Codeine Addiction and Abuse

If you are concerned about the well-being of a loved one, we can help you and them – contact us now for codeine dependence and addiction.

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What Is Codeine Addiction?

Codeine is an opiate and opioid that is prescribed for the treatment of coughs and pain. It is an effective medicine when prescribed for short-term treatment but long-term misuse can result in dependency and addiction.

You may have a codeine addiction if

  • You have tried unsuccessfully to stop using it
  • You have been using it recreationally
  • You continue to use it even though it is having adverse effects on your life
  • You experience withdrawal symptoms when you don’t use it
  • You find yourself needing to use more to achieve the same effects.

Choosing to address your codeine addiction is a brave and difficult decision and our supportive and non-judgemental team will help you to get through the toughest parts of your addiction. Our team has successfully helped our clients recover from addictions for more than 25 years and we understand your fears and apprehension about treatment. We will guide you as you work towards building a life that is codeine-free.

Codeine Addiction Symptoms

Some of the behavioural symptoms that point to addiction include:

  • Taking a larger dose or dosing more frequently than prescribed
  • Combining it with other drugs or medications to enhance its effects
  • Mixing it with sweets, sugar or soda and consuming it as ‘lean’ or ‘purple drank’
  • Administering it in a different way to how it was prescribed, for example crushing tablets and snorting or injecting them
  • Using a prescription that isn’t yours
  • Buying it off the street
  • Using different doctors to get prescriptions.

We can support you through the unpleasant physical symptoms of an addiction to codeine, like

  • Loss of appetite that leads to weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Sweats
  • A decline in physical coordination
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Stomach cramps
  • Dry mouth
  • Headaches
  • Changes in your sleep patterns

Defining Codeine

Codeine phosphate is an opiate prescribed as a cough medicine and for pain management. It has a sedative and analgesic effect. It is frequently combined with paracetamol and is commercially available under different brand names. It is usually taken orally as a syrup or tablet.

Chemical formula

The chemical formula for codeine is C18H21NO3. It is found naturally in the poppy flower. It is an agonist that is metabolised in the liver to create morphine, which results in feelings of euphoria and blocks the feeling of pain.

How it’s sold

Over-the-counter medications can contain codeine in small amounts. Medications with higher strength formulations are only available on prescription. Codeine products are only available to people over the age of 18.

Codeine tablets are available in 15 mg, 30 mg and 60 mg. Codeine liquid contains 25 mg codeine per 5ml of liquid. The syrup contains 15 mg of codeine per 5ml. In therapeutic settings codeine is usually administered in 15 to 60 mg doses.

Addictive potential

People who abuse codeine recreationally do so because of the high or feelings of euphoria that result from taking it. It can cause uncomfortable psychological and physical dependence, and addiction can follow if your physical dependency is not addressed. Codeine abuse and addiction is common because it is readily available and because people underestimate its addictive potential.

The Dangers of Codeine Addiction

With long-term use, a codeine addiction poses a number of risks to your health and wellbeing, including

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Respiratory depression
  • Damage to your liver and kidneys
  • Impaired memory and cognitive function
  • Muscle spasms
  • Disruptions to your sleep patterns

Because it is perceived to be a relatively mild opiate, sometimes tolerance drives people to abuse stronger narcotics in order to feel euphoric effects.

What Is the Difference between Codeine Addiction and Codeine Abuse?

If you abuse codeine recreationally and occasionally, you may still be able to control your use. Addiction is a chronic and relapsing disease that is typified by psychological and/or physiological dependence. While it is possible to abuse codeine and not be addicted, abuse leads to addiction very quickly without professional intervention. Even if your life seems out of control, we can help you to live a substance-free life.

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Codeine Effects

Codeine is a short-acting analgesic whose effects last for a few hours. It activates the brain’s reward centre, inducing short-term euphoria, however it causes a range of long term, negative effects on your body and brain.

Physiological effects

Some of the uncomfortable and dangerous physiological effects of codeine include

  • Constipation
  • Fainting, dizziness
  • Muscle twitches
  • Itching and skin rash
  • Respiratory depression
  • Gastrointestinal upsets, including vomiting and nausea
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Acute pancreatitis
  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • Clammy skin
  • Loss of muscle tone
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Psychological effects

Initially codeine causes a rush of euphoria and the inability to feel pain, however it can also result in

  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Amnesia
  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusion
  • Lack of emotion
  • Suicidal thoughts

Effects on relationships

When you are addicted, it may seem as though your life is heading in a downward spiral. Conflicts and tensions over your loss of motivation and poor performance at work or school can affect your interpersonal relationships.

