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Percocet is a brand-name opiate commonly prescribed to alleviate moderate to severe pain. Classified as a Schedule 11 narcotic by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the drug demonstrates a high potential for addiction and abuse. For this reason, Percocet is available only for legitimate medical purposes in tightly regulated environments. Percocet’s chemical composition is made using a combination of oxycodone, a semisynthetic opiate narcotic, and acetaminophen, a non-opiate, non-narcotic painkiller. Despite its status as a Schedule 11 substance, Percocet continues to be abused on a massive scale and is sold on the street and through the dark web with increasing popularity.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 115 people die daily in America as a result of opiate overdoses, and the total economic burden associated with the raging opiate epidemic is approximately $80 billion annually. The origin of this catastrophic societal problem is the deceptive and unethical marketing practices of pharmaceutical companies. In the 1990s, major players in the pharmaceutical industry falsely assured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to prescription opiates. As a result, healthcare providers began prescribing them on a regular basis, and diversion and abuse of the medications skyrocketed over the next two decades.
PERCOCET WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS
As a potent opiate painkiller, Percocet is addictive, even when taken exactly as prescribed in many cases. However, abuse of the drug, which occurs whenever someone takes it in excessive quantities or in an unauthorized manner, leads to a much higher likelihood of addiction. Once someone becomes addicted to Percocet, breaking free from the addiction almost always requires professional intervention. Like other opiates, the brain-changing, mood-altering effects of the drug are debilitating when used over an extended period of time.
Many people who use—and especially abuse—Percocet for a period of two weeks or longer become physically and psychologically dependent on the drug. Once someone is dependent, a total cessation in use, or even brief lapses, can trigger the following symptoms:
- Abdominal Cramping
- Difficulty concentrating
- Flu-like symptoms
- Blurred vision
- Muscle aches
- Accelerated heartbeat
Unfortunately, Percocet withdrawal symptoms can be so debilitating that some users relapse in order to experience temporary relief. Following the general pattern associated with other legal or illicit drugs, the intensity and duration of Percocet withdrawal is determined largely by the intensity and duration of use prior to stopping.
PERCOCET WITHDRAWAL TIMELINE
Following the cessation of use, mild withdrawal symptoms may appear in as little as four to six hours— once the narcotic effects of oxycodone begin to diminish. In most cases, Percocet withdrawal and detox takes between seven to 10 days before gradually improving and eventually tapering off. The following schedule provides a more precise outline broken down into four specific stages:
- Stage One: During the first one to three days following discontinuation of use, withdrawal symptoms usually reach peak intensity. This initial detox stage is extremely intense and uncomfortable and frequently characterized by nausea, vomiting, severe gastrointestinal distress, and anxiety. Many users relapse during this stage due to the nightmarish effects.
- Stage Two: During days 4-7, users experience various physical and psychological symptoms including, chills, cramps, insomnia, and increased cravings. Although the effects of stage two withdrawal are generally considered moderate, they can be debilitating— especially the intensifying cravings.
- Stage Three: Following the first 7-10 days of detox, most users are ready to enter a treatment program. Although certain physical symptoms and cravings still linger, psychological symptoms such as anxiety and depression become the primary presenting issues.
- Stage Four: Longer-term Percocet users can expect lingering symptoms into the third and fourth week following initial detox. The heaviest, most chronic users may experience symptoms that persist for months, or even years— a phenomenon known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS).
INPATIENT TREATMENT FOR PERCOCET
Percocet is a serious narcotic that requires aggressive professional intervention once someone crosses the threshold from physical dependence into a full-blown addiction. Inpatient treatment is the recommended method and consists of clients living at a designated residential facility on a short-term basis— usually one month. Inpatient facilities feature numerous benefits and services that are highly beneficial to clients recovering from Percocet addiction, including round-the-clock staff monitoring, highly experienced physicians, licensed clinical teams, a wide range of evidence-based therapies, aftercare planning, and ancillary benefits and services. Some facilities even feature state-of-the-art technology, on-site amenities such as a gym or swimming pool, and close proximity to major recreational attractions.
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
MAT is considered the cornerstone of inpatient treatment for Percocet addiction and consists of a doctor-prescribed medication schedule in combination with ongoing individual and group psychotherapy. Although many modern medications are extremely effective in reducing cravings and stabilizing physical and psychological processes, medication alone is not sufficient to ensure long-term results during recovery. Behavioral therapy is considered a critical component in the process of battling addiction. Specific therapies will depend upon a client’s presenting issues, and medications may include one of the following:
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Percocet addiction—and opiate addiction in general—is often the result of underlying mental health issues. Co-occurring disorders such and anxiety and depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), antisocial personality disorder (APD), and many others are examples of conditions that may precede the development of Percocet addiction. Successful treatment may require additional medications designed to treat these underlying conditions beyond the primary MAT routine.
