Futures Recovery Healthcare

How Long Does It Take to Become Addicted to Percocet or OxyContin?


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Percocet is a Schedule II prescription drug. It is an opioid-based cocktail consisting of oxycodone and acetaminophen (one widely recognized acetaminophen is Tylenol). It is a popular choice among physicians for treating moderate to severe pain, but unlike other prescription opioids, it is not a good candidate for post-surgical treatment due to clotting issues. The acetaminophen component isn’t added for pain relief, but rather as a booster for the effects of oxycodone. Percocet is intended to treat short-term pain, although many prescribing physicians refill patients’ supplies for long periods of time.

Addiction to prescription painkillers like Percocet and OxyContin is an exceedingly common problem in the United States. Despite increased awareness of the danger of over-prescription and overuse of these drugs, and legislation changes implemented with the goal of cutting back on painkiller misuse, thousands of Americans develop a painkiller addiction every year. There are a number of factors that can impact how long it will take before a person develops an addiction to prescription medications, including:

  • Genetics: If someone in the family is currently struggling, or has ever struggled, with drug dependence or alcoholism, then the patient has an increased chance of the same.
  • Misuse of the drug: If the person takes the prescription outside of the recommendations of the doctor, the chance of addiction increases.
  • Misuse of other substances: Even if the patient takes the prescription exactly as prescribed, if they misuse other substances, addiction may be more likely to develop.
  • Co-occurring mental health conditions: If the patient struggles with untreated mental health conditions, misuse of prescription painkillers may more quickly turn into addiction.

Chronic misuse of prescription painkillers will very often lead to an addiction. Whether it takes days, weeks, or months after the initial use, treatment can help.

Signs of Painkiller Addiction

It is not always readily identifiable when someone transitions from “normal” use of painkillers as prescribed by a doctor into addictive use of these pills. Some signs that addiction to prescription opiates has become a problem include:

  • Any use of these medications without a prescription
  • Fraudulent changes to a prescription in order to increase the number of pills received
  • Going to multiple doctors to get similar prescriptions for addictive medications
  • Filling a prescription at multiple pharmacies
  • Frequently complaining about “lost” prescriptions and the need for emergency refills
  • Altering pills before taking them
  • Use of other illicit substances (e.g. alcohol, marijuana, or other prescription medications) in combination with prescription painkillers

Tolerance vs. Addiction

It’s important to note that there is a big difference between painkiller addiction and tolerance (physical dependence). Painkiller addiction is defined by psychological addiction (e.g. cravings) as well as a physical dependence characterized by withdrawal symptoms when the person stops taking the drug of choice. Physical tolerance is defined by withdrawal symptoms as well, but it can occur with drugs that do not create a high and therefore have a lower chance of being misused. Over time, patients can develop a tolerance – that is, they require higher and higher doses in order to continue experiencing therapeutic effects of the medication – but not an addiction. People with a physical tolerance can do a slow step-down process that is supervised by a doctor in order to be free of the drug, while people who are living with addiction require intensive and long-term treatment.

Treatment Options for Percocet Abuse

Professional help should always be sought in cases of Percocet misuse and addiction. Since every person is different, it is important to understand all of the options available for Percocet addiction treatment. 

Residential inpatient treatment: Residential inpatient is the best option for lasting recovery from Percocet addiction. At Futures, we treat Percocet addiction and co-occurring disorders through counseling or psychotherapy that treat the whole individual physically, mentally, and spiritually. We offer a wide-range of evidenced-based therapies, including:

  • Individual Therapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Holistic Care
  • Alternative Therapies

Outpatient treatment: Following 30-day residential treatment, Intensive Outpatient (3 days per week) and Outpatient Programs (IOP and OP) are essential to reintegrating back into daily life while working on the skills to maintain recovery and lead a healthy, productive life.

At Futures Recovery Healthcare, we understand that every person is unique, so we work to treat the underlying causes of addiction to create a foundation for lasting recovery and well-being. Our accredited staff and mental health professionals are all experts in their fields and can provide the most cutting-edge and evidence-based treatments for addiction and co-occurring conditions. Call us today to get the help you need to break free from Percocet addiction.


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