According to the 2010 Monitoring the Future Survey, teens often turn to prescription drugs for recreational use.
In fact, 7.7 percent of teens surveyed admitted that they had used prescription medications within the previous year. They had done so in the absence of medical need.
Teen Percocet Addiction
Many teens consider Percocet their drug of choice, as it is plentiful and easy to obtain. First of all, teens who abuse Percocet do so at their peril. The drug has some negative side effects that can kick in and cause serious damage. Therefore, dabbling with opiates such as this is dangerous.
Percocet was made to control pain.
This opiate is given to patients recovering from surgery or dealing with pain. Percocet comes in tablet form, and the coating on the outside of the tablet is designed to stay in place until the pill reaches the stomach. Then, small doses of the medication are released into the system, providing pain relief that lasts for several hours.
Percocet contains two ingredients, acetaminophen and oxycodone. The two medications augment one another. This provides pain relief with a softening of the consciousness that makes the pain seem less important. Percocet is a brand name, and it’s not the only formulation of the drug on the market.
Other names include:
Taken properly, Percocet can cause unpleasant side effects such as constipation, dizziness, and difficult breathing. These side effects can be magnified if someone takes the drugs in conjunction with alcohol or other medications. Some people who have liver and stomach difficulties have severe side effects from low doses of the medication.
While taking the drugs at the proper dose might be slightly dangerous or uncomfortable, high doses can be deadly. Hence the need for vigilance.
For starters, the oxycodone in the Percocet tablets can be a severe nervous system depressant. When a user takes Percocet, the drug attaches to receptors in the brain and releases a rush of feel-good chemicals such as dopamine. In addition, this rush is followed by a period of extreme relaxation, and sometimes, that relaxation is so much that people simply forget to breathe.
The acetaminophen in Percocet is far from benign. This medication is also used as a pain reliever, but it must be processed by the liver. Teens who are addicted to Percocet may be taking high doses of the drug, thereby exposing their bodies to huge amounts of acetaminophen. This can damage their organs. According to a study in the journal Hepatology, the body works to counter this by releasing chemicals in the liver. Slowly, the body becomes accustomed to living with higher-than-normal acetaminophen doses in the liver. This study was done on mice, and some didn’t survive the high doses of acetaminophen they were given. Even with advanced protection, some died. Acetaminophen overdose is a real concern in Percocet addicts.
Teens who abuse the drug might call the pills “percs,” “happy pills” or “hillbilly heroin.” They may take large doses of the drugs in tablet form, or they may crush the pills and snort them in order to feel a larger rush on an immediate basis. Some teens crush the medications and inject them, and this can be particularly dangerous.
The Dangers of Use
People who inject crushed tablets can develop a pulmonary embolism. They can also suffer a blockage that travels through the veins and to the heart, causing death.
Some teens take Percocet at so-called pharm parties, where all medications are placed into a bowl. Teens are encouraged to ingest handfuls of medications at the same time. They may not know what they are taking. It’s rare to know the dosages of the medications ingested. This can be dangerous, as the teen may take two drugs that interact poorly. One could die from the wrong combination.
How Substance Abuse Develops
A Percocet addiction can form after an injury or illness. One takes the medication to help them deal with the episode. Over time, they feel as though they need Percocet to get through the day. It’s important to make a distinction here. People who take Percocet for a long period of time commonly need to take higher doses of the medication in order to feel the same effect. This is known as tolerance, and it is normal. Teens who take Percocet in the absence of pain have substance use disorder. Addiction develops if drug dependence is not stopped and one isn’t weaned off the drugs.
Other teens develop Percocet addictions through basic experimentation. They may find pills in the family medicine cabinet or take drugs that have been prescribed for friends. These teens can also develop a dependence and addiction. Therefore, parents must keep a watchful eye on all medications.
Teen Prescription Drug Use
Prescription sharing is common. Many teens report that it’s easier than ever to get drugs at school or in their neighborhoods. Furthermore, teens who take drugs for legitimate purposes may feel pressured to share. A study published in the Harvard Health Letter, notes up to 60 percent of teens taking prescription medications are approached by others who want their medication.
Addicted teens don’t enjoy drug use. In fact, they may be miserable. They spend some, if not all, of their time thinking about when they can take another dose. Teens may spend all of their money on drugs. Some steal to feed their addiction. They may feel awful about this behavior but are simply unable to make it stop.
Percocet and Teen Depression
Some teens take Percocet at such high doses that they change the chemical structure of their bodies. They become unable to make feel-good chemicals on their own. Therefore, the only time they’re able to feel happy and positive is when they’re under the influence. This chemical addiction can be isolating and frightening. Furthermore, he or she may be unable to see how the addiction will end. Some even consider suicide a viable option as the addiction deepens and their fear and isolation grows.
These warning signs often indicate that a teen has a drug addiction issue:
- The teen seems sleepy and uncoordinated
- Grades slip, and the teen stops expressing an interest in sports or other activities
- Disheveled or unkempt
- Laugh inappropriately, giggling at tiny inside jokes no one else seems to understand.
You may also notice that your prescription doesn’t last as long as it should or find your teen making up pains and illnesses to get a prescription for Percocet.
Teenagers who fall into these categories may also be at higher risk for addiction, according to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America:
- Teens with a history of depression, anxiety, or another mental illness
- Believes that drug use isn’t dangerous
- Rebellious or impulsive teens
- Those who begin drinking alcohol or using other drugs when they are younger than 12
What to Do
In conclusion, if you think your teen is abusing Percocet, please act immediately.
Teens might be unable to stop taking the drugs. In fact, if they do try to stop the abuse alone, they may face serious and frightening side effects during withdrawal. This can drive them deeper into addiction. In short, they need help to truly heal, and you’re in the best position to provide that help. We want to help you make it happen.
At Newport Academy, we have a variety of programs to help addicted teens recover from Percocet abuse.
We are here to support you and your family. Call us today to find out more about how we can help.