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What is Percocet?

Percocet is a prescription painkiller. It’s an opioid that is made in a lab and is a blend of acetaminophen and oxycodone. The drug works by attaching to receptors in the brain and numbing pain. It also causes a feeling of euphoria and relaxation.

Percocet is relatively fast-acting and is one of the most commonly prescribed painkillers. It is used after surgery, injuries, and more. Doctors usually prescribe it to treat severe pain.

Percocet

Side Effects of Percocet

Percocet is linked to a variety of side effects, including:

  • Drowsiness
  • Depression
  • Constipation
  • Cardiac problems
  • Memory issues
  • Low testosterone levels
  • Bone problems
  • Addiction

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How Addictive is Percocet?

Percocet, like many opioids, is very addictive. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies it as a Schedule II drug, which means it has "a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence." 

The risk of Percocet addiction varies from person to person based on his or her genetics, as well as environmental factors. 

Not everyone who takes the drug will become addicted. However, misusing or abusing Percocet increases the risk of addiction. This is especially true if the drug is used long-term because the changes it creates in the brain leads to physical dependence. 

Someone who uses Percocet, even if it is prescribed by a doctor, is at risk of developing a dependence on the drug. If they stop using it, they will experience withdrawal symptoms, including:

  • Upset stomach
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Aches and pains
  • Sweating
  • Uneasiness
  • Drug cravings

What are the Effects of Mixing Alcohol with Percocet?

Some people mix Percocet with alcohol, an extremely dangerous practice. Long-term alcohol abuse and Percocet use puts a strain on the body and increases the risk of overdose.

This is because both alcohol and oxycodone (one-half of the blend that makes Percocet) create a sense of sedation. In some cases, the effect is intense enough to cause the person to pass out. This puts them at risk of injuries from falling or choking if they vomit while unconscious. 

Additionally, oxycodone and alcohol cause respiratory depression. Someone who drinks alcohol while taking Percocet could stop breathing.

Effects of combining alcohol with Percocet include:

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Depressed respiration
  • Impaired thinking and judgment
  • Constipation
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dry mouth
  • Numbness
  • Liver failure
  • Heart attack
  • Liver problems
  • Colon cancer
  • Coma
  • Death

Dangers of Mixing Percocet and Alcohol

Multi-drug use when not prescribed by a doctor is substance abuse and can be very dangerous. This is true when it comes to drinking alcohol while taking Percocet.

Percocet is fast-acting and usually only lasts about four to six hours. This gives it a higher potential for abuse and addiction. Sometimes people drink to enhance the effects of Percocet, which creates a variety of health risks.

In many cases, the combination of drugs leads to slow, shallow breathing. The person might even breathe irregularly or stop breathing completely. Organ failure is likely without immediate medical treatment and is life-threatening.

A concern for someone mixing alcohol and Percocet (or a similar opioid) is liver damage. This is due to Percocet’s acetaminophen content and it is not usually a concern with other opioids. Acetaminophen is a pain reliever available over-the-counter and by prescription. It is unlikely liver damage will occur with just a single dose. 

However, over time, Percocet is very damaging to the liver, even when not mixed with alcohol. The combination of oxycodone and alcohol increases this risk even more.

Liver damage includes:

  • Inflammation
  • Scarring
  • Cirrhosis
  • Liver failure

Additionally, acetaminophen and alcohol use are both rough on the stomach. Frequent use of these drugs puts someone at risk for developing an ulcer. Untreated, ulcers create a risk of infection.

Acetaminophen is rough on a person’s body, even when used as directed. When abused, which includes mixing it with alcohol, the risks of acetaminophen damage are exacerbated. Ideally, anyone prescribed Percocet will use only as needed and as prescribed by their doctor.

Treatment for Percocet and Alcohol Addiction

Like all multi-drug addictions, addiction treatment and recovery from Percocet and alcohol dependence is challenging. The safest option is to undergo medically supervised detoxification, followed by a long-term treatment program. Detox and withdrawal can cause dangerous symptoms that should be monitored by health professionals. This type of program also eases withdrawal symptoms and reduces the risk of relapse. 

Once detox is complete and someone is beyond the initial phase of withdrawal, they can begin a more complex treatment regimen. Multi-drug abuse is a complicated mental and physical situation. Successful recovery requires the addressing of all of the addictions and issues. 

Treatment options that include work with health professionals who understand combination drug addictions ensures someone using Percocet and alcohol will have access to the information and support they need to recover. 

Most people with an addiction to alcohol and Percocet participate in inpatient treatment that includes medication-assisted therapy, at least initially. Once that program is complete, they can use outpatient treatment, one-on-one and group therapy, and participation in a 12-step program to help with long-term recovery. Improving overall mental health while also treating the physical addictions is essential to success.

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Resources

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Kounang, Nadia. “What Is Percocet? Drug Facts, Side Effects, Abuse and More.” CNN, 2016, www.cnn.com/2016/05/05/health/what-is-percocet-opioid-painkiller/index.html.

“Percocet (Oxycodone/Acetaminophen) Dosing, Indications, Interactions, Adverse Effects, and More.” Reference.Medscape.com, reference.medscape.com/drug/percocet-oxycodone-acetaminophen-343354.

Mccabe Sean, et al., "Simultaneous and Concurrent Polydrug Use of Alcohol and Prescription Drugs: Prevalence, Correlates, and Consequences" Journal of Studies on Alcohol 2006 67:4, 529-537 https://www.jsad.com/doi/abs/10.15288/jsa.2006.67.529

White, Aaron M. et al, "Hospitalizations for Alcohol and Drug Overdoses in Young Adults Ages 18–24 in the United States, 1999–2008: Results From the Nationwide Inpatient Sample" Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 2011 72:5, 774-786 https://www.jsad.com/doi/abs/10.15288/jsad.2011.72.774

Moss, Howard, et al., "Early adolescent patterns of alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana polysubstance use and young adult substance use outcomes in a nationally representative sample," Drug and Alcohol Dependence, Volume 136, 2014, Pages 51-62, ISSN 0376-8716, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2013.12.011. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0376871613005279

McNeely, Jennifer, and Li-Tzy Wu. “Performance of the Tobacco, Alcohol, Prescription Medication, and Other Substance Use (TAPS) Tool for Substance Use Screening in Primary Care Patients.” Annals of Internal Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 15 Nov. 2016, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27595276/.

Fiellin, Lynn E., et al. “Previous Use of Alcohol, Cigarettes, and Marijuana and Subsequent Abuse of Prescription Opioids in Young Adults.” Journal of Adolescent Health, Elsevier, 20 Aug. 2012, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1054139X12002315.

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