What is the best treatment for codeine addiction?

Is codeine an opiate?

Codeine is a drug that is used in cough syrup and painkiller pills. It is a naturally occurring opiate that is found in the opium poppy. Like other opiates, codeine does have the potential for addiction and withdrawal symptoms. Codeine abuse does occur and often leads to addiction.

What options are available for codeine addiction treatment?

When it comes to addiction, the treatment options to detox from codeine addiction are similar to those of other opiates. The best and most successful treatment is medication-assisted treatment. Buprenorphine and naltrexone are medications that can be used along with psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy for addiction to opiate drugs.

Is codeine available over the counter?

Codeine is not as potent as many other opioids. In the past, it was possible to get cough syrup containing the drug without a doctor’s prescription. While this is no longer possible, codeine, when used in cough syrup or combined with Tylenol, is not as highly controlled as most other opioids.

Can codeine cause respiratory depression and overdose?

While not as potent as other opiates and opioids, codeine still carries with it the risk of overdose. At high doses, it is a suppressant of the respiratory drive due to its effects on the central nervous system. When a person takes codeine, it is metabolized to morphine in the liver. Hence, when you take codeine, you are actually taking morphine. As you are likely aware, morphine is a very powerful narcotic with addictive properties and a high risk of overdose. Addiction to codeine can be very dangerous.

What is a unique symptom or side effect associated with codeine use?

While codeine’s side effects are similar to other opioids, it is known to cause significant constipation. Of course, all opioids can cause constipation, but codeine can cause serious constipation at relatively low dosages. This property limits the usefulness of codeine as a treatment for severe pain. However, it is useful in some cases, as an anti-diarrheal treatment. When it comes to pain management, it works well for mild to moderate pain.

How does codeine addiction compare to hydrocodone or heroin addiction?

While these opiates are similar in that they all work on the same opioid receptor and have similar effects, they vary significantly in potency. In a way, potency is not relevant because a user can always just take a higher dose of a weaker drug. However, there are reasons why a user would prefer a more potent opioid, such as hydrocodone, oxycodone or heroin over codeine. First, codeine is often combined with acetaminophen. This is limiting because taking too much acetaminophen is toxic to the liver. Hence, most drug abusers will limit their intake to avoid liver damage. Second, codeine can be so constipating that drug abusers will avoid excess dosages to avoid becoming very constipated.

How bad is codeine withdrawal?

Most opioid users believe that codeine withdrawal is not as bad as with other opioids. This is not necessarily true. Codeine withdrawal can be severe, with symptoms such as muscle aches, chills, cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. As withdrawal worsens, the codeine-addicted person will likely experience strong cravings for the drug. When cravings hit during withdrawal sickness, there is a high risk for relapse.

How can a person stay clean from codeine abuse long-term?

When a patient develops substance use disorder, or more specifically, opioid use disorder, they will have a life-long risk of relapse on codeine or another opiate. Ongoing treatment with prescription drugs, such as Suboxone or naltrexone combined with therapy will reduce the risk of relapse.

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