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Percocet Abuse Symptoms

Signs of Percocet abuse include misuse beyond prescription guidelines, increased dosage, and combining with other substances. Symptoms range from digestive issues and mood swings to weight loss. Percocet abuse can lead to addiction, requiring professional treatment.

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Signs of Percocet abuse include using the drug outside of the parameters of a valid prescription, using increasingly higher doses, and mixing Percocet with other substances, such as alcohol. Additional symptoms of abuse include digestive issues, problems concentrating, mood swings, and weight loss, among others.

Percocet is commonly abused because of the euphoric effect it produces. Some people begin with a legitimate prescription for the medication to control pain and begin increasing their dose or taking it more frequently than prescribed. Others get Percocet pills from friends and simply take the drug to feel good.

Once abuse starts, addiction can quickly follow. Like all opioids, Percocet can quickly lead to physical dependence. Once addiction is present, it usually requires professional treatment in order to stop misusing Percocet and other opioids.

What Are the Most Common Signs & Symptoms of Percocet Abuse?

These are common signs of Percocet abuse:

  • Consuming another person’s Percocet
  • Stealing Percocet or purchasing it illegally (buying it from a friend or on the street)
  • Excessive preoccupation with locating Percocet or other opioids
  • Impaired social relationships due to Percocet use
  • Reduced performance at school or work
  • Financial instability because of spending money on drugs
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities

Symptoms of Percocet abuse include the following:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Agitation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Irritability
  • Withdrawal symptoms when Percocet is not taken 
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite and resulting weight loss

While each person won’t experience all of these signs and symptoms, the presence of several is often an indicator that abuse is happening.

Side Effects of Percocet

Percocet is associated with only mild side effects when taken as prescribed. If you have a legitimate prescription for the drug and are experiencing side effects, talk to your doctor about how to manage them. In some cases, they may switch you to a different medication.

In general, Percocet and other opioids are only prescribed for the short term and only to be used as needed. This is because of their high risk of dependence and abuse.

When Is It Dangerous?

When abused, Percocet can be very dangerous. The medication contains two active ingredients, which can increase the risk of a harmful drug interaction or an overdose. In addition to all the risks associated with opioids, such as abuse and addiction due to the euphoria the drugs can produce, the acetaminophen in Percocet can lead to liver damage.

Make sure to tell your doctor if you are taking any other medications before consuming Percocet, and only take as prescribed in order to reduce your risk of a harmful drug interaction. Any other form of consumption is considered abuse and can increase your risk of an overdose and serious physical harm. 

What Are the Dangers of Percocet?

The dangers of Percocet can be broken down into mental and physical effects.

Mental & Emotional Effects

Mental and emotional effects of Percocet abuse can include the following:

  • Agitation and irritability
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of interest in previously significant activities
  • Mood swings
  • Aggression and feelings of anger
  • Inability to focus
  • Memory issues
  • Problems with judgment

Physical Effects

Physical effects that can occur with Percocet abuse include the following:

  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Slurring of speech
  • Reduction in heart rate and blood pressure
  • Impairment in muscular control and coordination
  • Withdrawal symptoms in the absence of Percocet
  • Constipation and gastrointestinal problems
  • Problems falling or staying asleep
  • Respiratory depression
  • Issues with motor skills

The biggest risk of Percocet abuse is overdose, which can be fatal.

How to Recognize Percocet Addiction

If you notice many of the above symptoms in someone you love, it’s likely that they are abusing substances. As an addiction deepens, the person may become focused on simply getting any opioid rather than just Percocet. It’s common for people to begin abusing prescription painkillers and then transition to street drugs like heroin.

Look for the above signs and symptoms in your loved one. If they have a continual focus on locating or using Percocet, talk to them about your concerns. While someone can initially hide many of the signs of opioid abuse, the addiction will deepen to the point that they can no longer disguise the effects.    

Opioid abuse can escalate quickly, and risks rise as people use higher doses of Percocet and other opioids. Early intervention means a higher likelihood of successful long-term recovery. Talk to your loved one sooner rather than later about your concerns. 

Percocet Withdrawal Symptoms

Because Percocet is an opioid, continual use results in physical dependence on hydrocodone. If the drug isn’t taken or is taken in lower doses than the body is accustomed to, withdrawal will set in. 

Percocet withdrawal symptoms include the following:

  • Cravings for Percocet
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea 
  • Stomach cramps and pain
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Soreness and pain in the body
  • Teary eyes
  • Runny nose

Percocet takes effect relatively quickly, and its clinical effectiveness will begin to diminish within approximately three hours. Withdrawal symptoms may begin approximately five to eight hours after the last dose for individuals who have abused Percocet. 

By the second or third day, withdrawal symptoms will likely reach their peak. This period can be very uncomfortable, and relapse is likely to occur without professional assistance and support.

As a general rule, higher and more frequent doses of Percocet will increase the severity and duration of withdrawal symptoms, as more of the active ingredients will have inevitably accumulated in the body. Individuals who are older and larger in size may also experience more prolonged and severe symptoms due to the increased period of time needed to clear Percocet from the body. 

Common Percocet Withdrawal Symptoms

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Due to the severity of opioid withdrawal, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is usually recommended for opioid use disorder. A medication like methadone or buprenorphine is used to keep withdrawal symptoms and cravings for Percocet under control. Since withdrawal is managed, the person can then focus on the work they are doing in addiction therapy.

MAT has repeatedly been shown to increase rates of treatment retention. This helps to ensure more people sustain long-term recovery from opioid abuse.

How to Treat a Percocet Overdose

Percocet overdose can be fatal, so it’s imperative to act quickly. Take these steps:

  1. Call 911. Don’t hesitate. Each moment counts.
  2. Administer naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, if it is available. This is an opioid overdose reversal medication that can easily be administered intranasally. It will immediately reverse an opioid overdose if given quickly enough. Sometimes, two doses are needed.
  3. Follow the instructions of the emergency operator. In some cases, they may advise you to begin CPR.
  4. Stay with the person until help arrives.

Finding Hope in Recovery

Like all types of opioid use disorder, Percocet addiction can be severe. If you are in the throes of addiction, a life without Percocet can feel unimageable. But with comprehensive Percocet addiction treatment, a healthy and satisfying life without opioids can be within reach.

In treatment, you’ll build skills that help you to resist opioid abuse in the future. You’ll also build the foundation of a productive life that allows you to reach satisfying goals. You’ll rebuild relationships that were damaged during active addiction, and you’ll improve your overall quality of life immeasurably. Take the first step today.

Updated December 18, 2023
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