OUTPATIENT TREATMENT FOR PERCOCET
Outpatient treatment is a non-residential option that allows clients to live at home and fulfill their personal and professional obligations while undergoing treatment. Therapy and medical follow-up sessions are usually scheduled in convenient blocks of time spaced throughout the week— usually during the morning or evening. Although ideal as a transitional step following residential treatment, or for long-term maintenance therapy, outpatient treatment is generally not considered a first-line of defense against a drug as debilitating as Percocet.
CAN A PERCOCET DETOX BE DONE AT HOME?
Percocet is a potent, mind-altering drug that requires the intervention of licensed, highly trained physicians and therapists specializing in opiate treatment. At-home, self-guided Percocet detox is never recommended under any circumstances. Each year, thousands of people are admitted to hospital emergency rooms (ER) after ignoring medical advice against attempting self-treatment.
TAPERED VS. COLD TURKEY
Quitting Percocet cold turkey can trigger precipitated withdrawal, a process in which withdrawal symptoms are accelerated and magnified. Although not usually deadly, precipitated withdrawal is a major cause of relapse and failure to achieve optimal treatment outcomes. Tapering is a more commonly utilized method of detox that involves gradually weaning off Percocet in diminishing doses. It is generally considered a far safer and more effective detox option than quitting cold turkey.
CONSIDERATIONS/ HOW TO DECIDE WHAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU
The decision to enroll in treatment is a major step in the right direction, but it is also a complex and highly involved process. For many clients, financial considerations, facility location, reputation, and insurance coverage are the most critical factors in choosing an appropriate treatment program. Addiction is a prevalent disease, and as a result, there are an abundance of options to choose from. Most reputable treatment facilities have experienced admissions staff on-hand to help facilitate the enrollment process. They can help answer and resolve any questions or concerns related to insurance coverage and benefits, making the overall admissions process a relatively stress-free, even enjoyable scenario.
RECOVERY SUCCESS AND AFTERCARE SERVICES FOR PERCOCET
Many clients enter treatment daunted by grim recovery statistics, such as a 40-60 percent relapse rate. However, research also clearly shows that after five years of abstinence, relapse rates plummet to approximately 15 percent— a highly encouraging statistic. Not only is long-term recovery possible, but thousands of people also achieve it every year. Although successfully completing initial detox and inpatient treatment are excellent accomplishments, they do not necessarily instill the tools required to overcome temptations and rise above challenges that inevitably accompany long-term sobriety. The following additional steps are required to ensure optimal recovery outcomes:
- NA or other 12-step recovery group involvement
- Developing a strong sober support network
- Actively working with a sponsor/and or peer mentor
- Making healthy dietary and lifestyle decisions
- Practicing abstinence and avoiding hostile environments
- Seeking community involvement or volunteer opportunities
- Continuing individual and/or group therapy
- Taking physician prescribed medications as required
- Developing a strong sense of spirituality or faith-based outlook
WHO NEEDS PERCOCET DETOX?
Percocet addiction is no respecter of socioeconomic boundaries. Anyone, at any time, regardless of race, religion, gender, creed, profession, financial status, or sexuality, can find themselves addicted to Percocet. If you or someone you love is addicted to Percocet or displaying warning signs, call a substance abuse professional today.
And remember, Percocet overdose is considered a medical emergency. Take immediate action by calling an ambulance or heading to the nearest hospital emergency room (ER).
For more about Percocet addiction and recovery, check out these related articles:
- “What You Need to Know About Painkiller Addiction”
- “Percocet Detox: 5 Things You Should Know”
- “Percocet Withdrawal Timeline: Common Symptoms to Expect”
- “Alternative Methods For Managing Pain Without Opiates”
Journal of Medical Toxicology. My Story: How one Percocet Prescription Triggered my Addiction. May, 2012.
The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. Comparison of the Pharmokinetics of Oxycodone Administered in Three Percocet Formulations. March, 2013.
AAP News and Gateway Journal: Pediatrics. Prescription Opioids in Adolescence and Future Opioid Misuse. Nov, 2015.
Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 53.3 Dealing With the Opioid Epidemic in College Students. October, 2017.