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Codeine Withdrawal Symptoms

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Codeine Withdrawal Symptoms

Codeine withdrawal symptoms can include many headaches that are hard to get rid of.

Anyone who’s suffered mild to moderate pain symptoms may very well have been prescribed some form of codeine medication. As a fast-acting pain relief agent, codeine is a proven treatment for any conditions where pain is a factor. Besides its pain relieving effects, codeine can also produce feelings of euphoria, calm and an overall sense of well-being. These other effects account for why recreational drug users so often turn to codeine drugs.

The short-acting effects of codeine tend to leave users wanting more. This is especially the case when the drug is used for recreational purposes and/or not taken as prescribed. Codeine withdrawal becomes a very real possibility for anyone who tries to stop using as well as for those who run out and are left wanting more.

Codeine Uses & Effects

The abuse of codeine, an opiate class drug, has continued to increase over the last decade. Statistics from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration show opiates made up the largest percentage of drug-related treatment admissions in 2008.

Codeine’s analgesic properties make for an effective pain reliever as well as a commonly used cough suppressant. Codeine withdrawal results from the drug’s overall effects on brain function. Its effects on the brain’s natural pain-relieving chemical processes leave the brain unable to perform on its own without the presence of the drug.

These effects become even more pronounced when a person abuses the drug. In the process, the brain and body require even larger doses of codeine to achieve the same desired results. Meanwhile, the likelihood of an even more intense codeine withdrawal episode increases.

Codeine Withdrawal Symptoms

The severity of codeine withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on a person’s state of health, the amount of drugs consumed and how long a person’s been using. Withdrawal symptoms may be mild, severe or even life-threatening depending on the person. Someone suffering from other health conditions may experience more severe symptoms.

Codeine withdrawal symptoms can start anywhere from six to 24 hours after the last dose. The most severe phase of withdrawal normally takes place within 48 to 72 hours and then gradually subsides within a week’s time. Symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Aches and pains
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headaches
  • Problems sleeping
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Problems breathing

 Potential for Relapse

For long term drug users, codeine withdrawal symptoms can be quite severe and require medical treatment to prevent loss of life. While a person can opt to go through codeine withdrawal on his or her own, detoxification centers can help in easing withdrawal symptoms. Whether a person goes it alone or enters detox treatment, the potential for relapse remains an issue.

People who become addicted to codeine develop a psychological need for the drug. When addiction is present, there’s a high probability of relapse unless a person undergoes ongoing treatment through a drug rehabilitation program. Drug rehabilitation entails individual and group therapy sessions as well as group supports. At the very least, a person should undergo a minimum of 90 days in a treatment program to reduce the likelihood of relapse.


National Institute on Drug Abuse

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