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Codeine Detox And Withdrawal Symptoms And Timeline

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

May 21, 2019

Codeine is a prescription opioid used to treat mild to moderate pain. This drug comes with the potential for abuse and addiction. Abusing codeine puts people at risk for withdrawal symptoms when the drug is stopped. Withdrawal symptoms from codeine include increased sensitivity to pain and flu-like symptoms.

Codeine is a common prescription medication used to treat moderate pain. It’s also used in cough suppressants and alongside other painkillers like Tylenol. This drug is an opioid and belongs to the same category of medications like Vicodin and OxyContin.

Though less potent than other opioids, codeine still comes with the potential for abuse and addiction. In fact, most forms of this drug are classified as Schedule II substances and are highly monitored by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Like other opioids, using codeine for an extended period of time can lead to a physical dependence on the drug. Taking more codeine than what is prescribed or taking it more often can also increase the risk of dependence and addiction.

Someone who is addicted to or dependent on codeine will likely experience withdrawal symptoms when not taking the drug. Many people continue to abuse codeine to avoid these withdrawal symptoms.

There are several factors that contribute to the withdrawal symptoms an individual will experience. These symptoms can range from mild to uncomfortable and can last for several days or weeks.

What Are The Symptoms Of Codeine Withdrawal?

When someone who is physically dependent on codeine stops taking the drug, he or she will likely go through a number of withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms of codeine withdrawal are similar to that of other opioids.

Withdrawal symptoms from codeine may include:

  • sweating
  • fever
  • chills
  • depression and other mood changes
  • muscle aches
  • insomnia
  • increased sensitivity to pain
  • stomach pains
  • agitation
  • anxiety
  • diarrhea
  • flu-like symptoms
  • increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • nausea and vomiting
  • tremors
  • decreased appetite

Codeine withdrawal symptoms are rarely life-threatening. However, withdrawing from this drug can be highly uncomfortable. Many people who attempt to withdraw from codeine alone end up using the drug again to relieve the symptoms of withdrawal.

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Codeine Withdrawal Timeline

People may begin to experience codeine withdrawal symptoms as soon as a few hours after the last dose is taken. Withdrawal symptoms are often easy to notice, especially in people who have abuse codeine over an extended period of time.

The symptoms of experience can vary greatly from person to person. However, many people experience withdrawal symptoms along a general timeline.

The following is a typical timeline of the withdrawal symptoms from codeine:

  • One to four days after last dose — People usually experience the most intense symptoms of withdrawal during the first four days of detox. Symptoms may include muscle aches, nausea, and insomnia.
  • Five to seven days after last dose — Most physical symptoms have passed after a week. However, many people will experience psychological symptoms during this time. Psychological symptoms may include depression and intense cravings for the drug.
  • Eight days to a month after last dose — All physical symptoms have typically subsided by this time. However, many people will experience cravings for codeine as well as depression and other mood changes for several weeks or months after quitting the drug.

Detox Program For Codeine Withdrawal

Many people find it difficult or even impossible to stop using codeine or other opioids on their own. Luckily, there are several different treatment options to aid in the detoxification process.

Individuals who are addicted to or dependent on codeine often find the most success through medically supervised detox programs. These programs provide 24/7 support and care throughout the entire withdrawal process.

A detox program can also provide medication to help ease symptoms of withdrawal. A physician may also administer a replacement medication like Suboxone to allow the person to slowly taper off of opioids. This can help reduce withdrawal symptoms and make the detox process more manageable.

The length of time a person will spend in a detox program will depend on his or her level of addiction and physical dependence on codeine. The average length of a detox program is between three to seven days.

Treatment For Codeine Abuse And Addiction

Once a medically supervised detox program has been successfully completed, many people will need to continue onto a formal treatment program. Inpatient programs are often recommended for individuals with a substance use disorder.

Inpatient treatment provides intensive programs of recovery and requires an extended stay at the rehab facility. Many inpatient programs offer customized approaches to getting and staying sober.

To learn more about codeine withdrawal symptoms and detox options, contact a treatment specialist today.

MedlinePlus - Codeine

FDA - Codeine Information

Mayo Clinic - Codeine

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