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Article Summary


Percocet is a prescription pain reliever which is typically prescribed to individuals who are experiencing pain from a surgery, accident or injury. Percocet has not one but two active ingredients which work to relieve pain. One is a common over-the-counter drug almost every person has used at some point which is acetaminophen. The other component is in a class of drugs known as opioids which are available by prescription only, which is oxycodone. Opioids such as oxycodone are used in clinical settings for their pain relieving properties but are derived from opiate drugs. Opiates are so-called because they are derived from the opium poppy and are also used to produce street drugs such as heroin. So one can imagine the risks involved with dependence and addiction to prescription opioids such as Percocet, a reality which is very evident in this country and a situation which has spawned an actual epidemic.

Percocet Abuse

Individuals can become involved in Percocet abuse one of two ways. Because it is an opioid and its properties and effects are very similar to illicit street opiates such as heroin, individuals who are heroin addicts for example may choose to use Percocet as a suitable substitute if heroin is not available. Someone who is tolerant to opiates is not going to take a typically prescribed dose of Percocet mind you, and when abused in this way is taken is far higher doses more often than any physician would ever prescribe. The other way someone can become involved in Percocet abuse is if they have been legitimately prescribed the drug but begin abusing it at some point. This can happen if they use Percocet long-term and develop a tolerance to a certain dose, so they may up their dose continuously to achieve the desired effects.

The problem however is that in high doses the effects of Percocet can create a high much like a heroin high. So the individual can start abusing Percocet to get high as well, and this can lead down a very dark road. Abuse of Percocet by legitimate prescription holders is most likely if the individual has a history of substance abuse prior to taking the drug. It is recommended that physicians check into this before prescribing it, but most don't. So this is often left to the discretion of the patient which has led to many individuals becoming involved in abuse of the drug because they are not aware of the risks involved. Although the likelihood of abuse is more pronounced among substance abusers in general, it can truly happen to anyone. Someone who has never taken a drug in their life can soon find themselves abusing their prescription of Percocet and having to deal with the shame and guilt of abuse and addiction because they didn't realize what they were getting themselves into.

Risks Of Percocet Abuse

Aside from the risks involved with abuse of Percocet, individuals who abuse the drug are putting themselves at risk of serious and sometimes life threatening side effects. Just as Percocet can produce a high similar to heroin when taken in high enough doses, so too can it produce side effects which are typical of heroin use including overdose. Opiate overdose can produce respiratory depression very easily which can happen if someone takes too much Percocet, a risk which can prove fatal. Overdose is a very likely probability for someone who has not yet built up a tolerance to the oxycodone component in a certain dose of Percocet. One dose of Percocet for someone who has been abusing opiate drugs for a long time may be a deadly dose for a new user.

These are the risks associated with the oxycodone component of the drug. What users may not realize is that the acetaminophen component can pose very serious health problems which abused, some of which can be irreversible and deadly. Percocet overdose because of the acetaminophen component of the drug is very common, and if this doesn't result in death it can at the very least result in irreversible organ damage or worse. Because acetaminophen is metabolized solely by the liver, damage to this vital organ occurs when too much acetaminophen is ingested. This type of outcome from acetaminophen overdose can at the very least cause both short and long-term health issues and may even result in death for those who don't receive medical attention for it.

As with any other drug of abuse, risks such as overdose and serious or fatal side effects are always more likely when the drug is mixed with other prescription or illicit drugs and/or alcohol. For example, alcohol is also metabolized by the liver and when mixed with high doses of acetaminophen can cause liver and kidney damage as well as other health problems and even death. Other drugs and prescription drugs have their own effects, and individuals who are abusing these drugs don't often stop to ponder important things such as drug interactions. So this is a very risky game individuals are playing with very high stakes, which some will pay with their lives because of such ignorance.

Percocet Addiction Treatment

Prescription drug abuse in general is a very prominent problem which many individuals have found themselves caught up in. There is no shame in getting help for it if an individual wants to put an end to it and can't do so on their own. This is a very common situation because of how powerful of a hold drugs such as Percocet can take on an individual once they become addicted and dependent to them. Drug rehab programs around the country are very aware of the problem and treat people with Percocet addiction ever day. Not just hardcore addicts but soccer moms who had no idea how much control the drug would have over them, completely taking over their lives. Percocet addiction is treated much like any other opiate addiction such as heroin, and individuals recover from it every day through diligent treatment. Treatment for Percocet addiction should ideally take place in an inpatient or residential drug rehab facility which allows for a long-term stay of no less than 90 days.

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