Percocet Dependency Vs. Addiction – What’s the Difference?

The difference between addiction and physical dependence in drug use is often debated, but it’s important for anyone using opioids to understand these differences and more importantly, to get help. Percocet is a brand name opiate-based narcotic comprised of oxycodone and acetaminophen. The medication is usually prescribed to help with short-term pain treatment, often following surgery or severe injury. After taking Percocet daily, for a period of time, physical dependence or addiction can occur – so what’s the difference?

Percocet Dependence

Drug dependence occurs with repeated use, causing the neurons to adapt so they only function normally in the presence of the drug (National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIDA).

The chronic use of Percocet creates changes in the brain as all opioids bind to and activate opioid receptors on cells located in areas of the brain. With extended use of the drug, the brain responds by growing more opiate receptors; and with greater numbers of receptors, you need larger doses of Percocet to fill them. 

Once there are extra opiate receptors in the brain, the natural levels of opiate chemicals in the brain cannot activate them all. Without taking Percocet to supplement natural levels of opiate chemicals, you start to feel pain. Your body is now physically dependent on the medication and if you don’t take the opioid regularly, withdrawal begins. The severity of withdrawal symptoms will vary depending on the duration of use and how much is taken each day. Symptoms often include nausea, vomiting, pain, stomach cramps, and depression. 

Percocet Addiction

Drug addiction or a substance abuse disorder (SUD) is a chronic disease characterized by compulsive, or uncontrollable, drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences and long-lasting changes in the brain (NIDA). Addiction results in compulsive behaviors that manifest as cravings and can occur separately from physical dependence. However, in the case of opioid use, a person is also typically physically dependent on the drug. Those addicted to Percocet will face withdrawal symptoms and long-lasting drug cravings after quitting. Some characteristics of a Percocet addiction include the following:

Percocet Addiction and Treatment

Percocet addiction can leave a person’s life in total disarray. Never attempt to stop using opiates on your own, as this often results in relapse, serious health risks, and even an overdose. 

Percocet overdose is potentially fatal, but it is almost guaranteed that permanent liver, kidney, or brain damage could be sustained. If you or someone you know is struggling with a Percocet substance use disorder or addiction, get help now – it can save a life and recovery is possible. Contact us today at 1-833-2DAYLIGHT to get the help you need.