Be honest: when you hear the word ‘percocet’, do you first think of Percocet side effects or of the song? Most likely the first thing you think of is the Percocet song (otherwise known as ‘Mask Off’ by Future): Percocets, molly, Percocets, molly… While the song may be catchy, Percocet side effects can actually be quite serious. Given the fact that Americans consume eighty percent of opioids produced around the world, both Percocet addiction and the pill’s side effects should be a point of concern. “Every adult in American can have a bottle of pills and then some.” ~ U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy
Percocet & Addiction in the United States
The United States is becoming increasingly dependent on opioid painkillers: in 2015, doctors wrote a total of 300 million prescriptions for pain relief. That’s almost one prescription for every single person in the United States – healthy or otherwise. While both Percocet and molly may be used to get high, one is legal while the other is not. But just because opioids are legal does not mean that they are not dangerous. Any drug is dangerous if it’s abused. Because Percocet (or, Percoset) is a prescription opioid drug, it should be included in this discussion. More than that, it is important to know the side effects associated with whatever drug you are using. Too often, these points are glossed over. We are here to set the record straight on Percocet side effects – not to mention the overuse of prescription opioids.
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The Reality of Oxycodone Addiction
Before jumping into the side effects of Percocet use, we also want to discuss the reality of Percocet addiction. In addition to discussing the direct side effects of the prescription drug, it is worth first going over why addiction is something to be aware of in using the drug. We want to tell it to you straight: the first thing you should be wary of in using oxycodone (or any similar prescription medication) is the possibility of addiction. Why is that?
We need you to know: Percocet is a prescription opioid narcotic.
This means that it is strong – very strong. Regularly taking Percocet to treat pain is not the same thing as popping an Advil or Tylenol. Classified as a Schedule 2 drug, there is a high risk of abusing Percocet even when it is prescribed legally. More importantly, there is a high rate of physical and psychological dependence on the prescription opioid. No matter the reason for the prescription or the dosage, Percocet (sometimes misspelled as Percoset) can be habit forming. This is because the main ingredient in Percocet is oxycodone, a potent opioid analgesic. Opioids are known for creating a physical dependency on their effects. Anytime someone uses a powerful painkiller (like a Percocet dosage), they are at risk of becoming dependent on the drug. This is doubly true for individuals who have struggled with substance abuse or addiction in the past, or for those who mix medications (i.e. Percocet vs. Vicodin). When it comes to Percocet vs. Vicodin, both medications are used as opioid painkillers. They also typically have similar dosages – but Percocet is at least a time and a half stronger than Vicodin. All of this is to say: addiction may not be the only thing to be wary of with Percocet use, but it is certainly still a concern for anyone and everyone who uses the drug.
Understanding the Right Dosage
As we mentioned above, using Percocet is associated with many different side effects. These Percocet effects can range from mild to severe, depending on everything from how you take the drug to your overall health. These effects are based in Percocet dosage, at least in part. The dosage of Percocet pills also has a range. The most common dosage is 5/325 – this means that each pill has 5mg of oxycodone for 325mg of acetaminophen. While Percocet 5/325 is the most common dosage of the opioid, the prescription drug also comes with 10mg of oxycodone – a stronger mix. Finally, some people look for Percocet 30 – essentially looking for 30 milligrams of oxycodone. But the name ‘Percocet 30’ is misleading. There is no actual Percocet pill with 30mg of oxycodone. Instead, what most people confuse with a Percocet 30 is a 30mg tablet of oxycontin. This dosage of medication is extremely potent and should be used with great care.
