Symptoms of Percocet Addiction
Percocet® (oxycodone and acetaminophen) is prescribed for moderate to moderately severe pain. It is available in several strengths and each strength has a maximum daily dose. This dose is based on the amount of acetaminophen (Tylenol) the tablet contains so that no more than four grams of acetaminophen is taken in one day. Because the tablets are taken every six hours (four times a day) this means no more than eight should be taken a day.
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The first signs of tolerance and possible addiction would be exceeding this maximum recommended dose, or taking the medication more often than your doctor prescribes. There is another possibility, that the condition requires more pain relief than originally thought. In that case, another pain medication should be used. Simply increasing the amount of Percocet will eventually lead to excessive and harmful effects from too much acetaminophen.
For those patients who receive Percocet legally for pain, the path to addiction can come simply by self-adjusting the dosage without a doctor’s knowledge or advice. They may do this in anticipation of pain (taking the drug before they need it and in increasing amounts) or for another purpose – to help them sleep or for the feeling of wellbeing it provides. Percocet is a morphine-like drug and in higher doses, gives the same drowsy, floating feeling. Addicts may describe this as, "Feeling like I’m sinking into warm, soft cotton;" or "It makes the world seem like a wonderful, loving place…"
Sometimes, the fact that it provides pain relief and restores a feeling of normality is enough to begin to rely on the drug. Patients are at risk of raising the dosage themselves just to get these effects beyond helping with pain. This is a key symptom of addiction in all cases – the dose is raised to get effects beyond relief from pain.
Those who aren’t under a doctor’s care may seek out the drug for a medical condition on their own. This can be either a real problem or an excuse to get the euphoria Percocet provides.
Without the benefit of professional monitoring, self medication often leads to outright addiction. Patients become driven to take more Percocet, not because their pain returns, but because lower doses no longer give the pleasant side effects.
Percocet is usually ‘discovered’ outside the medical system by abusers who try it on someone else’s recommendation. These cases usually have multiple drugs or alcohol involved. Here, there is no pain relief to be had; the purpose is to get high.
With instructions from other addicts, the drug is sometimes inhaled, injected, or modified to remove some of the acetaminophen (which allows a higher dose without Tylenol poisoning). Addiction can come quite quickly when there is no attempt at all to stick with normal daily dosages.
Because this population may not have access to a steady supply, often addicts will seek out any drug in the opioid class to get a similar effect.
Percocet Addiction Symptoms
Addicts are often quite capable of escaping attention – as long as they can maintain their use of Percocet. They will have to dose every four to six hours, so they will have a supply hidden somewhere. They will also have to continuously obtain more of the drug. At this stage, taking Percocet has become necessary, not getting it will lead to sickness (Percocet withdrawal). The more obvious symptoms of addiction come when they are unable to get enough.
Without consistent use, Percocet withdrawal will start in as soon as a day. This shows up as a periodic illness with symptoms similar to the flu. The cure, of course, is more Percocet. As cravings intensify, they will go to extreme lengths to get more. Addicts have been known to fake pain symptoms to get a prescription, and in some cases, even injure themselves. Many can conceal their addiction until they run afoul of the law in an attempt to get more.