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Percocet Addiction

Percocet addiction, which is relatively common, can arise from sustained or improper use of this medication.  Percocet is a form of the drug Oxycodone, with acetaminophen added to the formulation.  Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic opioid derived from thebaine and used as a pain medication.   Percocet is also a Schedule II controlled substance in the United States as it has addictive qualities.   In fact, the likelihood of developing a Percocet addiction is similar to that of developing a morphine addiction.

Percocet has the same mechanism of action as other opioids.  Described simply, the drug binds to a specific receptor, inhibits specific chemical messengers and causes decreased excitability of neurons.  Altogether, this limits the body’s ability to transmit pain.  Therefore, Percocet is used to manage moderate or moderately severe pain. 

Percocet Addiction
Percocet Addiction

Usually, Percocet addiction is rare within a patient population using it to control their pain.  Percocet addiction is possible though as it is a morphine-like drug.  Fluctuating blood levels and inconsistent use associated with recreational abuse increases the likelihood of addiction.  Therefore, Percocet prescription, administration, and monitoring must be watched closely by a healthcare professional.  Recreational use makes the user more susceptible to Percocet addiction because the plasma level never stabilizes and there is always a ‘rush’ upon dosing. 

Side effects of Percocet are the same as those common to opioids. In the event of an allergic reaction itchy skin rashes will occur over much of the body.  Care must be used when prescribing to elderly or asthmatic patients as Percocet reduces respiratory rate, heart rate, low blood pressure on standing among other side effects.   In those patients using Percocet chronically or those with Percocet addiction, kidney and liver function must also investigated because acetaminophen has a negative impact on those organs.  It is also worth noting that it is possible to overdose on Percocet.  Overdose is characterized by decreased respiratory rate, coma, cold clammy skin, low heart rate and hypotension.  If Percocet overdose progresses, cardiac arrest may occur.  Due to the acetaminophen content of Percocet, overdose will also cause liver and kidney damage characteristic of acetaminophen-specific side effects.  These damages will also manifest in patients with Percocet addiction.  Percocet is still quite a safe drug and causes somewhat less side effects than morphine.