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Codeine Abuse And Addiction Signs And Symptoms

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

Medically reviewed by

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

May 17, 2019

Codeine is an opioid drug used to treat mild to moderate pain. As with other opioids, codeine comes with a high risk of abuse and addiction. Many people who abuse codeine exhibit a number of signs and symptoms, including drowsiness and isolation.

Codeine is one of the most commonly prescribed opioid medications in the nation. This drug is used to treat mild to moderate pain. It is also used on occasion to treat gastrointestinal conditions such as diarrhea.

Codeine should be used exactly as prescribed. Misusing this drug or taking more than what is prescribed can greatly increase the chance of dependence on the drug.

Many people begin abusing codeine as a result of a tolerance to the drug. Tolerance is when more of the drug is needed to experience the same effects. Like other opioids, a tolerance to codeine can quickly form when the drug is taken regularly or excessively.

The more codeine a person takes, the more likely he or she is to become addicted to this medication. Codeine abuse and addiction can have many consequences and often comes with a number of noticeable signs and symptoms.

Physical Symptoms Of Codeine Abuse And Addiction

Drug abuse and addiction is not always obvious to others. Someone may abuse codeine for several weeks or months before those close to him or her notice any changes.

However, there are some symptoms and signs that may surface when someone begins to abuse an opioid like codeine. As the addiction progresses, these signs and symptoms often become more and more noticeable.

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Physical symptoms of codeine abuse and addiction may include:

  • dizziness
  • nausea or vomiting
  • decreased respiration
  • depression
  • mood swings
  • sleepiness
  • “nodding off,” especially at inappropriate times
  • slurred speech
  • dilated pupils
  • lack of coordination
  • seizures
  • itchiness

There may also be a number of behavioral symptoms exhibited by a person addicted to codeine. While many people will go to extensive lengths to hide their drug use, loved ones and friends often begin to notice these behavioral changes as the addiction worsens.

Identifying A Codeine Addiction

A person who is abusing or addicted to codeine will often go through a number of personal and behavioral changes as the abuse progresses. For example, someone may begin to lie to friends or family to hide drug use. Another sign to look out for is isolating from social settings that the individual used to participate in.

Additional behavioral signs of codeine abuse and addiction include:

  • withdrawing from loved ones and friends
  • “doctor shopping” to obtain multiple prescriptions for codeine
  • stealing codeine or other opioids from family or friends
  • isolation
  • lying about drug use
  • hiding drug use
  • missing work or school to participate in drug use or as a result of drug use
  • legal difficulties
  • health problems related to codeine abuse
  • relationship trouble

Symptoms of codeine abuse and addiction will vary from person to person. Taking the drug more often and for an extended period of time will often result in more noticeable signs of abuse.

Codeine Withdrawal Symptoms

People who are abusing or addicted to codeine will likely experience withdrawal symptoms when not taking the drug. Withdrawal symptoms can range from uncomfortable to severe and are a primary reason why people continue to take the drug despite consequences.

Symptoms of codeine withdrawal may include:

  • trouble sleeping
  • flu-like symptoms
  • stomach pain
  • nausea and vomiting
  • depression
  • suicidal ideation
  • agitation
  • psychosis
  • irritability
  • joint and muscle pain

Many people who are addicted to codeine will need to attend a medically supervised detox program. These programs can help people successfully quit the drug while providing medical support throughout the withdrawal process.

Treatment For Codeine Abuse And Addiction

Overcoming a codeine addiction may seem scary, but it doesn’t have to be done alone. There are a number of treatment options to consider when deciding to seek treatment for a substance use disorder.

Many individuals find success through formal treatment programs like inpatient treatment. Inpatient treatment provides round-the-clock care and daily addiction treatment. An inpatient program helps people not only get sober, but learn how to maintain long-term sobriety.

To learn more about the signs and symptoms of codeine abuse and addiction, contact a treatment specialist today.

Drugs.com - Codeine Dosage

The Telegraph - Q&A: what is codeine addiction?

FDA - Use of Codeine and Tramadol Products in Breastfeeding Women - Questions and Answers

Narconon - Signs and Symptoms of Codeine Abuse

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