Since its release on the market in the 1990s, American doctors have prescribed the narcotic Percocet for patients facing moderate or severe pain associated with injury, surgery or dental procedures. The highly addictive properties of one of the main ingredients — oxycodone — however, have turned Percocet into one of the most misused medications on the market. As the American opioid epidemic continues to surge, Percocet is consistently cited as one of the main painkillers contributing to prescription drug abuse and addiction across the U.S.
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What is Percocet?
Percocet is a brand-name prescription painkiller. Its active ingredients are acetaminophen and the opioid oxycodone. While some opioid drugs such as morphine and heroin are developed naturally from the opium poppy plant, oxycodone is synthesized in a lab. Endo Pharmaceuticals purchased Percocet from The DuPont Merck Pharmaceutical Company in 1997.
Doctors use Percocet as a painkiller, however, the drug can be so addictive, it is only legally available via prescription. Like other narcotics, Percocet is highly addictive because it attaches to opioid receptors in the brain, triggering dopamine release and associated feelings of happiness and euphoria. Percocet is so powerful, in some cases those who begin taking it with a legitimate medical prescription end up developing Percocet addiction.
Opioids like Percocet are also dangerous because of the associated side effects. Percocet is a depressant, which can cause a slowed heart rate, slowed breathing and drowsiness.