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Percocet

Written by: Editorial Staff.

Since the early 1800s, it has been widely known that the potency of opium stems from the morphine base contained within it. Various over-the-counter opium- and morphine-derived tinctures were sold in the 19th century. After the Bayer pharmaceutical company released an extremely potent morphine-derived cough suppressant called Heroin in 1898, the addictive nature of such compounds led to an estimated 300,000 addicts in the U.S. alone. Using the opiate alkaloid thebaine, oxycodone was first synthesized by two German scientists in 1916, as a supposedly non-addictive, synthetic substitute for narcotics like heroin, which had been banned two years earlier. Though it was first introduced to American consumers in 1939, it did not become a household name until the release of Percodan, an oxycodone pill cut with aspirin, in 1950.

Classification

Percocet is the brand name of a highly controlled pain medication. The tablets contain a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen (Tylenol). It is regulated as a Schedule II narcotic by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) because it has a high potential for abuse. Physical addiction to Percocet can develop in as little as a week of continuous use.

Uses

Percocet is a tablet that is used mainly to treat moderate to acute physical pain in individuals who have injured themselves or are recovering from minor to moderate surgery.

Effects

Side Effects of Percocet Include:

  • Shallow breathing
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Fainting
  • Confusion
  • Seizure (convulsions)
  • Difficult urination
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Itching
  • Loss of appetite
  • Jaundice

Similar Drugs

Percocet Causes Physical Effects Similar to Opiate Based Drugs Including:

  • Oxycontin
  • Vicodin
  • Morphine
  • Heroin

Addiction Information

The first sign of tolerance and possible addiction would be taking more than the recommended dose, or taking the medication more often than prescribed. For 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. This may be done in anticipation of pain, to help with sleep or for the feeling of wellbeing. Percocet is a morphine-like drug and in higher doses, gives the same drowsy, floating feeling. 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 produce euphoric side effects.

Withdrawal

Because the addictive ingredient in Percocet is related to morphine, the withdrawal symptoms are similar. The severity of the symptoms depends on how long someone has been using Percocet and how high their daily dose is. The manufacturer recommends that anyone who has been taking Percocet regularly for more than a few weeks should be weaned off the drug to prevent withdrawal symptoms. Although one sign of addiction is withdrawal, even those who are taking the medication properly and are not addicted will experience withdrawal if they have built up a physical tolerance to the drug. Regular use of any opioid will create a physical dependence over time.

Withdrawal Symptoms Include:

  • Anxiety
  • Watery eyes
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Muscle aches
  • Tremors
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Temperature fluctuations
  • Depression

Withdrawal symptoms will start in 12 to 24 hours from the last dose and usually peak at 48 to 72 hours and then decrease. Total withdrawal time varies somewhat depending on the level of physical tolerance.

Overdose

The poisonous ingredients in Percocet are oxycodone and acetaminophen.

Overdose Symptoms Include:

  • Breathing difficulty
  • Bluish skin color
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weak pulse
  • Low blood pressure
  • Drowsiness
  • Agitation
  • Coma
  • Death

If an antidote can be given in the case of an overdose, recovery from an acute overdose often occurs within 1 – 2 days.

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