Are you or a loved one struggling with chronic pain? Experiencing persistent pain can have a debilitating impact on one’s life. It hampers daily activities, making even the simplest tasks arduous and unbearable.

That is where codeine comes into play. Prescribed by physicians as a short-term pain reliever, codeine can provide much-needed relief.

Codeine Detox Program

Unfortunately, prolonged misuse of codeine can lead to drug abuse and addiction. Our bodies can develop tolerance to codeine’s pain-relieving effects, leading to the need for increased dosage and potential unwanted consequences; that is why it is crucial to follow your doctor’s instructions and use it only for the recommended duration to ensure safety and effectiveness.

In this post, we will delve into how codeine works and discuss the possible withdrawal symptoms to expect during detoxification. Additionally, we will explore complementary treatment methods to aid in a complete recovery and the journey to a life free from codeine and other addictive opioid drug dependencies.

What Is Codeine?

Codeine is an opioid drug that works by binding to specific receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and gastrointestinal tract. These receptors are responsible for regulating pain, emotions, and other bodily functions. When codeine binds to these receptors, it blocks the transmission of pain signals while inducing feelings of relaxation and pleasure. These effects make it highly addictive, leading to physical and psychological dependence.

While beneficial for short-term pain management, prolonged use of codeine can lead to physical dependence. Our bodies adapt to the presence of codeine and require larger doses to achieve the same desired effects. This phenomenon is known as tolerance and can quickly spiral into addiction if not addressed.

Long-term or chronic pain should not be treated with this medication, and it can only be obtained with a prescription from your doctor.

When is Codeine Used and How Does It Work?

Codeine is often prescribed when other forms of non-opioid pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, haven’t been able to manage pain.

When consumed, codeine changes into opioid morphine, which makes it metabolize better and more efficiently, thus helping the body make use of the drug’s analgesic effect. This process is carried out in the liver with the help of an enzyme called CYP2D6, which plays a huge role in the metabolism, or breakdown of codeine and many other drugs.

It’s through CYP2D6 that the drugs become active in our systems.

With codeine, the active agent, or called metabolite, is morphine, which works by directly affecting the central nervous system. In other words, they interrupt how nerves signal pain between the brain and the body, thus effectively reducing the pain sensation.

They also affect the region of the brain that controls coughing. As such, codeine has been widely hailed as one of the most effective cough suppressants on the market that works to relieve cough symptoms, such as wheezing, clearing the throat, and gasping for air.

Even though codeine isn’t as habit-forming as other painkillers like hydrocodone or oxycodone, users can still become hooked to it through prolonged misuse and increased dosages. That’s why codeine is often considered to be a gateway drug to other opiates, such as morphine and heroin.

Symptoms of Codeine Withdrawal

Stopping codeine suddenly after consistent use can lead to withdrawal syndrome as the body adjusts to function without the drug. The symptoms of codeine detox tend to range from mild to severe, and even life-threatening complications depending on the individual receiving treatment.

The majority of those in recovery will feel the effects of withdrawal within a couple of days after taking their last dose of codeine. During those first days, symptoms will be at their strongest. After a week, the symptoms will subside, but they will return in waves. 

First Stage of Withdrawal:

The first symptoms of withdrawal can include sweating and muscle pain. They can also include various flu-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, chills, and a slight fever. Then, they’ll begin to subside and even disappear entirely after a week or so.

Second Stage Withdrawal:

During the second stage of withdrawal, individuals often experience episodes of nausea and a decrease in appetite. In more severe instances, symptoms may include vomiting and diarrhea.

There are also emotional and psychological side effects associated with substance use disorder. These tend to last longer than the physical symptoms.

Fortunately, there are plenty of treatment facilities where individuals can get the help and support they need to recover from their addiction.

Physical Symptoms of Codeine Withdrawal

In addition to those mentioned above, other common symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Low blood pressure
  • Increased or irregular heart rate
  • Dizziness
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Stomach pain
  • Constipation
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Light-headedness

Psychological Symptoms of Codeine Withdrawal

Those recovering from codeine withdrawal likely feel irritable and highly anxious as their bodies transition and adjust to life without codeine. Doctors will likely prescribe an anti-hypertensive and vasodilator medication, such as clonidine.

This class of medicines works to ease the effects of psychological symptoms, which can include the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Intense cravings for codeine

Getting Help for Codeine Addiction

If you or a loved one is struggling with a codeine addiction, it’s essential to seek help as soon as possible. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2018, an estimated 2 million Americans suffered from opioid use disorder, including codeine. This makes it crucial to address the issue and seek professional help.

Substance abuse treatment for codeine addiction typically involves a combination of medication and several therapy sessions. 

Seeking help and treatment is the first step toward long-term recovery, and our drug addiction treatment center is here to support you. We offer a range of substance abuse treatment programs, including specialized treatment for opioid use disorder

The Duration of Codeine Detox

The duration of detoxification typically ranges from one to three months, although it varies based on the severity of an individual’s opioid addiction and the specific treatment they are undergoing.

