Symptoms of Codeine Addiction

Understanding Codeine Addiction

Learn About Codeine Abuse

Codeine is a moderately strong opioid that is used to alleviate mild to moderate pain. It can also be used as a cough suppressant. While this narcotic pain medication can bring about a sense of relief for those who are suffering from chronic pain conditions or other physical ailments, it can also be extremely habit forming. When users take large doses of codeine it places them in a position to experience a number of adverse consequences. Prolonged codeine use can cause an individual to develop a tolerance, which means that he or she will need to take more of this medication in order to achieve the initial euphoric and pleasurable effects. This can quickly result in codeine addiction and dependence, leading the user to need treatment.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Codeine Abuse and Co-Occurring Disorders

It is fairly common for an individual who is battling substance abuse problems, like codeine addiction, to also be struggling with an additional mental health disorder. In some instances the codeine abuse is an attempt to self-medicate the symptoms of an untreated mental health disorder and in other cases the drug abuse elicited the onset of the additional disorder. Examples of mental health conditions that have been known to occur alongside an addiction to codeine include:

  • Additional substance use disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Conduct disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Conduct disorder


Codeine Abuse Statistics

Not only is codeine is one of the most overly prescribed drugs, it is also believed to be the most widely abused opiate drug in the world. Experts estimate that approximately 33 million people abuse codeine for non-medical purposes each year.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and Risk Factors for Codeine Abuse

Addiction experts and mental health professional tend to agree that the onset of a substance abuse addiction is the result of a combination of multiple factors. It is believed that genetic, physiological, and environmental factors all pay a role. Consider the following:

Genetic: Addictions have long been known to run in families. Research strongly suggests a genetic link to the onset of chemical dependency concerns. Individuals who have first-degree relatives who struggle with substance abuse and addiction are at heightened risk of facing such addictions themselves.

Environmental: Our environments have a large impact on our vulnerability to developing an addiction to substances such as codeine. Perhaps the most prominent environmental factor is one’s accessibility to the substance, as well as whether or not one is exposed to the substance in either his or her home or within his or her peer group.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history of chemical dependency
  • Personal history of chemical dependency
  • Preexisting mental health condition
  • Suffering from a chronic pain condition
  • Exposure to substance abuse in one’s home, school, work, or social environments

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Codeine Abuse

The signs and symptoms experienced by an individual who abuses codeine are going to depend heavily on the amount being used, the frequency of use, and the length of time that an individual has been abusing codeine.  The following are examples of different behavioral, physical, cognitive, and psychosocial symptoms that may present themselves when an individual is struggling with a codeine abuse problem:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Neglecting responsibilities at work or home
  • No longer engaging in activities or hobbies once enjoyed
  • Conflict among family members
  • Strained interpersonal relationships
  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • Forging prescriptions
  • Visiting multiple doctors for addition prescriptions
  • Frequent trips to the ER to obtain more pills
  • Stealing codeine from others
  • Lying and other deceitful behaviors

Physical symptoms:

  • Blurred vision
  • Sweating
  • Extreme itching
  • Dry mouth
  • Chronic headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle twitching
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pains
  • Seizures

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Impaired cognitive functioning
  • Dizziness
  • Memory impairment
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Emotional numbness
  • Periods of emotional detachment
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Agitation


Effects of Codeine Addiction

If codeine abuse or addiction is not properly treated, the long-term consequences can include great upheaval in virtually all aspects of a person’s life. The following are some of the long-term effects that can occur should a codeine abuse problem or addiction go untreated:

  • Kidney damage
  • Liver damage
  • Circulatory problems
  • Respiratory disturbances
  • Intestinal issues
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Bleeding of the stomach
  • Decline in cognitive capabilities
  • Development of certain cancers
  • Irreversible memory impairment
  • Overall deterioration of one’s physical health
  • Overall deterioration of one’s mental health
  • Psychosis

Withdrawal and Overdose

Effects of Codeine Withdrawal and Overdose

Effects of codeine withdrawal: Should an individual, who has been using codeine for a prolonged period of time suddenly stop using this medication, it is very likely that he or she will experience symptoms of withdrawal. Some of the most common symptoms associated with codeine withdrawal include:

  • Dysphoric mood
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle aches
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Yawning
  • Fever
  • Additional flu-like symptoms
  • Insomnia
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle spasms
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability and agitation

Effects of codeine overdose: Any time an individual consumes more codeine than his or her body is able to metabolize, that individual is at risk for experiencing an overdose. Possible symptoms that may indicate that someone has overdosed on cocaine may include:

  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Slowed, labored breathing
  • Severe drowsiness
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Muscles weakness
  • Fainting
  • Cold, clammy skin

I would fake sickness to get prescriptions of codeine. It got the point where my doctor noticed that I was starting to develop a dependence for it. After admitting myself to Starlite Recovery Center, I am now free of the disease of addiction and look forward to my second year of sobriety!

– Christopher A.