Codeine Addiction

Codeine Addiction

Codeine is an opiate drug commonly used in painkillers and cough syrups. It is a highly effective medicine, but it is also highly addictive.

Codeine addiction happens with repeated exposure to codeine. It is most common when a person takes codeine in higher doses over an extended period, such as when a person is on high-strength co-codamol to manage pain.

Though codeine is less potent than other opiates like oxycodone, it is still extremely addictive. It doesn’t take long for your body to build up a tolerance to codeine. This means you need to take more of the drug for the same effect.

Like all drugs that are available under prescription, codeine has useful medicinal applications. However, it is also dangerous. Addiction to codeine can lead to abusing other stronger opiates like fentanyl and heroin.

If you are struggling to stop taking codeine or any medication that contains codeine, you must seek help as soon as possible. Please call us on [number] for free, confidential advice from our experienced addiction experts.

What Is Codeine?

Codeine is a natural opiate that can be found in many pain relief and cold and flu medications. Drugs that contain codeine are not available without prescription from a doctor, except in the case of co-codamol, which can be purchased in the lowest strength without a prescription, but only from a pharmacy.

Unlike synthetic opioids, codeine is a natural opiate, derived from the opium poppy which has been cultivated for thousands of years. Its primary use is as a painkiller and as a narcotic cough suppressant, ingested as a syrup.

Codeine was first isolated in 1830 by Jean-Pierre Robiquet to replace raw opium. It is considered safe, so long as it is used correctly.

Codeine works by bonding to certain neuroreceptors in the brain. Neuroreceptors are receptors for neurotransmitters. In other words, codeine changes the way your brain and nervous system respond to pain.

When you are addicted to codeine, your brain associates codeine with pleasure and euphoria. It actively seeks this out. This urge to use can become impossible to control, which is how codeine dependence forms into codeine addiction.

Co-codamol And Alcohol

Drinking alcohol while taking co-codamol can make you feel sleepy and drowsy. It also increases the risk of severe side effects. Some of these include:

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Lethargy
  • Headaches
  • Sight impairment
  • Mental impairment
  • Memory loss
  • Delayed motor skills
  • Fainting

Our advice is to never consume alcohol while taking co-codamol.

Codeine Side Effects

Codeine is most frequently used as a painkiller. It is also used in some prescription cough syrups and for treating diarrhoea in the case of co-codamol.

The most common side effects of codeine include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Lightheadedness

Other side effects include:

  • Sedation
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pruritus (an urge to itch)

The frequency of these symptoms increases the higher the dosage.

It’s also important to note that most people experience no symptoms with safe use, providing the codeine is used for medicinal purposes.  

If you misuse codeine and medications that contain codeine, such as co-codamol, you are much more likely to experience adverse effects.

Codeine Addiction Symptoms

The first stage of addiction is codeine tolerance. This is when your body becomes used to normal dosage and needs more for the same effect.

The second stage is codeine dependence. When you become dependent on codeine, you will have a craving that only codeine can satisfy.

The third stage is a full addiction. This is when you use codeine to fend off intense and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. At this stage, you are completely dependent on codeine to feel normal. Without it, you feel poorly.

Here are the symptoms of codeine addiction:

  • Taking codeine medications for longer than you’re supposed to
  • Upping your dosage, without consulting your doctor
  • Lying to your doctor about your pain, so you can get more co-codamol
  • Buying low-strength co-codamol from a pharmacy and doubling up the dosage
  • Using codeine medications to ease anxiety
  • Using codeine medications to help you sleep
  • Consistent use of codeine medications when you don’t need them
  • Spending less time on the things you enjoy so you can take codeine
  • Buying illegal codeine drugs on the street or darknet
  • Obsessing over codeine and actively seeking out ways to acquire it

If you can identify with any of these symptoms, we would say you do have a problem with codeine, and you should seek advice immediately.

The most dangerous aspect of codeine addiction is how quickly it can spiral out of your control. One week you could be taking low-strength co-codamol, the next week you could be taking high-strength co-codamol, and the week after that you could be doubling up your dosage beyond the safe levels permitted.

We have seen this behaviour hundreds of times before.

If you think you have a codeine problem, please call us on [number] for advice. All advice is free and confidential.

Am I Addicted to Codeine?

If you take drugs containing codeine to satisfy a feeling of unease, anxiety or restlessness, there’s a strong possibility you are taking codeine to satisfy a craving.

A craving for codeine develops when you take codeine over an extended period. You may recognise this as a nagging feeling that subsides after taking codeine. If you can identify with this, then you are probably dependent on codeine.




