Codeine Addiction And Treatment Options

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on January 11, 2022

Codeine addiction results from repeated codeine abuse and can have a negative impact on health and overall well-being. Addiction treatment can help you begin healing from this, beginning with detox, coupled with medical and behavioral healthcare.

Codeine Addiction And Treatment Options

Codeine is an opioid medication that can effectively relieve mild to moderate pain and cough. Unfortunately, it is frequently misused, and can become addictive over time.

Codeine abuse can have harmful effects. Some of these effects include physical dependence, addiction, and risk of opioid overdose.

Drug abuse treatment programs can help you or a loved one overcome addiction, provide treatment for opioid withdrawal, and teach you ways to manage addiction in recovery.

Examples Of Codeine Abuse

Codeine abuse describes any use of codeine that is not prescribed by a doctor, or any use that is not explicitly outlined within instructions for using the medication.

What codeine abuse can look like:

  • taking higher doses than prescribed
  • taking doses more frequently
  • combining codeine with other drugs for enhanced effects
  • snorting codeine
  • injecting codeine
  • plugging codeine
  • taking someone else’s prescription medication
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Codeine And Polysubstance Abuse

People who become addicted to codeine will often mix it with other drugs in order to either enhance or offset a drug’s side effects.

This practice, known as polysubstance abuse, is extremely dangerous and carries a high risk for overdose. It is especially dangerous to mix codeine with other depressants, like alcohol.

Common codeine drug combinations include:

  • Xanax and codeine
  • alcohol and codeine
  • codeine cough syrup, soda, and hard candy (purple drank)
  • codeine and other CNS depressants
  • codeine and stimulants (e.g. cocaine, meth)

Side Effects Of Codeine Abuse

Codeine is a depressant that can relax the body. It can also produce euphoria, or a rush of happiness and pleasure, in moderate to high doses.

Unfortunately, codeine abuse can also result in a number of adverse side effects.

Side effects of codeine abuse may include:

  • dry mouth
  • constipation
  • foggy thinking
  • drowsiness
  • slow or difficult breathing
  • decreased blood pressure
  • slowed heart rate
  • mood swings
  • general apathy (lack of interest)
  • increased sensitivity to pain
  • muscle twitches or spasms
  • stomach pain
  • development of addiction, dependence, and withdrawal symptoms

Signs And Symptoms Of A Codeine Addiction

Addiction is a chronic disease that does not develop instantaneously. People who are addicted to codeine may display a number of emotional, cognitive, and physical symptoms of addiction.

The following signs and symptoms can point to a codeine addiction:

  • taking excessive or very frequent doses of codeine
  • thinking about codeine constantly
  • being unable to cut down on or stop using codeine
  • lying or being secretive about codeine use
  • craving codeine throughout the day
  • difficulty concentrating or focusing on tasks
  • continuing to use codeine despite negative consequences
  • avoiding friends and family members because it conflicts with your drug use
  • feeling out of control with your drug use
  • engaging in risky or dangerous behaviors

Addiction can cause people to act in ways they normally wouldn’t. This can develop in anyone, regardless of gender, age, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.

Codeine Overdose Signs And Symptoms

Codeine abuse and addiction carry a high risk for opioid overdose, which can be fatal and should be treated as an emergency.

Codeine overdose symptoms include:

  • bluish tint to the skin
  • clammy skin
  • very slow or shallow breathing
  • stopped breathing
  • unresponsiveness
  • weak pulse
  • confusion
  • sedation
  • tiny pupils
  • gurgling sounds
  • coma

Codeine overdose is treatable with the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone (Narcan), officially classified as an opioid antagonist medication.

When administered quickly, Narcan can reverse an overdose and save lives.

What Is A Fatal Dose Of Codeine?

Codeine can be lethal at a dose of 0.5 to 1 milligram (mg). This dosage may vary according to personal factors, including codeine tolerance, age, overall health status, and polysubstance abuse.

See more about the lethal dose of codeine.

Treatment Programs For Codeine Abuse And Addiction

Getting help for drug addiction can be a difficult decision, but it can also be one of the most rewarding decisions you ever make for yourself and others affected by your addiction.

Many rehab facilities across the U.S. offer treatment programs for codeine addiction or other forms of opioid drug abuse. Treatment for this condition can come in several forms. Typically, this begins with detoxification.

Codeine Detox

Codeine detoxification (detox) is the first step in the treatment process for those who have become physically dependent on codeine through chronic substance use.

Opioid detox programs can offer:

  • treatment for codeine withdrawal symptoms
  • medical supervision
  • behavioral support
  • monitoring for health concerns
  • additional care coordination

This program is short-term, and detox is not a treatment for addiction by itself. After detox, it’s highly recommended that you seek help through another type of substance abuse rehab program.

Residential Treatment

Residential rehabilitation, also known as inpatient drug rehab, is an intensive rehab program that is highly recommended for people who are overcoming a chronic or severe codeine addiction.

Residential rehab programs for opioid addiction can offer round-the-clock supervision, daily medical care, as well as behavioral health treatments like therapy and 12-step programming.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, is the leading treatment for an addiction to prescription opioids like codeine, oxycodone (OxyContin), and illicit opioids like heroin.

This treatment incorporates the use of addiction medicines like methadone or buprenorphine with behavioral health treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy and drug abuse counseling.

Medication can help you safely withdraw from opioids of abuse and relieve codeine cravings, while behavioral treatments can help you develop coping skills for life in recovery.

Outpatient Treatment

Overcoming addiction will often require ongoing support for months, and sometimes years.

Outpatient treatment programs for codeine addiction can offer ongoing support for people who have mild drug abuse issues, or have recently completed an inpatient rehab program.

Outpatient treatment for painkiller addiction may involve:

  • regular medical visits
  • individual counseling sessions
  • family counseling sessions
  • recovery support groups
  • taking medication for opioid use disorder
  • dual diagnosis treatment

How Long Does Codeine Stay In Your System?

Codeine can stay in your system for up to four days, on average.

Codeine use can be detected through urine, saliva, blood, and hair testing. Codeine can be detected in urine for up to 3 days after last use. Blood tests can detect codeine for up to 24 hours while hair tests can detect codeine for up to 90 days.

Codeine Addiction FAQs

Find answers to common questions about codeine abuse and addiction.

Codeine is a low-potency opioid narcotic drug that’s used to treat mild to moderate pain. It is similar to drugs like morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and tramadol.

Codeine is also combined with other over-the-counter drugs, such as acetaminophen in Tylenol 3, and cough suppressants, to treat colds and coughs.

Codeine is a natural opiate. It is classified by the U.S. federal government as a schedule II controlled substance, due to its high abuse potential and risk for dependence.

It can also be described as a central nervous system depressant and opioid narcotic.

Illicit codeine (bought on the street) can cost anywhere from $1 to $50 for a single dose, depending on the formulation, where you live, and dosage, among other factors.

See more about the cost of drugs sold on the street.

Addictive pain relievers may be referred to by a number of street names. Common street names for codeine include purple drank, lean, sizzurp, and captain cody among others.

Find Codeine Addiction Treatment Today

Recovering from codeine addiction is possible. For most, this requires some form of drug abuse treatment. We can help you find a drug rehab program that’s right for you.

For more information on treatment for codeine addiction, and how to find a treatment center near you, call our helpline today.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on January 11, 2022

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