What is Codeine?
Codeine is a narcotic derived from opium designed to treat pain and act as a cough suppressant. Trace amounts of codeine ingested is converted into morphine by the body, though the drug as a whole is not as potent. Sometimes, codeine is combined with other pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) which amplify codeine’s effects.
Like other painkillers, after continued use, the dosage of codeine must be upped to experience the safe effect. Some people will take codeine or other opiates for the high they produce.
Misuse of codeine can result in dependency, addiction, cardiac arrest, and even death. Codeine should only be consumed with a prescription, and patients should be sure to take doses only as outlined by the bottle’s instructions and their doctors.
What are the Signs of Codeine Addiction?
Codeine addiction is rare in people who take it as a prescription and follow proper instructions. The longer you cou consume codeine, though, the more likely you are to become dependent.
If you find yourself refilling your codeine prescription more often than usual or taking higher doses than prescribed, your body may be developing a dependency on codeine. Taking codeine without a doctor’s prescription or taking codeine less for pain relief and more for the pleasure of getting a high are also signs of a substance abuse disorder. In short, if you find yourself taking codeine without following guidelines, you may have a substance abuse disorder with codeine.
Contact your doctor or a medical professional if you are afraid of being dependent on codeine. They can provide guidance and possibly medications to mitigate codeine withdrawal symptoms and help you detox.
What are the Symptoms of Codeine Withdrawal?
Codeine withdrawal symptoms may be physical such as widened pupils, runny nose, excessive yawning, muscle aches and pains, and stomach cramps. Psychological symptoms include irritability and anxiety. In more serious cases, people experiencing codeine withdrawal may feel nauseous or vomit and see increased heart rate/breathing rate. If you have these symptoms, contact your doctor or get emergency help immediately.
How Long Does Codeine Withdrawal Last?
With short-acting opiates like codeine, you will experience withdrawal 6-12 hours after your last dose. Withdrawal is typically most intense after 72 hours of detox, and symptoms can linger for a week or more. Late phase withdrawal symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain, and depression. Physical symptoms typically disappear before psychological ones.
The exact timeline and severity of symptoms depend much on the individual. How long you have been taking codeine and how much codeine you have been ingesting will factor into your experience of codeine withdrawal.
Even after your withdrawal from codeine is complete, you may still experience cravings for codeine.
Symptoms 6–72 hours after their last dose:
- muscle aches
- a runny nose
- difficulty sleeping
- excessive yawning
- increased heart rate
Symptoms after 2 hours after their last dose:
- cravings for opiate drugs
- stomach pain
Psychological symptoms and cravings for opiate drugs can last for longer than a week.
How to Quit Codeine
Contact your doctor if you believe you have developed an addiction for codeine. They can help you detox in a safe manner, and possibly offer medication to ease withdrawal symptoms/manage pain more safely.
Many people who have struggled with codeine or similar opiates have found counseling/therapy to help immensely. Individual therapy sessions put you one-on-one with trusted counselors who can help you set goals and figure out how to live a healthier life. Group therapy sessions put you in contact with people who have struggled similarly, helping you learn how to grow and realize that you are not alone.
You may consider outpatient or inpatient rehab programs, where you will receive structured treatment done by dedicated staff. Whatever treatment you choose, remember that it’s never too late to beat a substance abuse disorder, and it’s always achievable if you’re willing to reach out for help and support.
- drugbank.com – Codeine
- medlineplus.gov – Opioid Misuse and Addiction
- medlineplus.gov – Codeine
- medicalnewstoday.com – What to know about opiate withdrawal
Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.
Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.