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What is codeine?

Codeine is a powerful opioid which sometimes referred to as a narcotic. Doctors prescribed the drug as a treatment for mild to moderately severe pain. It usually comes as cough suppressant which contains properties similar to morphine and hydrocodone. The body can convert even a small amount of codeine to morphine. The exact process which makes the body convert codeine remains unknown. However, codeine binds the opioid brain receptors that results to a decrease sensation of pain throughout the body.


Also, codeine increases the body tolerance to pain, even if the person still experiences clear indication of pain. Aside from reducing pain, the doctor recommended drug also produces drowsiness and breathing distress. The drug is often combined with acetaminophen aspirin or (Tylenol) for effective treatment


History of Codeine

It all started when a German pharmacist discovered how to synthesized morphine from opium. It paved the way for a French chemist, Pierre Robiquet to discover codeine in 1832. The term ‘codeine’ derived from the Greek word which means the head of the poppy plant. The FDA approved the drug in 1950 and since then, doctors prescribed codeine for pain management treatment.


Why was Codeine made?

Experts believed that codeine produces the minimum addictive properties and the safest of all opiate drugs. Furthermore, the drug is widely used as analgesics or painkillers. However, even with these factors, the drug does not guarantee that is not addictive or safe at all.


Why is Codeine abused?

Codeine belongs to the group of opiate drugs. Coincidently, opiates are narcotics with a high probability for addiction. The acts as a pain reliever and cough suppressant and contains a small amount of opiate. However, with a long term used, the drug can increase a higher chance for addiction.


What causes Codeine addiction?

Usually, codeine is either in liquid or pill form with a common mixture of acetaminophen. When administered by a medical professional, codeine is rather safe for a minor cough to bothersome coughs treatment. Unfortunately, users abuse codeine because it generates the state of euphoria or relaxation feelings. A seemingly simple case of abusive behavior can quickly turn into a full-grown codeine addiction.


The FDA classified codeine as a Schedule II drug, which indicates its potential for abuse. Like all other opiates, users can experience severe withdrawal symptoms from the drug. Users typically fail to quit codeine addiction because of the fear of “cold turkey” from withdrawal symptoms.


What are the signs and symptoms of Codeine addiction?

Drug abuse for prescriptions medication is increasingly rising in the United States. Approximately 33 million Americans consume codeine for non-medical purposes. Also, the drug remains as the most over prescribed drug.


Aside from the physical symptoms of codeine, it also affects the several aspects of the social life of the user. It includes:


  • Financial problems
  • Emotional and relationship problems
  • Incapacity to work.
  • Crime related behaviors
  • “doctor shopping”, a behavior known to ask for codeine prescription from different doctors
  • Lying or “making stories” when by friends and family.


The Short-term Effects of Codeine

When taken in higher dosages, codeine can produce effects of:

  • A state of euphoria or relaxing state
  • Experiencing feeling similar to drunkenness
  • Altered perception/hallucinations


The most common side effects of codeine include:

  • allergic reactions
  • constipation
  • dizziness
  • lightheadedness
  • nausea
  • shortness of breath
  • sedation
  • stomach pain
  • rash/hives
  • itching
  • vomiting

Psychological effects of Codeine include:

  • Impaired cognitive function
  • Confusion
  • Erratic mood changes/irritability
  • Hallucinations
  • Depression
  • Anxiety


Social damages of Codeine include:


  • Broken relationships with loved ones
  • Separation within a family unit
  • Decrease participation or engagement activities previously enjoyed
  • Withdrawal or isolation from family and friends


Major Side Effects of Codeine

  • Bloating
  • blurred vision
  • chills
  • cold, clammy, sweaty skin
  • confusion
  • constipation
  • darkened color of urine
  • difficult or troubled breathing
  • dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
  • fainting
  • fast, irregular, pounding or racing heartbeat or pulse
  • fast, weak pulse
  • fever
  • indigestion
  • irregular, fast or slow, or shallow breathing
  • lightheadedness
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • no blood pressure or pulse
  • no breathing
  • pains in the stomach, or abdomen, possibly emitting to the back
  • pale or blue lips, fingernails, or skin
  • redness/flushing of the face, neck, arms, and sometimes, upper chest
  • shortness of breath
  • stopping of the heart may even lead to death
  • unconsciousness
  • unexplained tiredness or weakness
  • vomiting
  • wheezing
  • yellow eyes or skin
  • Liver damage because of acetaminophen toxicity


Since prolonged and heavy intake of the drug can cause tolerance, the user may take a higher dosage to obtain the same effect. This can eventually lead to overdose. The longer a user abuse codeine, the greater risk for them to develop tolerance. Prolonged use of codeine will eventually result in both cardiac and respiratory disease.

Signs of overdose include:

  • Bluish tint to the lips or skin
  • change in consciousness
  • chest pain or discomfort
  • constricted, pinpoint, or small pupils
  • decreased alertness or responsiveness
  • extreme sleepiness
  • loss of consciousness
  • severe sleepiness
  • erratic heartbeat
  • death



Severe effects of Codeine include:

  • Organ failure
  • Coma
  • Death


What are the treatments available for Codeine addiction?


Doctors usually recommend a detoxification process as the first step for Codeine addiction. It flushes out all of the toxins from the body. However, withdrawal symptoms make it uncomfortable for the user who undergoes detoxification. If you need to detox then contact our  codeine detox experts.


The most common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Muscle pains
  • Sweating
  • Stomach pains/cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • vomiting

The road to recovery from codeine addiction is a difficult process, but under supervision of a medical professional can ease the discomfort.



Rehabilitation usually follows a detoxification process. Most users choose an inpatient rehabilitation program because they can receive the much-needed care to recovery from codeine addiction. Medical practitioners provide immediate attention around the clock for patients to regain their lives back.

An outpatient rehabilitation program serves as another option for users who needs to do their daily routine. Choosing the right program is vital for a fast and effective treatment in the long run.


How long is the duration of the withdrawal?

Duration of Withdrawal

Symptoms of withdrawal vary in each person because it depends on the length and how often the user takes codeine. However, a user can experience the worst physical symptoms typically last for about 7 days. The psychological symptoms of withdrawal like depression and anxiety may last for a couple of months after the user quits.



Timeline for Codeine Withdrawal
1 to 4 days Within the first four days from the last intake, the physical symptoms peak. Users may experience, intense nausea, insomnia, restlessness, muscle pain, sweating, diarrhea and vomiting. It usually last for the first few days.
5 to 7 days When physical symptoms begin to fade, the psychological symptoms will kick in. Users will experience anxiety and depression. Also, users may experience dehydration in the first few days of withdrawal because of extreme diarrhea, excessive sweating and insufficient water intake.
8 to 30 days At this point, most of the withdrawal symptoms should fade. However, depression may still linger for months. Since, codeine addiction sometimes interconnects with mental illness.



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