Codeine Abuse and Addiction
Codeine is considered a “mild” opioid painkiller that has a long history of widespread abuse and addiction. Even though codeine is much less potent, it can still be just as dangerous as its big brother, morphine.
Understanding Codeine Effects
Usually available in the form of a prescription-strength cough syrup, codeine seems harmless to most people. However, because of its widespread medical use for pain relief and cough suppression – codeine is less regulated than other opioids in its class and is easier to obtain.
Because of its similarities with other opioids, people that become addicted to codeine often go on to abusing stronger opioids, such as Oxycontin or morphine, to achieve the same effects with less medication.
When taken in higher than recommended doses and abused, codeine produces effects that are similar to those of the drug morphine, of which it is also derived, and include:
- Mild rash
Addiction to Codeine and Withdrawal Symptoms
Mild opioids, such as codeine, are dangerously overlooked or underestimated drugs that carry a high risk of drug abuse or chemical dependency.
A drug prescribed frequently for small or minor conditions can result in major addiction as a person requires more of the drug because of the body’s tolerance. As the physical pain is masked with a chemical band-aid, many users learn it can also numb emotional pain or stress, which can also contribute to the development of an addiction.
Signs of codeine addiction withdrawal include:
- Muscle aches
- Runny nose
- Lacrimation (eyes tearing up)
- Inability to sleep
- Excessive perspiration
- Frequent yawning
How Does Codeine Work?
Codeine produces a high in the user because once it hits the brain, it is then converted to morphine and binds to the opioid receptors. After this effect has taken place, neurotransmitters in the brain are triggered that produce a flood of feel-good effects that can cause pleasant feelings, euphoria, drowsiness, and sedation.
Codeine is often prescribed for the treatment of mild to moderate pain and is distributed in pill form. This opioid drug is often combined with other medications, namely acetaminophen (Tylenol), to enhance its analgesic effects.
Dangers of acetaminophen toxicity or overdose are high when users take these combination drugs. Most codeine users do not realize the amount of Tylenol in each pill can add up quickly and cause acute liver injury or failure – which can lead to death. Acetaminophen administered in therapeutic doses can even cause transient elevations in serum aminotransferase.
Codeine Abuse Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pediatric Anesthesia
- More than 115 people die from opioid overdoses every single day in the United States.
- Overdoses from opioids in 52 areas in 45 states increased 30 percent from July of 2016 through September of 2017.
- Pediatric Anesthesia published a report that showed that codeine was most frequently prescribed by dentists (14 percent) and emergency physicians (18 percent) and usually for trauma-related pain.
End an Addiction to Codeine for Good
Before a person is prescribed codeine from their doctor, honesty regarding former addictions is important information to share. Before the person even realizes it, a powerful addiction to this seemingly “harmless” opioid can develop.
If you or a loved one has an addiction to codeine, you’re not alone. However, life can change. Contact our south Florida addiction rehab today to learn how our unique approach to drug therapy can help you or your loved one break free from the bondage of addiction for good.