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Risks of Codeine Abuse: Withdrawal and Detox

There is a lot that comes with making the decision to enter detox for an addiction to codeine. Many people wonder what the process will entail, how much support they will have, and if they will be able to make it through withdrawal without relapsing. If you or a loved one has been considering treatment for a codeine addiction, you may be afraid or uncertain. These feelings are normal and often cause a barrier to seeking treatment. However, armed with the correct information, you can make the best decision as to whether detox is the right for you. Here is everything you need to know about codeine detox.

Addiction to Codeine

Codeine is an opioid medication typically prescribed to treat mild to moderate pain. It can be used on its own or infused with prescription cough medicine to assist those suffering from respiratory issues. Though less potent, codeine is in the same opiate class of drugs as morphine, making the potential for abuse and addiction high. It works very similarly to other opioids by binding to certain receptors in the brain to block pain and increase feelings of euphoria and wellbeing. Because of this, codeine is often taken recreationally which can lead to addiction.

Addiction also can occur when an individual is prescribed the medication for pain, but builds up a tolerance and begins taking larger doses to manage pain. Codeine is considered a “gateway drug” to more potent opiates. This can happen as tolerance builds and you are no longer getting the same effects. Symptoms of a codeine addiction include (but are not limited to):

  • Cravings for codeine
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Obtaining codeine interferes with activities you once enjoyed
  • Needing to take larger doses of codein

If you or a loved one is struggling with codeine addiction, you may want to speak with an addiction counselor regarding codeine detox.

What is Codeine Withdrawal?

Codeine withdrawal occurs when you stop using codeine after your body has become adapted to taking it on a regular basis. When codeine binds to the receptors in the brain not only blocks pain and prompts the production of endorphins, which are the chemical responsible for the feelings of euphoria. Most individuals become addicted to morphine because of the euphoria it brings. However, once you stop taking codeine, the amount of the drug in your system drops significantly.

Without the drug, the brain has to restart its normal production of endorphins, which can take a few days. With the drop in endorphins and nothing to block pain, you enter into withdrawal, which can make you feel both emotionally and physically ill.

Codeine Withdrawal Symptoms

Everyone experiences withdrawal differently. However, there are some common symptoms to be prepared for when quitting codeine. These are:

  • Sweating
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Chills
  • Stomach cramps
  • Decreased appetite
  • Muscle aches
  • Heart palpitations
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Anxiety
  • Depressio

How long withdrawal symptoms will last depends on the severity of addiction. Physical withdrawal symptoms tend to peak within 5-7 days after the last codeine dose, while psychological symptoms and cravings for codeine may last for up to a month.

Codeine Detox

Detox involves the process of stopping the intake of codeine and allowing the body to cleanse itself of the drug. Detox is a natural process and can take up to a month. Abruptly stopping codeine, or “going cold turkey”, is not recommended as the aforementioned withdrawal symptoms increase the risk for relapse. Addiction professionals suggest that anyone looking to detox from codeine should engage in medical detox.

Medical detox has been found to be more effective and successful in helping people to quit codeine. It utilizes medications, such as buprenorphine, to help minimize withdrawal symptoms and increase the likelihood of success. Medical detox also allows you to have access to a medical professional who will monitor you throughout the physical withdrawal stage to make sure that you are kept as comfortable as possible. You may be given additional medications, such as ones to help you sleep or reduce any anxiety that may arise. Once you have successfully detoxed from codeine, you will be slowly tapered off the additional medications that were utilized to help you through the detox process.

You may choose to go through detox by doing either inpatient or outpatient treatment. Inpatient is recommended for those individuals with more severe codeine addictions or those with co-occurring addictions. Inpatient treatment provides residential services and 24/7 support to help you get through the riskiest part of the detox process, while outpatient treatment allows you to continue to reside at home while receiving treatment, which minimizes the disruption to your everyday life. Which method of treatment you choose will be up to you. And addiction counselor can help you to determine which method is right for you.

Making the decision to end your addiction to codeine can be difficult. But with the right support, you can begin your journey towards recovery. Are you or a loved one ready to detox? If so, please give us a call today at 844-834-1777. Our compassionate counselors are available 24/7 to take your call.