The opioid epidemic became a major health concern for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as millions of American men and women, especially between the ages of 18-30, were abusing prescription drugs classed as opioids or opiates. Codeine is one of those drugs. It is a narcotic opioid made from the opium poppy plant and is medically prescribed as an analgesic for treating mild to severe pain or antitussive for persistent coughs.
Like other prescription opioids such as fentanyl and oxycodone, codeine is highly addictive. The prescription label usually warns that the drug may be “habit forming” and should be taken exactly as prescribed.
If you or your loved one is addicted to codeine, you should know that codeine addiction does not go away on its own. Professional treatment is usually required to effectively treat the addiction and provide tools to help you avoid going back to codeine abuse.
Addiction to Codeine
In general, drug addiction or substance use disorder is the compulsive seeking and using legal or illegal drugs mainly for the purpose of pleasure. Addiction to codeine is an opioid use disorder that stems from the misuse and abuse of this lawfully prescribed medication.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) describes prescription drug misuse as taking any medication for non-medical use or in a manner other than directed by your doctor or pharmacist. This could include taking codeine prescribed to others or falsifying prescriptions to get the drug.
Codeine Misuse, Abuse, and Addiction
Overuse and long-term use of codeine are main causes of codeine dependency. This is because opioids bind receptors in the brain, activate pleasure hormones, and increase cravings. Chemical changes also occur over time and affect brain functions. Tolerance develops with increase use making it difficult for you to withdraw and “kick the habit” on your own. Having a mental health order such as depression can make it twice as difficult to overcome your addiction to codeine.
The risk of addiction increases when the drug is used in a different method or form. For example, drug users may mix codeine cough syrup with soda for recreational drinking. Others may crush the tablets and use the powder for snorting, inhaling, smoking, or injecting. Crushed tablets become potent and highly addictive, especially when it enters the bloodstream through intravenous (IV) use. Use in this manner is also dangerous and has resulted in codeine overdose and overdose deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that about 218,000 overdoses were associated with prescription opioid abuse between 1997 and 2017.
Symptoms of Codeine Addiction
Knowing the symptoms of codeine use disorder can help you determine if you or a loved one is abusing this drug. It also helps with diagnosis during evaluation for professional treatment. Some common signs of addiction are:
- Taking larger doses than prescribed
- Using codeine with other drugs to increase euphoria
- Using codeine prescribed to someone else
- Exaggerating the pain to get more medication from your doctor
- Going to various doctors to get additional prescriptions
- Extreme mood swings, from a feeling of euphoria to agitation
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering things
- Pupils appear smaller than normal
- Confusion or unusual drowsiness
- Unusual sleep patterns
- Lying or stealing or borrowing money to buy the drug
- Lying or stealing or borrowing money to buy the drug
- Social isolation or social withdrawal
- Problems at school, home, work, or in personal relationships
Codeine Addiction Treatment
Getting professional treatment for addiction to codeine is currently the most effective way to help you successfully recover and increase your chance of staying off drugs. Core treatment includes detox and therapy and can be done outpatient or at a residential rehab. It addresses the addiction from all angles, physical, mental, emotional, and psychological.
The main goals are to purge the body of the addictive substance then help you uncover the root cause of addiction. The process will begin with intake where you will undergo a physical and psychiatric evaluation to determine the severity of addiction and the presence of any co-occurring mental health disorder.
Detox is the process of eliminating the drug and toxins from your body. To manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce the risk of relapse or overdose, codeine withdrawal should be done under the supervision of a medical and mental health team at a qualified treatment center. Medication may be administered to you as a means of helping you cope with uncomfortable or severe post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS). It also helps to gradually wean you off codeine.
The physical symptoms may subside by day 7, but psychological symptoms such as depression or insomnia could persist for months. Medication is usually prescribed to treat these ongoing symptoms.
A “replacement medication” such as Methadone or Suboxone (Buprenorphine and Naloxone) may be administered to manage cravings. These drugs are also opioids and are administered in prescription strength to block the opioid receptors in the brain. They can effectively stop cravings and prevent codeine from creating the euphoria it used to.
Codeine Withdrawal Symptoms
Skipping a dose of codeine such as when you cannot get the drug or you’re going through professional treatment will result in withdrawal symptoms. Codeine abuse withdrawal symptoms may be moderate to severe depending on the level of use and length of time the drug was abused. During medically-assisted detox, you will get help managing these possible symptoms:
- Strong or overpowering drug cravings
- Restlessness and agitation
- Abdominal aches or cramps
- Trouble sleeping
- Runny nose and watery eyes
- Goosebumps or chills
- Suicidal thoughts
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle spasms
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Drug addiction, including addiction to codeine, is often associated with underlying mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Mental health therapy after detox seeks to address these problems and help you find positive ways to cope.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is primarily used to achieve this. This behavior modification tool focuses on destructive thought patterns that provoke substance abuse. Identifying these thinking patterns is the first step to retraining the brain to respond positively to life’s challenges and cultivating healthy ways to cope with substance use triggers, e.g., stress at work or home.
Therapy may be direct with your therapist or in a group setting with your peers who are also trying to overcome codeine abuse. Taking a comprehensive approach to treatment also involves auxiliary programs such as:
- Medication management
- Exercise, sports, and art
- Meditation and yoga
- Spiritual therapy
- Nutritional and wellness therapy
- Involvement in sober groups such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
Start Your Journey To Sobriety Today At The Detox Center of L.A.
The Detox Center of L.A. has a residential treatment facility nestled in the heart of Culver City, CA. Our addiction recovery team consists of professionally trained doctors, nurses, therapists, counselors, and case managers.
We take a comprehensive approach to addiction treatment and have designed a range of programs to give you the best possible chance at sobriety. Medically-supervised detox and therapy, as well as other supplemental programs, are conducted in a safe, structured, and compassionate setting based on a treatment plan tailored to meet your needs.
We cater for loved ones to get involved in your treatment by joining the family therapy sessions. They will receive information on how addiction affects families and their role in helping you manage substance use triggers. Why not give us a call today to find out more about our programs and admissions.
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