Codeine Drug Facts | A Center for Addiction Recovery

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Information provided below is courtesy of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

Codeine Overview

Codeine Addiction TreatmentCodeine is an opioid pain medication. An opioid is sometimes called a narcotic. Codeine is used to treat mild to moderately severe pain. It is also used, usually in combination with other medications, to reduce coughing. Combination products that contain codeine and promethazine should not be used in children younger than 16 years of age. Codeine will help relieve symptoms but will not treat the cause of symptoms or speed recovery. Codeine belongs to a class of medications called opiate (narcotic) analgesics and to a class of medications called antitussives. When codeine is used to treat pain, it works by changing the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain. When codeine is used to reduce coughing, it works by decreasing the activity in the part of the brain that causes coughing. Codeine is also available in combination with acetaminophen (Capital and Codeine, Tylenol with Codeine); aspirin; and carisoprodol; and as an ingredient in many cough and cold medications. This monograph only includes information about the use of codeine. If you are taking a codeine combination product, be sure to read information about all the ingredients in the product you are taking and ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Codeine Signs of Abuse

Codeine addiction is characterized by compulsive use, use for non-medical purposes, and continued use despite harm or risk of harm. Drug addiction is a treatable disease, utilizing a multi-disciplinary approach, but relapse is common. “Drug seeking” behavior is very common in addicts and drug abusers. Drug-seeking tactics include emergency calls or visits near the end of office hours, refusal to undergo appropriate examination, testing or referral, repeated “loss” of prescriptions, tampering with prescriptions and reluctance to provide prior medical records or contact information for other treating physician(s). “Doctor shopping” to obtain additional prescriptions is common among drug abusers and people suffering from untreated addiction. Abuse and addiction are separate and distinct from physical dependence and tolerance. Physicians should be aware that addiction may not be accompanied by concurrent tolerance and symptoms of physical dependence. The converse is also true. In addition, abuse of opioids can occur in the absence of true addiction and is characterized by misuse for non-medical purposes, often in combination with other psychoactive substances. Careful record-keeping of prescribing information, including quantity, frequency, and renewal requests is strongly advised.

Effects of Codeine Abuse

Codeine may cause side effects from abuse as well. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • Sleepiness
  • Confusion
  • Noisy or shallow breathing
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat
  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Hives
  • Changes in vision
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Mood changes
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation

Codeine Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal Symptoms of Codeine include:

  • Muscle Aches
  • Headaches
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Dehydration
  • Weakness
  • Digestive issues
  • Sleep problems
  • Nausea

For information about prescription drug rehab, please contact us at 1 (800) 570-4562