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Injecting Codeine Intravenously (IV Use): Effects And Dangers

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

Medically reviewed by

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

May 20, 2019

Codeine is a prescription opioid most commonly used to treat moderate to severe pain. As with other opioids, this drug comes with the potential for abuse and addiction. Injecting codeine can have many negative side effects and comes with the risk of dangers like overdose.

Codeine is a narcotic pain medication used in the treatment of mild to moderate pain. Codeine can also be used as a cough suppressant or to help treat diarrhea. This drug is available as a cough syrup, tablet, or injectable liquid.

This drug is part of the opioid family. As with other opioids, codeine comes with the potential for abuse and addiction. Codeine should be used exactly as prescribed by a doctor and is typically not recommended to take long-term.

When taken in limited doses as prescribed, codeine is typically not addictive. However, even people who use this drug safely and as recommended can become dependent on it. Abusing codeine puts people at a higher risk for physical dependence and addiction.

Individuals who abuse codeine may do so in a number of ways. This drug can be taken orally as well as injected. Injecting codeine intravenously can put people at risk for a number of side effects and dangers.

Side Effects Of Injecting Codeine

Abusing codeine can cause a person to experience a number of side effects. These can range from mild to severe. The more codeine a person takes, the more likely he or she is to experience these side effects.

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When someone injects codeine, the drug reaches the bloodstream and brain much more quickly than when it is taken orally. This can cause the side effects of this drug to set in much faster.

Common side effects of codeine abuse include:

  • dizziness
  • trouble walking
  • pinpoint pupils
  • depressed breathing
  • confusion
  • constipation
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • seizures
  • hallucinations
  • delirium
  • depression
  • impaired judgment

One of the most dangerous side effects of codeine abuse is lowered heart rate and breathing. If respiration and heart rate is low enough, it can lead to oxygen being cut off from the brain and other vital organs. This can cause seizures, coma, and even death.

Dangers Of Injecting Codeine

In addition to the side effects mentioned above, injecting codeine can put individuals at risk for a number of dangers. Any method of drug injection can come with risks and cause a variety of harmful health effects.

Dangers of injecting codeine may include:

  • track marks on the skin where the drug is injected
  • collapsed or inflamed veins
  • various skin injections
  • cardiovascular infections
  • poor blood flow that can result in swelling of the legs and feet
  • clogged blood vessels
  • organ damage

When a person is abusing a drug like codeine intravenously, he or she may share needles with other drug users. Sharing needles can put people at risk for a number of additional dangers, including HIV, hepatitis, and other bloodborne infections and illnesses.

Getting Help For Codeine Addiction

If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to codeine, know that help is available. Overcoming opioid addiction may seem daunting and even impossible, but you don’t have to do it alone.

Formal treatment is often recommended for those dealing with an addiction to opioids like codeine. A formal treatment plan may include a medically monitored detox program as well as inpatient treatment.

To learn more about the effects and dangers of injecting codeine intravenously, contact a treatment specialist today.

MedlinePlus - Codeine

WebMD - Codeine Phosphate Syringe

Narconon - Effects of Codeine Abuse

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