Percodan abuse — and the ensuing addiction to the prescription drug — has become one of the most widespread drug problems in the country. In fact, in 2004 alone, nearly 250,000 individuals across the United States entered drug addiction treatment for prescription opiates such as Percodan, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) report.
Prescribed as an analgesic intended for pain management and elimination, Percodan’s active chemical compound is oxycodone, a codeine derivative that can lead to rapidly developing tolerance. Combined with the euphoria that has become heavily associated with opiate use, addiction to Percodan can set in quickly when misused.
Factors Contributing to Percodan Addiction
Percodan is usually prescribed for pain management, particularly for patients recently having undergone surgery or who face pain due to chronic conditions. Acting on the brain’s neurotransmitters — particularly dopamine, responsible for feelings of positive emotion, calm and well-being — Percodan activates the brain’s reward centers, leading to physical and psychological addiction.
Furthermore, Percodan acts upon the pain receptors in the body, allowing elimination of physical pain and slowing of the body’s automatic processes. However, as time and use progresses, Percodan’s effects as a painkiller lessen with time, leading many users to increase frequency and amount of drug intake. The widespread availability of Percodan also facilitates its frequent abuse, exacerbated by practices such as “doctor shopping,” street sales and medical theft.
Symptoms of Percodan Addiction
As Percodan addiction sets in, addicted individuals may find physical side effects accompany chemical dependency. Signs of Percodan addiction may include lethargy, exhaustion, slowed breathing and constipation due to the drug’s dehydrating effects. Additionally, Percodan may cause sleep apnea, sudden respiratory arrest, lowered circulation and low blood pressure (known as “hypotension”).
Psychological effects of Percodan addiction can include the development of depression, anxiety and paranoia, and even hallucinations in severe cases. As addiction progresses, Percodan users may find that sudden cessation (due to unavailability of the drug, periods between uses or attempts at sobriety) can include muscle and bone pain, mood swings, loose stools and diarrhea, restlessness, severe headaches and profuse sweating accompanied by cold flashes.