On average, individuals experience the most challenging physical withdrawal symptoms of codeine, such as nausea and muscle aches, approximately 12 hours after their last drug use. These symptoms can persist for about a week before gradually subsiding over a period of 2-3 weeks until they disappear entirely.

It is essential to consider that psychological withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, often persist for a longer duration. Nevertheless, these symptoms will gradually diminish after approximately one month with appropriate medical supervision and specialized therapy techniques.

The Method of Codeine Detox

Moreover, the detox method chosen by the user significantly impacts the length of the withdrawal period.

For instance, abruptly discontinuing codeine, commonly known as ‘quitting cold turkey,’ is the fastest method to eliminate codeine from the body. Nonetheless, it is often accompanied by highly intense symptoms, which can impose significant physical and psychological stress.

On the other hand, opting for the taper method to address codeine dependence can be a lengthier process, often spanning weeks or even months. However, it is generally more effective due to the close oversight of a team of skilled medical professionals, therapists, and healthcare providers.

Codeine Detox Timeline

Here are some factors that affect the severity and timeline of an individual’s withdrawal process:

  • The duration of codeine use
  • The frequency of codeine use
  • Average dosage levels
  • How the drug was consumed
  • Whether codeine was combined with other drugs or alcohol
  • Mental health conditions
  • Gender
  • Body weight
  • Medical history

Now, let’s take a look at a general timeline of codeine withdrawal:

  • First 12 hours: the drug leaves the body during the first 12 hours after the last time it was used, which triggers the onset of opioid withdrawal symptoms
  • Days 1–2: symptoms start slowly but intensify during this time. Medication-assisted treatments are usually used to control symptoms if required.
  • Days 3–5: symptoms will begin to resolve because the body has adjusted to the absence of codeine
  • Days 6–30 and onward: while physical symptoms will likely have disappeared, some psychological symptoms may persist for weeks or even months in some cases.

Is It Necessary to Undergo Detoxification From Codeine?

Medical detox from codeine is crucial for individuals with drug dependence. It’s important to note that detoxing without medical supervision can be dangerous.

Chronic codeine reliance can have detrimental effects on mental and physical well-being, including reduced blood pressure and impaired cognitive function.

In more severe cases, codeine addiction can result in kidney and liver damage, respiratory failure, and even death.

Additionally, the psychological and emotional aspects of addiction cannot be overlooked. For instance, misuse of codeine has been associated with heightened anxiety levels and severe episodes of depression. These side effects can significantly affect daily activities and harm both personal and professional aspects of one’s life.

Moreover, detox is not only crucial for managing withdrawal symptoms but also for breaking the cycle of addiction and achieving long-term recovery. Without detox, individuals may struggle to stay clean from codeine as they will experience intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms that can be hard to resist.

Is a Codeine Detox Sufficient for a Complete Recovery?

In many instances, detoxification alone may not suffice. Therefore, experts and healthcare professionals strongly advise combining it with comprehensive medical guidance and long-term support, including active participation in the renowned 12-step Program, to minimize potential relapse.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), personalized counseling, and group therapy are also integral parts of a successful recovery process. Behavioral therapy can help individuals identify and address underlying issues that may have led to their addiction.

They aim to help individuals address the triggers of their addiction. When an individual understands what their triggers are, they can find coping mechanisms to avoid them, thus preventing them from relapsing.

To help get started with codeine detox, individuals can choose from any of the handful of treatment options below, depending on their personal needs and health requirements.

  • Inpatient detox: involves staying in a rehab center for 1–6 months, depending on the severity of the case
  • Outpatient detox: involves the on-site administration of medications carried out during regularly scheduled visits to a treatment facility or hospital for mental and physical check-ups
  • Behavioral therapy, on the other hand, focuses on helping individuals develop coping mechanisms and healthy habits to prevent relapse.
  • Medically assisted detox (MAT): MAT involves the use of FDA-approved medications like buprenorphine, methadone, or naltrexone to help manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings for opioids. It is often administered during the first week of detox to help ease the intense symptoms of codeine withdrawal. 
  • Detoxing at home: This involves the monitoring of a specialized medical professional who can advise on medical support and perform individual health assessments.
  • In addition to professional treatment, having a strong support system is also crucial in the recovery process. Support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous, provide a safe environment for individuals to share their experiences, seek guidance, and receive support from others who are going through similar struggles.

Final Thoughts

While prescription opioids can be helpful in managing pain, they come with a high risk of addiction and other health complications. It’s crucial for individuals with chronic pain to work closely with their healthcare providers to find alternative treatments and manage potential addiction risks.

For those who are struggling with codeine or other opioid use disorders, seeking help and support is crucial. By focusing on overall health and well-being and utilizing available resources, you can overcome addiction and lead a healthier, happier life. Remember that recovery is possible, and you are not alone in this journey towards better health. Let Allure Detox help you on your path to recovery with our personalized treatment plans and compassionate support.

So, prioritize self-care, reach out for support, and never give up hope for a better tomorrow. Together, we can overcome the challenges of opioid use and build a healthier future for ourselves and our communities. Take the first step towards a brighter future today. Contact Allure Detox today!

Published on: 2020-03-02
Updated on: 2024-06-19

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