Can Codeine Be Addictive?

At first glance, codeine can seem pretty harmless. It’s a prescription drug that doctors sometimes recommend for mild to moderate pain. It’s also the active ingredient in many well-known prescription cough medicines. While it has clear medicinal uses, codeine is an opioid. This means it’s the same type of drug as heroin, oxycodone or morphine. Codeine is less potent, but it is still possible to become addicted to codeine.

Many people begin using codeine after it’s prescribed by a doctor. However, even if an individual follows the directions given by a medical professional, addiction is still possible. Patients may find themselves unable to get through the day without codeine. They may develop a tolerance that leads the doctor to prescribe higher doses or they may begin taking more on their own. Addiction is more likely to occur when the drug is misused.

Because codeine is less regulated than other opiates, it can be very dangerous. Codeine is easier to get, and it can, therefore, be easier to abuse it. Using codeine can result in relaxation, euphoria, drowsiness, and apathy. Users can quickly develop a tolerance and then a dependence. As tolerance sets in, abuse becomes more likely.

Some users end up turning to codeine to dull both physical and emotional pain. When taken in high doses, codeine can cause the user to suffer respiratory failure, fall into a coma or even die. When combined with alcohol or other opioids, the risk is particularly high. If you or someone you love has developed a problematic use of codeine, you need to seek help. This starts with knowing the signs of codeine abuse.

How to Tell if Someone is Addicted to Codeine

Nausea is the most common side effect of codeine abuse especially when the user takes cough syrups. However, there are many other signs including:

  • Drowsiness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Weight loss
  • Reduced appetite
  • Clammy hands or feet
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pain
  • Vision problems
  • Itching
  • Slowed breathing

Continued abuse may lead to addiction regardless of whether you use the drug in pill or liquid form. Some users let their guard down because they don’t think codeine is as addictive as other opioids.

How Codeine is Used

Many people who misuse codeine don’t stop there. It is often used with other drugs or as a precursor to more powerful opiates like heroin or morphine. That’s because users try to increase its effects. Some people also use codeine along with alcohol or marijuana. Since both codeine and alcohol depress the central nervous system, combining them can be very dangerous.

One of the most popular ways in which codeine cough syrups are used is in “purple drank”. This mixture of prescription cough syrups and soft drinks or alcohol is also known as syrup, lean and sizzurp. It has been referenced in rap music and TV shows and is popular among young people. This is why some cough syrups are more tightly controlled these days.

Meanwhile, some people who are addicted to more potent opioids use codeine to help manage their withdrawal symptoms. This may be because they’re trying to quit or because they don’t have access to the drug they usually use. Consuming codeine helps to stimulate the brain’s reward center and reduce cravings and physical withdrawal symptoms.  However, this is a dangerous practice. People who want to overcome an addiction to heroin or prescription painkillers should undergo a medically supervised detox.

Addiction treatment can vary depending on the drugs you use. You, therefore, need to be honest with your treatment professional about exactly what’s in your system. This will help to ensure the best possible outcome. No matter what combination of drugs you use, you can overcome your addiction if you get the right help.

What to Do If You or a Loved One are Addicted to Codeine

Codeine is an opioid and it is addictive, although it is not as strong as other drugs. If you or someone you love is misusing cough syrups or pills, you need to seek help. Addiction is never healthy, and it can cause problems in all areas of your life. You may not know what to do to overcome your addiction but the team at Asheville Recovery Center can help. We have a team of professionals who will support you on the road to recovery. No matter how long you’ve been addicted, we will develop a personalized drug addiction treatment program to assist you. Call us today to schedule a consultation.

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