What You Need to Know About Codeine Withdrawal

If you have developed a codeine dependency, there in order to stop using the drug, codeine withdrawal will be part of the inevitable process.  The more you are aware of what to expect during the time of codeine withdrawal, the better.  You can prepare yourself and set yourself up to succeed in your recovery.

Signs of Addiction to Codeine

As with other addictive drugs, codeine has the capability to sneak up on you.  One day you are a recreational user or you are simply using the medicine to manage your pain, and the next thing you know, you find that you have a codeine problem.

The following are signs that you most likely have a dependency addiction to codeine:

  • Do you find that you are taking more codeine to get the same effect you used to get from taking less?  Codeine is fast acting and is notorious for causing a tolerance to develop.  If you have built up one, you are most likely taking more of the drug, more often, to get the same pain relief or high.
  • Preoccupation with codeine. Do thoughts of using and getting more codeine fill your thoughts more often than not?  Do you think of going to multiple doctors or getting codeine off the streets or without a prescription?  If so, you are experiencing what is common to codeine addicts.  You are obsessed with codeine and that is a big red flag.
  • Being angry or frustrated. When you are without codeine, are you in a bad mood, angry or frustrated?  Those are common signs linked to addiction. 
  • Dishonest or illegal practices. Do you steal, lie or even write your own prescription?  Any immoral behavior is reason to believe you have a dependency to codeine. 

Codeine Withdrawal Symptoms

Codeine is an opioid painkiller.  It is a synthetic substance which is similar in nature to morphine but is less potent.  The fact that it is often taken without a prescription or is prescribed for long-term pain makes it a drug that is often connected with dependency.

Codeine is an opioid so there is a physical addiction that accompanies it.  If you are experiencing codeine withdrawal, there will be signs that occur when the drug is not present in your system.  Here are some withdrawal from codeine symptoms to watch for:

Physical Signs of Codeine Withdrawal

  • Cold or flu like symptoms such as sniffling and sporting a runny nose
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of interest in activities you previously enjoyed
  • Depression
  • Sleeplessness
  • Codeine withdrawal headache
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle aches and cramping
  • Cold sweats
  • Clammy feet and hands
  • Swings in mood
  • Mind fog and confusion
  • Loss of memory
  • Difficulty making decisions

Codeine Withdrawal Tips

If you are subject to codeine withdrawal, there are some things that can help you get through it.  First and foremost, there are treatment centers that can be your saving grace.  You will have your choice of in-house, residential treatment, the recommended choice when possible.  Or, an out-patient rehab situation.

Medically assisted detox is generally available in residential treatment programs.  In addition, there are detox facilities that offer detox and then, upon release, you are encouraged to seek residential or out-patient treatment.

If you are waiting to get into a program or cannot go to one for whatever reason, here are some codeine withdrawal tips you can use to help get you through:

  • Find a support system. You won’t feel very good during the codeine withdrawal process and will need all the encouragement you can get.  Even if it is just a recovering addict that can come by or call and check in with you, be sure you have some type of support in place.
  • A damp wet rag (hot or cold) will help you feel a little better when fever or cold chills set in. You will experience cold and flu-like symptoms so treat yourself as if you have one.
  • Set in your mind that you will not waiver no matter how severe the symptoms get. Since willpower does not have a good track record in the recovery department, hopefully you will only need to use the mind-over-matter until you can make it to treatment
  • Drink plenty of water. By flushing out your system, you will speed up the codeine withdrawal process to some extent.  Furthermore, you will prevent yourself from getting dehydrated.
  • When and if you can eat or drink something, make sure it’s something healthy so you add strength to your body.
  • Know that you can do it. Read, listen to and watch motivational recovery material.  When you are in codeine withdrawals, you are making positive steps toward your new life in recovery.


Effects of Codeine Withdrawal

Not only do those who are in codeine withdrawal experience the symptoms thereof, their bodies go through quite a number of changes as well.  Opioid withdrawals are caused from your body crying out for the substance it is addicted to.  To your body, not having codeine might feel like your lungs not having air.  Rest assured it will pass though.  You will survive and it will all be behind you, once and for all…as long as you don’t “pick up” again.

Codeine Withdrawal Stages
The First Stage

The initial stage of codeine withdrawal takes place somewhere around eight to 16 hours after your last use.  The symptoms coming on are in direct relation to the half-life of codeine.  Since codeine is a fast-acting, synthetic drug, the codeine withdrawal symptoms are likely to appear early on.  This state is when you are likely to experience a runny nose, fever, sweating, watering eyes, and so forth.  Aching and cramping may occur as well.

The Peak

Somewhere between 36 and 48 hours into codeine withdrawals, it is common for the symptoms to reach a peak.  You may become extremely agitated and crave codeine intensely.  Your temperature may increase as well as your respiratory rate and your blood pressure too.  Nausea and vomiting are common during this phase.  Hang in there.

Long Term

While the symptoms of codeine withdrawal usually subside and begin to fade away during the seventh to tenth day after your last use, there are symptoms that may stick around for a while.  It sometimes takes a time for your body to adjust back to normal sleeping and sometimes, eating too.  You may continue to feel tired and you will likely experience cravings.  But, with a solid support intact, you will do fine and your newfound life in recovery will far outweigh any symptoms you may have long term.


Reach Out

If you have concluded that you have a codeine dependency, you are not alone.  There is help waiting for you.  All you need to do is accept it and a new joyous and drug-free life is yours for the taking.