Symptoms of codeine withdrawal can vary significantly, ranging from mild discomfort to severe reactions.

Symptoms of Codeine Withdrawal -an image of a piece of paper describing codeine


What is Codeine?

Codeine can be defined as a type of opioid medication, which is often used for its analgesic (pain-relieving) properties. It’s also used to suppress severe coughs and, in some instances, for its sedative effects.

Codeine works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain, which reduces the perception of pain. It is also present in some combination medications used for various purposes. As codeine is an opiate, it can be addictive. This can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms if used over a long period of time, and it has a potential for misuse.


What is Codeine Withdrawal?

Healthline explains that codeine withdrawal refers to the set of symptoms and physical and psychological effects that occur when a person who has been using codeine or codeine-containing medications regularly stops or significantly reduces their dosage.

When a person uses codeine regularly for an extended period, their body becomes dependent on the drug to function normally. So, if they suddenly stop taking codeine or reduce the dosage abruptly – the body goes through a period of adjustment, leading to withdrawal symptoms.

The severity and duration of the symptoms of codeine withdrawal can vary depending on factors such as the duration and dosage of codeine use, individual physiology, and the method of discontinuation.

Codeine withdrawal can affect both the body and the brain, leading to a range of physical and psychological symptoms. Here’s how codeine withdrawal can affect the body:

  • Gastrointestinal symptoms: Codeine withdrawal may cause gastrointestinal distress, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and abdominal cramps.
  • Flu-like symptoms: Individuals going through codeine withdrawal may experience flu-like symptoms such as muscle aches, sweating, chills, and runny nose.
  • Sleep disturbances: Insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns are common during codeine withdrawal. This can lead to fatigue and daytime sleepiness.
  • Changes in appetite: Some people may experience a decrease in appetite during withdrawal, which can lead to weight loss.


Why Does Codeine Cause Withdrawal Symptoms?

When someone has developed a physical dependence on codeine and suddenly stops taking it or significantly reduces the dosage, their body goes through a period of adjustment. This adjustment phase is known as withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms occur because the body has become reliant on codeine to function normally. The severity and duration of withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on factors such as the duration and dosage of codeine use and individual physiology such as gender, age, weight, and height.

Codeine withdrawal can be uncomfortable and challenging to manage without appropriate support. We recommend seeking professional support and guidance when trying to overcome codeine abuse or any opioid medication to ensure a safer and more comfortable withdrawal process. Medical experts may provide strategies to alleviate symptoms, gradual tapering of the medication, or recommend alternative treatments to manage withdrawal effects.


Common Symptoms of Codeine Withdrawal

Codeine withdrawal can cause a range of symptoms, which can vary in intensity and duration depending on the individual’s usage pattern, dosage, and overall health. Here are some common symptoms associated with codeine withdrawal:

  • Drug cravings: A strong desire or urge to use codeine again.
  • Anxiety: Feelings of unease, restlessness, and nervousness.
  • Insomnia: Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, leading to disrupted sleep patterns.
  • Agitation: Restlessness, irritability, and a sense of uneasiness.
  • Mood swings: Emotional instability, including sudden changes in mood, such as irritability, sadness, or anger.
  • Muscle aches and pains: Generalised body aches, muscle cramps, and discomfort.
  • Sweating: Profuse sweating, especially during sleep or at night.
  • Nausea and vomiting: Feeling sick to the stomach and possibly vomiting.
  • Diarrhoea: Frequent loose or watery bowel movements.
  • Runny nose: Excessive nasal discharge.
  • Dilated pupils: Enlarged pupils of the eyes.
  • Goosebumps: Skin experiencing “gooseflesh” or goosebumps.
  • Fatigue: A general feeling of tiredness, low energy, and exhaustion.
  • Difficulty concentrating: Reduced ability to focus or pay attention.
  • Depression: Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.

It’s important to note that these symptoms can vary in severity and duration from person to person. If you or someone you know is experiencing codeine withdrawal symptoms, it is advisable to seek medical assistance and support as soon as possible.


Available Treatment Options for Codeine Addiction

Codeine addiction is a serious issue that requires appropriate treatment and professional guidance. If you or someone you know is suffering from codeine addiction, it’s essential to seek help from a medical expert or rehabilitation centre immediately. They can provide tailored recommendations based on your specific needs and circumstances.

The first step in codeine addiction treatment is often detoxification, which involves removing the drug from your body in a safe and controlled manner. This helps to break your physical connection and any cravings you have for the substance; however, detoxification often presents withdrawal symptoms which require medical supervision.

Certain medications may be used to assist in codeine addiction treatment. For example, opioid replacement therapy involves substituting codeine with a longer-acting opioid and gradually tapering off the dose over time. These medications can also help to manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

Individual, group or family counselling sessions with a therapist who specialises in addiction can be highly beneficial. These sessions provide a safe space to explore the underlying factors contributing to the addiction and develop coping strategies to maintain long-term recovery.

Remember, these treatment options vary depending on individual circumstances, which is why it’s so important to receive a tailored approach. Recovery from codeine addiction is a journey that requires commitment, support, and professional guidance.


What Happens After Codeine Withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms usually begin around 8 – 24 hours after you last consume the substance. The severity and duration of withdrawal from codeine will vary for everyone. Whilst some may experience only mild symptoms, some people can become seriously ill. After codeine withdrawal, individuals may experience a range of physical and psychological changes as their body adjusts to functioning without the drug.

You may experience flu-like symptoms such as muscle aches, sweating, nausea, and headaches. These symptoms can be distressing but typically subside within a few days to a couple of weeks. Gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, and stomach upset, can also occur after codeine withdrawal; maintaining a balanced diet and staying hydrated can help manage these symptoms. Many people experience sleep difficulties during withdrawal, such as insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns. These disturbances may persist for several weeks before gradually improving (Healthline).

Psychologically, you could experience increased feelings of anxiety, depression, or irritability during codeine withdrawal. These symptoms are typically temporary, but in some cases, they may persist for a longer period. Emotional instability, mood swings, and irritability can also be common during the withdrawal process, as can intense cravings for codeine. These cravings can be challenging to manage but typically decrease in intensity over time.


Find Help for Codeine Addiction Today

Codeine addiction, like other forms of substance abuse, can be a crippling burden, causing significant harm to a person’s life, relationships, and overall health. But there’s hope for recovery.

At Asana Lodge, we understand that each person’s journey to recovery is unique, and we are dedicated to providing personalised and holistic treatment plans that address not only the physical symptoms of addiction but also the underlying psychological and emotional causes. Among our range of specialisations, we are experienced in treating prescription medication addiction, such as dependency on codeine.

It’s never too late to start the journey towards recovery. If you or a loved one are dealing with addiction, we encourage you to reach out to us at Asana Lodge. Let us help you make the first steps towards a healthier, happier, and addiction-free life.

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