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Although codeine is less potent then morphine or heroin, it is, still, an opiate drug with a potential for abuse, dependency, and addiction. Those who use it repeatedly may quickly find out that they need a higher dosage to get the pain relief or other effects that they desire. As tolerance builds, physical and psychological dependencies develop and the person will suffer symptoms of withdrawal when they stop using codeine. At this point, there are only two ways to go – through the withdrawals or on to addiction.
How Does Codeine Work?
Codeine is a psychoactive and CNS depressant drug that works by blocking signals between the brain and central nervous system which controls other systems within the body. This means it changes chemicals in the brain and decreases responses to other stimuli, such as pain and cough, through the CNS. In high dosages, codeine, like other opiates, produces euphoria by increasing the amounts of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is the naturally occurring “feel good” chemical in our brains that heightens our sense of pleasure.
What is Codeine Addiction?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “drug-induced changes in brain function can have many behavioral consequences, including an inability to exert control over the impulse to use drugs despite adverse consequences – the defining characteristic of addiction.”
How Can I Tell I have a Codeine Addiction?
If you have used codeine repeatedly, frequently, or in large amounts, you may have become addicted. You can tell if you have a codeine addiction if you continue to use although you;
- Developed a tolerance to codeine – needing more of the drug to achieve the same desired effects.
- Have a dependency – whether physical or psychologically, you feel like you have to have codeine to feel “well”, otherwise, you suffer withdrawals.
- Have withdrawals when you drastically reduce or stop using codeine and try to avoid these withdrawals by continuing to use.
- Uncontrollably crave codeine and use it compulsively.
- Suffered unwanted mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, anger, or aggression because of your use.
- Fear running out of codeine and obsessed over next dose.
- Fraudulently obtain codeine by forging prescriptions, lie to your doctor to obtain more, or engage in “doctor shopping” which includes visiting multiple doctors for prescriptions of codeine.
- Committed illegal or harmful acts to obtain more codeine.
- Suffered family, financial, employment, legal, social, or health consequences.
- Been unsuccessful in attempts to quit.
- Engaged in risky or unwanted behavior such as unsafe sex.