Codeine Withdrawal Duration, Symptoms, and Treatment

Written by Chloe Nicosia

Getting Beyond Codeine Withdrawal is Not Impossible

If you’re trapped in a codeine habit and aren’t sure how to achieve sobriety, the first thing that you need to know is that you aren’t alone. Codeine, a powerful opiate painkiller, is prescribed often enough and widely enough to lead many people down the path of dependency and addiction. No matter what the reason may have been for your transition to compulsive use – mental health problems, high levels of stress, psychological trauma or anything else – it’s possible to overcome. Your first concern is probably how to face codeine withdrawal. Working with trained addiction specialists can help. You’ll have experts to help you through the entire process. For now, here’s more information on codeine addiction and withdrawal.

How can you be sure you’re addicted?

It isn’t that hard to determine if the way you take your codeine is healthy, or if it’s made the transition to dependence or addiction. You can fairly easily assume some form of trouble if you experience any of the following:

  • You take more codeine than your doctor prescribes.
  • You feel withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking codeine for longer than a day.
  • You crave the substance and feel the need to take it to merely function.

The presence of withdrawal symptoms can be pointed evidence of chemical dependence. These symptoms can include anxiety and irritability, allergy-like symptoms, aches and pains, and palpitations of the heart. If withdrawal symptoms are allowed to continue, they can include gastric disturbances including nausea, cramps and diarrhea. When experienced together with cravings, the withdrawal symptoms of codeine can be difficult enough to drive most to give up on the idea of sobriety. This is an important reason why codeine withdrawal is best done in rehab, under medical supervision.

Going through codeine withdrawal in medical detox

Detox for codeine withdrawal has a simple aim: safely putting you through the first step of ending drug use. In rehab, you receive medical intervention to help address the pain and discomfort involved:

  • Paracetamol, ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal medications for pain.
  • Clonidine or another anxiety medication for distress.
  • Benzodiazepine for muscle cramps, anxiety or sleep.
  • Methadone, naltrexone or buprenorphine for the cravings of codeine withdrawal.

In some cases, treatment is perfectly possible on an outpatient basis. You live at home, go to work, and take care of your family, while showing up at rehab once a day for your prescription and for therapy. The rest of the time, you’re on your own, and it’s up to you and your family to make sure that you are motivated enough to stay abstinent. This is a workable idea in cases of codeine addiction that haven’t lasted for very long. Mild, straightforward addictions where there are no mental disorders involved, and where there is family to offer close emotional support, can be corrected with outpatient detox.

Inpatient treatment may be required where complications are in evidence.

Treatment may be needed after codeine withdrawal, too

Using codeine detox to overcome the withdrawal symptoms of quitting can lead to complete freedom from the codeine habit in some cases – where abuse has existed for only a short time, and hasn’t led to psychological dependence. Prolonged use can lead to such psychological dependence, however. Then, there may be more treatment needed. People who are psychologically dependent on a substance need long-term psychological therapy once past detox. In therapy, they learn to address psychological problems that stand in the way of a healthy lifestyle, and ways to avoid cravings.

Codeine withdrawal is one of the toughest challenges that anyone is likely to face. It’s important to go in with qualified professional help. If you’d like to begin discussing such treatment, all you need to do is to call Better Addiction Care at 1.800.429.7690.