Codeine is an opiate that can be found in opium poppy plants. Next to morphine, it’s one of the most abundant psychoactive chemicals in the plant. The drug has been used for more than a century since it was first isolated in 1832. Today, it’s one of the most widely used opioids in the world. It’s not as powerful as most other opioid pain relievers, but it can lead to serious consequences like chemical dependence and addiction. Opioid addiction has led to an epidemic of overdose and substance abuse in the United States. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the abuse of prescription opioids like codeine has contributed to the use of more dangerous illicit drugs like heroin.

Codeine addiction can lead to serious consequences if it’s left unchecked, but it is treatable. Learn more about codeine addiction and how it can be effectively treated.

What Are the Signs of Codeine Addiction?

Because codeine is weaker than other opioids, it’s often considered safer. However, it works in a way that’s similar to other drugs. Codeine is chemically similar to your body’s endorphins. It binds to the same opioid receptors to cause analgesia and to slow down the nervous system. In higher doses, it can also cause sedation and euphoria. Your brain can become chemically dependent on the drug over time, but abuse can also affect your reward center, leading to addiction. Addiction is identified by compulsive drug use, which often continues despite serious consequences.

Other Signs And Symptoms Might Include:

  • Strong drug cravings
  • Trying and failing to cut back
  • Lying about drug use
  • Hiding drugs
  • Taking more than you expected
  • Flu-like withdrawal symptoms
  • Frequent intoxication
  • Strange sleep patterns
  • Financial problems
  • Doctor shopping
  • Needing higher doses over time
  • Using to feel normal
  • Using to mask uncomfortable feelings

What Is Involved in Codeine Addiction Treatment

Effective codeine addiction treatment will involve a multidisciplinary approach that addresses medical, psychological, and social needs. Treatment typically starts with an evaluation of your medical needs. People with high-level needs may go through a medical detox program, which is usually reserved for people that may go through dangerous withdrawal symptoms. However, it may also be necessary for people with other medical needs or complications. Inpatient treatment is also an option for people that don’t need medical detox but do need 24-hour monitoring. Once you can live on your own, you may go through intensive outpatient treatment or outpatient treatment.

Effective treatment will involve personalized therapy options and a treatment plan that addresses your individual needs. In addiction treatment, you’ll meet with a therapist at least once a week to formulate and reassess your treatment plan. Through the week, you will work through objectives that get you closer to your recovery goals.

How Dangerous is Codeine?

Codeine is a relatively mild opioid, but it can still cause serious adverse effects when it’s abused. In high doses, it can cause a dangerous overdose that involves a slowed heart rate and respiratory depression. Slowed or stopped breathing can lead to oxygen deprivation and death. A codeine overdose is more likely if you use the drug alongside alcohol, other opioids, or central nervous system depressants. Even if you’re using codeine as directed by a doctor, you should still avoid mixing it with those other substances.

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