Codeine is an opiate medication prescribed to treat short-term cases of mild-to-moderately severe pain and to relieve cough. The federal government classifies codeine as a Schedule II narcotic, same class of drugs that includes heroin, OxyContin, and other opioid pain relievers. Like those drugs, codeine has a high potential for abuse. Users can take codeine as a pill (often combined with acetaminophen) or as a cough syrup.

Codeine withdrawal occurs when long-term users suddenly stop taking the drug. The withdrawal process happens because the body is attempting to function without the drug in its system. Withdrawal can be uncomfortable, and symptoms can affect a person’s mind, body, and emotional state.

Codeine Abuse, Addiction, and Withdrawal

Some may not consider codeine as dangerous as oxycodone or hydrocodone, but users are advised to use caution when taking this drug. Even people who use codeine for legitimate purposes under a healthcare provider’s supervision are at the risk of developing a high tolerance for it. Codeine’s mind-altering effects at higher doses makes it easy to abuse.

Recreational users seek out codeine for its euphoric and calming effects. It can affect the user anywhere from 10 minutes to half an hour after it is taken and last about four to six hours, depending on the size of the dose.

Quitting Codeine Cold Turkey Is Not Recommended

Codeine users may attempt to end their dependence on the drug by abruptly reducing heavy drug use or stopping such use altogether. This is known as going “cold turkey,” and the method is not recommended for those who want to end their codeine dependence. Suddenly stopping codeine use can bring on unwanted withdrawal symptoms, which are rarely life-threatening but unpleasant. Such side effects from withdrawal are enough to make some users go back to using codeine just to end the discomfort, a period known as relapse.

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Codeine Withdrawal Symptoms

Codeine Withdrawal Symptoms
Long-term use and abuse of codeine alters a person’s brain and body chemistry. When use is stopped, withdrawal sets in as the body adjusts to functioning without the codeine in its system. If you or a loved one has recently stopped taking codeine after using it regularly or long-term, then you may be in withdrawal or will start to go into withdrawal shortly. People who have withdrawal side effects from codeine may experience signs and symptoms that affect their overall health, including their emotional health.

How long withdrawal symptoms lasts will vary by the person. Among the factors that determine the length and intensity of withdrawal include:

  • A person’s age, health, and lifestyle
  • Codeine tolerance
  • How long codeine has been used
  • Dose taken
  • Whether other substances, such as alcohol, were used along with codeine
  • Addiction

Early Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal effects should be expected within the first few hours after the last dose is taken. According to HealthLine, symptoms take place in two phases. In the first phase, certain symptoms appear within a few hours of the last dose taken. In the second phase, other symptoms appear as the body attempts to repair itself and return to normal.

Physical symptoms includes the following, but are not limited to:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Dry mouth
  • Excessive yawning
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Rashes
  • Runny nose
  • Teary or watery eyes
  • Sweating

Psychological symptoms include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Disorientation
  • Hallucinations
  • Insomnia
  • Mood swings

Are Your Withdrawal Symptoms Severe?

Withdrawing from codeine is not life-threatening, but they are uncomfortable enough to make some people consider using again just so they can stop feeling ill. Some withdrawal symptoms, both physical and psychological can lead to more serious health complications and should not be ignored. If you are experiencing:

  • Chest pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Seizures
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid heartbeat (which can lead to heart failure)

Or severe psychological ones, such as:

  • Homicidal thoughts
  • Psychosis
  • Suicidal thoughts

Or any other serious conditions that are causing great discomfort and pain, call 911 immediately or visit an emergency room or urgent care center immediately for medical attention. These symptoms are red flags that yours is a more urgent situation, and you must seek help now.

Long Term Withdrawal Symptoms

But there are long-term side effects of codeine use that one should be aware of. They include ones that change a person’s behavior, thought patterns, or lead to chronic health problems. Among them are:

  • Codeine cravings that last months or years after a person has quit the drug
  • Kidney damage
  • Liver damage
  • Long-term depression
  • Memory problems
  • Muscle problems
  • Possibility of relapse as codeine is widely accessible
  • Tiredness
  • Death

Withdrawal Is Dangerous: Get Help Now

Drug Treatment Center Finder can help you find a treatment center that can start a medical detox for you and offer support, reassurance, and guidance. The sooner you make the call, the sooner you can start feeling better. Call us now at (855) 619-8070.

