Codeine is a prescription drug that helps decrease the physical pain.  It is part of the opioid family and one of the most common pain pills prescribed in the United States. The effects of codeine are short-lived, in that it only numbs the pain for two or three hours per dose.

The opiate is often combined with other pain pills like aspirin or acetaminophen for mild to moderate pain. It is also an addition to cough suppressants to help those who have bad coughs.

Along with relieving pain, codeine gives its users a euphoric feeling as well. Because of this, it can become addictive. Pain pills are the most widely known form of drug addiction.

Because of the relaxed and high feeling that people get when taking codeine, they may end up taking the pills for longer than the doctor recommended.  Or, they may take more than prescribed to try to get an even greater euphoric effect. This can lead to dependence and addiction, which can lead to various problems for the individual.

Codeine Tolerance

When someone is prescribed codeine to reduce pain, they may develop a tolerance to the drug. This means that their body gets used to a certain amount of the drug and needs more to have the same effect. For example, someone may take a certain dose of the drug for a week and find that their pain is nicely managed. But the next week, they are hurting more, since their body has become used to that dosage. They have developed a tolerance. They may be tempted to increase the dosage on their own, which physicians do not recommend, to get more pain relief. This can undoubtedly cause dependence or addiction to the drug.

What Are Codeine Withdrawal Symptoms?

When someone uses codeine regularly for a period of time and then tries to come off the drug, they may experience withdrawal symptoms.  These symptoms can be quite uncomfortable, and pain pill usage will begin again so assuage feeling awful. This is why experts recommend attending a detox center. There are substance abuse professionals available who will help and give you plenty of support and encouragement to get through withdrawal. Below are the withdrawal symptoms:

  • Sweating
  • Body aches
  • Stomach cramping
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • High anxiety
  • Chills
  • Shaking
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Runny nose
  • Dilated pupils
  • Depression
  • No appetite
  • Irritability

As you can see from the withdrawal symptoms, it will be helpful to be in a codeine detox center to have the full support of substance abuse professionals. Going through withdrawal on your own is not your best option. Additionally, most detox centers can give you medications that will help curb the daunting withdrawal symptoms.

What Are the Stages of Codeine Withdrawal Timeline?

The time frame in which someone gets through the codeine withdrawal symptoms can vary from one person to another, depending on different factors.  Generally, the longer a person has been using codeine, the more challenging the withdrawal process may be. Factors that can influence the speed at which one gets through withdrawal include:

  • Length of time abusing codeine
  • Dosage
  • Age
  • Health condition
  • Mental health
  • Social support
  • Level of tolerance
  • How one stops using the drug (abruptly vs. tapering)

Codeine Withdrawal Timeline

Days 1-2

The first two days are usually the most challenging when coming off codeine, with withdrawal symptoms being the most intense.  One can begin feeling some symptoms within 12 to 24 hours of the last dosage. Common symptoms include muscle and bone aches, shakiness, nausea, and flu-like symptoms in general. These first few day’s cravings may be high, so it is important to have support to keep from relapsing.

Days 3-5

Heavy codeine users may experience peak symptoms during days three to five.  For those mildly addicted, days three to four may include a decrease of symptoms. Common complaints during this time period include difficulty sleeping, headache, loss of appetite, shakiness, and lack of motivation.

Day 6 and Beyond

Many people will be mostly symptom-free by day six. Some experience lingering symptoms like cravings, mood swings, fatigue, and insomnia. Heavy codeine users may contend with symptoms for several weeks, which is one reason they are encouraged to have professional therapeutic support that lasts long-term. For this reason, it is advised to go from codeine detox straight into a rehab center to continue your recovery efforts.

Why Should I Detox?

Stopping the use of codeine abruptly or cold turkey is not recommended because it can make the withdrawal symptoms very intense.  Quitting cold turkey at home may cause undue physical and psychological stress that can increase cravings for more of the drug significantly.

Medical experts state that tapering off codeine is the safer method, preferably under the care of a medical doctor or addiction specialist.

What Is the Next Treatment Step?

The first step toward getting free from codeine addiction is to go through detox under the care of a medical facility or physician. Because it is dangerous to stop taking opioids abruptly, it is important to have physician supervision to taper off the drug.  This means reducing the number of drugs incrementally over time while being monitored by substance abuse professionals. This will help when it comes to getting through the withdrawal symptoms as well.

Once the initial detox has been completed, usually lasting around a week for the body to rid itself of the toxins associated with codeine, attending a residential or outpatient rehab is advised.  This extended therapy is essential to:

  • Contend with any lingering withdrawal symptoms
  • Receive counseling to contend with any underlying emotional or mental health issues
  • Create relapse prevention and aftercare plan
  • Receive continued support

What Is Inpatient Treatment?

Inpatient treatment is a recovery program where individuals live at the facility for the duration of treatment. The time frame ranges from around 28 days to 90 or more days. This type of treatment provides a safe place with 24/7 monitoring from substance abuse specialists.  It is typically structured with daily schedules to help individuals learn valuable life skills to apply once they get back to their home environment. Some therapists can offer valuable counseling.

This is a great option for those who can leave their home and desire to really focus on their recovery without outside distraction.

What Is Outpatient Treatment?

Outpatient treatment centers are programs where individuals attend sessions throughout the week and return home, rather than living at the facility. This is a great option for those who cannot attend an in-patient treatment due to family or work. Most outpatient programs have day or evening sessions where individuals can learn about addiction recovery and life skills.  They will likely be able to receive individual counseling as well. The number of sessions per week vary but can range anywhere from three to seven.

Regardless of whether one attends inpatient or outpatient treatment, programs usually offer beneficial sessions such as:

  • Individual and/or group therapy
  • Support group meetings
  • Education an addiction and recovery
  • Relapse prevention plans
  • After-care programs

Start Your Journey To Recovery Today

If you or a family member are addicted to codeine, it is advised that you reach out for help via a codeine detox center.  There you will be in a safe and structured atmosphere where you will be taken care of while you detox the harmful drug toxins out of your body.  Do not delay in getting off of codeine, as the drug can cause severe damage to your organs over time. Short-term use of codeine for pain is helpful, but abusing the drug is very dangerous.

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