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Codeine: Side Effects, Addiction, Overdose & Treatment
If you’ve ever been prescribed painkillers for a medical issue, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with codeine. Codeine is a powerful narcotic analgesic for treating moderate to severe pain. Doctors also prescribe it to suppress coughing. While codeine is effective at relieving pain, you must understand the risks and side effects before taking it.
This blog post will provide you with everything you need to know about codeine, including how it works, potential side effects, and drug interactions. Read on to learn more.
What Is Codeine?
Codeine is one of the prescription opioids given to patients suffering from light to medium pain. This drug is a natural alkaloid derived from the seeds of the opium poppy.
This substance is known by several brand, generic, and street names. Some of the known brand names of this substance include Aspalgin, Nurofen Plus, Codral Cold and Flu, Panadeine Forte, Mersyndol, Panamax Co, and Mersyndol Forte.
Aside from that, it is also called by various street names to hide the true name of the substance for illegal purposes. These street names can vary depending on the culture of the area or vicinity. Some of its known street names are little c, Cody, captain Cody, and school boy.
For drugs containing Tylenol and codeine, their street names are T4, T3, T2, T1, fours, and dors. Whereas, a soda drink with codeine is called sizzup, Texas tea, and purple drank.
What Does Codeine Look Like?
It is very easy to find this drug in stores and pharmacies because of its physical appearance and a pill identifier. This prescription drug is sold in tablets and syrup form.
The tablet form of this drug has both the regular and extended-release action. Codeine 15 and Codeine 30 are both regular tablets with strengths of 15 mg and 30 mg, respectively. While the tablet extended-release form of this drug has strengths of 50 mg, 150 mg, and 200 mg.
Meanwhile, the liquid or syrup form of this drug is called Codeine Phosphate Inj. The strengths of this syrup or liquid drug are 5 mg, 30 mg, and 60 mg.
What Is Codeine Used For?
This substance has long been used by several people for medicinal purposes. It is taken orally to relieve mild to moderate pain. Likewise, a small dose of this substance is known to suppress cough but does not cure the main cause of it.
Consequently, the medical society has seen this suppression dangerous for it worsens the cough condition of the patient.
How Does Codeine Work?
This prescription drug is under the Opioid class. Typically, after oral ingestion, this substance mixes in the blood and targets the brain. In the brain, it specifically attaches itself to the opioid receptors where it inhibits the brain from feeling any pain or discomfort.
Moreover, this drug also stimulates a relaxing and euphoric feeling in the patient. This is due to the drug’s capacity to stimulate the secretion of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a hormone and brain chemical responsible for the reward system and a happy feeling in the brain.
How Long Does Codeine Stay in Your System?
Meanwhile, if a person plans to undergo a drug test, the knowledge of how long it stays in the body is important. Typically, this substance has a half-life of 2.5 to 4 hours. This means that if you ingest 50 mg of this drug, after 2.5 to 4 hours, the amount of substance left in your system is 25 mg or half of the original amount.
Furthermore, other variables which affect the length of stay of this substance inside the body include health condition, immune system, genes, and lifestyle. In the blood and urine, the presence of this substance can still be detected 1 day and 1 to 2 days after the last intake, respectively.
In the saliva, this substance can be detected one to four days after the last intake. Meanwhile, in the hair follicles, it stays for about ninety days after the last intake.
What are the Short and Long-term Effects of Codeine?
In terms of side effects, short and long-term side effects can be felt by the person after orally ingesting this drug. Some of the common short-term effects of this drug are a euphoric sensation, drunkenness, vomiting, dizziness, difficult bowel movement, and slight skin allergies.
Whereas, its common long-term effects of using this drug include an imbalance in mood, depression, lethargy, and slowed breathing. Adverse effects can also include paralysis and death.
Is Codeine Addictive?
Despite being less potent than morphine, this drug is dangerous. Because of its high addictive potential due to its euphoric sensation in the brain, it can be habit forming.
In comparison with morphine, the potency of this drug is 0.1, which means one needs to orally ingest 100 mg of codeine to experience the same intensity as 10 mg of morphine.
Most people get addicted to this drug because of the dependency developed by the person. An uncontrolled and high dosage of this substance can increase the risk of addiction.
What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms?
The withdrawal symptoms of this substance are both physical and psychological.
The common physical withdrawal symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, headache, increased heart rate, and blood pressure. While the psychological symptoms are anxiety, irritability, depression, and insomnia.
What Causes Codeine Overdose?
Codeine overdose happens when a person takes more than the recommended dosage or high levels of the drug. An overdose can also occur if the person is allergic to the drug or if they have liver or kidney problems. The symptoms of an overdose include nausea, vomiting, constipation, breathing problems, and seizures. If you think you or someone you know has overdosed on codeine, call 911 immediately as it can be life threatening.
Mixing other substances with codeine such as alcohol, benzos, and cocaine is highly dangerous. This can cause an accidental overdose. The general effect of the mixture is an aggravation of the negative effects such as depression, slowed breathing which can lead to the collapse of the respiratory system, and a sudden drop in blood pressure.
How Do You Treat Codeine Overdose?
Overdose treatment usually involves naloxone. Naloxone is a medication used to treat opioid overdoses. It works by quickly binding to the opioid receptors in the brain and reversing the effects of opioids.
The best approach is to call emergency services immediately when you or someone you know has overdosed on codeine.
How Do You Treat Codeine Addiction? Detox & Treatment
The success rate of any treatment program depends on the willingness and acceptance of the patient for the need for external help.
Consulting with an expert addiction treatment center is the best way to start the journey to recovery. Treatment centers will be able to create a personalized treatment plan for you based on your unique situation.
Addiction treatment usually starts with detoxification. Detoxification is the process of letting the body rid itself of the drugs. This can be done through different methods such as tapering off, cold turkey, or medication-assisted treatment.
This is highly recommended because of the level of care and guidance needed for this kind of addiction. To help ease the withdrawal effects, the patient is prescribed to take Suboxone.
After detox, the person will then undergo therapy to help them deal with the underlying issues that led to the addiction.
Behavioral therapies can hasten the recovery process. The therapies included in treating this addiction are individualized and group therapy sessions.
The most common types of therapy are cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy.
Cognitive behavioral therapy helps the person to change their thoughts and beliefs about drugs and addiction. Dialectical behavior therapy, on the other hand, helps the person to develop coping mechanisms to deal with stressful situations without resorting to drug use.
Final Thoughts: Addressing Codeine Abuse and Addiction
Codeine addiction is part of the increasing problem of prescription drug abuse in the United States. This problem is compounded by the fact that codeine is often mixed with other drugs, which can lead to accidental overdoses.
If you or someone you know is struggling with codeine abuse or addiction, it’s important to seek professional help as soon as possible.