You may have stolen or borrowed money to fund your habit, or let your friends and family down as you struggled with your addiction. If these factors are in your history they don’t have to be in your future. Even though the damage may seem irreversible now, it is possible to work through these issues and to repair bonds with the people you care about so you can start living and enjoying life.

Approximately half of drug poisoning deaths in England and Wales in 2020 involved an opiate. This is a 4.8% increase over what was recorded in 2019.

How Does Codeine Addiction Affect My Family?

A codeine addiction affects every member of a household. Children of parents who have addictions are statistically more likely to develop substance use disorders themselves and are more likely to experience domestic violence. Household finances suffer as a result of addiction, and families may find themselves with legal troubles as a consequence.

Psychologically, it is very traumatic for family members to watch someone they care about struggle with an addiction. There is likely to be ongoing conflict about the substance use disorder. Some family members may withdraw, while others can develop their own dependencies as they try to cope under the strain.

You shouldn’t feel guilty or ashamed, getting help is a step in the right direction. We work with families affected by addiction so that you can heal broken relationships and address the problems that have arisen because of your addiction.

The Dangers of Codeine Overdose

A codeine overdose can be fatal and toxic levels of the substance are difficult to establish, particularly when it has been mixed with alcohol and other central nervous system depressants, which can lead to respiratory failure. Large doses are associated with kidney failure, liver failure and internal bleeding. Changing the route of administration elevates your chance of overdose.

Trying to stop using codeine at home or relapsing while you are on a rehab programme reduces your tolerance. That means, if you start using it again, the safe level is difficult to determine and you are at risk of overdose and overdose death.

About Our Drug Addiction Treatment Centre

Our Drug Addiction Treatment Centre treats each client as an individual and develops a tailored care plan for you, based on your medical history and long-term recovery needs. We recognise that addiction is a complex disease and our team of addiction specialists applies evidence-based therapies to help you overcome the challenges of your dependency.

Each patient is carefully monitored 24-hours a day to ensure you are safe and comfortable. We will take care of your nutrition and hydration, and regulate your sleep cycle so you are strong to tackle the factors that have contributed to your addiction in therapy. We will keep in contact with your loved ones and update them on your progress. We are committed to helping you achieve your long-term sobriety goals.

Why Choose Providence Projects for Codeine Dependence?

Our well-established rehab centre has helped clients to find freedom from addiction for 25 years. Our success rate is documented through our client success stories and we are well placed to help you find ways to cope with a life that is free from addiction. We sympathise with the pain and discomfort of what you and your loved ones are going through and offer you non-judgemental guidance in our rehab centre by the sea.

We are committed to affordable and transparent pricing and will ensure you have the support you need to reconnect with your inner self on your journey to long term recovery. We understand that entering rehab can be scary and our professional team of addiction specialists are standing by to empower and help you, when you’re ready to reach out for help.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is Codeine tolerance?

As you use more codeine, your brain develops a tolerance to it. This means that you need to use more to achieve the same effects, putting yourself at risk of overdose. People who develop codeine tolerance may move onto stronger opiates and develop more severe substance use disorders.

Do I need to seek residential rehab?

Getting residential rehab gives you the best chance of long-term recovery and avoiding relapse. The withdrawal process is uncomfortable and unpleasant, and an inpatient programme offers the best support during the most trying times. It also removes you from your home environment so you are in a secure and distraction-free space for the duration of your treatment. If you cannot afford private inpatient rehab, you can consult the NHS network to find an addiction treatment centre near you.

How is Codeine harmful?

Long term codeine use is associated with a wide range of adverse effects. Damage to the brain, kidneys, liver and eyes can occur, as well as cognitive impairment, amnesia and problems with memory. Because it causes respiratory depression, permanent brain damage can occur if you experience oxygen deprivation. Overdose and overdose death is a real risk.

How to help if someone is overdosing?

A codeine overdose is a medical emergency that requires immediate intervention. An overdose can cause respiratory failure, which can be fatal. To manage the risk of aspiration or choking, try to move the person onto his/her side. If the person has stopped breathing, administer CPR. Tell the emergency responder whether the person has used other substances, and when their last dose was taken.


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