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Understanding the Danger of Percocet Side Effects
The most dangerous potential side effect of using oxycodone as a painkiller is physical dependency on the drug. But that is not the only unwanted Percocet effect. Of course, there are some legitimate medical uses for Percocet pills. But you should be sure to be full informed of all of the side effects associated with the use of this prescription medication. It may mean the difference between life and death. Percocet side effects range in both how commonly they occur and how intense they are. The Percocet effects also depend on how often you take the medication and if you are abusing the drug. In the case of opioids, abuse can include any of the following:
- Using the drug to get a Percocet high
- Snorting the opioid drug
- Taking more Percocet medication than was prescribed
- Taking the Percocet medication more often than was prescribed
- Using someone else’s prescription to obtain the medication
More Info About Side Effects of Percocet
The side effects of Percocet change based on several factors. Some examples are:
- Age of the person taking the drug
- Specific health conditions
- Other drugs
The age of the person taking Percocet matters. Drug side effects increase as you age. Your body gets more fat and holds less water as you get older. That increases the concentration of drugs in your body. Additionally, the organs that break down drugs are the liver and kidneys. These organs function more slowly in older individuals. That increases the risk of Percocet side effects on liver. Other health issues make side effects worse. For example, many people already suffer from dry mouth. Opioids make dry mouth worse. As a result, one side effect of oxycodone on teeth can be tooth enamel erosion. Moreover, people that are pregnant or breast-feeding risk awful side effects on the baby. Babies are smaller than adults. Smaller quantities of the drug have larger effects on them. Possible oxycodone side effects on the fetus include increased risk of miscarriage, hypospadias, and pulmonary valve stenosis. The human body is a complex thing. It’s difficult to fully understand how one drug interacts with it. As a result, taking multiple drugs can play havoc on the body. One of the most common drugs is alcohol. The side effects of oxycodone with alcohol are even worse than the drug by itself. Both substances affect the central nervous system. That’s the part of your body that controls breathing and heart rate. Therefore, taking oxycodone with alcohol can cause serious and life-threatening side effects.
The Most Common Percocet Side Effects
All of these forms of abuse tend to only increase the side effects of taking prescription medication (and any opioid painkiller, for that matter). That’s why it’s so important to only take Percocet as directed by a doctor. First and foremost, the most common oxycodone effects to be on the lookout for are:
- Mood swings
- Sleep problems
- Lowered blood pressure
- Slowed breathing
- Having a hard time with physical coordination
- Feeling nauseous or vomiting
- Feeling weak or faint
- Generally having less energy
There are also less frequent, but more serious, side effects look out for. These side effects may not occur as often as the others already outlined above, but they can be much more uncomfortable. This is particularly true with Percocet addiction and abuse. These additional Percocet effects include:
- A skin reaction (i.e. a rash)
- Stomach or intestinal cramps
- Sweating excessively
All of these side effects combine to make at least one thing clear: Percocet is not a drug to be played around with. In addition to the possibility of addiction, these side effects do not make abuse of the drug a smart choice. Is a Percocet high really worth it?
Long Term Oxycodone Effects to Be Wary Of
Sometimes Percocet is taken for chronic pain – pain that does not go away. In these cases, there is the possibility of long-term detrimental effects as a result of the opioid use. Some effects that are monitored by prescribing doctors include:
- Kidney failure
- Decreased testosterone (in men)
- A built-up tolerance to the drug
- Liver damage
- Either physical or psychological dependence on the drug
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The Major Effect: Opioid Dependence
Out of all of these, building up a tolerance to Percocet over time is perhaps the most concerning. This is because addiction to an opioid, or abusing the drug over a long period of time, can lead to a range of other issues, including:
- Financial issues
- Interpersonal issues
- Heart attack
- Respiratory arrest
While these long-term effects do not occur for everyone who uses Percocet, abusing and becoming addicted to the opioid drug usually causes nothing but problems. Taking the drug for a Percocet high is just the beginning. Worst Case Scenario: Percocet Overdose Overdose is the most dangerous possible side effects of Percocet. The effects of an oxycodone overdose are very serious. Opioids affect the central nervous system. That means it affects your heart rate and breathing. The scariest potential side effect of a Percocet overdose is death. The drug can lower your heart rate and breathing to the point where they just stop. That’s why so many opioid overdoses cause death. In fact, life expectancy is declining in the US because of the opioid epidemic. There are other Percocet overdose side effects. One of the most common is unconsciousness. Some people refer to this as the “nods.” This is another example of opioids working on the central nervous system. This condition makes it dangerous to do normal tasks like driving. There are several ways to spot a Percocet overdose. The symptoms include:
- Reduced breathing rate
- Shallow breathing
- Slower heartbeat
- No heartbeat
- Dilated pupils
- Falling asleep or unconscious
- Pale face
- Purple or blue lips and fingers
These symptoms are signs that you need to take immediate action. They mean that the drug is affecting the body at a dangerous level. A Percocet overdose can cause serious problems even if it doesn’t cause death. One part of the body that is at risk is the most important – your brain. Your brain is a powerful organ. It uses a lot of energy to work. That means it needs a lot of oxygen to function. Reduced and shallow breathing means the brain isn’t getting the oxygen it needs. This can cause permanent brain damage. There are other side effects to an overdose. The drug is harmful to your liver. This is especially true with oxycodone. It usually comes mixed with acetaminophen. These drugs both stress the liver. An overdose occurs when you have more of the drug than your body can handle. That means the drug is making the liver work overtime. This can lead to permanent damage. It also means that your body won’t filter toxins as well in the future. Anyone who takes Percocet recreationally will tell you that they quickly develop a resistance to the drug. However, tolerance is a complex thing. People develop tolerance to the high the drug produces. But the tolerance to side effects is different. As a result, people take more of the drug to get the high they’re used to. This increases the odds they’ll overdose. This effect is known as differential tolerance. It increases the risk of harmful side effects and overdoses.
