Codeine is an opiate drug used to treat mild to moderate pain that doesn’t respond to simple painkillers. It is available from doctors as a prescription only medicine or directly from a pharmacy combined in lower doses with aspirin, ibuprofen or paracetamol. Prolonged use can lead to ‘cravings’ and eventually a codeine addiction. Tolerance can also build, so that users have to take more just to get the same effects or to avoid an unpleasant codeine withdrawal.
Symptoms and side effects of codeine addiction
Codeine promotes feelings of warmth and well-being, calm, relaxation and sleepiness. However, it can also lower blood pressure and suppress normal breathing, increasing the risk of respiratory arrest. The risk of overdose and death increases if you mix too much codeine with other drugs that suppress breathing, such as alcohol, benzodiazepines like Valium, or other opiate drugs.
Higher than recommended doses of codeine in a tablet combined with another type of painkiller (commonly paracetamol, aspirin or ibuprofen), increases the risk of experiencing the side-effects of these other drugs. While they may seem harmless in normal doses, they can lead to serious problems in overdose, including kidney failure, liver failure, and indigestion or bleeding from the stomach, which can be fatal.
Physical dependence is common in regular users and codeine withdrawal can involve a number of side effects.
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Codeine addiction treatment
We wish to assure you that help is available and we’re here to help you navigate a range of treatment options. We would urge anyone who is contemplating professional codeine addiction treatment to seek help with this process. Reaching out for help is very much the first step in tackling an addiction; one that requires a lot of courage but will ultimately help you get well.