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Codeine, commonly used to treat mild to moderate pain symptoms, belongs to the same class of drugs as morphine, heroin and opium. Highly addictive and habit-forming, the long-term use of codeine places users at considerable risk of addiction.
As a pain management treatment, codeine works well at keeping pain symptoms in check, though its effects tend to wane with continued use. In the case of recreational drug use, codeine’s addictive properties come on in full force as the drug’s effects commandeer normal brain functions.
Like morphine, codeine exists as a naturally occurring opiate alkaloid derived from the opium poppy seed plant, according to the U. S. Food & Drug Administration. These natural characteristics play a central role in how codeine addiction forms.
For someone considering codeine addiction treatment, a person’s treatment needs will likely coincide with the degree to which codeine use has interfered with his or her physical and mental well-being. Codeine addiction treatment entails a process with different types of programs addressing different aspects of addiction.
If you or someone you know is considering codeine addiction treatment, here are the top five considerations to keep in mind:
1. Pain Management vs. Recreational Abuse
As a pain relief remedy, prescription codeine drugs affect brain chemical processes in much the same way as heroin does. Chemically speaking, codeine interacts with the brain in the same way the brain’s own neurotransmitter chemicals do. This similarity accounts for codeine’s high addiction potential.
Codeine works by stimulating the production of neurotransmitter chemicals from brain cell sites. Neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin, play central roles in regulating most every bodily process, including the nerve signal transmissions that produce pain symptoms.
For the first two weeks or so, codeine offers an effective pain-relief remedy. With continued use, codeine’s effects in the brain start to compromise overall brain function. In effect, codeine addiction treatment works to undo the damaging effects of prolonged codeine use.
When used for recreational purposes, damage done to brain functions progresses at an even quicker pace as brain cells start to deteriorate from overuse. While the course of codeine addiction treatment remains the same, people in need of ongoing pain management will want to look for programs that can provide ongoing pain management treatment as well as codeine addiction treatment, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
2. Physical Treatment Needs
Most brand name prescription drugs combine codeine with other non-opiate analgesics, such as aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen. These added ingredients work to intensify codeine’s effects. Consequently, codeine’s addictive properties are also intensified in the process.
Using prescription codeine drugs for longer than three months at a time all but incapacitates brain function to the point where the brain can’t regulate bodily processes as normal in the absence of codeine’s effects. Likewise, abusing codeine compromises brain function in the same manner.
For people with chronic or long-time addiction problems, codeine addiction treatment may include medication therapies to help support damaged brain functions. Otherwise, a person stands to experience ongoing withdrawal and drug cravings effects for months or even years into the recovery process.
For these reasons, many codeine addiction treatment programs provide medication therapies, such as buprenorphine and methadone, which support the brain’s normal brain chemical functions. In the process, a person experiences considerable relief from persistent withdrawal effects.
If you’re recovering from chronic or long-term addiction, ensure the codeine addiction treatment program you choose offers medication therapy treatments.
3. Psychological Treatment Needs
Codeine’s ability to impair brain chemical processes eventually starts to disrupt overall cognitive and emotion-based functions. With long-term use, codeine’s effects start to interfere with the brain’s reward pathways. These interactions lie at the heart of the addiction problem.
The brain’s reward pathway plays a central role in:
- How a person’s learns
- What holds priority or importance in daily life
- What motivates a person’s behaviors
For the most part, dopamine neurotransmitter secretions regulate the reward pathway. The chemical imbalances caused by codeine abuse inevitably affect how this pathway functions.
Using behavior-based treatment interventions, codeine addiction treatment programs help addicts work through the faulty thinking patterns and belief systems brought on by drug use, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Behavior-based intervention used in codeine addiction treatment include:
- Individual psychotherapy
- Support group work
- Motivation-based therapies
- Drug education counseling
Codeine addiction treatment not only helps addicts overcome the drug’s physical hold on the body, but also the drug’s hold on a person’s mind. For these reasons, any codeine addiction treatment program you’re considering should offer an extensive range of behavior-based treatment interventions.
4. Types of Codeine Addiction Treatment Programs
Addiction develops in stages made up of physical dependency and psychological dependency. The stage of addiction as well as your addiction severity determines what type of treatment programs will best address your ongoing treatment needs.
The type of programs to choose from include:
- Detox programs
- Inpatient treatment
- Residential programs
- Outpatient programs
Most everyone struggling with codeine addiction will require some form of detox treatment though it is possible (and incredibly difficult) to break the body’s physical dependency on your own. After detox, getting help with working through the psychological effects of codeine addiction is essential to overcoming an addiction problem.
Depending on the severity of your addiction, inpatient, residential and outpatient programs can each offer the needed treatment supports. These programs differ in terms of treatment intensity with inpatient and residential programs taking place within live-in treatment facilities. Ultimately, the more severe your addiction problem the more likely you’ll require an intensive-type treatment program.
5. Long-Term Treatment Needs
Even after completing a codeine addiction treatment program, the psychological effects of addiction can linger for months or years, especially in cases of chronic addiction. At this point, staying engaged in the recovery process will be the only thing standing between you and an unexpected relapse episode.
For these reasons, it’s important to follow-through on any aftercare treatment recommendations your treatment program makes. Aftercare treatment may entail:
- Ongoing medication therapy
- Ongoing psychotherapy treatment
- Ongoing participation in support group meetings
As relapse rates for opiate addictions in general run considerably high, it’s best not to underestimate the importance of staying engaged in the recovery process for the long-term.