Getting Help for Percocet Side Effects – and addiction!
The best help you can get for the side effects from your prescription medication is from your doctor. If the side effects are too much to handle, a doctor can help you find the right solution in treating your pain. In contrast, there are many different professional services and groups available for treating addiction. While Percocet addiction is not uncommon in the United States, getting help in learning how to overcome this addiction is possible. The Percocet song does not have to be about you.
Treatment for the Negative Side Effects of Oxycodone
There are some ways to reduce the drug’s harmful side effects. However, there’s no single treatment for the negative side effects of Percocet. Individual side effects can be resolved through medication. For example, laxatives can treat constipation. Anti-nausea medications can treat stomach cramps. However, some of the treatments for harmful side effects of Percocet create new risks. For example, some users become agitated from opioid withdrawal. Benzodiazepines treat this agitation. But people abuse benzodiazepines too. Moreover, adding other addictive drugs means new issues and complications. This can make it even harder to shake an addiction and get clean. Additionally, there is a drug that can reverse an opioid overdose. Narcan works by taking over opiate receptors. The drug is safe and effective. However, it’s not always available. The opioid epidemic means it’s in high demand. Some first responders don’t even carry it. Additionally, some states don’t sell it over the counter. Moreover, it’s only used in extreme emergencies. There’s only one way to avoid the negative side effects of Percocet. Take it only as directed by a doctor.
The Effects of Percocet Withdrawal & Percocet Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawal is one of the things that people dependent on Percocet worry about the most. This makes sense. Withdrawal can be a scary thing. However, understanding what you’ll face will help you find the strength to overcome withdrawal. After all, a life of addiction is far scarier than temporary withdrawal effects. We’ll look at several aspects of Percocet withdrawal. This includes how long it lasts, the effects, and things you can do to limit the symptoms of oxycodone withdrawal. Use this information to find the courage to say no to oxycodone addiction.
Percocet Withdrawal Effects
There’s no way around it, withdrawal is awful. Withdrawal comes with lots of different effects. These effects vary person to person. Additionally, other factors influence opioid withdrawal symptoms. These factors include a person’s level of dependence, how long they’ve been using, and how much they take. One bit of good news is that oxycodone withdrawal feels worse than it is. One study describes it as “subjectively severe but objectively mild.” It is important to keep that in mind. This information helps you find the strength to get and stay clean. Percocet withdrawal effects feel like a more intense version of regular oxycodone side effects. Withdrawal effects come in two stages. These stages are early withdrawal and later withdrawal. We’ll look at early withdrawal symptoms first. They include:
- Muscles Aches
- Runny Nose
These effects happen as the body starts to miss the drug. Opioid withdrawal occurs because the body and brain are used to having the drug. It takes over certain jobs the body normally does itself. As a result, the body isn’t used to doing those jobs anymore. Therefore, the body needs to play catch up when you stop taking the drug. Later withdrawal symptoms can be a bit more severe. The body is still struggling without the drug it’s used to. It hasn’t reached the point where it can fully function by itself. The later symptoms of withdrawal include:
- Dilated Pupils
- Goose Bumps
- Stomach Cramps
Additionally, people in later stage of withdrawal may still have some of the effects from the earlier stages. The result is that people in withdrawal feel like they have a severe case of the flu. However, there are ways to reduce or eliminate these effects. We’ll talk about the best way to overcome opioid withdrawal later in this post.
Opioid Withdrawal Timeline
There are three phases of Percocet withdrawal. They are acute, long-term, and post-acute. It’s important to understand how these phases are similar and how they’re different. This information will help you understand where you are on your detox schedule.
