Codeine Addiction and Abuse

If you’ve ever been in pain, had a cough, or suffered from a cold, there’s a good chance you’ve taken the drug codeine. While using codeine occasionally could alleviate your discomfort, taking too much can be harmful and even deadly.

Codeine Addiction and Abuse

Commonly used to treat pain, coughs, or diarrhea, codeine is a very common drug addiction that comes in a number of forms. Manufacturers frequently combine it with other drugs. It’s sometimes combined with the medication Tylenol and used as a pain reliever. This medication is also known by Tylenol with Codeine #3, Tylenol #3, and similar names. Codeine also combines with another pain reliever, Empirin, a type of aspirin, to form Empirin 3 (or Empirin #3).

When it’s combined with the medication Actifed, codeine can help treat allergies, colds, the flu, and coughs. Robitussin A-C and Promethazine with codeine cough syrup are other medications that contain codeine to help treat coughs and colds. This is a brief list of just some of the combinations. Codeine is also a component of other drugs, including Voltaren Forte, Oxa Forte (Oxaforte), and Gelonida. Because codeine is combined with so many drugs, it comes in different forms. You can find codeine in tablet and capsule form. It also comes as a liquid and sometimes as a thicker type of syrup. You typically take these forms orally (by mouth). You can also inject the liquid pain reliever codeine phosphate into a muscle or under your skin.

Codeine is a controlled substance. That means you need a prescription for it and can’t just buy it over the counter at a pharmacy or supermarket. It’s a synthetic drug because it doesn’t occur naturally. You can also use codeine to make other drugs, including a class of drugs called hydrocodones. This category of drugs includes drugs such as Hycodan, Lortab, Lorcet-HD, Vicodin, and Vicoprofen. Drug dealers and users find this class of drugs very desirable, which has lead to their increased usage. This means that you or someone you love might be addicted to this type of substance and need help.

Manufacturers use codeine to make other drugs called hydrocodone, a class of drugs that includes Vicodin, Hycodan, Lorcet-HD, Lortab, and Vicoprofen. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) notes that hydrocodones are frequently prescribed and abused. Doctors wrote over 136 million prescriptions for hydrocodone in the United States in 2013.  The prescriptions were for the legal medical use of the drugs.

Codeine is a type of drug known as an opioid. Opioids are drugs that attach to places in the brain, spinal cord, and other places in the body called opioid receptors. When opioids attach to these receptors, you feel less pain.

You typically take codeine to relieve your pain, stop your coughing, or end your diarrhea. If you take the correct, prescribed doses of codeine occasionally for their recommended uses, the codeine should have the normal opioid effect. In other words, the codeine will block your pain or stop your coughing for a few hours until the dosage wears off. If you use too much codeine, you can become so accustomed to it that you don’t feel its effects with your normal dosage. You’ll have to take more and more of it to feel its effects, leading to a condition called tolerance. You could become used to these high levels of the drug and become addicted (dependent) to it.

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Signs and Symptoms of Codeine Abuse

Codeine can and does effectively relieve pain for many people. Other people take the drug or forms of the drug for other reasons. The effects of prescription drug abuse are wide ranging and can lead to negative outcomes ranging from minor annoyances to lethal outcomes.

Although you might not think you have a problem with your codeine use, you could be wrong. Unfortunately, codeine abusers and codeine addicts are often the last ones to know about their problems with the drug. Luckily, there are ways to identify your addiction and help others with their own addictions.

Some of the coming to the common signs include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Dilated pupils
  • Drowsiness
  • Lack of concentration
  • Dizziness
  • Lack of Judgement
  • Vomiting

Side Effects of Codeine

As with other drugs, codeine can produce a host of changes in your body and your mind. Physically, codeine use can produce stomach aches, nausea, and even vomiting. It can give you a headache, make you constipated, or make it more difficult to urinate. It also produces mental changes. Codeine can make you lightheaded, dizzy, drowsy, and produce mood changes. Abusing codeine can also lead to long-term brain damage.

You can also experience an allergic reaction to codeine. Symptoms of an allergic reaction to codeine include breathing difficulties, hives, and swelling of the lips, tongue, throat, or face. If you have this type of reaction, you should get immediate medical attention.

Since codeine is combined with other drugs, the other drugs could contribute to its harmful side effects. Codeine thus can be harmful by itself or when used in conjunction with other drugs.

Overdose Symptoms of Codeine

If you experience particular side effects of codeine, medical professionals recommend finding immediate medical help. These reactions include breathing problems, twitching muscles, stomach and intestinal spasms, clammy skin, dizziness, drowsiness, fatigue, pupils that look like pinpoints, and lips and fingernails that look blue. Overdosing on codeine can also make you lose your consciousness, lapse into a coma, suffer from shock, or die.
Codeine can affect the normal functioning of your heart. It can lower your blood pressure. It can also give you a weak pulse, which is a sign that your heartbeat is weak. Both symptoms are just some of the serious consequences that codeine can produce.

