Codeine can often deceive its users into believing that it’s completely safe as many individuals do not view this legal medication as addictive or harmful to health. Yet, codeine addiction is a serious issue that can lead to disastrous consequences. There were 200 deaths in the UK due to drug poisoning from codeine in 2021. In addition to its detrimental side effects, codeine use may serve as a stepping stone to other opiates when users strive to attain a stronger high.
To avoid the detrimental impact of codeine addiction on your health, relationships and career, understanding the hold this drug can take on your physical and mental health is an essential step to equip you with the necessary resources for recovery.
What is codeine and how can it be abused?
Codeine is a type of opiate medication that is used to treat mild to moderate pain and coughs. It works by attaching to opiate receptors in the brain, spinal cord and other parts of the body, which can reduce pain and suppress coughing.
Codeine can be abused in a few different ways. One common way is by taking higher doses than prescribed, either by taking multiple pills at once or by crushing and snorting the pills to enhance the effects. Another way that codeine can be abused is by mixing it with other substances which can increase the risk of overdose.
What is codeine addiction?
Codeine addiction is a form of opiate addiction in which a person becomes dependent on codeine. Codeine addiction is characterised by compulsive drug-seeking behaviour and the inability to stop using codeine, despite the negative consequences it may be causing in a person’s life. Codeine addiction can develop when a person takes the medication for an extended period of time, even when used as directed by a healthcare professional.
Common paths to codeine addiction
There are several paths that can lead to codeine addiction. Some of the most common ones include:
- Medical use: Many people become addicted to codeine after being prescribed the medication for pain or cough relief. Even when used as directed, codeine can be habit-forming and some people may continue to use the medication even after their pain or cough has resolved.
- Recreational use: Some people may use codeine for recreational purposes, seeking out the medication for its euphoric effects. This may involve taking higher doses than recommended or mixing codeine with other substances, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines, which can increase the risk of overdose.
- Self-medication: Some people may use codeine as a way to self-medicate for other issues, such as anxiety or depression. While codeine may provide temporary relief from these symptoms, it can also lead to dependence and addiction.
- Peer pressure: In some cases, people may be introduced to codeine by friends or family members who are already using the medication. Peer pressure can be a powerful influence and some people may feel compelled to try codeine in order to fit in or feel accepted.
- Prolonged usage: Prolonged use of codeine can lead to physical dependence and tolerance, meaning that a person may need to take higher doses of the medication to achieve the same effects.
It’s important to be aware of these paths to codeine addiction and to seek professional help and support if you or someone you know is struggling with codeine use. With the right resources and treatment, it’s possible to overcome addiction and achieve lasting recovery.
Am I addicted to codeine?
To determine whether you may have a codeine addiction, consider asking yourself these questions as a way to assess your situation realistically:
- Do I feel like I need codeine to function normally?
- Have I tried to quit or cut back on my codeine use, but found it difficult or impossible?
- Do I spend a lot of time thinking about codeine or planning when and where to use it?
- Have I experienced negative consequences as a result of my codeine use, such as health issues, legal problems or strained relationships with loved ones?
- Have I continued to use codeine despite these negative consequences?
- Have I experienced withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit or cut back on my use?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, it may be time to seek professional help for codeine addiction.
What are the risk factors for codeine addiction?
Not everyone who uses codeine becomes addicted, but certain factors can increase the risk of addiction. Some of these factors include:
- Genetics: Studies have shown that addiction can run in families and those who have a family history of alcohol or drug addiction may be more vulnerable to developing a codeine addiction themselves.
- Environment: The environment in which a person lives can also play a role in their risk of codeine addiction. Living in a neighbourhood with a high prevalence of drug use, poverty and violence can increase the likelihood of addiction.
- Frequency of use: The more frequently a person uses codeine, the greater the risk of addiction.
- Mental health: People who struggle with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, or trauma may be more likely to turn to drugs like codeine as a means of coping.
The effects of codeine abuse and addiction
If you are concerned about your own codeine abuse, or that of a loved one, there are certain signs that indicate your drug use is becoming problematic. These signs may manifest as both short-term and long-term physical and mental side effects.
Short-term health effects…
- Headaches and migraines
- Fatigue and drowsiness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Slurred speech
- Dry mouth
- Memory loss
- Slowed breathing and heart rate
- Loss of consciousness
- Constricted pupils
- Lack of coordination
Long-term side effects…
- Decrease in cognitive functions
- Damage to internal organs
- Long-term memory loss
- Intestinal blockages
- Eyesight deterioration
Additional risks of codeine addiction
Addiction to codeine can have a profound impact on all areas of your life, including your ability to perform well at work or school. The sedative properties of codeine can impair your concentration and make it challenging to carry out tasks effectively.
Codeine addiction can also take a toll on your relationships. Your obsession with the drug may lead to neglect of your loved ones, while financial struggles associated with your addiction can add further strain. Additionally, codeine abuse may trigger uncontrollable mood swings or depression that can cause you to mistreat those around you.
How is codeine addiction treated?
Addiction is a chronic illness and without appropriate treatment and ongoing management, individuals are likely to persist in their harmful behaviours. At Banbury Lodge, we offer a comprehensive codeine detox and codeine rehab programme that tackles the underlying factors contributing to codeine addiction and empowers individuals to make a complete shift in their mindset and conduct.
Our programme provides a respite from the typical triggers, allowing you to concentrate fully on your sobriety and establish a sturdy framework for ongoing recovery. By personalising our approach, which combines various therapies, we are enabled to address the unique needs of each individual and address all the complex aspects of codeine addiction.
Supporting a loved one with codeine addiction
Overcoming codeine addiction is not easy, and can make a sufferer feel completely isolated. If you are concerned about a loved one and want to support them through this process, here are some suggestions that you may find helpful:
- Educate yourself: Learn as much as you can about codeine addiction, its effects and available treatment options. This will help you understand what your loved one is going through and how you can best support them.
- Approach the topic with compassion and concern: Talk to your loved one in a non-judgmental way, expressing your love and concern for them. Avoid criticising or blaming them for their addiction.
- Offer support: Let your loved one know that you are there for them and that you support their decision to seek help. Offer to help them find a treatment centre or to accompany them to appointments.
- Set boundaries: It’s important to set boundaries to protect your own well-being. This may include setting limits on enabling behaviours or seeking support from a therapist or support group.
- Encourage professional help: Encourage your loved one to seek professional help. Offer to help them research treatment options and to make appointments.
Frequently asked questions
Codeine abuse can also cause other health problems such as liver damage, seizures and heart problems that can be life-threatening if left untreated. Additionally, codeine addiction can lead to risky behaviour, such as driving while under the influence, which can result in fatal accidents.