Help for Percocet Abuse

Percocet is designed to deliver a one-two punch to pain. Each dose contains acetaminophen (a painkiller) and oxycodone (a narcotic), so people who take Percocet in response to pain should feel their discomfort ease and their sense of contentedness rise. That’s vital help for people dealing with pain.

Typically, this medication is only provided in small doses for a short period of time. That’s because, as Mayo Clinic points out, acetaminophen can cause liver damage in high doses. Doctors wouldn’t want to give a damaging drug like that to people who need a lot of help over a long time period.

People can and do develop addictions to the narcotic ingredient that lives inside each Percocet dose. When they do, they may take the high doses that have been associated with damage, and they may do so for a long time period.

Thankfully, people who develop Percocet addictions can get better with the right help, and families could play a key role in the recovery process.

An Abuse Profile

Percocet is a remarkably common drug, and it’s handed out in emergency rooms, doctors’ offices, and dental clinics all around the nation. Anyone who gets a prescription for the drug could become addicted to it, but an article in Pain Physician Journal suggests that the typical prescription drug abuser is a young, white man. These men tend to abuse painkillers because of behavioral issues, while women who abuse painkillers do so because of emotional difficulties.

While some people who abuse Percocet have a valid prescription for the drug, research in Pain Medicine suggests that most painkiller abusers get their drugs from:

  • Elderly people
  • People in pain
  • Pill brokers
  • Drug dealers

That means people with a Percocet addiction might seek out vulnerable friends and/or family members who have valid pain concerns, and they might steal pills from these people. People addicted to Percocet might also form connections with dealers who also associate with the elderly and with pain patients.

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Percocet and Mental Illnesses

People with underlying mental illnesses often deal with physical pain. Their conditions might force them to walk in unusual ways, which can cause muscle pain, or they might do things while under the sway of a mental illness episode that can cause injuries and pain. Some people use pain as a mask for mental illness, too, as they feel that a physical disorder will be more accepted by society than a mental health disorder.
Regardless of the cause, a Percocet addiction can make a mental illness much worse. People using Percocet to handle a mental illness can feel numbed and sedated, so they’re unwilling or unable to do the work that can help them to control their mental illness symptoms. The ups and downs of a Percocet high can combine with the highs and lows of a mental illness, which could make a person feel so much worse.

When the high of mania is augmented by drugs, and the low of depression is deeper due to drug withdrawal, recovery seems difficult or impossible.

Curbing the Problem

An analysis in Pain Medicine suggests that prescription painkiller abuse costs American society about $55.7 billion per year. It’s a very serious problem, both for the families of those with addictions and the communities that support those families. Doctors are doing their part to help curb the very serious consequences an addiction can bring about.

The Utah Addiction Center suggests, for example, that doctors follow a nine-step process before providing medications like Percocet to their patients. In this process, doctors would determine the level of pain the person is feeling, along with the person’s history of drug abuse. Doctors would then advise addicted people on programs that could help, and/or the doctor would prescribe the drug with close monitoring requirements.

Steps like this could, in theory, reduce the new cases of Percocet addiction that appear in this country, but these steps may come far too late for people who are already addicted. For these people, doctors can be a drug dead end, so they’ll just head right to dealers. The legislation changes won’t help them with an addiction. But their families might.

Families that spot a Percocet addiction can be immense forces for change. They can hold a structured conversation, known as an intervention, and educate the person about the addiction process. In this talk, the family will outline the symptoms of addiction they’ve seen and the reasons the person should get treatment. A professional interventionist will supervise the talk, so the conversation doesn’t go south, but the family will do the convincing and persuading. At the end of that talk, the person should be ready to enroll in treatment.

This is where things get a whole lot better. In a structured Percocet program, people with addictions have the opportunity to get sober in a safe and supervised environment with medical support, so they’ll go through withdrawal without feeling ill or upset. Then, they’ll head into therapy sessions that can help to build up their relapse-prevention skills, so they’ll be able to maintain that sobriety for the rest of life. Support group work can play a role, too, helping people with these addictions to understand that they’re not alone.

In a Dual Diagnosis program, people with Percocet addictions and mental illnesses can learn how the two conditions intersect and combine, and they can develop in-depth skills that keep them away from self-medication with drugs. Rather than reaching for a Percocet bottle when mental illness symptoms grow stronger, they’ll know how to use science-based techniques to move past the tough spot and into a happier, healthier life.

If you need help with a Percocet addiction, we’re here for your family. Call us to find out more about the help we can provide.

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