Codeine  Withdrawal and Detox

If you overdose on codeine, you might receive different types of treatment. Depending on your symptoms, you might receive medication to counteract the effects of the codeine or a breathing tube to help you breathe. The medical staff could give you an IV, put a tube in your nose and into your stomach in order to pump (evacuate) your stomach, monitor your heart rate with an EKG, or X-ray your chest. They might also give you a laxative or activated charcoal to remove the codeine from your body and make sure it doesn’t move from your stomach to other parts of your body.

These varied treatments demonstrate how codeine affects different parts of your body. They also demonstrate how medical help is crucial if you want to withdraw from codeine or detox (detoxify) your body from its effects. Several good inpatient rehab centers have drug detox treatment in their facilities that allow you to remove these toxins.

Codeine Treatment and Rehab

An in-house detox facility is a sign of a good rehab center. After all, rehab centers require you to receive detox anyway. If you receive your detox at the inpatient center, you can just remain at the same place to receive different forms of drug rehab treatment afterward. This inpatient center can help you with the medical and emotional aspects of your detox and post-detox treatment.

If you’re looking for an inpatient rehab center for your codeine abuse, you should find one that has experience specifically treating codeine abuse. It might sound obvious, but the more specific your treatment is, the more likely it is that you will find a targeted, effective treatment that addresses your specific needs and problems.

The Rehab Treatment Process

  • Step 1: Intake-When you arrive at your facility you will be assessed by the medical professionals to determine your treatment through detox, as well as your rehabilitation program.
  • Step 2: Detox-After your assessment or intake you will be taken to your room where you can rest and be monitored while you go through the withdrawal of your drug use. Detox can range from 1 day to a week, depending on the drug of choice and the user.
  • Step 3: Rehab-After you finish detox you will be ready to begin your addiction treatment, which can range from a variety of different options. This is when you will be able to meet others, attend lectures, participate in group or individual counseling, and learn the tools you need to stay clean.
  • Step 4: Aftercare-When your time at the facility is over, you will have to go back to your life. This can be a challenge for a lot of people, but part of your treatment includes aftercare. This is usually outpatient counseling in a group or individualized setting, where you are slowly introduced back to your life and responsibilities.

The steps to recovery are tough, it is difficult and scary but also exciting. By going to the treatment you are giving yourself a second chance at life, and allowing yourself to be free from your addiction.

Addressing Codeine Addiction

Coming to Terms with Your Codeine Addiction

Do you need frequent, daily use of codeine to manage your pain? Do you say you need the drug to make it through the day? If you need codeine frequently and in increasingly large doses, you may be abusing codeine or even addicted to it. You’re addicted if you feel you need codeine and hurt physically and/or mentally without it. You’re abusing codeine or addicted to it if it’s interfering with your relationships, your job, your schooling, and your other activities and commitments. You’re abusing codeine if it’s preventing you from living your normal daily life.

Helping a Friend or Family Member Address Their Codeine Addiction

It’s often easy to see the changes that codeine addiction produces in your friends or family members. It’s harder to address and treat these changes.

Interventions are one way to address these changes. In these meetings, friends and family members meet with codeine users to discuss how codeine use has negatively impacted their lives. It’s important to invite people the users that like and respect this intervention. It’s also important not to include people who have substance use disorder problems themselves. By inviting the right people to interventions, friends and family members can provide strong support for the users. The support can allow them to build an emotional foundation to address their problems and ultimately seek help for them.


  • Let them know you are aware of their problem
  • Let them know that you care, and want to help
  • Tell them that there are treatment options for them
  • Tell them that you love them and will be there


  • Bring this up when they are under the influence
  • Make them feel like they are failures
  • Let them convince you they don’t need treatments
  • Bring up too many hurtful reminders of their addiction at once

The Bottom Line: You Can Beat Codeine Addiction

If you’ve reached this point it is hard to deny the fact that you’re serious about beating your codeine addiction, and that is something to have pride in. Your life matters and there is no reason why you should allow a drug to dictate the rest of your life when help is available. Remember, choosing to go into a rehab treatment center for drug abuse will help you rid yourself of the horrible side effects you’ve had to endure, extend your life span, and most importantly place you on track towards regaining your own life. So don’t fight addiction alone. Instead, allow us to help you live the life you deserve to have.

Payment Options for Codeine Abuse Treatment

If you are addicted to codeine, hydrocodone, or a similar drug, you don’t want your addiction to make you a statistic. Treatment can help you remove yourself from the grip of drugs.

There are many stresses involved with picking the right rehab facility, one of them is how will you pay for treatment. If you call us today we will verify your insurance benefits for you, and go over the best rehab options for you.

We can help you make sense of your benefits and advocate for maximum coverage to get you into one of our top rehab centers.

Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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