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Percocet Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline, and Treatment
Prescription painkillers have been an increasingly popular recreational drug in the past few decades. As opioid use has been on the rise, much attention goes to heroin and not to it’s prescription cousins like Percocet®. SAMHSA’s 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that non-medical use of opioid painkillers is more common than many people realize.
Here are a few of their findings:
- Almost two million Americans met criteria for prescription painkiller use disorder
- About 1.4 million Americans tried painkillers recreationally for the first time in 2013
- About 4.3 million Americans use prescription painkillers recreationally every month
- The average age of first-time users was only 21.2 years
What is Percocet?
Percocet is the trade name for a mix of acetaminophen and oxycodone. Acetaminophen is a pain reliever and fever reducer best known by its trade name Tylenol®. Oxycodone is a semisynthetic opioid painkiller made from thebaine. It is commonly sold by itself under the trade name Oxycontin®. Together they make Percocet, a potent painkiller.
Percocet is most commonly taken orally as a pill, and may be prescribed for a number of different pains. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s 2016 Monitoring the Future survey, over 11% of eight graders reported that it would be “fairly easy” or “very easy” to get prescription painkillers. People acquire oxycodone for recreational use by purchasing it from drug dealers, getting it from a doctor, or stealing it from a medicine cabinet. Because there are so many prescriptions written, it has be come relatively easy to acquire.
Like many other drugs, removing Percocet from your system may result in severe withdrawal symptoms. Unlike alcohol withdrawal or klonopin withdrawal, oxycodone withdrawal will not directly kill a person. However, the symptoms of withdrawal may be dangerous and indirectly lethal. Because of the level of discomfort withdrawal symptoms drive many individuals to return to using opioids.
Physical symptoms of Percocet withdrawal may include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Diarrhea and irregular bowel movements
- Fever and chills
- Aching and sore muscles
- Irregular heart beat
- Heightened blood pressure
- Irregular sleeping patterns, especially insomnia
- Extreme fatigue
- Changes in appetite and eating habits
The psychological symptoms may include:
- Anxiety or panic
- Intense cravings to use drugs
- Difficulty concentrating
- Impaired memory
- Fits of anger or rage
- Extreme mood swings
- Depression and lack of motivation
- Agitation and irritability
Timeline of Withdrawal
Percocet’s timeline of withdrawal symptoms depends on many factors, including length of use, amount of use, age of individual, general health of individual, and outside factors such as mental health disorders or disabilities.
First Few Days
During the first few days after quitting Percocet, withdrawal symptoms will generally peak. Because oxycodone has a relatively short half-life of about four hours, the detox process usually begins withing the 24 hours after the last dose is taken. During this period, individuals are likely to experience physical discomfort and pain, intestinal problems, and intense cravings to use.
This is an incredibly vulnerable period in the detox process, and it’s important to be in a safe place during this time. Without proper care, the withdrawal symptoms can be overwhelming and drive the individual to seek out more opioids to cope with the pain.
Weeks One and Two
After the first few days, it’s common to experience muscle aching, difficulty sleeping, and fever and chills. Anxiety may grow and the individual may find themselves experiencing moments of agitation or anger. Again, this is an important period in the process, and professional care can help get one through these symptoms with minimal discomfort.
Weeks Three and Four
Even after the drugs have left the system, a person may continue to experience symptoms of withdrawal. As an opioid, Percocet can cause a lingering withdrawal, perhaps persisting for more than a month after quitting. People may experience depression, dopamine depletion, and heightened anxiety as they learn to cope with life without the drugs.
Percocet Addiction Treatment
There are many different ways to treat Percocet addiction. Healthline.com suggests social support, counseling, and reaching out for help. The first piece of the puzzle is detoxing off oxycodone safely. With the help of medical professionals at a detox facility, you can go through the detox process with the least amount of discomfort. Those that try to detox at home often find it too difficult and end up relapsing.
Detox isn’t the only phase of treatment. People who continue into residential treatment and outpatient programs have much higher rates of success in staying sober. Although removing the opioids from your body is a great first step, you also must learn to face life without drugs. In order to prevent relapse, it’s best to seek professional help to move on with your life!