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Codeine Withdrawal Stages Explained

Making the decision to quit using codeine is never easy, especially when you know that withdrawal symptoms await you once you stop use. However, if you’re more familiar with the various codeine withdrawal stages, it can help you to prepare for what’s ahead.

3 Minute Read | Published Aug 21 2023 | Updated Mar 04 2024 Expert Verified
Emma Collins
Written by
Ashley Bayliss
Reviewed by
Emma Collins
Written by
Ashley Bayliss
Reviewed by

Find out more about the codeine withdrawal stages

Three Codeine Withdrawal Stages

There are three different codeine withdrawal stages a recovering person moves through after usage stops. The actual severity of symptoms will depend on various factors, including the length of use, the dosage being taken prior to detox, the severity of the addiction and whether the person is taking any other drugs at the same time. The person’s state of physical health at the time of detox will also play a role in the severity of symptoms.

Stage One

The first stage of codeine withdrawal symptoms can begin within eight to sixteen hours after taking the last dose and usually lasts for one or two days, although symptoms may last longer for some people. It is also considered the most painful of all the codeine withdrawal stages. Symptoms include:

  • Intense cravings
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Flulike symptoms (e.g. runny nose, excessive sneezing)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Muscle aches and bone pains
  • Insomnia and sleep disturbances
  • Abnormally heavy sweating
  • Fevers and chills
  • Goosebumps
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Depression
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure

A recovering person is at a particularly high risk of relapsing during phase one, as many people begin believing that just taking one more dose of codeine will make the horrible withdrawal symptoms stop. If the person does give in and return to former drug abuse patterns, the risk of accidental overdose is particularly high.

Stage Two

For most people, codeine withdrawal symptoms usually peak around three days after the last dose, but usually subside within a week. During stage two, most of the original symptoms from stage one are still present, although they aren’t as severe.

Many people may also find it difficult to eat solid foods, but it’s important to eat nutritious food to maintain energy and strength. Many people may also experience symptoms of dehydration, especially if they haven’t been drinking enough water through detox. Cravings to take more codeine also won’t be as strong during stage two, but they won’t have disappeared.

Stage Three

During the third of all the codeine withdrawal stages, many people begin to think they’re in the clear. The worst of any physical withdrawal symptoms are usually over by this stage, but some of the psychological symptoms may persist for weeks or even months after the last dose.

Many people may still experience symptoms of anxiety, insomnia and depression during stage three. Most will also still experience cravings, although they aren’t always as extreme as they were in early withdrawal.

Overcoming Codeine Addiction

It’s common for many people struggling with a codeine addiction to assume that once they get through the detox process they’re somehow cured of their habit. However, detox only eliminates the effects of the drug from the system. It does nothing to address the psychological aspect behind addictive behaviors.

A person trying to detox at home without proper treatment or therapy may not figure out how to overcome codeine addiction and is at significant risk of relapsing back to self-destructive patterns of behavior. Without addressing the psychological triggers behind addictive substance abuse, the original reasons for using in the first place still exist.

By comparison, seeking professional treatment at a drug rehab facility can provide the right combination of therapies and treatments needed to learn how to overcome codeine addiction successfully. Rehab addiction treatment centers are able to tailor the correct types of therapies to help recovering people identify their own individual triggers and develop strong coping mechanisms and recovery skills designed to help them stay clean and sober over the long term.

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