Percocet Withdrawal Symptoms
Percocet withdrawal symptoms can be scary, but the more you know about Percocet, the easier it will be for you to face your fears. Read on for more information about Percocet, Percocet addiction signs, and potential treatments.
Percocet: An Overview
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, in 2014, 1.9 million Americans were abusing prescription pain relievers. Furthermore, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “More people die from overdoses of prescription opioids than from all other drugs combined, including heroin and cocaine.” These two facts underscore many of the dangers of Percocet, one of the most commonly abused prescription opioids.
Percocet is a prescription pain reliever of the narcotic drug class; it is the brand name of an American drug that combines oxycodone with acetaminophen. While both oxycodone and acetaminophen are pain relieving drugs, oxycodone is an opioid, and acetaminophen is not. Like all drugs of the opioid class (which includes heroin, morphine, and codeine), oxycodone has a high addiction potential, as all opioids relieve pain and produce pleasurable effects – a “high”. Thus, Percocet gets its high addiction potential from oxycodone.
Opioids are some of the most highly abused prescription drugs. While most opioids (including Percocet) are given to a patient in tablet form, those who are addicted will crush, snort, or inject the drug so that it the drug can reach the bloodstream faster and the user will feel the “high” more intensely.
Despite its short-term pleasurable effects, Percocet can cause drowsiness, constipation, and even depressed breathing. This depressed breathing can lead to hypotaxia, a decrease in the amount of oxygen in the brain, which can then also lead to a coma and permanent brain damage. Thus, an overdose of Percocet, or the combination of Percocet with other drugs such as alcohol, can be fatal.
Drug Abuse & Addiction: An Overview
Drug addiction, also known as “substance use disorder”, is highly prevalent in the United States. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in 2014, 20.2 million American adults had a substance use disorder; 1.9 million of those Americans were addicted to prescription pain relievers, including Percocet.
The prevalence and severity of addiction are so high that the National Institute of Mental Health has classified addiction as a mental health illness called “substance abuse disorder”. Substance abuse disorder is a disease in which individuals have difficulty controlling their use of drugs, using despite the harmful effects it has on their lives.
Substance abuse disorder begins with the voluntary use of a drug. Over time and with repeated use, the drug user’s brain changes so that the brain craves the drug constantly. These cravings become so overwhelming that the user cannot stop using the drug without facing severe physical and emotional repercussions. When the drug user cannot resist the urge to use despite repeated attempts to stop, he or she has become addicted. 
Addiction can lead to difficulty in all areas of life, including performance in work and school, and relationships with loved ones. However, drug abuse and addiction are treatable. There is hope, and the first step to recovery is educating yourself about your loved one’s abuse and addiction.
Percocet Addiction Signs
There are many signs that you or a loved one may be addicted to Percocet. Read on for common signs of Percocet addiction:
- Your loved one has tried to stop using, but can’t
- Your loved one’s tolerance to Percocet has increased
- Your loved one’s use of Percocet is causing problems in his/her relationships
- Your loved one is neglecting responsibilities at home, work, and/or school
- You are getting into fights about your loved one’s use of Percocet
- Your loved one’s drug use is getting him/her into legal trouble
- You’ve noticed that your loved one takes drugs to avoid or relieve symptoms of withdrawal
- Your loved one’s life revolves around his/her drug use
Because Percocet is a drug that can only be obtained through a prescription, your loved one may have “drug-seeking” behavior, including:
- Pretending to be in pain (or in increased pain) to health professionals in order to obtain prescriptions
- “Losing” / tampering with prescriptions
- Attempting to obtain multiple prescriptions by “doctor shopping”
Percocet Withdrawal Symptoms: An Overview
What many people may not know is that there are actually two phases of withdrawal. The first phase is acute withdrawal. During acute withdrawal, the drug completely leaves the body; after this, post-acute withdrawal syndrome begins.
Read on to learn more about Percocet withdrawal symptoms – both acute and post-acute.
Percocet acute withdrawal symptoms last on average for 5-10 days. It begins about 8-12 hours after the last use, and peaks during the first 12 – 24 hours.
Physiological symptoms of Percocet withdrawal include:
- Dilated pupils
- Runny nose
- Excessive sweating
- Muscle aches
- Hot flashes
More severe physiological symptoms include:
- Excessive crying
- Severe sneezing
- Abdominal cramps
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
Psychological effects of Percocet withdrawal include:
An individual who wants to quit should not quit “cold turkey”. Quitting without medical assistance can be dangerous, and even potentially, fatal. A user who tries to self-detox has a higher likelihood of relapse, and when relapsing, has a higher risk of overdosing, which can lead to death or other serious side effects.
Instead, an individual who wants to stop using should undergo detoxification, a process in which a physician helps a substance abuser overcome his/her withdrawal symptoms. The physician will watch over the substance abuser and may also give him/her medications to help ease the symptoms. Specifically, when dealing with opioid withdrawal symptoms, physicians use the drugs methadone and buprenorphine.
While detoxification is a necessary step towards recovery, it is only the beginning of recovery, not an “end-all” treatment. Once the drug is completely eliminated from the brain and body, mental, physical, and social difficulties still remain.
Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)
According to the UCLA Semel Institute, about 90% of individuals recovering from prescription drug abuse experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome symptoms. Post-acute withdrawal symptoms are those that remain after all traces of Percocet are eliminated from the body and the brain. Other names of PAWS include prolonged withdrawal syndrome, protracted withdrawal syndrome , and post-withdrawal syndrome.
Post-acute withdrawal symptoms can take weeks, or even months, to disappear. As with that of acute withdrawal symptoms, the duration of post-acute withdrawal symptoms depends on the intensity and frequency of drug use.
Symptoms of post-acute withdrawal syndrome include:
Increased vulnerability to stress
Decreased cognitive abilities
Treatments for substance abuse are not one size fits all. Each treatment plan must be tailored to the individual’s needs. However, all successful treatments include detoxification, behavioral counseling, co-occurring disorder treatments, and follow-up care.
As discussed, medications can be used to help individuals during the acute withdrawal phase. Moreover, psychiatric medications can also be used if an underlying mental health disorder (i.e. anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder) is found.
There are many different types of behavioral treatments, including family therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and motivational interviewing that can help as well. These kinds of therapy help individuals change their behaviors and attitudes to decrease the likelihood of relapse and promote a healthier lifestyle.
At HIT Los Angeles, we care about you and your recovery. We understand the difficulties of navigating through recovery, and our experienced staff can help! We offer many services and understand the importance of treating co-occurring disorders, for more often than not, mental health issues and drug use go hand and hand. We have a client-centric outpatient program that provides individualized treatment, supportive living for those who need more intensive care, and a reintegration program to make the transition to a drug-free life easier.
Take a look at our services here, and call us at (800) 562-2319 for a consultation today!
 Medline Plus
 Psychology Today
 UCLA Semel Institute