Blog, Resource, & Helpline for those battling Percocet addiction

How Do Opioids Like Percocet Work in the Brain?

Opioids have long been used in pain relief and medical treatment. Today the prescription of these drugs like Percocet in pill form is commonplace. Millions of Americans use these drugs, and increasing numbers are developing addictions to their prescriptions.

One powerful opioid is called oxycodone. This is one of the most common drugs involved in the opioid addiction epidemic. One prescription form of oxycodone is known as Percocet and may be prescribed by a primary care health physician or administered in an emergency room situation.

With continued use, sometimes in as little as a few weeks, Percocet users may become dependent on the oxycodone in Percocet in order to feel normal. Heroin addiction commonly results among Percocet addicts when they are no longer able to find the means to support prescription refills. Overprescription of Percocet and other painkillers is an issue that many are discussing, looking for ways to better medical practice to stop the increase in addictions.

Some who stop taking opioids for a time find themselves addicted again only a short time later. Many confuse their addiction for a different medical condition and do not seek the proper addiction treatment. Nonetheless, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, around 2.5 million Americans are addicted to either opioids such as Percocet or heroin.[1] The underlying reasons for the addictive state of these prescription drugs lies in the nature of their effect on the human brain and the adaptations that the brain takes during addiction.

Chemical Reactions on the Brain and Body

The human brain is designed to let chemical reactions teach us what is beneficial behavior by rewarding it and signaling that it ought to be repeated. When this system is tricked, we are sometimes led to chemically believe that even a negative action is something that we need to do again. Again and again the action is performed and the drug is taken—all with the brain each time continuing to react as if it is something good that is happening, even despite common logic suggesting otherwise.

They call it the Limbic Reward System. In essence, this system is necessary. Through it, we are reminded to eat, drink and perform other necessary daily actions. We receive a level of happiness when these needs are satisfied. That is because the system releases a chemical called dopamine causing intense pleasure to be transmitted through neurons of the brain.

The process of dopamine release may cause an extremely false sense of euphoria. People who become addicted as a result of the dopamine flow that results from drug use are tricked into feeling happy even though the drug use is causing severe problems in their daily lives.

Opioids like Percocet stimulate this process, and they also do more. When they are magnetized to opioid receptors. These receptors are thereby unable to perceive pain as they were without the drug.  That is really the proper medical function of the drug.

Percocet and Opioid Use—When Help Becomes Necessary

When prescription opioids such as Percocet are taken as prescribed, the dangers are high enough. When the drug is altered in some form to be sniffed or injected or is taken in dosages higher than prescribed or for longer than a doctor has advised, of course the risk grows much larger.

If you or someone you love has concerning behavioral changes and is using opioids such as Percocet, please, let us put you at ease today. Addiction can be both prevented and treated, but more than a detox is needed. It is not just enough to quit—addiction help is necessary to remain in good health for years to come. Let our addiction experts give you solid guidance today through our 24 hour, toll-free helpline. The number is just below. Call today!


[1] “Anatomy of Addiction: How Heroin and Opioids Hijack the Brain.” Updated: 1/12/16. Retrieved 1/15/16.

[2] National Institute on Drug Abuse “How do Opioids Affect the Brain and Body?” Retrieved 1/15/16.