Why is Codeine Addictive?

Why is Codeine Addictive?

It’s a common medication prescribed for pain or coughing, but have you ever wondered why is codeine addictive?

Some people find themselves needing more and more of it, and this dependency can lead to real problems. In this blog post, we explore why codeine is addictive, look at the signs of opioid addiction, and discuss the withdrawal symptoms and indicators specific to Codeine. Whether you’ve been prescribed this medication or just want to understand more about it, read on to learn about the hidden challenges associated with codeine.


Is Codeine Addictive? 

Codeine is an opioid made from the opioid poppy, which is also used to create other controlled narcotics, such as Morphine. However, unlike morphine, codeine is often available to treat milder pain. It is often prescribed to treat moderate pain, coughing and diarrhoea. 

Similar to many other strong painkillers, codeine can give a person a euphoric high, accompanied by feelings of comfort and relaxation. It lessens stress and almost makes you feel like you are floating, but this is just a short-term mental effect. It is very easy to develop a codeine addiction, especially if you suffer from chronic pain conditions. Many people become addicted to codeine simply. They are going over the prescribed amount because they are afraid to be in pain again. 

Many addictions start because people don’t realise they still need to take painkillers, and they are afraid to try alternative pain management options.  Codeine can make you feel lighter than air and completely pain-free – but it is those same benefits that make it so addictive. 

Addiction is a complicated condition that doesn’t present the same in every person. It is personal and can come on quickly without you even realising it until it’s too late. Codeine is addictive, and when you ignore the warning signs and the prescription orders, you can very easily become addicted. It can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender, social class or religion.  

Often, the only common link is pain. Both physical and mental, with codeine being seen as the solution. 


What Makes Codeine Addictive? 

Opioids are painkillers that have a very powerful effect on your body. This can easily lead to a physical and mental addiction. 

An addiction is caused by your body becoming dependent on a chemical called dopamine produced by an outside force. In this case, every time you take dopamine for pain relief or its other effects, you cause a dopamine rush in your brain. Eventually, your brain becomes used to this extra dopamine, and your body develops a resistance to codeine. Because of this, you will need more and more codeine to feel any effect. 

At this point, your brain will begin believing it needs codeine to function. This will cause it to panic if it goes too long without it. Your brain will also produce less dopamine resulting in anxiety and depression. You must be aware of the signs of addiction so that you can act before it is too late. 

Signs of an opioid addiction 

  • Excessive use of painkillers and opioids beyond what they are prescribed for.
  • Lying to doctors to get more opioids or stronger opioids.
  • Stealing or buying illegal opioids such as heroin or morphine.
  • Isolating yourself from your loved ones.
  • Missing important events because of opioids.
  • Hiding the amount or use of opioids regularly consumed.
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you go too long without opioids.

    Withdrawal symptoms are key indicators of addiction. They can be very dangerous, and it is recommended that you never allow yourself to experience them alone. Withdrawal symptoms may include (but are not limited to): 

    • Sweating. 
    • Chills.
    • Hot flushes. 
    • Hives. 
    • Nausea. 
    • Vomiting. 
    • Diarrhoea.
    • Anxiety. 
    • Depression.
    • Insomnia. 
    • Paranoia.
    • Hallucinations.
    • Fever.
    • Delirium. 
    • Seizures.

          Withdrawal symptoms can prove deadly under the right circumstances. If you believe you are experiencing them, please get yourself to a medical facility as soon as possible. Many people avoid getting help for addiction because they are so afraid of withdrawal symptoms. But that doesn’t mean you are safe to continue your addiction. 


          Risk Factors for Codeine Addiction 

          Certain factors make you more susceptible to codeine addiction and its dangers. These factors may include: 

          • Family history of addiction 
          • Mental illness 
          • Chronic pain 
          • Disability 
          • Homelessness 
          • Domestic abuse 
          • Exposure to addiction in childhood 

            You don’t need all of these factors to create an addiction. You also don’t need to be using codeine for a long time. Some people can use codeine once and become addicted. It is a risk whenever you take a drug that is not prescribed for you in the way it has not been prescribed, as there is no medical professional to weigh the risks vs the benefits. 


            Signs of A Severe Codeine Addiction 

            If you are worried that you or someone you care about is struggling specifically from a severe codeine addiction, there are a few signs you can be on the lookout for. 

            • Blue tinges on the lips and fingernail beds 
            • Dizziness 
            • Fainting 
            • Dry mouth 
            • Constipation 
            • Itching 
            • Hives 
            • Low blood pressure 
            • Seizures 
            • Psychosis 
            • Hallucinations 
            • Delusions 
            • Worsening of mental health 
            • Increased mental illness symptoms 
            • Decreased memory 
            • Lack of emotions 
            • Problems with concentration.  


                  Seek Treatment for Codeine Addiction 

                  If you are worried about a codeine addiction, it is never too early or too late to get the help you need. If you don’t feel ready for something so intense, there’s always the option of seeking support from a Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meeting. Those who need support are able to attend as many meetings as they desire, free of charge. NA also operates nationwide, with both in-person and online meetings running throughout the day, every day. 

                  If you’re unsure, a good first step is to talk to your GP about your concerns. They can explain the next steps and maybe even limit your access to codeine if necessary. They may also be able to start getting you help from a drug rehab centre if this is the route you require. At Cassiobury Court, we also provide prescription drug addiction treatment programmes, which include plans tailored to codeine addiction. Reach out today to talk to our friendly and understanding team, who will be able to help you by providing a seamless transition into effective treatment.