What is Percocet? Percocet is an opioid-containing prescription painkiller that is used to relieve acute, short-term pain. The medication is composed of a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen. Oxycodone is a highly addictive opioid, similar to morphine and the illicit drug heroin. People who are prescribed Percocet are at a higher risk of developing an opioid addiction which can result in a life-threatening overdose. The other active ingredient in this medication is acetaminophen. Acetaminophen is more commonly known as Tylenol and treats mild to moderate pain and reduces fevers. When combined with oxycodone it enhances the potency of the opioid making it more powerful.
If you are experiencing a Percocet addiction, don’t attempt to quit cold turkey (abruptly stopping). Opioid withdrawal can be extremely dangerous because withdrawal symptoms can be very painful. The best thing to do is speak to a medical professional such as a doctor about developing a medical withdrawal plan, also known as a taper. A taper is a slow reduction in drug dosage of an opioid-containing prescription in order to help a person wean off their medication without experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms.
When it’s time to stop using
It is time to taper off Percocet when a person has been using their opioid medication for more than a couple of weeks. Percocet is only meant for short-term use because it can lead to addiction and dependence. Long-term opioid use can result in increased pain, addiction, dependence, constipation, nausea, fatigue, nausea, depressed mood, insomnia, depressed respiratory function, and experiencing a fatal overdose.
Common signs that it’s time to begin a taper off Percocet include experiencing serious adverse effects from taking the medication, changes in behaviors indicating abuse, dependence, and addiction, as well as the development of tolerance which is reduced pain relief from the same dose of medications over a period of time.
Another reason that a person might want to taper off Percocet is that it is expensive. There is also a negative social stigma around using opioid medications. Sometimes it’s time to taper off Percocet due to a person’s safety. Opioid containing medications are known to cause hyperalgesia which is an increased sensitivity to pain. This can occur as early as one month after starting the medication.
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What a safe Percocet taper involves
How to taper Percocet? The best way to taper off Percocet is to first speak with a doctor and create a taper plan. Attendance at a rehabilitation clinic can also assist a person in creating a taper plan and ease the recovery process. A safe taper off this drug also involves the use of doctors to monitor vitals, urine samples to check the type and amount of substance in a person’s system, medications to ease withdrawal pain, a strong support system, and behavioral therapy to challenge a person’s thoughts towards Percocet use and teach coping skills.
A person tapering off Percocet can increase their comfort levels by using non-drug therapies such as relaxation through meditation, heating pads, ice packs, listening to music, distracting oneself, increasing liquid intake to ensure proper hydration, eat regular nutritious meals, exercise, take deep breaths, engage in relaxing activities, and use positive self-talk. Also, if it is approved by a physician, taking non-opioid medications such as Tylenol can help relieve some of the withdrawal pain.
The length of an opioid taper varies greatly from person to person. People who have a long history of taking Percocet require a longer taper period to avoid withdrawal symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), developed a guide for tapering off opioids. The guide recommended that people start by decreasing by 10 percent per month if a person has been taking the prescription for over a year. If a person has been taking the medication for only a couple weeks or a month then a decrease of 10 percent per week could work for them.
It is important that a person going through an opioid taper follows their withdrawal plan closely. Although the universal goal is to taper as quickly as the patient’s physiologic and psychological status allows, there is no prize for trying to quickly get through it. It can actually be harmful to a person’s body. The body needs time to adjust to having lower levels of Percocet and eventually none at all.
If a person does not follow their taper plan and attempts to withdraw quickly it can result in painful withdrawal symptoms. Percocet withdrawal symptoms can include increased pain, cravings, agitation, anxiety, shaking, irritability, muscle aches, sweating, loss of appetite, feeling tired, having trouble sleeping, nausea, vomiting, weakness, abdominal cramping, feeling angry towards people, and diarrhea.
Withdrawal symptoms are not a sign of addiction. They are a sign that a person’s body has become accustomed to taking the medication. If a person experiences withdrawal symptoms while tapering it is an indication that they need to taper off Percocet more slowly. Even though these symptoms make a person feel unwell, they are not harmful to a person’s health. They are a sign that a person’s body is expelling the harmful drugs and attempting to recover from the negative effects of the drug. Talk to a Intake Coordinator
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The key role of social support
A safe taper also involves a strong support system to help keep a person on track to recovery, avoid relapses, and achieve abstinence. Family and friends make a huge difference in the detox process by motivating the individual with the Percocet addiction to keep pushing on towards recovery. The involvement of family and friends has been found to strengthen and extend treatment benefits.
Sometimes a person recovering from addiction might feel like their family and friends don’t understand what they are going through. They might feel all alone in this painful recovery journey. Self-help groups such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) surround a person with other people recovering from addiction in an attempt to provide peer support that helps each other stay clean. NA is a 12-step program that has regular meetings and provides assistance for people recovering from their substance abuse problem. According to an article published in Alcohol Treatment Quarterly, 12-step programs enhance the odds of remaining abstinent for multiple years. Also, a person attending 2 or more NA meetings per week was associated with sharp increases in their ability to remain abstinent.
Getting help with Percocet taper: Attempting to stop taking opioids is extremely difficult, but it is possible. You have a greater chance of success if you speak with your doctors, create a taper schedule, learn to manage your symptoms, and learn ways to cope with the pain. Finding a high-quality rehab clinic can make this process easier for you so you can focus on recovering from your addiction.
Tapering off Percocet can be accomplished at an inpatient rehabilitation clinic or outpatient rehabilitation clinic. Rehab clinics use trained professions to help you create a taper schedule that fits their unique needs. They provide doctors to monitor your vitals and prescribe medications to ease withdrawal symptoms. Medications are combined with behavioral therapy in order to teach you ways to cope with stressful situations that might lead you back to using Percocet.
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- How Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) Work: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives. Alcohol Treatment Quarterly.
- Narcotics anonymous participation and chanced in substance use and social support. Journal of Substance Abuse and Treatment.
- Opiate and opioid withdrawal. U.S. National Library of Medicine.
- Opioid tapering. Nhms.org
- Percocet. Dailymed.
- Pocket guide:Tapering opioids for chronic pain. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition). National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
- Tapering off opioids: When and how. Mayo Clinic.
- Weaning off your pain medication. UW Health.
Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.
Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.
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