the warning signs that can indicate a problem is developing.
Though acetaminophen can cause some issues with the body, addiction is not particularly common with this drug. When Percocet addiction is considered, it is the oxycodone portion of the drug that is believed to be responsible. Oxycodone is a synthetic narcotic that closely resembles heroin and morphine and was, in fact, originally developed as their replacement. It is the detached feelings and euphoria that facilitates the psychological part of the addiction and the readily available nature of the drug is a large part of how it is so easily accessed and readily available for abuse.
Incidence of Addiction
There are currently millions of people in America who are believed to be addicted to this substance, and the numbers are growing. It is estimated that as many as 10% of those who have been prescribed an oxycodone product have developed addiction. Complicating this issue is the fact that many people who are addicted were never prescribed the medication, but have purchased it through illegal methods. The black-market nature of these purchases makes it difficult to estimate how many people are abusing the substance. However, recent studies show that as much as 20% of high school students have tried Percocet for recreational purposes.
Symptoms of Addiction
One of the first signs that a dependency is developing is the need to take the drug more frequently and in higher doses. If someone is developing an addiction, they are likely to suffer from certain symptoms if they do not get the drug within the timeframe they usually expect. These include:
- flu-like symptoms
If the patient begins to withdraw from relationships, or starts changing daily habits, it can show that the addiction is progressing. Sleepiness or extreme exhaustion is a by-product of abuse, and this symptom should be watched closely.
Ways to Prevent Addiction
This medication should be used as prescribed, and should not be given by the patient to others who may have pain issues. Ensuring any unused medication is properly disposed of is very important to ensure it does not fall into the wrong hands. As Percocet is designed to relieve acute pain, it is important for doctors and patients to remember its use is intended to be short-term, for a very specific pain purpose. Consider altering doses if pain is manageable, with every other dosage being acetaminophen only. Should you begin to develop feelings that the drug is not working quickly enough, or you need a higher dosage to control pain, you should immediately contact your physician.
If patients closely examine their use of Percocet and contact their doctor if any warning signs exist, it may help them avoid addiction. In cases where it has developed, there are many treatment options available, ranging from out-patient clinics where therapy and alternative drugs can be given, to in-patient rehab where patients can be closely monitored.