So you got a prescription to treat pain. It contains codeine.
It’s an opiate, and opiates can be highly addictive. But you figure, “I’ll just take it as the doctor prescribed.”
Then you start taking it a little more often, just in case the pain comes back. Not a big deal, right? It’s only a slight deviation from what the doctor recommended.
But the prescribed dosage doesn’t seem to work like it used to. You develop a tolerance, meaning you have to take more to keep the pain at bay.
Weeks go by, and you find yourself without any more pills. You do whatever it takes to get more. You even consider codeine-containing cough syrup.
You’ve become dependent on codeine.
This goes on for months. You call your doctor, but he won’t refill your prescription because you technically don’t require them anymore or asking for more before it’s time for a refill. You find yourself rifling through your aunt’s medicine cabinet in search of more.
You need them.
You call another doctor – and another. You can’t imagine a day without using codeine, even though your dependence is negatively impacting your relationships, work performance, and health.
What’s happening to you?
Unfortunately, you’ve unintentionally developed a codeine dependence.
Codeine Dependence vs. Codeine Addiction
While you may think codeine dependence and codeine addictions are the same, it’s essential to understand they’re not.
- Codeine Dependence
When you become dependent on codeine, your body becomes used to its effects and develops a high tolerance. Dependence is also characterized by experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you stop using. While dependence doesn’t always lead to addiction, it will likely be around the corner.
- Codeine Addiction
When you become addicted to codeine, you’ve surpassed dependency. Addiction is rooted much deeper in your brain and characterized by behavior changes. As a codeine addict, these changes aren’t necessarily choices your make.
After you use codeine for an extended period, you change the biochemistry of your brain. When you’re addicted to codeine, you may act irrationally and out of control if you don’t have it in your system.
Signs You Are Battling a Codeine Addiction
When you increase your tolerance to codeine, you’re on track to developing an addiction. Because the drug is a legal substance, it is easily obtained, making it challenging to spot addiction.
A healthcare professional can provide an official addiction diagnosis based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-5). But knowing what to look for before heading to the doctor or mental health professional to get a diagnosis could save your life.
The most common signs you’ve become addicted to codeine include:
- taking more codeine than prescribed by your doctor
- lying, borrowing, or stealing money to buy more
- extreme mood swings
- using someone else’s codeine prescription
- social withdrawal or isolation
- poor work or school performance
- interpersonal relationship problems
- unusual sleeping patterns
- combining codeine with other drugs to increase the high
- lying to your doctor about your level of pain to get more drugs
- trouble concentrating
- difficulty remembering things
- attempting to obtain codeine from several different doctors
- forging codeine prescriptions
- legal problems
- buying codeine on the street (which is extremely dangerous due to the possibility of being laced with deadly Fentanyl)
The Dangers of Becoming Addicted to Codeine
According to the Addiction Center, people often experiment with using codeine because they believe it’s relatively harmless compared to other opiates. While it’s true that codeine isn’t as potent as opiates like oxycodone, that doesn’t mean it’s not addictive.
Depending on the level and length of codeine misuse, you could be seriously damaging your body. Plenty of adverse short-term and long-term effects of codeine addiction are reason enough to quit and find codeine addiction treatment.
Short-term Effects of Codeine Abuse
- dry mouth
- nausea or vomiting
- loss of consciousness
- heart rate and blood pressure changes
- reduced breathing
- memory loss
- stomach pain
Long-term Effects of Codeine Abuse
- kidney problems
- trouble sleeping
- memory problems
- intestinal blockage
- brain damage
- cognitive difficulties
- liver damage
If that isn’t enough to make you want to quit, perhaps the risk of overdose will. When you develop a high tolerance and addiction to codeine, you are more likely to overdose. Because you’re chasing that euphoric high you felt when you first started taking it, it’s not very difficult to take too much.
Symptoms of a Codeine Overdose
- chest pain
- shallow or slowed breathing
- changes in consciousness
- blue tint to skin, lips, or under fingernails
As you can see, although codeine isn’t as potent as other addictive opioids, developing a dependence or addiction is just as easy. The good news is that codeine addiction is treatable.
Finding Codeine Addiction Treatment
Whether you’ve become dependent on codeine, have an addiction, or feel like you are on your way to addiction, finding professional help is your best chance at recovery. Codeine addiction treatment may include detox, therapy, an intensive outpatient program (IOP), or even inpatient treatment.
If you’re looking for codeine addiction treatment in San Diego, look no further than BOLD Health in beautiful Encinitas. Our team of experienced addiction treatment specialists can help you detox safely, overcome your addiction, and stay sober.
When you contact BOLD Health, we’ll schedule a comprehensive yet compassionate and understanding intake evaluation. Unlike other codeine addiction treatment programs, we not only focus on reducing your addiction symptoms but also help you come to know and understand who you are and why you fell into addiction.
Our BOLD Method means our team of psychologists, psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, PAs, and therapists consider your genetic, biological, structural, and medical framework when curating the ideal treatment program for you. That means your addiction treatment in San Diego is designed specifically for you.
One of the most effective programs we offer is our addiction IOP in San Diego. This rigorous program takes place over ten weeks and includes individual therapy, group therapy, and medication management (if needed). We work with you to develop the tools and strategies to beat your addiction and set you up for a more fulfilling, drug-free life in the future.