Codeine Withdrawal Timeline

Codeine Withdrawal Timeline

How long withdrawal lasts depends on various factors, including:

  • A person’s physical health and genetics
  • How long the person has been using codeine
  • The dosage they have taken
  • Environment
  • Whether addiction and/or dependence is an issue

The timeline below gives a general idea of what withdrawal looks like, but keep in mind that the schedule will not look the same for everyone as each person is unique.

Withdrawal can take at least a week or longer, though each person’s situation and experience will differ. Duration and intensity depend on several things, including the kind of codeine ingested.

Here’s a general outline of what a seven-day withdrawal looks like.

  • Days 1 to 4

    Withdrawal begins within the first few hours after the last dose is taken. Users may come down with flu-like symptoms on the first day. This can last throughout the next few days. Nausea, insomnia, diarrhea, cramps, and depression can be expected. In addition to these symptoms, users may experience headaches, dilated pupils,excessive sweating, goose bumps, and restless legs syndrome.


  • Days 5 to 7

    At this stage, users may start to see their physical symptoms wear off, but will need to increase their water intake due to dehydration. Some users may notice changes in their mental and/or emotional states. These changes may include depression, anxiety, irritability, or other mental health conditions.


  • First Few Weeks

    Withdrawal codeine symptoms likely will have ended during this stage, but the mental and emotional changes may continue. Codeine cravings also may continue during the next few months, or in some cases, years. Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) may bring anxiety, low confidence, fatigue, guilt, shame, and, in extreme cases, suicidal thoughts. Recovering users who are struggling with mental health challenges should seek medical help or advice before, during, and after drug treatment.

    For many, withdrawal can be an uncomfortable and long process. Some people will try to tackle ending their dependence or addiction to codeine by themselves, without any professional help, which is not recommended. If you’re seeking help and don’t want to risk falling back into codeine dependence and/or addiction, give us a call at (855) 619-8070.

    We welcome you to talk with one of our representatives who talk with you about your unique situation and what can be done to ensure you find the best treatment possible for you. They also help you find a treatment center that is ready to help you stay away from codeine for good.


Common Codeine Detox Medications

Common Codeine Detox Medications

Withdrawal Easier to Endure with These Medications

The codeine detox process aims to make the withdrawal process as easy as possible for the affected person as well as ensure they are coming off the drug safely. Users may be prescribed to take the medications to help ease the severity of the symptoms as the codeine clears the body’s system.

Common replacement medications used during this process include:

  • Buprenorphine – This opioid medication is given at a medical facility or doctor’s office, or it can be used at home under a doctor’s prescription. It affects the same receptors as heroin and morphine do, but it does not give the same intense high or harmful side effects, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
  • Methadone – Methadone is used in opiate detox to help reduce cravings for codeine and ease withdrawal symptoms. According to WebMD, the drug affects the parts of the brain and spinal cord to block the euphoric “high” users get with opioids. Methadone eases opiate withdrawal for 24 hours to 36 hours, which reduces the chances of relapse, WebMD says. As with other medications, methadone should be used under medical supervision.
  • Suboxone – This prescription medication, which is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, is used to treat the symptoms of opioid addiction withdrawal. Users should take care when using it because it can be habit-forming and lead to addiction. Detox therapies for withdrawal may also include support with diet and nutrition, including methods that promote restful sleep, hydration, pain relief, and relaxation, among other things that promote restoration in the body, mind, and spirit.

Start Codeine Detox Start Before Your Withdrawal Symptoms Worsen

Detoxing at a medical center can take place before the symptoms begin. The duration of withdrawal as well as the symptoms, signs, and severity of a person’s specific situation will vary according to the person and all affect their experience and the outcome.

Codeine Addiction Treatment and Detox

Codeine Addiction Treatment and Detox
Once codeine dependence and/or addiction has set in, the user has only two choices to make: Either the person chooses to continue using codeine and furthering their condition and risking experimentation with stronger opiate medicines, or they can choose to weather the uncomfortable withdrawal phase and aim to leave codeine- and drug-free.

