Codeine is classified as an opiate drug. Doctors prescribe it for cough suppression and pain relief. However, the drug also comes with a high potential for abuse and addiction - especially if you take it in any other way than a doctor prescribed or for pleasurable purpose.
Addiction will develop when you have been using this medication in high doses especially over a long time period. This could lead you down the dangerous road of substance abuse and dependence.
Codeine is among the most common opioid narcotics abused across the world. It is classified as a short acting analgesic medication that produces effects that last for a couple of hours.
The drug is also a narcotic prescription medication belong to the opiate class of substances. It is produced from the opium poppy plant that is also used to make other drugs like Demerol, OxyContin, hydrocodone, Vicodin, and heroin.
Doctors typically prescribe this medication for the treatment of mild to moderate pain levels, to manage coughing, and for the treatment of gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea.
Essentially, codeine is classified as a medical pain relief medication or an opiate analgesic. The drug is produced from morphine. However, it is much stronger in comparison to ibuprofen and paracetamol. This medication is available in linctus and pill form. Doctors use it for pain relief and it is available in different strengths.
Some of the different forms of the drug include but are not limited to Co-Codamol (mixed with paracetamol), Solpadeine Plus and Solpadeine Max (mixed with paracetamol), Nurofen Plus (mixed with ibuprofen), Paramol (Dihydrocodeine 7.5 mg and paracetamol), Feminax (mixed with paracetamol), and Codis (mixed with aspirin).
If you use this drug exactly as your doctor directed when they wrote you a prescription, there is very little chance that you will develop an opioid use disorder. However, if you take it in higher doses, for longer, more frequently, or in any way other than your doctor advised, it is highly likely that you will eventually start struggling with it.
Codeine has been used for many years due to its medicinal purposes. However, you need to realize that it causes powerful effects. Apart from the pain relief that it produces, the drug can also cause you to experience pleasurable euphoria and happiness.
When it gets into the CNS - the central nervous system - it will activate the brain's reward system. This could cause the brain to produce dopamine in excessive amounts. Dopamine is the pleasure hormone that the brain produces when you engage in activities like sex, reading a good book, having an invigorating conversation with a loved one, eating a delicious meal, or doing anything else that causes you to experience pleasure.
Due to the release of dopamine in excessive amounts when you take codeine, you may start abusing it. Over time, this will cause you to develop tolerance, which will soon be replaced by physical and psychological dependence or addiction.
Although this drug is considered to be quite effective for the relief of the symptoms of pain, coughing, and so on, you need to realize that abusing it can turn out to be dangerous rather quickly.
Like with any substance use disorder, this form of addiction will eventually cause you to suffer other dangerous interpersonal, professional, and health problems. With time, you will become tolerant to the various effects that this medication causes.
Tolerance would mean that you need to take in higher doses or more frequently than you used to before you can experience its pleasurable effects, and the other effects that your brain has come to associate with the drug.
At this stage, you may even turn to other substances of abuse - including alcohol, benzodiazepines, and other more potent opioids. This is because you would be looking to achieve greater pleasure from these drugs.
When you take codeine, it might produce sensations of drowsiness, euphoria, and elation. However, once you develop a substance use disorder as a result of using it, you may not just be able to experience these pleasurable effects, you will also find that you increasingly need the medication to be able to function normally.
The development of an addiction will often be accompanied by the following effects and consequences:
While addicted to the drug, you may also appear sedate as well as suffer from constipation and stomach pain. Further, the substance may cause you to experience bizarre changes in your vision. When you reach a point where you use it heavily, there is a high probability that you will also suffer extreme seizures.
In the same way, your growing substance use disorder will typically cause you to engage in criminal activity as well as suffer financial problems as you spend most of your time, energy, and money seeking out and abusing the drug.
Additionally, your addiction may lead to problems in your personal and professional relationships. This is due to the fact that you will become more focused on feeding your growing drug problem.
Codeine is classified as an opioid. It is effective in producing pain relief because it works on the opioid receptors located along the spinal cord and the brain. When it does this, the drug will mimic as well as release endorphins - chemicals that occur naturally in your body - to manage any pain symptoms that you may be feeling.
These endorphins will work alongside the opioid receptors to block the pain signals from being transmitted to the brain. It is in this way that the drug is so effective at managing the symptoms of pain.
However, the production of endorphins and dopamine will also create sensations of warmth, euphoria, and intense pleasure. It is due to these effects that you may risk developing a substance use disorder as a result of using this medication.
If you end up abusing codeine - such as by taking it in higher doses, more frequently, or for longer than your doctor recommended or even by using the drug without a valid prescription - you would compound your risk of developing an addiction.
As your addiction grows, you will experience a number of problems in your day to day life. These problems will include the physical side effects associated with the medication as well as the behavior you engage in to acquire it. They may include:
When you take this drug, your body will convert it into morphine. Morphine, on the other hand, will change the ways in which your body responds to the signals of pain that you might be feeling.
On the other hand, using this drug for non-medical purposes will make it easier for you to relax. Further, it will produce sensations of overall wellness and euphoria. In case you mix it with other substances like heroin and alcohol, all the combined effects that you feel will be strengthened.
The important thing to keep in mind is that abusing codeine over the long term could lead to the symptoms of depression and mood swings. Further, it could increase your risk of dependence and tolerance - which may eventually lead to a drug overdose.
Codeine is much milder than the other opioids. However, it is still possible to suffer a drug overdose as a result of taking it. When this happens, there is a risk that you might end up losing your life as a result.
This is because opiate drugs work to depress the CNS - the section of your body that is responsible for controlling certain functions of the body that are essential to being alive. These include but are not limited to the respiratory system and your heart beat.
When you combine this drug with alcohol and other opioids, you may suffer a severe drug overdose that could cause your breath to slow down or even stop altogether. At this point, the volume of oxygen that will be reaching your brain will be reduced.
During this process, you will experience rapid cell death. As a result, you might go into a coma or suffer brain damage. In the most extreme situation, codeine overdose could even lead to death.
In case you observe any of the typical signs and symptoms of a drug overdose listed above, it is essential that you consider them to be a medical emergency and contact immediate healthcare relief. They include:
Typically, the best decision you can make when you observe these symptoms in yourself or in someone is to call 911 immediately. You can also get in touch with your local poisons control center as soon as possible.
Doctors and emergency medical responders will typically treat an opioid overdose involving drugs like codeine using medications that are designed to block the receptors located in the brain's pleasure center. However, the intervention has to be quick to ensure that the resulting oxygen deprivation does not lead to brain damage.
In case you mixed this drug with any other substances - such as acetaminophen - it is possible that you may suffer significant liver damage. This is because acetaminophen leads to the production of substances that the liver finds hard to break down.
When the liver is forced to filer opiates in large amounts at the same time, this could lead to severe stress that may result in liver damage (which could potentially turn out to be permanent). In these situations, doctors and medical teams will reassess the treatment options available.
Codeine abuse and addiction will lead to the development of withdrawal symptoms when you suddenly stop taking the drug or significantly reduce the dose that you have been accustomed to. Medically supervised detoxification programs can manage these symptoms of withdrawal as well as deal with any other drug cravings that you may be suffering. These symptoms include:
After you have successfully completed the detox process and your physical dependence has been managed, you will typically receive other treatment modalities to manage your psychological, emotional, and behavioral dependence on the drug. These modalities may involve the use of therapy, counseling, and medication management to ensure that you are fully recovered from your codeine abuse and addiction.