Codeine is a prescription drug that is used to treat mild to moderate pain. It belongs to a class of pain relief drugs known as opiates, or opioid analgesics.
Codeine use can be detected through:
- urine tests: for up to three days
- blood tests: for up to 24 hours
- saliva tests: for up to 48 hours
- hair tests: for up to 90 days
Opioids like codeine are frequently misused. People who misuse codeine or become dependent on it through chronic use may have traces of the drug detectable in their systems for longer.
What Is Codeine?
Codeine is a naturally occurring substance similar to the drug morphine, another prescription pain reliever. It acts in the body by binding to opioid receptors in the central nervous system.
Codeine can come in the form of:
- cough syrup
Codeine is found in some cold and cough medicines that contain ingredients such as acetaminophen (Tylenol with Codeine), promethazine, aspirin, and carisoprodol.
What Does Codeine Do?
When taken, codeine can provide pain relief and reduce coughing. It can also have other side effects, such as euphoria, drowsiness, dry mouth, and constipation.
Codeine can be habit-forming. When misused, codeine can become addictive. Taking codeine in any way other than prescribed carries a risk for drug dependence, addiction, and life-threatening overdose.
How Long Codeine Stays In Urine
Urine screenings are the preferred method for detecting illicit or prescription drug use. Codeine can be detected in urine samples for one to three days, on average.
How Long Codeine Stays In Blood
Codeine use can be detected in a blood sample for up to 24 hours after last use. This is the shortest detection window of all drug testing methods.
How Long Codeine Stays In Saliva
Oral fluids, such as saliva, can detect codeine use for up to 48 hours, or two days, after use.
How Long Codeine Stays In Hair
Hair tests screen for drug use by testing hair follicles. Traces of codeine can remain in the hair for up to three months, or 90 days, after your last dose.
What Factors Can Affect Codeine Detection Times?
Average detection times don’t apply to everyone. A variety of factors can affect the amount of time drugs like codeine stay in the body.
These factors include:
- Frequency of use: Taking codeine regularly can lead to increased tolerance and dependence, both of which can extend the window for codeine detection.
- Dose taken: The body will take longer to metabolize higher doses of codeine compared to smaller doses.
- Polydrug use: Taking multiple drugs at one time, including alcohol, can affect the amount of time it takes for codeine to leave your system.
- Metabolic rate: Slow metabolism—as a result of older age or certain health conditions—can result in a longer detection window.
- Body composition: Personal factors such as weight and body fat can affect drug metabolism.
- Kidney and liver function: Impaired liver and kidney function can cause slower drug metabolism.
To an extent, factors such as hydration and activity level can also affect detection times. Although it’s possible to get a false positive for codeine use, this is not common.
How To Get Codeine Out Of Your System
Getting codeine out of your system takes time. If you’re unable to stop taking codeine long enough to get a negative test result, this may be a sign of drug dependence.
Drug dependence can cause the body to go through withdrawal if you attempt to stop taking it. Withdrawal symptoms can be mild to severe in nature.
If you or a loved one is dependent on codeine, you may need to taper your dosage or seek medical support through a medical detox program to help you stop taking it.
Codeine Withdrawal And Detox
Trying to quit codeine on your own can be dangerous. This is especially true for people who are addicted to codeine and those who misuse it with other drugs.
Detox programs for codeine can offer:
- 24-hour support
- medical supervision
- quiet environment
- medicine for withdrawal
Codeine abuse and addiction can require additional treatment. Treatment for codeine addiction is offered by some outpatient providers and inpatient rehab centers.
Treatment For Codeine Abuse And Addiction
Recovering from addiction is a multi-step process. After detoxing from codeine, additional treatment within a substance abuse rehab program may be recommended.
Treatment for codeine addiction may involve:
- medications for opioid use disorder (e.g. methadone, naltrexone, buprenorphine)
- behavioral therapy
- chronic pain management
- group counseling
Every person has their own needs when it comes to treatment. By calling our helpline, we can help you find an opioid treatment program that’s right for you.
Codeine addiction can be an isolating struggle. You don’t have to face it alone. Call our helpline today to find detox and treatment options for codeine addiction near you.
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- Redwood Toxicology Laboratory—Laboratory Testing Reference Guide
- U.S. National Library of Medicine:MedlinePlus—Codeine
- HealthPartners—Interpretation of Opiate Drug Screens