Seeking Codeine Addiction Treatment and Detox: A First Look

Knowing what to expect as symptoms occur can prepare the user for what’s to come. It’s reasonable to expect that there will be discomfort, and while most withdrawal symptoms are not life-threatening, seeing a licensed medical professional to manage them gets many through this difficult process.

Codeine Detox: How It Works

Codeine detox is considered the safest way to manage withdrawal symptoms and remove the substance from the body’s system. The most common method for people going through professionally monitored detox is IV therapy medical detox. During the process, licensed medical professionals administer medications to the client to help ease withdrawal symptoms while monitoring vital signs and the person’s overall health.

In some programs, medical professionals slow down the dosage of codeine by using other medications designed to counter the effects of the substance the person is using, all with the needs of the client in mind. The length of detox will depend on a variety of factors, such as medical history, history of addiction, and how long codeine has been used, among others. In many cases, facility-administered detox can last anywhere from three to seven days.

What Happens After Codeine Detox?

Coming Off Codeine Is Only the First Step

After ridding the body of codeine, the next step is to put a plan in place that helps clients pursue their next step in the recovery process. After undergoing detox, it will now be important to address underlying issues that weren’t faced when the person was in active addiction. This includes possibly changing the environment and identifying triggers and other factors that could lead back to abusing codeine. This process can take several months, and for some people, it may take several years. Sobriety is the goal, but achieving clarity is a process, so be mindful to take recovery one day at a time.

A post-detox recovery program can offer clients guidance and a treatment care plan. These plans can address nutritional care and strategies that help improve over health and well-being. They also can include teaching clients coping skills and strategies to manage the issues that started them to use drugs.

Get Help Right Now — Call Today!

If you, or someone you know, are seeking a new life without addiction to codeine, there’s no time like the present to call Drug Treatment Center Finder at (855) 619-8070, our 24-hour helpline. Our database lists treatment centers in all 50 states, so we definitely can help you find a center in your area or the location of your choice.

Frequently Asked Questions about Codeine Withdrawal

Frequently Asked Questions about Codeine Withdrawal
  • What is codeine?

    Codeine is an opiate medication prescribed to treat short-term cases of mild-to-moderately severe pain. It is in the same class of drugs that includes heroin, OxyContin, and other opioid pain relievers. The federal government considers codeine a Schedule II narcotic drug, which means it has high potential for abuse.


  • What is “sizzurp” and is it addictive?

    “Sizzurp” is a codeine-laced concoction containing a cough medicine made of the antihistamine promethazine and codeine, some kind of soda, such as Sprite or Mountain Dew, and hard Jolly Rancher candies. The cough syrup dyes give the drink its purplish color, which is why the recreational drink is called “purp,” “purple drank,” and “lean” on the streets and in popular rap and/or hip-hop songs. Users should be aware they are risking a fatal overdose on codeine as they imbibe the purple drank.


  • How long do withdrawal symptoms last?

    How long withdrawal lasts will vary by the person. Among the factors that determine the length and intensity of withdrawal include:

    • A person’s age, health, and lifestyle
    • Codeine tolerance
    • How long codeine has been used
    • Dose taken
    • Whether other substances, such as alcohol, were used along with codeine
    • Addiction

  • Should you quit codeine “cold turkey”?

    While some people do suddenly stop using codeine after a long period, which is known as “going cold turkey,” it is not recommended. Detoxing from codeine dependence and addiction under medical supervision is highly advised. It keeps clients safe while ensuring their needs are met as they cope with withdrawal, which can be uncomfortable. Getting medical help with a codeine detox also reduces the possibility of relapse, some say. Tapering is also a method some use as they reduce their usage. It is also advised that people using this approach seek help from a licensed medical professional as well.


  • Is it safe to taper off codeine?

    Tapering is a method used in medically supervised detox that gradually reduces the dosage of codeine to safely wean the client off the medication as they experience withdrawal symptoms. The client’s physician usually determines the tapering schedule, but tapering too quickly comes with risks, among them uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and relapse.


  • Do do-it-yourself home remedies for codeine withdrawal work?

    At-home treatments are typically not supervised by a medical professional in a licensed facility, which could put you at risk for dangerous withdrawals or relapse. If you are experiencing codeine withdrawal and are going through the symptoms after stopping long-term use of the drug, you should seek treatment from a facility that is equipped to help end codeine use.