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
- Abdominal pain
- Dry mouth
- Excessive yawning
- Muscle aches
- Runny nose
- Teary or watery eyes
Psychological symptoms include:
- 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
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid heartbeat (which can lead to heart failure)
Or severe psychological ones, such as:
- Homicidal thoughts
- 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
Withdrawal Is Dangerous: Get Help Now
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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
- 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.
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
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.