Codeine is one of the most dangerous drugs available in the marketplace today. Although it is found in so many pain relief medications and cough medicines, it is not always safe to take.
In fact, there is a high risk that you could become addicted to this drug even if you have been taking combination products like Tylenol with codeine. When this happens, you would require the services of a professional recovery program before you can overcome your addiction.
Codeine is a prescription opioid pain relief medication. Doctors typically prescribe it for the treatment of mild to moderate pain. The drug is also available in the form of tablets but forms the main component in cough suppressants.
Since it is an opioid drug, it is effective both in the treatment of cough and pain. Although the drug is typically included in cough syrups, scientific evidence shows that is more effective in the treatment of diarrhea - especially that arising from irritable bowel syndrome.
When you take codeine, your liver will break it down into morphine. After that, the morphine component will target the reward center of the brain where it will produce feelings of wellbeing and pleasure.
It is due to these effects that codeine abuse is such a common problem both in the United States and across the globe. Ongoing abuse of the drug could later give rise to the development to a substance use disorder - or an addiction.
You can easily get addicted to codeine because it is an opioid, which means that it is habit forming. Once you develop tolerance to the effects of the drug, you will soon find that you need to take it in higher doses or more frequently than you used to before you can feel its effects.
Other Names for Codeine
On the street, codeine is known by a wide variety of nicknames. People ascribe these names while trying to conceal the fact that they have been or wish to abuse this drug. These names include:
- Captain Cody
- Cough syrup
- Doors and fours
- Lean (when it added to a cough syrup medication)
- Little C
- Pancakes and syrup
- Purple drank (when it is added to a cough syrup medication)
The drug is also sold under a wide variety of brand names. These include
Signs and Symptoms of Codeine Addiction
When you abuse codeine, it will impact both your physiology and behavior. Over time, it could cause you to develop a substance use disorder. When this happens, you will start displaying some of the following signs and symptoms of opioid addiction:
- Apathetic behavior
- Bowel damage
- Brain damage
- Changes in vision
- Clammy feet and hands
- Codeine overdose
- Cold and clammy skin
- Decreased appetite
- Dilated pupils
- Drug-seeking activity, such as stealing money to buy the drug, constantly thinking and talking about the drug, and spending most of your time and energy looking for and using codeine
- Having difficulties with friends and family members
- Impaired judgment
- Irregular heart rate
- Lack of coordination
- Losing friends
- Lung infections
- Mood swings
- Nodding off
- Reduced ability to focus
- Short attention span
- Sleep disorders
- Sleeping more than you usually do
- Slowed breathing
- Slurred speech
- Stomach pain
- Suffering relationships and responsibilities
- Using codeine for the euphoric effects that is produces, instead of for medical reasons
- Using codeine in greater doses or for longer than you intended, or a doctor prescribed
- Weight loss
All these signs of codeine addiction mean that you need help. It is relatively easy to develop this condition before you realize that you have a problem. However, once you do, it is recommended that you check into a professional addiction treatment program so that you can overcome your growing substance use disorder.
Short and Long-Term Effects of Codeine Abuse
When you use codeine, it will often be innocently. You may start taking the drug as a result of a doctor's prescription or because you bought a codeine-based medication. Over time, however, you could soon find yourself abusing it. When this happens, you could experience the following effects in the short term:
- Blurred vision
- Dry mouth
- Low blood pressure
- Shortness of breath
- Skin rash
- Stomach cramps
If you continue abusing codeine in the long term or more frequently than you used to, there is a high risk that you could develop some health problems and maladaptive behaviors. The long term effects of codeine use include:
- Hypersensitivity reaction
- Impaired memory
- Kidney damage
- Liver damage
- Lowered blood pressure
- Muscle spasms
- Respiratory depression
- Serotonin syndrome symptoms, including agitation, shivering, hallucinations, twitching, muscle stiffness, fast heart rate, and loss of coordination
- Shallow breathing
- Slowed heart rate
- Urination problems
Since it is classified as a depressant drug, codeine can slow down your breathing rate. If you take it in large doses, this could cause your breathing to stop completely - a condition that could quickly turn out to be fatal or deadly. Other effects of a codeine overdose include:
- Bluish tint to the lips or fingernails
- Brain damage
- Cold and clammy skin
- Extreme drowsiness
- Extreme fatigue
- Intestinal spasms
- Loss of consciousness
- Low blood pressure
- Muscle twitches
- Slow and labored breathing
- Weak pulse
If you suffer a codeine overdose, it is recommended that you seek emergency medical help. Often, this type of overdose with be treated using medications that effectively block the receptors found in the brain's pleasure center. However, you need to ensure that the intervention is quick so that you prevent yourself from suffering brain damage, coma, or death as a result of oxygen deprivation.
Codeine Withdrawal Symptoms
If you have developed tolerance to codeine, you may suffer some withdrawal symptoms when you stop using the drug. This will happen because your body and brain would experience changes as they try adjusting to the presence of codeine in their system. As a result, they may not be able to function normally unless you abuse the drug.
Some of these withdrawal symptoms include:
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Enlarged pupils
- Fast heartbeat
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle aches
- Muscle pains
- Runny nose
- Stomach cramps
- Teary eyes
- Trouble sleeping
- Watery eyes
- Weight loss
In many cases, these symptoms will be similar to what you would experience if you were suffering from a bad case of the flu. However, if you have been abusing codeine in the long term - and in heavy doses - there is a high risk that you could experience adverse withdrawal symptoms that will only improve with medical assistance.
Without such assistance, you could relapse back to codeine taking. This is because your body and brain will compel you to continue using the drug - if only to alleviate your adverse withdrawal symptoms.
Overall, most of these symptoms are reversals of the side effects of codeine. For example, using the drug can cause constipation. While undergoing withdrawal, however, you may suffer diarrhea. Similarly, codeine tends to cause sleepiness while withdrawal could lead to trouble sleeping.
The Best Options for Codeine Addiction Treatment
If you have a codeine prescription, you should never abuse it. Codeine abuse involves using the drug in higher doses, longer, or more frequently than your doctor advised when they wrote you a prescription. Taking this drug longer than you are supposed to could also cause you to become dependent on its effects.
Once you have developed dependence, you will only be able to stop using codeine after going through a proper addiction treatment and rehabilitation program. This is because your body and brain will no longer be able to function normally unless you abuse the drug. - Further, abruptly stopping your drug taking could lead to the development of withdrawal symptoms - some of which could prove to be severe.
There are several options for codeine addiction treatment that you need to consider. Inpatient drug rehab, for instance, would be ideal if you have a severe opioid use disorder that has been ongoing for a long time, or if you have also been diagnosed with a co-occurring mental health or medical disorder like anxiety and depression.
Outpatient treatment, on the other hand, is recommended if your codeine abuse and addiction is relatively new or mild, and it has not been happen long enough for you to require inpatient drug rehab.
Irrespective of the reasons why you abuse codeine, you need to seek professional addiction treatment and rehabilitation services as soon as you realize that you have a drug problem linked to this medication.