Codeine may be prescribed to treat mild to moderate pain. However, it can be habit-forming and lead to addiction if not taken as directed. It can also result in slow or difficult breathing and should never be given to children under 18 years of age. In addition, codeine may interact with other drugs, medications, supplements, or alcohol.
During the late 1990s, prescriptions for codeine and other opioids began to increase. While these medications may help treat pain, they can also be highly addictive and lead to devastating personal struggles, including overdose. In fact, in 2016 opioid overdoses resulted in 42,000 deaths. If you’re struggling with an addiction to codeine, read on below for information on the withdrawal process and how to get help.
Although withdrawal symptoms are very uncomfortable, they usually aren’t life-threatening, especially if the patient detoxes under medical care. Symptoms of codeine withdrawal may include:
How long do codeine withdrawal symptoms last? Codeine withdrawal symptoms last at least one week and often longer—sometimes for months. The most uncomfortable physical symptoms usually occur during the first week of the withdrawal process. Cravings and emotional symptoms such as anxiety may last much longer. These behavioral symptoms can be difficult, especially after long-term opioid use. Known as post-acute withdrawal (PAW), this is a necessary and tough process the body must go through as it detoxes and readjusts.
Codeine and other opioids cause changes to brain chemistry and the body’s stress response. Because of this, as the chemicals leave the body, withdrawal symptoms occur. These symptoms may affect memory, sleep, ability to concentrate, energy and mood.
Stages of codeine withdrawal fall into early symptoms of withdrawal and later symptoms of withdrawal.
Early Symptoms of Codeine Withdrawal
Sometimes these stages may vary depending on certain factors. Factors and complications that might affect the codeine withdrawal timeline include:
Withdrawing from codeine can be difficult and uncomfortable. The physical symptoms may feel like a bad case of the flu. It’s important to get professional help because quitting “cold turkey” can put you at risk of complications or abandoning the withdrawal process. A professional, medically-assisted detox program ensures that you are carefully monitored in a safe environment while your body goes through the difficult, and sometimes painful, detoxification process as it eliminates the physical need for the drug.
The doctors and nurses on your medical team can administer medications such as buprenorphine to help relieve the cravings. They will make sure your body has enough vitamins, fluids, and electrolytes. You will also receive professional mental and emotional support during this challenging time to help make the withdrawal process successful.
While there are different stages of opioid addiction treatment, following the full continuum of treatment is the most comprehensive approach. Following a full continuum of treatment begins with the highest and most intense level of care during the detox phase and then progresses through less intense levels of treatment. Going through all stages of treatment will position you better to be successful in your recovery. Stages of opioid addiction treatment include:
During the first stage of opioid withdrawal treatment, the goal is medical stabilization. The medical team, which includes doctors, nurses, and support staff, will give you a complete medical assessment to determine your level of addiction and any additional medical needs you may have. The assessment will include a medical exam and urine or blood tests to screen for drugs. Depending on these results, your physician may also require additional testing such as additional blood tests, including a CBC (complete blood count), chest X-ray, ECG (electrocardiogram), and testing for other diseases.
Once the doctor has these test results, a detox plan will be created for you. Then, under the care of your medical team, you will begin the detox process. Detoxing includes a combination of detox drugs, such as methadone, buprenorphine, clonidine, and naltrexone. Your treatment plan will also include emotional support as you begin addiction therapy because many people also experience anxiety, depression, and other emotional and psychological challenges as they detox.
After completing the detox phase of treatment, the next stage is to continue treatment in an inpatient or residential facility so you can focus on your psychological and emotional recovery. You’ll live full-time at the residential treatment center while undergoing a supportive, rigorous, and structured treatment program at least five days a week. This program will address your emotional and mental health needs to help you begin the process of returning to your life outside the treatment center. You will focus on learning positive life skills, coping mechanisms, and techniques to help prevent so that you will be better prepared for long-term recovery.
Each stage of the full continuum of treatment slowly moves you back to life outside the rehab facility while helping you build the skills and resources you need to cope and avoid relapsing. Once you have completed the inpatient program, you will move into the intensive outpatient stage (IOP). At this time, you will either move back home or possibly into a “sober home,” which is a facility that provides a more structured lifestyle for those newly recovering from substance abuse. Your therapy sessions at this stage won’t be as frequent, but you will still attend intensive therapy sessions and continue with medication management if needed. This stage of treatment will help you continue to be accountable for your recovery and will also include periodic weekly testing.
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The outpatient stage of opioid recovery usually lasts several months and helps you regain responsibility for your life as you continue to adjust to being back at home. You will have much more independence at this stage and typically will only attend therapy sessions for about an hour each week. You will also be required to participate in random drug testing to help you stay on track with your recovery.
After you complete the treatment program, you will have the opportunity to join other treatment center alumni during weekly support groups and social events. These opportunities to meet other program graduates can help you develop new friendships and build social support as part of your goal for long-term success.
You may feel overwhelmed about overcoming an addiction to codeine. The staff at Ocean Breeze Recovery can provide the guidance and support you need to start your recovery. Contact our admissions specialists for free and confidential help. They will walk you through the process and answer any questions you may have so that you know what to expect from our evidence-based services. After you speak with a specialist, you will feel prepared to make an informed decision about your plans for treatment. Our specialists can also check with your private health insurance to see if your treatment costs will be fully covered. Remember, you don’t have to do this alone. Call us today at 844-554-9279 and let us help you get started on your journey to recovery.
(2018, March 15) Codeine. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov
(2018, December 6) Opiate and Opioid Withdrawal. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov
Mager, Dan (2015, May 26) Detoxing after Detox: The Perils of Post-Acute Withdrawal. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com
Codeine Withdrawal: What It Is and How to Cope. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com
World Health Organization (2009) Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov