Prescription pain relievers are a necessary part of medical intervention. After surgery, or during times of severe illness or injury, strong pain killers are needed to help patients get the necessary rest in order to heal. Codeine is not the strongest of the prescription painkillers, as it is listed as being only “moderate.” It is usually taken orally, and may be used for multiple conditions if pain is severe enough. It is also sometimes used as a cough suppressant.
What are the symptoms of codeine abuse?
The symptoms of codeine abuse include:
- Inability to focus
- Abdominal pain
- Sedated appearance
- Itchy skin
- Vision Changes
Like most opiates, Codeine may cause side effects
These can include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty breathing
The higher the dosage taken, the more likely these side effects are to occur. Doctors generally prescribe the lowest possible dosage required to manage symptoms. However, Codeine carries a high risk for abuse. If you or someone you love is experiencing an addiction to Codeine, inpatient treatment should be sought right away.
Some people may process Codeine more rapidly than others, leading to an increased risk of addiction and side effects. Pregnant women and those who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding may process Codeine much more quickly than average.
Reports of new mothers taking Codeine for afterbirth pains or episiotomy related pain and breastfeeding have surfaced. In these stories, the drug was broken down so quickly inside the mothers’ bodies, it was passed in lethal doses through the breast milk the women fed their babies, thus causing fatal overdose in the infants.
Abuse of Codeine is classified as any usage not prescribed or recommended by a physician.
Many individuals do not start out with the intention of engaging in drug abuse. In many instances, patients are given Codeine to help with pain or with a cough. After taking it for a time, their bodies develop a tolerance to it, and the initial dosage no longer works. They may up the dose, either themselves or by talking to their doctors. Eventually, even this higher dose no longer works, and even more medication is needed to achieve the desired effects. This is how addiction begins. The higher the initial dose, the more likely a full blown addiction is to occur.
At some point, a doctor will stop increasing the dosage, or will refuse to write any further prescriptions altogether. Withdrawal symptoms my result at this point, the final indication that an addiction has occurred.
Codeine is prescribed for those with pain due to surgical procedures or injuries. Those who suffer from chronic pain may be more likely to abuse codeine and other pain medications. It is often used in combination with other drugs, and typical at-risk groups may be inclined to combine Codeine with illegal drugs and alcohol.
Veterans, for instance, often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety. They may use drugs and alcohol, including pain medications to deal with injuries related to combat, as well as stress disorders.
Those with chronic health conditions may also be at risk, as well as those in professional fields with high stress and coordinating anxiety or insomnia.
How common is codeine abuse?
Almost 34 million individuals take codeine annually. Nearly 5 million people reported using codeine and other prescription painkillers without a prescription in 2008. Approximately 20% of all drug-related treatment admissions are for opiate abuse, including codeine.
Additional symptoms will generally occur as a person becomes addicted to Codeine. Abuse leads to issues like:
Overdose may cause:
Codeine is not the most used opiate, but has the capability to act as a gateway drug. Users eventually may branch out into using harder prescription pain medications, as well as illegal drugs such as heroin. This especially becomes a likelihood if a patient is no longer able to get a prescription for the Codeine, or if they are taking large amounts of the drug and not getting the same level of “high” as they did the first times.
Additional Warning Signs
It may not always be readily apparent if someone has an addiction or is abusing drugs. If you can’t tell whether you have a problem yourself, consider the following:
- Do you find yourself daydreaming about the drug?
- Do you take the drug every day, or try to?
- Do you experience painful withdrawals if you don’t have the drug every day?
- Do you spend money on the drug even if you can’t afford it?
- Has your home life or work life suffered?
- Do you continue to use the drug, even when it’s affected your life negatively?
- Have you found it difficult or impossible to stop using?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you probably have a drug addiction, or may be in development of an addiction.
Warning signs to watch for in family members may begin much more subtly, but as the addiction progresses and time wears on, you will probably begin to notice changes in your loved one.
He or she may:
- Become more withdrawn or sullen, or may suddenly become outgoing
- Spend money he or she doesn’t have with no explanations on what it was used for
- Behave secretively, lock doors, refuse to tell you where they are going
- Have a sudden decrease in energy
- Have frequent mood swings or personality changes
- Lose interest in activities they once enjoyed
- Stop dressing nice, abandon personal hygiene habits
- Visits doctors frequently, often having multiple prescriptions for the same medication
If you have reason to believe that a loved one is engaging in drug abuse, or has a full blown addiction, there are steps you can take to get them the help that is needed.
Codeine Abuse Statistics
Treatment for Codeine Addiction
The most effective treatment for codeine abuse is the inpatient rehab program. Since quitting codeine can cause dangerous and fatal complications, it is recommended to wean off slowly with the help of trained medical professionals.
Although drug addiction is often hard to overcome, especially when one is going it alone, there are ways to help yourself or someone you love get clean and sober. The first step is acknowledging and determining that a problem exists. Someone who doesn’t recognize the fact that he or she has issues with drug abuse will probably not last through the rigors of therapy and detoxification due to acceptance issues.
Since abstinence from any drug suddenly is dangerous, and in some cases fatal, it is highly recommended that you wean off slowly, and only under the supervision of a trained medical professional. This will help prevent any potentially fatal side effects from taking place.
Group therapy sessions and one on one counseling are also highly recommended. Both of these options help users to recognize pitfalls, interact with others who have been in their shoes, and discuss the reasons behind the drug addiction and why it happened in the first place.
While all of these avenues can be accomplished separately, an inpatient treatment facility will provide access to all of them in one location, combined with the safety of being in an enclosed environment where access to drugs is nil. This will increase the chance of success over the long haul.