The first phase of Percocet withdrawal is called acute withdrawal. It usually starts 6-30 hours after you last took the drug. Acute withdrawal is when patients start to experience the first stage of withdrawal effects. Several factors influence when this phase starts. One key factor is how you usually take the drug. For example, people that snort or inject the drug get withdrawal symptoms faster. People who take the drug orally or take a time-release version of the drug will go longer before they experience acute withdrawal. Acute Percocet withdrawal generally lasts about 72 hours, or three days. The symptoms gradually get worse. This happens because your body is more and more desperate for the drug.
Long-term Percocet withdrawal begins with new symptoms. This phase is when people start to experience the second phase of withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, most people report that they still have many of the effects from before. This stage is sometimes called peak withdrawal. That’s because the symptoms from the first phase seem to get worse. The new withdrawal effects overlap with the first set of symptoms. As a result, it’s like going from a minor cold to a severe cold to the flu. Long-term withdrawal usually runs from 4-20 days. The length of the period depends on a person’s level of dependence. The good news is that it doesn’t get any worse than this.
The final phase is called post-acute withdrawal. This phase happens when the physical effects of withdrawal go away. However, the person still has psychological and emotional troubles. It’s important to note that this phase isn’t universal. There’s no way to know who will have post-acute withdrawal issues. However, there are ways to manage the symptoms. Post-acute withdrawal symptoms include:
- Sleep Disturbances
- Lack of Motivation
- Desensitized emotions
There’s no set timeline for post-acute withdrawal effects. They can last for months or even years. There are a few different treatment options for post-acute withdrawal. One option is Acamprosate. Doctors use this drug to help recovering alcoholics. Psychotherapy can also help. This includes behavioral therapy, group therapy, or both.
Percocet Withdrawal Help
There are several options that help people get through Percocet withdrawal. These options include medications and therapies. A qualified addiction specialist can help you determine the best way to reduce your withdrawal symptoms.
Percocet Withdrawal Medications
Opioid Replacement Therapies, or ORTs, are an increasingly popular way to help people deal with withdrawal effects. There are several different ORTs. Therefore, it’s important to work with someone to find the best ORT for you. The four most common ORTs are:
- Subutex (Buprenorphine)
- Vivitrol/Revia (Naltrexone)
- Methadone (Dolophine)
Subutex is one of the most common ORTs. It’s taken as a pill which melts in the mouth. The active ingredient, Buprenorphine, binds to the opioid receptors in the brain. It blocks these receptors for up to three days. This causes other opiates to have a much weaker effect. It also reduces withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
Suboxone combines buprenorphine and a drug called Naloxone. Naloxone is the drug used to reverse opioid overdoses. Suboxone comes as a tablet or a film that dissolves on the tongue. It blocks the brains opiate receptors. However, it produces less of a “high” than Subutex. This helps it lower cravings and reduce opiate withdrawal effects. Vivitrol/Revia Vivitrol is used to stop opiate cravings. Patients get it once they’ve gotten clean. The drug comes as an injection. It’s used at least two weeks since the last time you used opioids. Vivitrol blocks opiate receptors but isn’t physically addictive. That sets it apart from other ORT options.
This is one of the most common opioid replacement treatments. It comes as a liquid or as a bill. Methadone is a long-lasting opiate that stops withdrawal. It also stops cravings for other opioids. It’s performed these tasks for almost 50 years.
Specific Steps for Overcoming Percocet Effects
If you find that you are already abusing Percocet pills or experiencing withdrawal symptoms, the best way to overcome the many side effects outlined above is to simply come off the drug completely. This means going through a detox to rid your body of the unwanted effects of the drug. In the end, this helps your body lose its dependence on Percocet medication. In addition to coming off of the drug, there are several tools available to keep addiction in the rear-view mirror. For instance, Pills Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are support groups help addicts learn from each other and build the tools that they need to stay sober in the long run. After all, the most dangerous side effect of Percocet abuse is addiction. Thankfully, that unwanted Percocet effect does not have to be permanent. If you still have questions about the various Percocet side effects we discuss here, or about treatment, feel free to contact us today.
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Darren Hein. (2017, February). Vicodin vs. Percocet for Pain Relief. Retrieved from:https://www.healthline.com/health/pain-relief/vicodin-vs-percocet Timothy J. Legg. (2016). Percocet Addiction. Retrieved from:https://www.healthline.com/health/percocet-addiction