Tapering off Percocet

Percocet is a brand-name medication prescribed for moderate and chronic pain. This drug is made up of two key ingredients: acetaminophen and oxycodone. The latter of which is part of the opioid classification of medicines. Like all other opioids, synthetic or otherwise, oxycodone chemically attaches itself to specific receptors in the central nervous system to ease or neutralize pain signals. Oxycodone is predominantly beneficial in the pain-maintenance regimens of cancer patients.

Acetaminophen makes up the other half of the Percocet puzzle. This compound is by far a more common — easily accessible over the counter even without a prescription — medicine used to treat pain, headaches, fevers, and colds. Most know it simple as Tylenol. Though dependence or substance use disorders are virtually nonexistent for acetaminophen, the drug does come with inherent dangers to the liver if used excessively.

When combined in Percocet, acetaminophen and oxycodone both complement and enhance the effects of the other. In fact, the presence of acetaminophen means Percocet requires less oxycodone to be effective. This is particularly helpful in the long-term compared to using oxycodone on its own because the opioid can lead to debilitating substance use disorders. Less is truly more in the cases of opioids and opiates. Such a sentiment rings true in the case of recreational opioid use.

The current opioid epidemic facing the United States is a stark reminder of the negative impact resulting from more opioids: more prescriptions, more people taking pills, more converts from pills to deadlier products, and more overdoses. In 2016, more than 14,000 medical and recreational users died from a fatal overdose. This number only accounts for prescription opioids like Percocet — tens of thousands of more deaths occurred due to opioids as a whole.

Even in the presence of more adversity, there is always hope. More than ever before, lifesaving treatment and rehabilitation services have emerged to combat the opioid crisis. Whether by necessity, desire, or some combination of both, finding help for a Percocet addiction is easier than one may think. The process of overcoming opioid use is often a battle but, with support, tapering off Percocet can be done.

Tapering Off Percocet | Percocet Taper Schedule
What exactly is a Percocet taper in the first place? A taper, like all detoxification approaches, aims to remove the drug from the body. The timeframe in which this is accomplished is what separates detox methods. Percocet taper schedules are intentionally gradual, allowing the former user to accomplish two things: avoid a withdrawal and get used to life after Percocet.

Preparing and acclimatizing oneself, body and mind, to a drug-free lifestyle is the bedrock of all rehabilitation practices. As is the case for every step of the way. While there is no doubt that tapering seeks to accomplish this goal, perhaps the distinguishing factor is that overcoming a withdrawal is the most important function of tapers. Objectively, opioid withdrawals are among the most difficult anyone can experience. Each can leave even the strongest patient incapacitated for days, weeks, or months on end. Percocet is no different.

Percocet withdrawals range in severity given a patient’s prior scope of use or misuse. The first few days are the most physically grueling, with psychological distress. If a patient can get past the first week, their chances of a successful recovery greatly increase. Before determining how to taper off Percocet, it’s profoundly helpful to understand the reason why. Avoiding the ruthless withdrawal symptoms listed below should be reason enough. Symptoms of Percocet withdrawal include:

  • Nausea: vomiting, gagging, dry mouth, or uncontrollable drooling are characteristic signs of nausea associated with withdrawals.
  • Constipation: painful or impossible bowel movements can occur during the first few withdrawal days.
  • Lack of sleep: withdrawal victims will often crave rest — mostly because they can detach themselves from symptoms, thoughts, and cravings while asleep — but insomnia may result instead.
  • Abdominal cramping: this can be the byproduct of nausea, constipation, or a symptom all its own.
  • Muscle aching: former users may experience heightened soreness or weakness, especially if they were previously taking Percocet for chronic pain.
  • Flu-like symptoms: watery eyes, fever, runny nose — opioid withdrawals look like a common cold, but feel more like hell.
  • Psychological symptoms: during later stages, recovering users may have to combat depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.

Each withdrawal side effect can be linked to the oxycodone found in Percocet. While it is true that acetaminophen may damage the liver, addiction, and subsequent withdrawals due to it, are unlikely.

A Percocet taper can take place in an accredited rehabilitation center or at home. The second option comes with several cons: lack of accountability, little-to-no safeguards, and many more. This is not to say it is impossible, thousands have done it already and will do so in the future, but medical settings offer unparalleled structure and safety.

Even if an at-home detox is the direction of choice, doing so cold turkey should never be. Tapering off Percocet is about being slow and steady — going cold turkey is anything but. No matter which way it’s spun, cold turkey is the single most dangerous means of quitting drug use, especially alcohol or opioids. The withdrawal a patient could otherwise avoid with a Percocet taper is experienced at its most intense when going cold turkey. Tapers offer the perfect Percocet middle ground: a user has made the conscious decision to quit, but in a safer way than doing it immediately.

A physician will craft a Percocet taper schedule to every patient’s specific needs. Whenever possible, a slower taper will always be the go-to approach. There is no reason to rush; time for the patient to self-reflect and the body to self-correct is part of the process. After all, recovery, like most aspects of life, is more often a journey rather than a destination. Tapering is no different in this regard. This being said, a typical Percocet taper involves a dose reduction of 20 percent per week. Higher reductions are possible, but anything over 50 percent at a time is inadvisable. Once a healthy and sustainable regimen rhythm is established, a person can be well on their way toward a lasting recovery.

If you want the stability and supervision of a medically assisted detox, The Recovery Village can help. With centers across the country and care plans customized to fit your needs, this renowned treatment network can help you get on the road to recovery in a safe and supported manner. Call  352.771.2700 today to get started. 

Tapering off Percocet
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