Codeine Effects and Abuse
Codeine use often starts out innocently as long as it is a prescription for a codeine-based cough syrup. Because codeine is less regulated than some opiates considered to be more dangerous (such as morphine and OxyContin), getting and abusing it is relatively easy. This is despite the fact that codeine is very similar chemically to drugs such as morphine and hydrocodone. Codeine also can provide effects similar to morphine including:
As an opiate, codeine runs a high risk of its users developing a tolerance and eventually a dependence on it. Although many people begin using codeine to relieve a legitimate condition, it is frequently abused as tolerance develops. Many codeine users begin to turn to the drug to cope with all of their physical pain and then eventually their emotional pain too. If you or someone you care about is struggling with a codeine problem, get help today.
Although some people think the drug seems harmless, at high enough doses, codeine use can lead from respiratory failure, coma, to even death. This risk is especially high when codeine is combined with other central nervous system depressants such as alcohol or other opioids.
Addiction to Codeine
An addiction to codeine may develop from continued abuse of the drug in its pill form or cough medicine. Codeine can lull its users into a false sense of security because many people do not consider it to be as powerful or addictive as its opiate family members.
Codeine is considered a gateway drug to other opiates, including morphine and even heroin, which in turn is considered to be the most dangerous drug, and addiction is unavoidable.
Many people do not stop at codeine. They try to reach a better high by mixing it with other substances, such as alcohol. Because codeine and alcohol are both central nervous system (CNS) depressants, combining them can lead to dangerous levels of depression in the brain and respiratory failure.
Of course, there are some people who are more at risk of codeine addiction. Certain risk factors may make you more likely to develop an addiction to codeine and other opioids. Based on current research, those risk factors can include:
- Home and family environments that encourage misuse and abuse of substances.
- History of substance abuse.
- Untreated mental health and psychiatric disorders.
- Younger age.
- A social network that includes friends who misuse substances.
A family history of addiction can also increase your risk of developing an addiction to codeine and other substances. It is important to remember that addiction doesn’t discriminate. You can become addicted without having risk factors.
Codeine Addiction Symptoms
A person may have feelings of elation, euphoria, and drowsiness when taking codeine. However, when addicted, they are unlikely to get the associated high, as they just need the drug to function.
If you are worried that someone you care for may be addicted to codeine, there are signs and symptoms that they may display, which include:
- Pinpoint pupils
- Slow breathing
- Blue lips
- Sexual dysfunction
- Confusion or delirium
People with codeine addiction may appear sedated and also suffer from constipation and stomach pain. They may experience changes in vision as well, while heavy users can suffer from seizures.
The person may also have financial problems and have become involved in criminal activity in order to source codeine. Relationships with the person may also be faltering, as they become increasingly focused on their addiction.
Side Effects of Codeine
Like many prescription drugs, there are both short-term and long-term side effects of codeine. The longer you use or abuse a substance, the more severe the effects can be. The effects of codeine use can range from mild to severe. Unfortunately, the risk of using any opioid is overdose and death.
Short-Term Side Effects of Codeine
The short-term effects of codeine are what make it desirable and increase its abuse potential. These include feelings of relaxation, euphoria, and happiness. Other short-term physiological and psychological side effects can be immediate and dangerous, including:
- Feelings of depression and extreme sadness.
- Unusual behavior and thoughts, i.e., anger and aggression.
- Problems with urination.
- Changes in breathing, including shallow and noisy breathing.
- Slow heart rate and a weakened pulse.
- Lower cortisol levels, which can lead to nausea, fatigue, and vomiting.
- Feeling dizzy, light-headed, or faint.
- When codeine is taken, you can expect to feel the effects within an hour or so. The effects will last for several hours; it is prescribed to be taken every 4-6 hours.
Long-Term Side Effects of Codeine
The long-term effects of codeine can be detrimental and can include physical and mental changes, some of which are irreversible. Research shows that the long-term side effects of codeine abuse can lead to:
- Sleep-disordered breathing.
- Serious respiratory problems.
- Constipation and gastrointestinal issues.
- Cardiovascular issues including heart failure
- Reproductive issues.
- Higher levels of anxiety and depression.
Addiction treatment at West Valley Detox
Our specialist at West Valley Detox can help a person identify and remedy their addiction. Detoxification and psychotherapy are among the treatment options that can be used for people dependent on prescription drugs and not only. In some cases, when a person is addicted to an opiate drug and cannot stop taking it, inpatient treatment may be needed to help cleanse the mind and body within an environment of maximum safety and comfort.
During treatment for codeine addiction, group work and individual counseling can be used to help a person learn strategies for life without codeine, through building self-esteem and positive attitudes.