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Codeine withdrawal symptoms can be as distressing as heroin withdrawals if the person has been using high amounts of codeine regularly. Both drugs are opiate narcotics that produce the effects of euphoria and sedation which increases their abuse and dependency potentials. The only real difference is that heroin is illegal and synthesized in a way to act more rapidly and with more potency when compared to doses of codeine.
The treatment methods for codeine withdrawals are based on the same protocols as treatment methods for heroin withdrawals although the levels of services and care may require less invasive measures.
Symptoms of Codeine Withdrawals
Cravings are a central aspect of codeine dependency and increase as the person begins to withdraw. Other physical and psychological symptoms of codeine withdrawal range from unpleasant and painful symptoms that resemble the flu with anxiety, irritability, and dysphoria to serious health complications that require immediate medical or psychiatric care.
The more codeine the person has become accustomed to using, the more impact these symptoms will have as the effects of the drug in the person’s system wears off. Rapid delivery methods such as IV use increases the codeine effects and this, too, can add to the intensity of the symptoms as well as their durations and symptom logy.
Treatment Methods for Codeine Withdrawal Symptoms
Alleviating the distress of codeine withdrawal symptoms is a primary goal of codeine detox programs. According to the Institute of Medicine, ” Comfort, the avoidance of seizures (the most common cause of fatalities), screening and treatment of infections and other medical problems, and the achievement of a condition in which withdrawal distress is not evident are and should be the primary goals of detoxification.”
Relative outcomes prove more positive when the person is provided education, counseling, and access to therapeutic services and interventions, including medications such as methadone or buprenorphine to maintain their comfort and safety while promoting retention in treatment, often over an extended period of time
Assessments and Determining Levels of Care
Treatment for codeine withdrawal symptoms can take place in an inpatient or outpatient setting and should be designed based on assessments of drug use history, relapse potentials, personal goals and motivations to change, co-existing health issues such as specialized care needed for diseases or infections, the need for substitute medications, and the most appropriate levels of expertise and psychosocial support access to improve health and social functioning.
Medication Assisted Treatment Methods for Codeine Withdrawal Symptoms
Medications can be used for medically supervised withdrawal with a gradual dosage reduction over a few days or weeks, or for long term detox lasting up to 6 months. While methadone can only be distributed on a daily basis by a registered opioid treatment program, up to 30 days supply of buprenorphine can be prescribed by a qualified physician in an office-based setting.
Rapid detox methods using antagonist medications such as naltrexone should be discouraged due to the high risk of complications possibly resulting in death.