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How to Stop Percocet Cravings, Prevent Relapse, and Find Help

Percocet (oxycodone and acetaminophen) is a prescription opioid pain medication. It has a high potential for abuse and addiction, and a person can develop an addiction by taking more than prescribed or using it in a non-prescribed way.

People who develop dependence or otherwise become addicted to Percocet can experience cravings, which can lead to relapse and make it very difficult to stop using.

Percocet Cravings Signs and Symptoms

Cravings are a strong urge to use a drug and are a key factor in drug addiction. 1, 2 They can occur with a number of drugs, including alcohol, tobacco, and particularly morphine-derived opioids such as oxycodone or Percocet.

People who are addicted to Percocet often experience cravings. One study found that even people who were prescribed opioids for pain and did not meet the criteria for dependence had cravings. 2

Cravings can be triggered by people, places, or things. For example, a person may come into contact with someone he or she used drugs with or see a pill bottle. The craving can lead to continued use or relapse if the person does not know how to manage it.

Studies have also shown that stress can cause animals to begin using drugs after abstinence, and stress can trigger drug cravings in people who are addicted. 3

Signs and symptoms of cravings can include:

  • The urge to consume more Percocet. 2
  • Preoccupation with the next dose of Percocet. 2
  • Physical reactions that accompany the urge to use, including increased heart rate and breathing rate or a sense that you can taste the drug.

Cravings and Withdrawal

Cravings may also be a part of the withdrawal syndrome associated with drugs such as Percocet. The symptoms of withdrawal are generally uncomfortable and are sometimes painful, and many users continue to use Percocet to avoid them. 2

Withdrawal symptoms from Percocet can include: 9

  • Sweating.
  • Yawning.
  • Fever.
  • Chills and hot flashes.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • General weakness.
  • Sleeplessness.
  • Anxiety.
  • Depression.

Treatments for Percocet Cravings

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a popular treatment for substance use disorders. CBT uses a number of strategies to help people manage cravings, including avoiding situations that can trigger cravings; practicing breathing exercises when cravings arise; discussing cravings with friends, family, or a sponsor; and distracting oneself from the cravings by exercising, participating in a hobby, watching TV, or reading.
  • Cue-exposure therapy(CET) was traditionally used for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or phobias such as agoraphobia. More recently, virtual reality cue-exposure is being explored in the treatment of drug cravings. 1 It involves displaying alcohol and drug triggers to users in virtual environments.
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing has an established history of successfully treating PTSD, and it is also showing promise in treating cravings. 4 Users attempt to desensitize memories and imagery associated with drug use by recalling the memories and images while making horizontal eye movements or keeping eyes stationary.
  • Support and self-help groups, including Narcotics Anonymous and those offered online, are helpful when dealing with cravings. Support groups can help to build a network of people who have a similar understanding of what it means to crave, to be affected by a drug, and to resist the urges and thoughts. Online support groups provide access when live support groups are unavailable. They may also provide access to a larger group of people with more varied experiences.
  • Neurofeedback, a derivative of biofeedback, is another possible treatment for Percocet cravings. Neurofeedback techniques teach individuals how to control areas of their brains by having access to brain images throughout treatment. 5

Recovery Programs for Cravings and Addiction

Sometimes the frequency and strength of Percocet cravings require the help of a professional. A formal treatment program – either outpatient or inpatient – may be necessary, particularly during the initial phases of addiction treatment or when relapse has or will potentially occur.

  • Inpatient recovery centers offer medical supervision and a distraction-free environment to work on recovery. They often include detox (if necessary), individual and group therapy, family therapy, 12-step meetings, other group activities, and aftercare. Individual therapy may include cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to help manage cravings. Most programs are 28 to 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, or longer in some cases.
  • Outpatient recovery centers usually include group therapy and individual therapy. You can continue to live at home and take care of day-to-day responsibilities while attending these programs. However, they may be less appropriate for people with severe or longstanding addictions because you return to your regular using environment each day. Many people with serious addictions may not be prepared to return to environments that can trigger drug use without some time to learn and practice relapse prevention skills.
  • Dual diagnosis recovery centers are ideal for people who are struggling with a mental health disorder in addition to Percocet cravings or addiction. These programs can treat both disorders at the same time, which reduces the risk of relapse.

Medications Used to Curb Percocet Cravings

Medication-assisted treatment has been shown to reduce opioid overdoses and increase patient willingness to participate in treatment. It can help curb cravings and reduce withdrawal symptoms.

