Percocet Abuse Effects & Warning Signs

Percocet is a common and powerful prescription medication that contains oxycodone and acetaminophen. Oxycodone is an opioid that decreases pain and brings about a sense of euphoric relaxation, while acetaminophen also decreases pain, but is significantly less potent. Percocet is typically prescribed to those who have been experiencing moderate to severe pain.

When an individual uses Percocet in the amount that is prescribed, and for the time period that has been recommended by his or her physician, he or she might experience many benefits with minimal risks. However, the pleasing effects of Percocet have caused many individuals to abuse this medication in an attempt to achieve a recreational high. Both of the ingredients in Percocet can endanger an individual if he or she abuses this substance. Oxycodone can cause cardiovascular difficulties and acetaminophen can damage the liver. Additionally, the addictive properties of oxycodone can cause an individual to develop an addiction to Percocet.

If an individual who has been abusing or has developed an addiction to Percocet does not get appropriate professional help for this problem, he or she will suffer a great ordeal when attempting to end his or her Percocet addiction. Therefore, it is necessary for professional care to be obtained so that individuals can defeat the urge to abuse this medication and establish the skills that are needed to empower them to live drug-free lives.

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Statistics

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) reports that about 0.37% of America’s adult population is affected by opioid use disorder, the type of substance use disorder that includes Percocet addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says that the annual number of opioid-related deaths in American have increased over 300% between 1990 and 2010. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the annual prescription opioid overdose deaths in America have increased by 265% in men and 400% in women during the first ten years of the 21st century. The CDC also reports that approximately 300 people lose their lives each year due to acetaminophen poisoning.

Causes and Risk Factors for Percocet Abuse

A handful of factors can impact one’s chances of abusing or becoming addicted to Percocet, some of which are described in the following:

Genetic: According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), impulsiveness and novelty seeking are two heritable characteristics that can increase one’s likelihood of developing opioid use disorder, which can include Percocet addiction. The APA has also noted an increased risk for addiction in those who possess a first-degree relative, such as a parent or a sibling, who has also been afflicted by chemical dependency.

Risk Factors:

  • Being prescribed Percocet or otherwise having access to this medication
  • Having a family history of substance abuse and addiction
  • Novelty-seeking personality
  • Impulsivity
  • Prior substance abuse and/or mental illness
  • Gender (women are at an increased risk for engaging in Percocet abuse)
  • Having a family history of mental illness

Signs and Symptoms of Percocet Abuse

Below are some of the many signs and symptoms that an individual might display if he or she is abusing or has become addicted to Percocet:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Abusing Percocet even after prior use has resulted in negative effects
  • Social withdrawal
  • Trying to borrow or steal Percocet
  • Trying to borrow or steal money
  • Taking Percocet in greater quantities or for a longer period of time than intended
  • Attempting but being incapable of reducing one’s Percocet use
  • Attempting to obtain a fraudulent prescription for Percocet, or to acquire the drug through another illicit means
  • Abusing Percocet when it is clearly dangerous to do so, such as when also ingesting other addictive substances or when operating a motor vehicle

Physical symptoms:

  • Dramatically slowed heart rate
  • Withdrawal symptoms when not using Percocet
  • Exhaustion
  • Losing weight
  • Problems with balance, coordination, and motor skills
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep problems, including insomnia
  • Shallower than normal breathing
  • Slurring speech
  • Constipation

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Loss of ability to focus and/or concentrate
  • Problems with memory and judgment

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Agitation
  • Mood swings
  • Anger and aggression
If you feel that you are in crisis, or are having thoughts about hurting yourself or others, please call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room immediately.

Effects of Percocet Abuse

An individual who fails to obtain appropriate treatment for Percocet abuse and addiction might suffer a series of negative outcomes, such as the following:

  • Homelessness
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Damage to heart and lungs
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Arrest, incarceration, and other legal problems
  • Social withdrawal or ostracization
  • Development and/or exacerbation of co-occurring mental health problems
  • Injuries sustained due to Percocet-related impairments
  • Job loss and chronic unemployment
  • Financial ruin
  • Family discord
  • Strained or ruined interpersonal relationships
  • Vision problems
  • Suicide attempts

Co-Occurring Disorders

Those who are addicted to Percocet might also be at an increased risk for suffering from symptoms of co-occurring mental health disorders, including:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Other substance use disorders
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Antisocial personality disorder

Effects of Withdrawal and Overdose

Effects of Percocet withdrawal: Someone who tries to stop or dramatically decrease his or her abuse of Percocet after growing addicted to it might suffer a handful of painful withdrawal symptoms, such as, however not limited to, the following:

  • Twitches and tremors
  • Dysphoria
  • Runny nose
  • Pupillary dilation
  • Excessive sweating
  • Watery eyes
  • Powerful cravings for Percocet
  • Insomnia
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Diarrhea

Effects of Percocet Overdose: Someone who displays the following symptoms after consuming Percocet might be experiencing an overdose and should obtain immediate medical attention:

  • Shallow or labored breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Memory loss
  • Slowed heartbeat
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Slurring speech
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Coma
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