Codeine Abuse and Addiction – What You Should Know

Codeine can lead to a substance abuse disorder that can have far-reaching effects on your life. Read on to learn more about how codeine may impact you.

What Is Codeine?

The Food and Drug Administration defines codeine as an opioid that is used in the treatment of mild and moderate pain. It is a member of a group of medications called narcotic analgesics and is also used to reduce coughing in combination with other medications. It does this by suppressing the brain activity that controls how people cough.1

While the substance can have positive effects, some individuals use codeine for recreational purposes. This means that they take the drug to experience feelings of euphoria. The dose of the substance used for recreational activities is often higher than the one used for medical purposes, and is not done with medical supervision or approval.


Codeine Use

Codeine use has increased in recent years, meaning that many stores and pharmacies now limit the amount of the substance that people are allowed to buy.

If you or a loved one are experiencing the side effects of codeine, make sure you get the help you need by reaching out to a treatment center.

Short-Term Effects

Individuals may experience several different side effects of the drug almost immediately after taking the medication. These are the short-term effects of the substance use, but they can be just as dangerous as long-term use. Below are some of the most common short-term side effects:
  • Severe dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling nauseous
  • Intense sweating
  • Stomach pain
  • Change in the heart rate and blood pressure
  • Migraines and severe headache

Symptoms of Use

Symptoms of codeine use vary among individuals. The symptoms depend on the frequency of use, the amount used, and if the individual has any other co-occurring disorders. It is important to be able to recognize these signs so that you can determine if a loved one is experiencing addiction to the substance. Below are some of the symptoms:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Drowsiness
  • Anxiety
  • Intense cravings for the substance
  • Apathy

Long-Term Use Effects

Repeated use can lead to addiction to the substance. Some studies show that about 33 million Americans use codeine yearly for non-medical intentions. Addiction to the substance can cause the individual to experience long-term side effects of the substance use.2

Physical and Mental Impact

Codeine use can impair the mental and physical health of an individual. High doses of the substance can lead to the individual experiencing confusion, dizziness, constipation, weakness, and muscle cramps. A large intake of the substance and other pain relievers can cause gastrointestinal bleeding and liver toxicity which may impact an individual’s life for years to come.

Is Codeine Addictive?

Many people become dependent on the substance when it is being taken repeatedly and outside of prescription rules. The reason is that it has a psychoactive effect on the brain. It works on the body’s central nervous system, thereby making the brain prevent pain signals from getting to the body. The immediate relief people get after taking the substance means they may develop a substance use disorder.

Why Do People Use Codeine?

People use codeine for many different reasons. Doctors prescribed the substance for people experiencing chronic pain or for those who have a long-lasting and pervasive cough. In contrast, some individuals use the substance for non-medical purposes, such as taking it in large quantities to get euphoric.

Reasons Behind Abuse

For those that abuse the substance, they may have several reasons for doing so, including:
  • Peer pressure: Negative peer groups can lead an individual to addiction. This may also encourage others to indulge in other unhealthy activities.
  • Stress: Stress is a major risk factor for codeine abuse. Constant exposure to stressful activities can increase the risk of an individual abusing codeine.3
  • Low self-esteem: It is common for people who suffer from low self-esteem to experience depression and anxiety. This may lead them to self-medicate with substances.
  • Chronic medical conditions: Studies say more than 10% of people who take opioids may become reliant. Codeine is a form of narcotic analgesic which is used in the treatment of mild to moderate pain and can lead people to become addicted over time.4

What Are Treatment Options For Opioid Use?

People experiencing a substance abuse disorder may need treatments and added support to help them overcome addiction. There are various options available for people who want to overcome addiction. Below are some of the treatment options:
  • Medically supervised detoxification: Detoxification is often the first part of treatment for people struggling with substance abuse. The process aims to remove the substance from the body while treating the withdrawal symptoms in a safe manner. This procedure is available in most rehabilitation centers. 
  • Use of medications: The use of approved medications goes a long way in treating addiction. Medications stabilize the patients and reduce cravings and the risk of experiencing a relapse. Oftentimes, this process is also called medication-assisted treatment.
  • Behavioral therapy: Behavioral therapy has proven effective in treating people struggling with substance abuse. This therapy works by changing the thoughts of the individual affected to positive ones and helping change bad habits.

Get the Right Support at Essence Healthcare

It often feels overwhelming when an individual tries to recover from addiction alone. Overcoming substance abuse and addiction requires persistent efforts and added support from treatment centers or loved ones in order to make sure the individual does so in a healthy and safe manner. However, you don’t have to go through this time alone. 

That’s where Essence Healthcare can help. We are here to make sure that you or a loved one can overcome substance abuse and lead a sober, healthy life. Our staff will meet with you to make sure that your symptoms are addressed by creating an individualized treatment plan for your needs.

Reach Out for Unconditional Support

If you’re experiencing symptoms resulting from an opioid substance abuse disorder or need help with other substance use or mental health disorders, reach out to us today. We will be with you every step of the way during recovery and healing.

Table of Contents

Questions About Treatment?

We are a patient-first substance abuse and mental health treatment facility located in Los Angeles, California. At Essence Healthcare, we provide different levels of care from detoxification to drug rehab aftercare. Our team is standing by to address your questions. Your call is confidential and no obligation is required.