Know Your Codeine — Use, Effects and Risk of Addiction

When Australian rapper 360 started convulsing on the floor of his hotel in January 2016 during the last leg of his 16-date tour of regional Australia, everyone thought he had tried to commit suicide by overdosing on prescription medicines. He had consumed 120 pills of over-the-counter (OTC) drug codeine just before the performance and had been addicted to it for years. Codeine, a derivative of morphine, is present in medicines like Nurofen Plus.

Codeine, an alkaloid (a naturally occurring base) of opium, is made from the milky juice of unripe seed capsules of the opium poppy plant. It belongs to the class of drugs known as narcotic analgesics, such as morphine, opium, heroin, and other opium alkaloids. It is prescribed by doctors to relieve pain and is also the least habit-forming among other opioids. However, its long-term use has negative effects and people might get dependent on it, leading to misuse.

Codeine has high potential for addiction

In America, drugs like codeine, opium and morphine are classified as Schedule II drugs as per the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. To be classified under Schedule II means they are extremely volatile and have the potential for abuse which could lead to physical or psychological dependence. Hence, strict federal rules regulate the production of codeine and its method of distribution by pharmacists. Making, selling or using codeine in ways which flout government rules are illegal in the U.S.

Therapeutic usage

Codeine, prescribed to treat mild-to-moderate pain, binds certain tiny areas called opioid receptors in the central nervous system and helps reduce pain and alter the way one reacts to pain. Codeine is available in many combination medicines and can be obtained OTC without a prescription.

Possible side effects

Codeine should not be taken in ways other than prescribed by a doctor or it could lead to unwarranted symptoms. One should immediately report to the doctor if the following symptoms manifest after using codeine:

• Dizziness

• Headache

• Mood changes

• Nausea

• Drowsiness

• Vomiting

• Lightheadedness

• Stomach pain

• Difficulty urinating

• Constipation

At times, symptoms could be more severe and one should immediately rush to a doctor. Certain symptoms of codeine overdose can also be life-threatening. Be wary of symptoms like sleepiness, confusion, noisy or shallow breathing, difficulty breathing or swallowing, fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat, rash, itching, hives, changes in vision and seizures.

Symptoms of codeine overdose

In case of codeine overdose, people usually experience the following symptoms:

• Difficulty breathing

• Loss of consciousness

• Excessive drowsiness

• Cold and clammy skin

• Dizziness

• Loss of muscle tone

• Fainting

• Slow heartbeat

Misuse of codeine

Though it is very light and non-habit-forming, long-term use of codeine can result in dependence and people may actually start abusing the drug. An individual abusing the drug will eventually need to go for codeine addiction treatment when withdrawal symptoms can pose debilitating threats such as:

• Craving for the drug

• Intense sweating

• Chills

• Goosebumps

• Stomach cramps

• Nausea and vomiting

• Spasms of the muscles

• Agitation and irritability

• Psychosis

• Suicidal thoughts

• Homicidal thoughts

• Racing thoughts

• Hallucinations

Available treatment options

Various centers throughout the country are effectively treating codeine addiction. The codeine addiction treatment in California is among the best in the country. Whether it is the codeine addiction treatment in Los Angeles or a remote borough, the state has some of the best centers for codeine addiction treatment.

If a loved one is grappling with any addiction, speak to one of our experts at our 24/7 helpline number 855–683–9756 for immediate assistance. Sovereign Addiction Services Rehabilitation is a leading addiction treatment organization with centers spread across various states.

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