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From cough syrups to pain relievers, codeine offers a wide range of beneficial remedies provided they’re used as directed. Codeine’s regular appearance on drugstore shelves belies the actual harm this type of drug can cause. This is especially the case with prescription type codeine drugs.
As one of a handful of natural opium alkaloids, codeine comes from the opium poppy seed plant, also a plant source for heroin. Unfortunately, those who start using this seemingly harmful drug for recreational purposes don’t find out how harmful codeine’s effects can be until the damage is done.
While difficult to endure, codeine detox offers the only sure way of breaking this drug’s hold over a person’s life. Codeine detox treatment helps addicts make it through this most difficult stage in the recovery process.
After months or years of codeine abuse, stopping drug use leaves the brain in a state of total dysfunction. According to the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide, the sudden absence of codeine forces brain functions to pick up where codeine leaves off.
Until the brain can re-establish some form chemical stability, uncomfortable and often distressing withdrawal effects will take hold. Codeine detox treatment offers those in recovery with the needed physical and psychological supports to make it through this difficult period.
Tolerance Level Effects
Tolerance levels have a considerable influence on what type of codeine detox treatment will best meet a person’s recovery needs. Codeine, like most all opiates, causes brain cell receptor sites to secrete excess amounts of neurotransmitter chemicals. Neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, help regulate pain and pleasure sensations as well as a range of other bodily processes.
When taken for weeks at a time, overworked brain cell sites start to deteriorate, which makes them less sensitive to codeine’s effects. Someone who’s become physically dependent or addicted to codeine will have to take larger dosage amounts to satisfy the brain’s increased tolerance for codeine.
This cycle of deterioration and rising tolerance levels continues for as long as a person keeps taking codeine. In the process, brain cell structures undergo considerable damage.
In effect, the degree of damage present at the time a person enters codeine detox determines the severity of the addiction. The more severe the addiction the greater degree of discomfort experienced throughout codeine detox. Fortunately, codeine detox treatment programs can offer a range of treatment interventions to help ease the detox process.
Codeine Withdrawal Stages
Codeine detox progresses in stages with the most severe of withdrawal effects occurring during the first week. A person will likely experience a range of withdrawal symptoms during this time, some of which include:
- Profuse sweating
- Loss of appetite
During the second stage of detox, psychological withdrawal symptoms prevail, though many continue to experience insomnia, headaches and loss of appetite. Extreme feelings of depression, anxiety and confusion predominate throughout this stage, which can last for up to two to four weeks.
People coming off severe addictions go through a third stage of withdrawal that entails ongoing psychological and emotional distress.
A chronic codeine addiction leaves widespread brain cell damage in its wake. This degree of damage can bring on the most severe of withdrawal effects during codeine detox.
Under these conditions, codeine detox treatment programs may administer medication therapies to help relieve distressing withdrawal symptoms and support brain functions. Medications commonly used for this purpose include –
- Slow-release morphine
These medications mimic the effects of codeine and so can provide codeine-deprived brain cells with needed support. In the process, a person gains much needed relief from most all of the symptoms experienced during codeine detox. For people with long histories of codeine and/or opiate addiction, medication therapies can greatly increase the likelihood of a successful detox period.
Along with the physical discomfort experienced during detox, codeine detox treatment programs also treat the psychological effects of codeine abuse. More than anything else, psychological dependence on codeine most characterizes an addiction problem.
While treating codeine withdrawal effects is a big part of the treatment process, equipping a person with the tools for maintaining ongoing abstinence is equally important. According to the University of California Irvine School of Medicine, behavioral-based therapies help recovering addicts replace addiction-based thinking and behavior with a healthy mindset.
Behavioral-based therapies used in codeine addiction treatment include –
- 12 Step support groups
- Group therapy
- Individual psychotherapy
- Drug education and counseling
Whether abusing codeine for months or years at a time, after a certain point, codeine’s effects start to cause chemical imbalances to develop in the brain. These chemical imbalances account for the psychological withdrawal symptoms experienced during the second and third stages of codeine detox. Brain chemical imbalances can create the conditions for actual psychological disorders to develop, especially in cases of long-term drug use.
People struggling with depression and/or anxiety disorders have an even tougher time making it through codeine detox as the emotional distress brought on by these conditions can make drug withdrawal effects unbearable. For these reasons, detox programs provide needed medications and psychotherapy interventions throughout the course of treatment.
Relapse Prevention Training
Codeine addictions (and opiate addictions in general) carry a high relapse rate with many people resuming drug use shortly after completing detox treatment. Relapse prevention training provides a person with strategies that work to promote ongoing abstinence from drug use.
Strategies taught in codeine detox treatment include:
- Identifying the people, places and activities that trigger drug cravings
- Redirecting drug-using urges towards more healthy, productive activities
- Attending support group meetings when the urge to use is overwhelming
Towards the end of codeine detox, treatment providers develop an aftercare treatment plan. Aftercare treatment plans offer recommendations on what types of ongoing drug treatment a person will likely require to maintain success in recovery.
Aftercare treatment supports may take the form of:
- Continued psychotherapy treatment
- Ongoing medication therapy
- Continued support group attendance
While these may be “just” recommendations, detox treatment is only the first step involved with codeine addiction recovery. Ignoring or overlooking recommendations made on an aftercare plan may well leave a person open to an unexpected relapse episode.