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Dangers of Codeine Abuse


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Codeine is an opioid used to relieve pain. It is added to many over-the-counter cold and flu medications in order to relieve uncomfortable symptoms. Using increasing amounts of codeine can result in dependence, which causes impaired organ functioning, decreased tolerance to discomfort, and social dysfunction.

Like any opioid, codeine is habit-forming to people who use the drug recreationally or outside of absolute medical necessity. Codeine abuse in any form can prove extremely detrimental to a person’s health and wellness. If you think you may be struggling with this serious disorder, our prescription drug treatment program can help. Call Liberty Bay Recovery today at (855) 607-8758 to learn more.

What Is Codeine?

Codeine is an opioid narcotic prescription medication that provides short-acting effects. In most cases, the effects last no more than a few hours at a time.

Codeine is sourced from the opium poppy plant. This puts it in a category with other potent opioids, including oxycodone, Vicodin, hydrocodone, and Demerol. In most cases, codeine is physician-prescribed to treat short-term acute pain. When taken according to recommendations, codeine doesn’t generally present a problem. However, much like its opioid counterparts, codeine can lead to prescription drug abuse if misused.

Signs and Symptoms of Codeine and Prescription Drug Abuse

The longer a person uses codeine, the higher the likelihood of developing an addiction. While signs and symptoms of codeine abuse can vary, some common indicators related to mood include:

  •  Severe mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Euphoria

Behavioral changes are often notable in those suffering from codeine abuse, as well. These can range from withdrawing socially and showing sudden indifference towards things and people they once loved to lying about their daily habits and routines.

Signs of Codeine Addiction

Those individuals struggling with a codeine addiction that presents in cough syrup abuse may try to forge prescriptions to get a fix. Doctor shopping is commonly seen amongst codeine-dependent individuals, as well as frequent visits to the emergency room. There are also many physical symptoms linked to codeine abuse over time. These can include:

  • Rashes
  • Seizures
  • Respiratory depression
  • Blue-tinged fingernail beds
  • Blue-tinged lips

More severe cases of codeine abuse come with significant psychological symptoms, too. Individuals excessively using codeine may experience hallucinations, memory loss, delusions, or show an increase in mental illness symptoms overall.

Long-Term Risks and Consequences

Beyond the many symptoms associated with codeine abuse, there are some very real consequences and risks involved with abusing this substance.

Codeine abuse has long been linked to both kidney and liver damage over time. Codeine addicts regularly suffer from acute pancreatitis and tend to have an increased sensitivity to pain.

As with so many addictions, codeine abuse can become a primary focus over time. As an addict puts all of their efforts into finding their next fix, jobs and relationships suffer. Ultimately, this can lead to unemployment, legal issues, divorce, and homelessness. The physical consequences of extended codeine abuse, including seizures, can also lead to comas or death.

Potential Withdrawal Symptoms

Experiencing withdrawal symptoms is a clear indicator that codeine abuse is an issue requiring professional intervention. Withdrawal symptoms can include everything from intense cravings and insomnia to chills, stomach cramps, agitation, and muscle spasms, to name a few. In the most high-risk situations, withdrawal can provoke a codeine addict to have suicidal thoughts.

Find Help for Cough Syrup Abuse at Liberty Bay Recovery 

If you or someone you love abuses codeine and wants to stop, contact our team of dedicated mental health professionals at Liberty Bay Recovery today by calling us at (855) 607-8758. If you don’t feel like talking right now, submit an online form instead. We look forward to helping you take your life back. 

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