Percocet and OxyContin are prescription painkillers that contain varying amounts of the drug oxycodone. Both are addictive. And both are difficult to withdraw from. If you or someone you love is ready to embrace sobriety, here’s what you should know about the withdrawal process from drugs like Percocet and OxyContin.
What is Percocet?
The painkiller Percocet is prescribed to individuals who are struggling with extreme pain, often after an injury or following surgery. Percocet has two primary ingredients: Acetaminophen and oxycodone. Although the oxycodone portion of Percocet is a narcotic, the Acetaminophen is not.
In many ways, Percocet is perceived as less addictive than comparable prescription drugs like OxyContin. Why? Because Acetaminophen can cause illness if taken in large doses. Therefore, Percocet often isn’t a desirable choice for a person addicted to large doses of narcotics.
What is OxyContin?
Just like Percocet, OxyContin in a painkiller prescribed in extreme cases when patients are dealing with debilitating pain. In the short term, OxyContin can be incredibly helpful by reducing pain and discomfort following an accident or surgery. Unlike Percocet, OxyContin is comprised entirely of a narcotic opiate. Therefore, it may be more responsible for overdoses and even deaths when consumed recreationally.
What are the Dangers of a Percocet or OxyContin Addiction?
Simply taking a prescribed drug like Percocet or OxyContin won’t necessarily cause an addiction. Over time, however, the body can become reliant on these powerful narcotics. When that happens, weaning yourself off of them can feel virtually impossible.
On the most basic level, an addition to Percocet or OxyContin can lead to illegal or immoral behavior in order to secure more drugs. When prescriptions run out, those with an addiction may move on to another physician or buy them illegally on the street or online.
On a physical and neurological level, drugs like Percocet and OxyContin can do a lot of damage. Acetaminophen in the Percocet can be toxic to the liver when taken in excess, and some of the common side effects of all oxycodone drugs include the following:
- Shallow or labored breathing
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Long-term constipation
- Rapid mood changes
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Withdrawing from social situations
- Dry mouth
How Can Individuals Become Addicted to these Prescription Drugs?
Doctors prescribe medications like Percocet and OxyContin in the hopes that the health benefits and pain relief outweigh the addictive risk of the narcotic. However, both drugs are certainly addictive, and many users find themselves struggling to stop taking the drugs after their prescriptions have expired.
In addition to those individuals who take Percocet and OxyContin medically and struggle to wean themselves off by at the end of treatment, there are some individuals who take these prescription drugs non-medically. In some cases, they may simply be offered a painkiller from a friend or family member and may use these drugs without knowing or understanding their addictive capability. Others may deliberately seek out or steal narcotic drugs in the hopes of avoiding reality or blocking physical, emotional or mental distress.
How Long Can Withdrawal from Percocet or OxyContin Last?
One of the most pressing questions patients and their families have is about the length of the withdrawal process from Percocet or OxyContin. The withdrawal phase can kick in as quickly as six hours after the last dose of these drugs, and the withdrawal symptoms will typically peak after about 72 hours without the primary ingredient of Oxycodone.
Although the first 72 hours are sometimes regarded as the toughest, withdrawal doesn’t end at the 72-hour mark. Typically, the physical cravings for Percocet and OxyContin will stop after one week of sobriety from the drugs. In extreme cases, it can take up to two weeks. However, keep in mind that the emotional and psychological cravings won’t necessarily be over after a week of detox.
There are several factors that can influence how long withdrawal will take for patients. The duration of the addiction, for instance, may play a role in the withdrawal process. The dosage amount, or the amount of Oxycodone consumed daily by individuals, will also be reflected in the severity of withdrawal. In addition, any drug diversion, such as crushing, snorting or injecting these medications, can worsen withdrawal.
What Withdrawal Symptoms Can be Expected?
Throughout the withdrawal process, patients can expect to deal with a number of unpleasant and potentially painful withdrawal symptoms. While no one wants to have a stressful or uncomfortable withdrawal, this is a necessary step on the road to recovery.
During the immediate one-week withdrawal phase, many of the symptoms will be physical in nature. These may include the following:
- Vomiting and nausea
- Cramping or diarrhea
- Alternating chills and hot flashes
- Tremors or shaking
- Extreme sweating
- Dehydration and a lack of appetite
- Runny nose
- Fatigue and insomnia
There are also some psychological symptoms that can present themselves during a withdrawal from Percocet or OxyContin. These can range from anxiety and depression to anger and difficulty concentrating.
Is Detox Necessary When Withdrawing from Percocet or OxyContin?
Technically, withdrawal can happen in any location. The cessation of drugs for a week, no matter where the location, will result in a withdrawal from Percocet or OxyContin. However, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of relying on a medically supervised detox when withdrawing from a narcotic and an opiate.
Withdrawal symptoms can potentially move from uncomfortable to life-threatening, and a detox facility will have professionals on hand who know how to handle the situation. Detox also offers the much-needed accountability and support that can make the difference between an attempted withdrawal and a successful one.
Withdrawal from Percocet and OxyContin is necessary for lasting sobriety and a healthy life. If you or someone you love is ready to complete the withdrawal process, it’s a good idea to find an accredited detox center that can accommodate your unique needs.