Percocet is a combination of acetaminophen and oxycodone. Acetaminophens such as Tylenol block pain without reducing inflammation. Oxycodone impacts the opioid receptors in the brain and body, reducing pain and creating a euphoric response. Oxycodone also reduces anxiety. The combination of anxiety reduction and euphoria contribute to the highly addictive nature of oxycodone products, including Percocet.
When Your Brain Corrects
If you’ve never used an opiate, it can be hard to understand just how quickly your brain starts to need these chemicals. Opiates like oxycodone create a rush or sense of euphoria. Your brain realizes that things are out of balance and dials back your own production of dopamine, the feel-good brain chemical.
For someone who is dealing with severe nerve pain, taking away the opiate results not only in increased pain but a loss of happiness. When you stop taking any opiate product, you may feel intense anxiety, depression, or sluggishness. Because dopamine suppression happens very quickly, the need for more opiates will grow quickly.
Damage Done by Percocet Abuse
Percocet abuse can damage your body. This medication can create an upset stomach, which, when paired with other risks such as drowsiness can actually be fatal. Your physical movements may be sluggish and slow, from your reflexive moves to your gut.
Percocet abuse can damage your thinking. Because your focus is on replacing the suppressed dopamine, you will likely be unable to make good decisions. You may feel depressed, lack the ability to focus, and even struggle to speak.
The trail from prescription use because you need it to addictive use because you can’t function without it can be dangerously fast. Your Percocet use may have moved to the next level if you are:
• Craving Percocet
• Feeling depressed or apathetic without it
• Making dangerous decisions, like driving after using
• Neglecting your family and your job
• Struggling with higher pain levels
It’s time to have a conversation with your physician if you are experiencing these issues, and it may be time to seek treatment.
Withdrawal: Getting the Help and Support That You Need
Go back to the physician who initially prescribed the drug and ask for help to break your need for Percocet. There are prescription meds that can help reduce the pain of withdrawal, particularly the apathy and depression. There may also be activities that you can engage in to boost your dopamine levels naturally.
Depending on the length of time you’ve been taking Percocet, the withdrawal process will start with pain. You may suffer a rebound of pain from the original injury. Additionally, in the first two days, you may struggle with muscle and joint pain, headache, and nausea.
Your emotional reactions in relation to the suppression of dopamine can include fatigue, anxious thoughts, and restlessness. You may struggle with insomnia or be constantly drowsy. Because the early steps of withdrawal can pair extreme sleepiness with nausea, it is critical that you never attempt withdrawal alone. You must be monitored to avoid the risk of asphyxiation.
Care for Your Body
In the first five days of Percocet withdrawal, your body will be dumping a lot of toxins. Do take care to eat as you are able. Foods to reduce nausea include applesauce and herbal teas, such as chamomile and fennel. Be ready to take multiple showers as you will be sweating a lot. As you’re able, take a simple walk to lift your spirits and stretch shaky, tight muscles.
You may be weepy and not realize that your eyes are tearing up. You will also likely be dealing with a drippy nose. This is a normal reaction in the first few days. Keep your sleeping space cool and dark so that you can sleep and keep a good quality box of facial tissues at hand.
Get some sun. Dopamine receptors can be concentrated in different portions of the brain. If you can get moving, and get moving in the sun in particular, you can actually build more dopamine receptors in the part of the brain that is tied to movement. Moving in the sun can alter your brain to help your body feel a lot better.
Care for Your Brain
To naturally boost your dopamine levels, boost your protein intake. You may struggle to even feel hungry. However, increasing your protein levels, particularly phenylalanine and tyrosine in eggs, dairy, turkey, and beef, will prepare your body to boost dopamine production as the opiate leaves your body. Saturated fats will suppress dopamine production, so pair your proteins with healthy fruits and veggies.
Put on some tunes. Listen to music that you used to enjoy dancing to before you were ever exposed to Percocet. Music enters the brain differently than simple text; our ability to remember text put to music is stronger. Your favorite music will do a great deal to help reset your dopamine-starved brain.
Finally, get moving. It’s interesting to note that even those with Parkinson’s disease, which is a combination of low dopamine and loss of body control, can benefit from physical activity. You don’t have to push yourself especially hard, but you will want to exercise for at least 20 minutes to enjoy a dopamine boost.
Care for Your Spirit
There are a lot of cultural pressures on folks struggling with addiction. Our culture tends to see addiction as a failure or as a lack of strength of personality. If you hold these ideas about addicts, you may have struggled with your need for Percocet on your own for far too long. You may be ashamed of what you did while you were using.
As your brain heals and comes back into balance, pay careful attention to your social hygiene. Study up on the science of addiction and what addiction actually does to your brain. Not only can you learn to give yourself a break, but you can develop empathy for others struggling with addiction.
If you have family members, friends, and co-workers who can support you, let them know what you’re dealing with and ask for help. If you know some people can’t handle the situation, avoid them for now. If you treated them badly when you were using, do the work to make amends and understand that the relationship may be altered or damaged beyond repair.
Be Ready to Dig Deeper
You were prescribed Percocet because you were in pain. If the pain is chronic, it will come back when you detox, and you will have to find a way to deal with it. If you used an opiate product as a way to manage your anxiety disorder, anxiety will return and may feel unmanageable early in the detox process.
Opiates can also help someone who is dealing with mental illness though they are not a very effective treatment tool. If you have been self-medicating some form of mental illness, your treatment process may include finding better medications to manage and control psychological conditions such as:
• Personality disorder
• Bipolar disorder
The assessments for these conditions may take time. Your brain will change as your body and brain detox. As your dopamine levels come back up to your pre-Percocet levels, you will likely become ready for that initial assessment. However, the medications that you take for these conditions may need to be adjusted over time.
Moving Back into the World
As you detox and start to come back into balance, reconnecting with your family is an excellent step. Your family may have been harmed by your addiction. The healing process and detox steps will have an impact on your personal social network.
You may also find great benefits from group therapy activities within the detox facility and once you move back into the world. Knowing that you’re not alone and learning to rebuild friendly connections with others can be great for your dopamine production. Having a group to return to once you have moved out of the treatment facility can serve as a touchstone on a really tough day.
In addition to group connections, be aware that you can do a great deal to heal your body, brain, and spirit by learning to meditate. Meditation requires you to build a comfy space to be all alone in your head. If you have been beating yourself up because you yourself have a negative view of addiction, a meditation practice can help you find a way to be kind to yourself in the detox and recovery process.
Be Ready to Reach Out
Getting into treatment can be one of the hardest things you will ever do. It can also give you your life back, which is a worthwhile trade. Talk to your physician about your concerns. Finding a detox program like the one at First City Recovery Center that can support your body, brain, and spirit through the cleansing process. Be gentle with yourself, and make sure you create a sacred space in your head for healing. You are worth the work of this process.