Three primary types of medication are used in medication-assisted treatment for opioid drug addiction: 6

  • Agonists: These are drugs such as methadone that act similarly to Percocet but have longer-lasting, less potent opioid effects. They provide a reduced state of euphoria and increased clarity and are used in conjunction with behavioral therapeutic and other non-pharmaceutical treatments. Methadone treatment may be provided by specialized centers or clinics and obtained on an outpatient basis. An individual must go to the center each day to receive the dose.
  • Partial agonists: Buprenorphine (available in combination with naloxone as Suboxone) relieves cravings without producing a state of euphoria or the high that the drug itself or an agonist medication would produce. These drugs are most effective when taken orally. Unlike methadone, buprenorphine may be administered by certified clinicians out of their offices.
  • Antagonists: These drugs, such as naltrexone, are not addictive, nor do they create any kind of physical dependence. Unlike the agonists or partial agonists, they do not control withdrawal symptoms, but are taken after withdrawal symptoms have subsided. 6 Their use blocks the reinforcing effects of opioid drugs and may reduce the incentive to use these drugs again.

How to Stop Cravings Naturally

Self-help techniques, including meditation, exercise, mindfulness, and positive self-talk, can also help control Percocet cravings. However, it is best to use these in conjunction with some form of addiction treatment or therapy.

Some users report that a combination of traditional treatments, such as 12-step group participation, paired with therapeutic treatment and community support, has been most beneficial for addressing addiction, as well as maintaining health for the long-term. 8

  • Mindfulness and meditation. Mindfulness meditation, visualization, deep breathing, and distraction techniques can shift an individual’s attention long enough for the craving to subside. Distraction techniques had the highest success of all the mindfulness methods in one study on alcohol cravings.7
  • Exercise. Exercise, as well as practices such as yoga or certain forms of martial arts, can address the physiological and psychological aspects of cravings. They can be beneficial for shifting mindset and developing new drug-free habits.
  • Social and faith-based support. The support of family and friends is also a major factor in treatment. Those who have a strong spiritual base in their lives report that faith is a contributing factor in their recovery. They feel that the support from their churches or spiritual communities provides a solid framework for recovery. 8
  • Eastern techniques. Some people have sought cultural “cures” such as Chinese medicine techniques, including herbal medicine, acupuncture, and qigong, a breathing technique that helps relax the mind and body. 8

Cravings and Relapse

Studies have shown that cravings are a powerful predictor for relapse in heroin and cocaine. Treating addiction and preventing relapse often includes assessing cravings, trying to stop them, and helping users cope with them. 2

Two of the most important steps to take to avoid relapse include recognizing the warning signs of relapse and taking proactive steps to avoid a relapse and respond to triggers and cravings.

Relapse Warning Signs

  • Spending time around using friends or places where you used Percocet.
  • Avoiding 12-step or support group meetings.
  • Isolating yourself from family and friends.
  • Thinking that you can use “just once” and be fine.
  • Reminiscing about the “good times” when you used Percocet.

Relapse Prevention Strategies

  • Avoid certain people and places, particularly bars, clubs, and other social situations that may result in peer pressure to use again.
  • Build a network of friends, family members, or people in recovery who can offer support when you need it.
  • Call a friend, family member, or a sponsor when you experience a craving.
  • Know your triggers and develop strategies to deal with them, such as distraction,
  • exercise, and breathing techniques.

Find a Recovery Center for Percocet

If you need help finding a recovery program for Percocet cravings or addiction, call one of our rehab support specialists anytime at . They can discuss treatment options for you based on your insurance.

If you don’t have insurance, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) national helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or 1-800-487-HTTW (4889) (TDD). Information is provided 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is available in either English or Spanish.

[1]. Hone-Blanchet, A., Wensing, T., and Fecteau, S. (2014). The Use of Virtual Reality in Craving Assessment and Cue-Exposure Therapy in Substance Use Disorders Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 8:844.

[2]. Wasan, A., Ross, E., Michna, E., et al. (2012). Craving of Prescription Opioids in Patients with Chronic Pain: A Longitudinal Outcomes Trial Journal of Pain 13(2):146-154.

[3]. Kosten, T., and George, T. (2002) The Neurobiology of Opioid Dependence: Implications for Treatment Science and Practical Perspective 1(1):13-20.

[4]. Little, M., van den Hout, M. A., Engelhard, I. M. (2016). Desensitizing Addiction: Using Eye Movements to Reduce the Intensity of Substance-Related Mental Imagery and Craving Frontiers in Psychiatry 7:14.

[5]. Volkow, N. (2014). National Institute on Drug Abuse. America’s Addiction to Opioids: Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse

[6]. National Institute on Drug Abuse (2012). Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction

[7]. Murphy, C.M., MacKillop, J. (2014). Mindfulness as a Strategy for Coping with Cue-elicited Cravings for Alcohol: An Experimental Examination. Alcohol Clinical Experience Research 38(4):1134-1142.

[8]. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2010). Pathways to Healing and Recovery: Perspectives from Individuals with Histories of Alcohol and Other Drug Problems.

[9]. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.