Recognising a codeine addiction can be difficult. However, there is a simple rule – if you take codeine for the sake of it, or because you don’t feel normal without it, or because it provides comfort, you will have a mild, moderate, or severe addiction, depending on how frequently you use codeine to satisfy yourself.

It is also useful to know the correct dosage for codeine:

Do not take more than 4 doses of codeine in 24 hours if you’re:

  • A child (aged 12 to 18 years)
  • Taking a 60mg dose

15mg to 60mg of codeine 4 times a day is the correct dosage for prescribed codeine phosphate tablets. For medications that contain codeine, please refer to the packet or speak with your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Codeine Addiction Rehab Treatment

If you are addicted to codeine, there are several ways we can treat your addiction.

The traditional codeine rehab method is to enter rehab, undergo a medicated detox, and undergo behavioural therapy. This gives us the best opportunity to resolve your addiction and the habits and triggers that make you abuse codeine.

The right type of treatment for your addiction depends on your circumstances, so it will be worth speaking with us before going any further.

Inpatient rehab

If you have a strong, compulsive urge to use, a double diagnosis, or are otherwise at a moderate to high risk of relapse, it will be best for you to receive treatment as an inpatient. This means staying in clinic accommodation for 2-4 weeks.

This is the most comprehensive type of rehab. It is frequently used for strong addictions. If you have been hooked on codeine for more than 6 months or you are progressing onto stronger opiates, this will be the best choice.

Outpatient rehab

If pausing your life and entering rehab for up to a month isn’t a feasible option, then we can create an outpatient rehab programme. This will require you to detox at home, which increases the risk of relapse considerably.

Detoxing creates intense and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, so whether detoxing at home is right for you depends on your circumstances. Your withdrawal symptoms will be managed with medication, but you won’t have access to 24/7 care like inpatients do.

Rapid detox

Another treatment option is rapid detox. A rapid codeine detox involves a 5-day detox where you will either stay in accommodation with us and undergo a lighter therapy programme or undergo your detox at home with no therapy.

This is often a good treatment for mild and early-stage addictions. Rapid detoxes typically last 5 days but can last 7 or 10 days. They are suitable for codeine and prescription drugs like co-codamol, providing the patient is healthy.

Getting the help you need

Codeine withdrawal creates unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms are not typically life-threatening, but they can be intense.

Without proper treatment, most people give up trying to quit and turn back to codeine to make their unpleasant withdrawal symptoms stop. This is the risk of going cold turkey – not being able to overcome the physical pain of withdrawal.

It is safer to undergo your detox with medication, on a treatment programme that is designed to address your specific needs. You are also far more likely to overcome your addiction and stay drug-free with help, support and understanding from people who care about your recovery and want you to do well.

Regardless of how you became addicted to codeine, overcoming your addiction and becoming codeine independent is perfectly possible. You can get started with treatment by calling us on [number] for free, confidential advice.

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Alcohol Addiction FAQ's

We offer locations for alcohol rehab centres nationwide, call our team on 0333 444 0434. They will be able to advise you on treatment options available in your area.

This all depends on your personal circumstances. We ask that you contact our team on 0333 444 0434 so that we can fully understand your situation and needs.

We’ll talk you through a short telephone questionnaire designed to help us provide you with the best possible care.

We then set a date and time for your admission and you can look forward to a new start in life.

Absolutely yes, so many people are not even aware they have a mental health problem and many people don’t make the connection in children and mental health. The alcohol can become a ‘solution’ for a persons mental health. At the start it will seem as if the alcohol is quieting the mind, but in time as the addiction progresses it will only add to any mental health problems the person has. It is also difficult to diagnose a person with mental health while under the influence of alcohol.

As well as being directly related to many serious diseases, drinking large amounts of alcohol can also lead to poor sexual performance, and it can harm an unborn baby. If you have an alcohol related problem, there are many ways in which you can get help to reduce your drinking, and there are also many services that you can use that will help you stop altogether. Definition The problems associated with alcoholism, or alcohol dependence, are wide ranging, and can be physical, psychological, and social.

There is no definitive cure for addiction. However, rehab can provide patients with the skills needed to successfully manage their addiction and remain sober. Recovery from addiction is never over and patients will need to work on their ability to avoid relapse for the rest of their lives. A high quality addiction rehab programme sets patients up for this process.

Most people can enjoy a casual night out with friends, have one or two drinks and then stop, and they might not drink again for several days. They enjoy a drink, but they don’t NEED it.

If you feel that you would like to talk to one of our experts and see how we can help you, call us on 0333 444 0434.