Many of us probably wouldn’t think twice about seeking pain relief through popular brands of medicine containing codeine. But how many of us would reconsider, knowing that these opiate-based drugs (from the same family as opium and heroin) can be highly addictive? Port of Call are here to offer advice and options on how to beat a codeine addiction.
What is codeine and is it addictive?
Codeine is an opiate drug used to treat mild to moderate pain that doesn’t respond to simple painkillers. Codeine is used as an ingredient in the well-known prescription drug known as co-codamol. It is available from doctors via the NHS as a prescription only medicine or directly from a pharmacy combined in lower doses with aspirin, ibuprofen or paracetamol.
Is codeine addictive?
The answer is ‘yes’. Prolonged use can lead to ‘cravings’ and eventually a full-blown codeine addiction. Tolerance can also build, so that users have to take more just to get the same effects or to avoid unpleasant codeine withdrawal symptoms.
Such codeine withdrawal symptoms can include nervous tremors, anxiety, yawning, sweating, runny nose, sleep disturbance, nausea, goose-bumps, restlessness, diarrhoea, abdominal cramps and muscle spasms. The Daily Mail reported that in just over a decade, between 2001 and 2012, annual deaths “in which some form of codeine has been implicated” rose nearly three-fold, from 46 to 120.
Codeine addiction symptoms
Like other opiates, codeine can cause drowsiness, nausea and breathing difficulties. Other symptoms of codeine abuse can include stomach pain, constipation, itchiness, dizziness and occasionally fainting and changes in vision.
Heavy users have been known to experience seizures and overdoses can result in loss of consciousness, shallow breathing, limpness, slow heartbeat and cold or clammy skin. Codeine users may also find it difficult to think clearly, making driving and operating heavy machinery particularly dangerous and ill advised.
Essentially, if you feel like you have developed a dependence on codeine and have a desperate need to obtain and consume it to soothe uncomfortable feelings, then you may have a problem. You may also observe one or more of the following:
- You need to take more of the drug to achieve the desired effect
- You ask for repeat NHS prescriptions before they are due
- You have difficulty moderating or stopping
- You feel guilty about your drug abuse
- You have experienced problems with work, money or legal issues due to your drug use
- You are secretive about your drug use
- You have arguments or disagreements with your family about your drug use
- You use other medications to alleviate the side effects of prescription drugs
- You experience codeine withdrawal symptoms when stopping/reducing the drug
- You continue to take the drug despite actual or likely negative consequences
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How to beat codeine addiction
Codeine addiction often goes unnoticed because taking painkillers for both acute and chronic conditions such as headaches, backache, joint pain and toothache has become a socially acceptable practise. Addicts are also often too embarrassed to seek help, or struggle to get the support they need, which can compound the problem. If you’re concerned that you, or a loved one, might be at risk then let us reassure you that help is at hand.
There are many ways to get help and Port of Call is here to assist you. Our team is made up of people in recovery and professionals who are trained in addictions counselling. We urge you not to suffer in silence and reach out to someone who’s been there and can help. We will give you a free and confidential assessment over the telephone and can then help you to find the most appropriate course of treatment and support.
Make us your first Port of Call. If you, or a loved one, are struggling with codeine addiction we can help you to access the right addiction help at the right time. Call our free codeine addiction helpline on 08000029010. Send us a call back request or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Whether you are looking for help with an addiction in the North West, all the way down to the South or anywhere else in the UK, we can help you through the recovery process.