Codeine Detox: Do You Need To Detox From Codeine?

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D on May 27, 2022

Codeine is a prescription pain reliever that can be habit-forming and cause withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking it all at once. If you’re addicted to codeine, detoxing from it in a detox center or treatment facility may be recommended.

How To Detox From Codeine

Codeine is a prescription opioid drug that can cause physical dependence with chronic use. If you stop taking codeine very suddenly, this could cause symptoms of withdrawal.

You may need to detox from codeine if you:

  • have taken codeine regularly for more than a few weeks
  • misuse codeine alone or in combination with other drugs
  • feel physically sick if you miss a dose of codeine

Here you’ll find information about how to detox from codeine, side effects of codeine detox, and how long it takes to detox from codeine.

Find out more about detoxing from opioids

What Is Codeine Detox?

Codeine detox, or detoxification, is the body’s process of eliminating codeine from your system. This can occur through a tapering process or by stopping codeine all at once.

Codeine detox can also refer to a type of short-term drug treatment program. This type of treatment program serves to help individuals stop taking codeine under clinical supervision.

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How Codeine Detox Works

Within a detox program, this process will begin with an initial intake assessment performed by a medical professional or admissions specialist.

They may ask questions such as:

  • What is your age?
  • How long have you been taking codeine?
  • What dose of codeine do you take?
  • How often do you use codeine?
  • Can you describe your substance use history?
  • Have you been diagnosed with a mental illness?
  • Do you have any other medical conditions?
  • Do you take any other drugs (or drink alcohol)?

From here, medical staff can draw up a detox plan that is customized according to your needs. Then, comes the process of withdrawal, which can be mild to severe in nature.

After the acute withdrawal period, detox staff may recommend further treatment for drug addiction as needed and may offer a referral for treatment at a nearby rehab center.

Codeine Detox And Withdrawal Symptoms

Codeine can be physically and psychologically addictive. Stopping codeine all at once, or too quickly, may result in withdrawal symptoms if you’ve been taking codeine for some time.

Early signs of codeine withdrawal include:

  • anxiety
  • runny nose
  • excessive yawning
  • teary eyes
  • agitation
  • restlessness
  • insomnia
  • muscle aches

Over the next few days, additional physical and psychological symptoms of codeine withdrawal may develop.

Late codeine withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • sweating
  • drug cravings
  • fast heart rate
  • increased blood pressure
  • nausea and vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • stomach cramping
  • dilated pupils
  • loss of appetite
  • backache
  • hot and cold flashes

Is Codeine Detox Dangerous?

Detoxing from codeine can be risky without medical support. Although codeine withdrawal symptoms aren’t usually life-threatening on their own, there are certain health risks.

Risks of codeine detox include:

  • dehydration: Severe dehydration can occur as a result of excessive vomiting, sweating, and diarrhea if fluids aren’t properly replenished during detox.
  • relapse: Withdrawal can be distressing. Without medical support, severe withdrawal may lead to relapse, which can perpetuate a cycle of substance abuse.
  • overdose: People with opioid use disorder who detox from codeine can be at high risk for overdose after detox, largely because this process can reduce a person’s drug tolerance.

Additional complications may develop if you’re detoxing from more than one drug, or if you have other health conditions such as liver disease, hypertension, or a mental illness.

Codeine Withdrawal Timeline

Codeine withdrawal symptoms generally develop within eight to 24 hours after taking your last dose. This applies strictly to people who are physically dependent on codeine.

Day 1: Early side effects of codeine detox, also known as withdrawal, may develop within the first 24 hours. You may feel anxious, restless, and begin to feel physically sick.

Days 2-4: Additional symptoms, including sweating, nausea, and diarrhea may develop. This may feel like a bad case of the flu.

Days 5-7: Peak withdrawal occurs within the first week. After five to seven days, physical symptoms should begin to decline or go away completely.

Days 7+: Certain symptoms, including anxiety, depression, insomnia, and drug cravings, may linger for some time after detox. For some, this may last months or even years.

What Factors Can Affect How Long Codeine Detox Lasts?

The timeline for how long it takes to detox from codeine can vary somewhat based on a number of different factors.

These factors can include:

  • drug formulation (i.e. extended-release vs. standard formulation)
  • dose taken
  • drug abuse
  • polysubstance abuse (i.e. abusing multiple drugs)
  • duration of codeine use
  • certain medical conditions
  • impaired liver function
  • treatment provided during detox

Severe codeine addiction and complications during previous detox attempts may also affect this timeline, as well as the intensity of the withdrawal process.

What Is The Best Way To Detox From Codeine?

The safest way to detox from codeine, particularly if you have a history of codeine abuse or addiction, is medical detox.

Medical Detox For Codeine Addiction

Medical detox is a type of detox program that involves staying in a detox facility or inpatient treatment center overnight for around-the-clock treatment and supervision.

Benefits of medical detox include:

  • reduced risk of relapse
  • can offer treatment for severe withdrawal
  • offers 24-hour medical supervision
  • can provide medication for codeine cravings
  • can connect you with a nearby addiction treatment center

Detoxing at home, or on an outpatient basis, comes with certain risks. For people with severe opioid dependence or addiction, this is not generally recommended.

Codeine Detox FAQs

Find answers to frequently asked questions about codeine, codeine detox, and treatment options for prescription opioid addiction.

❓ Can You Quit Codeine Cold Turkey?

✔️ Quitting codeine cold-turkey can be risky. This may cause severe symptoms of withdrawal, as well as strong drug cravings for codeine within days of beginning detox.

Seek medical advice before stopping codeine all at once. Your doctor may recommend a tapering process or a medical detox program for clinical supervision.

❓ What Type Of Drug Is Codeine?

✔️ Codeine belongs to a class of drugs known as opiates. It is prescribed as a painkiller.

Due to its effects on the body, it’s also classified as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, meaning it slows CNS activity.

❓ What Medications Are Used For Codeine Detox?

✔️ Opioid detox programs may offer medications to help relieve codeine cravings and other moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms.

Common medicines used for codeine detox include:

  • for opioid cravings: methadone, buprenorphine (Suboxone), and naltrexone
  • for physical sickness: lofexidine (Lucemyra), clonidine

Other types of medication for pain, mental health disorders, or unusual symptoms of withdrawal may be provided as necessary, on a case-by-case basis.

Find Codeine Detox And Addiction Treatment Today

Detox is the first step on the road to recovery from opioid addiction. If you or a loved one is addicted to codeine, we can help you find addiction treatment options.

Don’t wait. Call our helpline for free today to learn more about codeine detox and how to find a detox program that’s right for you or a loved one.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D on May 27, 2022
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