Percocet Abuse in College

depressed college student using percocetPercocet is most commonly prescribed as an oral tablet.

When abused, individuals take it orally, intravenously, or insufflated through the nose. Percocet consists of two drugs: oxycodone and acetaminophen. The oxycodone is a narcotic pain reliever that reduces or alleviates pain by binding to the opioid receptors in the brain while the acetaminophen is a non-narcotic analgesic.

How Are Students Obtaining Percocet?

While some students obtain Percocet through a valid prescription for pain, many get it illegally from friends, family, or street dealers. Sometimes, the student never intends to use the drug illicitly but becomes addicted after getting a valid prescription for it. It is less common for a person to become addicted from using it as prescribed than it is when a person uses it illicitly.

When addiction occurs, some college students seek out the drug from hospitals or physicians by exaggerating pain from injuries. They switch doctors frequently, so they always have a prescription for the drug.

Why Is It Appealing?

It is a commonly abused substance due to its euphoric properties. It alters a person’s thinking and produces a high when it changes the person’s perception of pain. Percocet is easily obtainable because doctors and hospitals frequently prescribe it to patients who have moderate or severe short-term pain. Therefore, a college student may find the medication in a medicine cabinet of a friend or loved one.

How Common Is Abuse?

According to a study published by USA Today, college students have a higher rate of alcohol and drug addiction than the general population. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health stated most college students between the ages of 18 and 20 used prescription drugs properly, but one in four admitted to using prescription drugs, which include Percocet, for recreational – meaning nonmedical – purposes.

Other Percocet Abuse Statistics

assortment of percocet prescription pills spilled across a table with a hand holding the bottle The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates in 2012 alone, 2.1 million Americans suffered from opioid pain reliever addiction. The number of opioid pain relievers prescribed in the US has increased tremendously over the last 25 years. The total number of prescriptions rose from 76 million in 1991 to almost 207 million in 2013. The US population of adolescents, teens, college students, and other adults accounts for almost 100 percent of the hydrocodone and oxycodone consumption in the world. In fact, Americans use 81 percent of all the Percocet and other oxycodone-based drugs in the world.

Substance abuse among college-aged students is on the rise, especially in regard to Percocet and other prescription drugs. A survey conducted by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2010 indicated prescription drugs like Percocet are the second highest abused substance among individuals between the ages of 18 and 25. In fact, hundreds of thousands more college students abuse prescription drugs today when compared to the early 1990s. Because Percocet is easily obtainable for this age group, whether at a social function or in somebody’s medicine cabinet, the number of college students abusing the drug has risen rapidly.

What Are the Effects of Percocet Use on College Students?

The short-term effects of Percocet include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Dry mouth
  • Shallow breathing
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low blood pressure
  • Drowsiness
  • Sedation
  • Mood changes
  • Flushing

Prompt treatment can ensure that any addiction issues are effectively addressed so serious issues don’t take hold. Tonic-clonic seizures are possible from one-time use and so is overdose.The long-term effects of chronic Percocet use include:

  • Tolerance
  • Physical dependence
  • Psychological dependence
  • Kidney failure
  • Decreased testosterone levels in males
  • Urinary retention
  • Severe and frequent constipation
  • Liver damage

College students who abuse Percocet may set themselves up for long-term negative effects on their health.

About The Contributor
Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers
The editorial staff of Laguna Treatment Hospital is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed... Read More
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