Codeine is a mild opiate, typically prescribed as a minor pain reliever or cough suppressant. When patients use it as prescribed, codeine is relatively safe.
However, when codeine is used recreationally and in combination with alcohol or other narcotics, it can lead to addiction, producing long-term negative societal and health outcomes for the user.
How Prevalent Is Codeine Addiction in the United States?
An estimated 33 million Americans use some form of codeine each year. According to the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 4.7 million of those 33 million used codeine for recreational proposes.
The drug is often used for its calming effect, and although not as addictive as other opioids such as heroin, fentanyl or Vicodin, it creates a cycle of addiction just as those more dangerous drugs do. Furthermore, codeine can lead to serious health complications, along with diminished financial and social success.
Warning Signs that You or Loved One Might Have an Addiction to Codeine
Think that someone you know might be struggling with codeine addiction? Or that it’s personally affecting you? Look for these signs:
- Using codeine without a medical prescription
- Persistent or extreme relaxation in mood
- Miosis – very tiny or constricted pupils
- Staggering – unsteady walk or movement
- Dysarthria – slurred speech
- Lethargy – drowsiness, tiredness or apathy
- Seizures – violent convolutions and/or unconsciousness resulting from neurological imbalances in the brain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Cyanosis – blue lips or fingernails
As in most cases of opioid addiction, codeine users build up a tolerance to the drug. And as time progresses, habitual use requires a larger dose to obtain the same level of euphoria once felt. This commonality can cause a crippling physical and psychological dependency.
Though codeine is less potent than more commonly used opioids, it is imperative for a regular user to seek professional treatment immediately, in the form of medically supervised detoxification.
The First Step in Seeking Codeine Addiction Treatment
Because codeine withdrawal is typically less severe than with other opioids, users tend to try and quit cold turkey (suddenly on their own). The discomfort of the withdrawal symptoms, though comparatively mild, often results in a subsequent relapse in a relatively short period of time.
There are two primary classes of detox centers: Medically Assisted and Clinically Monitored. A clinically monitored, or social treatment, facility will not provide medical care while a patient undergoes detox.
On the other hand, a medically assisted treatment center employs health professionals to monitor the physical and psychological functioning of the patient who undergoes detoxification. In all cases, medically assisted treatment is the safest and best long-term detox option for you or your loved one.
What to Expect from the Side Effects of Codeine Withdrawal
The codeine addiction withdrawal timeline will vary from patient to patient, and though codeine is not as potent as other opioids, withdrawal can be dangerous and potentially fatal if not monitored by a medical professional.
Above all else, it is important to stay hydrated throughout the detox treatment stage; patients who fail to do so tend to develop flu-like symptoms. The greatest risk incumbent to codeine withdrawal is a patient’s predisposition to developing a more serious illness as a result – severe flu or pneumonia, for instance.
Codeine Withdrawal Physical Symptoms
The physical side effects of codeine withdrawal include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach cramps
- Sweating, chills, muscle aches
- Shakiness or trembling in the extremities
- Headache, sneezing or a runny nose
- Rash or hives
- Increased blood pressure
- Irregular breathing rates
- Irregular heartbeat
- Mild confusion or disorientation
- Memory issues or issues with concentration
Codeine Withdrawal Mental Symptoms
The mental side effects of codeine withdrawal may include:
- Mood swings
What’s the Next Step After Codeine Detox Treatment?
The next step all depends on what type of recovery center in which you or loved one sought treatment. Some facilities only specialize in detox, and those stay lengths can be as short as two or three days. Longer-term recovery centers typically yield higher success rates and tend to take a more holistic approach to substance abuse treatment.
Addiction can span months or even years, and over that prolonged period of time, an individual’s cognitive functioning can be severely affected and/or limited. Statistics indicate that detox alone is not effective in promoting long-term recovery.
At Harmony Place, our team employs a holistic approach to opioid rehab and treatment – encompassing an array of therapeutic modalities for our patients – including:
- Access to mental health care
- Nutrition education
- Art therapy
- Career coaching
- Equine-assisted therapy
Addiction and mental health run hand in hand. More than one in three individuals suffering from addiction issues are also affected by a mental health condition. The substance abuse issue may simply be a result of an individual self-medicating the effects of the behavioral disorder. Or in some cases, that mental health issue may be an exacerbating and contributing factor to the intensity of the addiction.
If you or someone in your family is battling addiction issues and suffers from a mental health disorder, or suspects one might be present, it is important to find a treatment facility that will address both the addiction and the co-occurring mental health diagnosis. Treatment for both disorders should run concurrently to assure the best outcomes for you or your loved one.