Codeine Addiction and Abuse

Though codeine is less potent than its drug relative morphine, it still holds powerful and addictive properties for the many people who abuse it worldwide.

Understanding Codeine

Codeine is a prescription pain medication used to treat mild to moderate pain. It comes in tablet form and as the main ingredient in prescription-grade cough suppressants. Tylenol 3, another popular pain reliever, is codeine combined with acetaminophen.

Codeine is an opiate or narcotic. Though less potent, codeine provides effects similar to morphine. Other opiates include oxycodone, heroin and morphine.

Codeine Effects and Abuse

Codeine use often starts out innocently enough with a prescription for a codeine-based cough syrup. Because codeine is less regulated than some opiates considered to be more dangerous (such as morphine and Oxycontin), getting and abusing it is relatively easy.

The effects of codeine include:

  • Euphoria
  • Apathy
  • Drowsiness
  • Relaxation

Although some people think the drug seems harmless, side effects of codeine range from drowsiness and constipation to blindness and respiratory failure. In large enough doses, codeine may even be fatal.

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Addiction to Codeine

An addiction to codeine may develop from continued abuse of the drug in its cough medicine or pill form. Codeine can lull its users into a false sense of security because many people do not consider it to be as powerful or addictive as its opiate family members. Learn the criteria of diagnosing codeine addiction today.

Codeine and Other Drugs

For some people, codeine is only a piece of a larger web of addictions. Sometimes, it is considered the gateway drug into addiction to other substances, especially other opiates like oxycodone or morphine.

Purple Drank

Codeine cough syrup is used to make “purple drank.” Purple drank is a recreational form of the drug made by mixing prescription-grade (codeine) cough syrup with soft drinks, such as Sprite or Mountain Dew, for consumption in large doses. It is also called lean, syrup and sizzurp.

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Overcoming Your Codeine Addiction

Despite the ease with which codeine can be obtained and the drug’s glamorization in popular culture, it is still a dangerous and potentially deadly drug that can cause lives to spiral out of control. If you’re ready to take your life back from a codeine addiction, get in touch with someone who can help you.

Codeine is most commonly abused for its calming effects. Although it’s not as addictive as other opiates, codeine is still dangerous and habit-forming. Recognizing the outward signs of codeine abuse can help you determine if a loved one has a budding substance use problem.

Some signs of codeine abuse include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Short attention span
  • Impaired judgment
  • Dilated pupils
  • Lack of coordination
  • Apathetic behavior

The Dangers of Codeine

People commonly experiment with codeine because of the misconception that it’s relatively harmless. However, this creates a particularly disarming attitude toward codeine, which can lead to addiction or abuse of more potent opiates.

As a depressant, codeine slows a person’s breathing rate. At large doses, this may cause a person to stop breathing entirely and can be potentially fatal. Other dangerous results of an overdose on codeine include seizures and coma.

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Call now to be connected with a compassionate treatment specialist.

Recognizing a Codeine Addiction

Once a codeine user becomes tolerant of the drug, he or she will require more of it to achieve the previous high. In cases of prolonged use, the drug is needed just to feel normal. Addiction may exacerbate an abuser’s fear of coping with day-to-day tasks without codeine.

Clinicians and addiction specialists can diagnose codeine addiction by following a specific set of criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Having a tolerance to codeine and experiencing cravings are some examples of these criteria. A person who regularly abuses codeine may be diagnosed with a mild, moderate or severe addiction, which helps determine the right course of treatment. Learn more about diagnosing an addiction.

Codeine Withdrawal, Treatment and Next Steps

Regardless of how you first got hooked on codeine, you can get out of the drug’s snare. Abusing codeine over a long period of time will only make the drug’s effects worse as your tolerance to it builds—eventually, the high will wear off and you’ll need more of the drug just to maintain a normal balance. However, just as you became addicted to the drug, you can overcome it. Get in touch with someone who can help you today.

Symptoms of Withdrawal

Although codeine is less habit-forming than other painkillers, such as Oxycodone or Hydrocodone, users can still develop an addiction to the drug. Codeine addicts, especially those with severe addictions, may begin to feel the effects of withdrawal within a few hours after taking their last dose.

Codeine withdrawal symptoms are similar to those of other opiates. Codeine withdrawal can be quite uncomfortable, producing symptoms that are usually moderate in severity.

Common symptoms of codeine withdrawal include:

  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle aches
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Stomach pains
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  • Cravings

Codeine Withdrawal Timeline

Days 1-4 During the first four days of withdrawal, physical symptoms peak. User may experience muscle pain, nausea, insomnia, restless legs, headaches, sweating, diarrhea and vomiting. These symptoms are usually very intense during the first few days.
Days 5-7 During this period, most physical symptoms begin to fade. Psychological symptoms, such as depression, set in. Users might be dehydrated due to excessive sweating, diarrhea or lack of fluid intake during the first few days of withdrawal.
Days 8-30 Almost all codeine withdrawal symptoms should be over by this point, but depression may remain. Depression and codeine cravings can last for months after a user quits.

Get Help Now

Codeine addiction is completely treatable. There are numerous treatment and ongoing support options available to help Codeine users overcome their addiction. The cost of addiction treatmentcan be concerning for some, but there are many financing options and insurance plans that can help with paying for treatment.

Take the first step in beating your Codeine addiction today. Please call us now for help finding treatment.