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Article Summary

About Percocet

Percocet is the name of a prescription analgesic which is commonly prescribed to treat acute moderate to severe pain. The drug is a formulation of two pain relieving compounds, oxycodone and acetaminophen. The oxycodone component of Percocet is a very potent opioid narcotic, and the U.S. consumes over 50 tons of the stuff, or 80 billion tablets, annually. The acetaminophen in Percocet is a common pain reliever which can be found in many households and can be purchased over the counter. Percocet is not meant for long-term use due to the acetaminophen component of the drug, which can cause liver damage after long-term use. The acetaminophen is added to provide additional pain relief, but also to help avoid the possibility of long term abuse of the drug. Abuse of prescription opioids such as Percocet is at levels which reflect a true epidemic, and an estimated five million Americans admit to having abused prescription pain relievers such as Percocet within the past month.

Effects of Percocet

Percocet is effective as a pain relieving drug due to the chemical reactions that occur in the brain and central nervous system when someone takes the drug, which ultimately blocks the user's perception of pain. These same reactions occur when an individual uses heroin for example, and this is why Percocet can be abused. If an individual is abusing Percocet to get high, whether they have been prescribed the drug legitimately or have acquired it illicitly, they will take the drug in a high enough dose to produce a high which is similar to an opiate high such as heroin. Due to these intense effects, individuals can begin abusing the drug even if they have a legitimate prescription for it. Opiate addicts also abuse Percocet if they can't get their hands on their drug of choice such as heroin, because of the similar high that it creates. Abuse and addiction to prescription opioids such as Percocet are less stigmatized than illicit street opiates, so Percocet is abused by a wider range of people and is even falsely considered safe to use by most.

Because of the potent effects of the drug, individuals who use Percocet both legitimately and illicitly can quickly become physically dependent to the drug because of the chemical changes that occur when they take it. Even a few days of continuous use of Percocet can result in dependence. As a matter of fact, legitimate users are some of the most vulnerable as prescription drugs such as Percocet are grossly over-prescribed. So when someone who has been originally prescribed Percocet for legitimate pain runs out of the drug, their body goes through physical withdrawal and they will most likely attempt to get another prescription to ease symptoms. The original pain may no longer be present, but it is replaced by a physical and psychological need to abuse Percocet.

Percocet Addiction

Someone who is caught up in abuse and addiction to Percocet will get their hands on the drug any way they can. This typically involves doing things which may be illegal. For example, "doctor shopping" is a common method users employ to get their fix. A Percocet addicted individual will go from doctor to doctor, complaining of this or that imaginary ailment or pain that will require a prescription for the drug. Some doctors even become involved in a criminal manner, and ultimately act as drug dealers by writing prescription which they know are for abuse of the drug and not for actual medical ailments. Addicted individuals will typically not be able to hold a job, so will write bad checks to doctors and pharmacies to get more Percocet. Individuals addicted to prescription drugs such as Percocet even go so far as to steal from pharmacies and commit violent crimes.

Individuals who abuse Percocet are not using the drug as prescribed, and often mix other substances with the drug to get an even more intense high. Emergency room and coroner's office reports confirm that most individuals who overdose on prescription opiates such as Percocet have anywhere from 2-4 different drugs in their system at the time of death. For example, individuals who take too high of a dose may experience symptoms which effect breathing, which can stop altogether. Seizures, cardiac arrest and a long list of other symptoms can also occur, all of which can be life threatening. Statistics show that this is an all too common occurrence, and accidental deaths involving opioids such as Percocet increased 114% between 2001 and 2005.

Percocet Overdose

Overdose risks are not only associated with the oxycodone component of Percocet, and acetaminophen can on its own put users at risk of overdose. The Food and Drug Administration reports that over 50% of acetaminophen overdoses annually occur as a result of the user mixing prescription narcotics, such as Percocet, with other products which also include acetaminophen, such as Tylenol. Most of these overdoses are a result of the effects that acetaminophen has on the liver, as it is metabolized solely by the liver it can cause a toxic reaction and severe liver damage. These risks are even greater when users are mixing other substances such as other prescription drugs, illicit street drugs and alcohol with Percocet. Overall, individuals who abuse Percocet long-term, either on its own other with other substances of abuse, are putting themselves at risk of either a fatal overdose or severe long-term health consequences.

Percocet Abuse Treatment

Percocet abuse and addiction can have devastating long-term consequences to an individual's health and well-being, and so many lives can be hurt in the process. A way to end Percocet abuse and addiction is to seek effective treatment at a drug rehab which treats prescription drug addiction. There are many drug rehab programs available which have professional drug treatment counselors standing by to help, who understand what individuals who are addicted to Percocet are going through. More importantly, they know how to fix it. If you are struggling with Percocet abuse or addiction, or you know someone who is, seek treatment before it is too late.

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