Codeine is commonly found in cough syrup, but it is also an opiate used as a painkiller to alleviate mild or moderate pain. Although it is added to cough syrups for partial cough suppression, there is no technical evidence that shows this attribute of codeine. A bulk of evidence demonstrates that this opiate is effective for treating diarrhea; especially when it is caused due to irritable bowel syndrome.

The substance breaks down in the liver and then reverts into its original form “morphine.” Codeine naturally contains about 2 % of opium, and it is a commonly ingested drug. Once it is broken down by the liver, it reaches the brain’s reward system and produces a feeling of well being and pleasure.

Due to these reasons, codeine abuse has become a raging concern in the United States. Since 2012, codeine is among some of the most widely used drugs.  As a painkiller, codeine has fairly mild effects.  Its dual attributes as a cough suppressant and narcotic pain reliever have added to its popularity among adolescents and teens. This has resulted in codeine addiction, and many have sought treatment for this addiction.

Addiction to this opiate occurs quickly but overcoming it is very difficult. It is because the reaction to codeine and its tolerance largely depends on your body chemistry. People with high drug tolerance can break down codeine faster than others who have low drug tolerance. Many studies have been done to find out the right treatment of codeine addiction.

Who Uses Codeine?

As mentioned earlier, codeine is considered effective to treat common health problems such as pain, diarrhea, and cough. Therefore, a large number of people have become addicted to this opiate. According to the latest study, young men are more likely to use codeine medications; particularly for recreational drug abuse.

A man in need of a codeine addiction treatment center

Most of them are youngsters with little experience of using drugs. They consider codeine a seemingly harmless narcotic substance. Once these young individuals develop codeine tolerance and want to achieve a euphoric high, they don’t mind pursuing stronger opioids that may include heroin or Vicodin.

With 467,000 American youngsters using codeine or prescription opioids, it has become one of the alarming concerns of the country. They are using it for non-medical purposes that could lead to a severe substance use disorder.  The users of codeine commonly mix it with alcohol and cannabis.  Many heroin addicts often seek out this cough suppressant to mitigate or overcome the withdrawal symptoms.

Why is Codeine Abuse Dangerous?

If codeine is prescribed to treat troubling cough and minor pain, it is safe to use.  However, when you start using it for feeling high or seeking relaxation, the codeine use may have serious repercussions. An overdose of codeine may lead to its addiction that you can only overcome at a codeine addiction treatment center.

Codeine’s effects are typically short-term that include altered consciousness, euphoria, and intoxication. These short-term effects come with a downside that can cause several health complications.  People who use codeine more than its recommended dose are likely to feel nausea and vomiting. But there are other effects of abusing codeine that may include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Weight loss
  • Mood swings
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Decreased appetite
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pain
  • Slowed breathing
  • Clammy hands
  • Nodding off
  • Tremors
  • Hallucination
  • Vertigo

Some conditions like depression or appetite loss may last for years as it depends on the patient’s history of abusing codeine as a substance. Over time, codeine abuse may contribute to lung infections, sleep disorder, irregular heart rate, and in some cases, brain damage.

Withdrawal Symptoms of Codeine

It is easy to develop opiate addiction, but when it comes to stopping its use, it is a big challenge. It happens because your brain stops producing dopamine that stimulates the reward center.  After developing enough opiate tolerance, an addicted individual needs more of the drug to feel the high.

And when an individual stops using codeine, he/she experiences mild and moderate withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms are the reaction of the brain and body to the changes as they have been adjusted to the constant presence of codeine. Codeine withdrawal symptoms can be mild as well as severe. That is why many addicted individuals fear to quit opioids and drugs.

Some of the common withdrawal symptoms of codeine include:

  • Nausea
  • Runny nose
  • Stomach cramps
  • Muscles pain
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Appetite loss

It is also important to know that when codeine is combined with other drugs, it can become more dangerous. For example, using cocaine, alcohol, benzodiazepines, and alcohol at once can result in respiratory failure.

Codeine Addiction Treatment Center

The severe withdrawal symptoms of codeine held back many addicted individuals from taking rehab.   The fear of painful health complications keeps people away from reaching out to professionals at the treatment centers. However, seeking help from professional and licensed rehab can make your detox a lot more comfortable.

After detox, patients start working on their addiction treatment.  In a professional rehab, patients get opportunities to learn skills and get therapies to achieve sobriety.

There are typically two options, including intensive outpatient program (IOP) and residential treatment.    Residential rehab provides constant monitoring and focuses on the progress as you stay in the facility center to receive addiction therapies.

IOP treatment is also comprehensive and provides outpatient care with an education that helps you move normally in society.

Crest View Recovery Center

Whether it is you or your loved one that needs help to recover from codeine addiction, Crest View Recovery Center in Ashville, North Carolina, is an ideal treatment option.  Nestled in the heart of the western mountains of North Carolina, CVRC provides a perfect platform for your recovery;

CVRC’s addiction therapy includes:

Crest View Recovery Center provides support and a platform to understand the nature of your addiction. You will learn not only the triggers of your drug temptations but also ways to cope up with them.  From strength, motivation to confidence, and wellness, you get everything you need to overcome addiction.  We use acupuncture treatment, nutritional counseling, meditation, yoga, and recreational therapies.

Call CVRC at 866.327.2505  to get more information about substance abuse programs and take a step forward towards a healthy life.

Article Reviewed by Patrice Wishon, LCSW, LCAS, CCS

Patrice Wishon, LCSW, LCAS, CCSPatrice has over 30 years experience working in social work and mental health/substance abuse counseling. She received her Master’s degree from UNC-Chapel Hill and has worked in a variety of settings, including community-based outpatient, hospital and classroom settings. Patrice specializes in substance abuse treatment, trauma and women’s issues.