Rehab Centres UK

What is Codeine and What Does it Do?

Nicholas Conn
Nicholas Conn

Nicholas is a leading addiction expert UK's go-to man on related matters for the national press, TV and radio.

someone sat drinking out of a mug relaxed

Codeine belongs to a class of drugs known as opioids. It is a prescription medication that is used to relieve mild to moderate pain. Whilst this medication is great for pain relief, misuse of the drug can lead to severe complications and addiction.

In today’s blog post, we will look into the potential side effects of codeine whether the drug is addictive, and where to get help if you find yourself with codeine addiction.


Codeine: The Basics

Codeine is a well-known opioid medication that has been used to treat pain for centuries. It works by binding to the opioid receptors in the brain and the central nervous system to numb the pain and also relieve any stress and anxiety caused by pain.

Doctors usually prescribe it and it can be taken in either a tablet, a liquid you swallow or as an injection. Prescribed codeine injections are usually only given in the hospital.

It can also be used to treat diarrhoea, dry coughs or used as a muscle relaxant. Lower dosages and cough syrup can be bought over the counter at a pharmacy. Some people also take over-the-counter codeine to manage chronic pain.

You should talk to a doctor or pharmacist about any other medicines you take to make sure that it is safe to take codeine as mixing medications that don’t agree can lead to unwanted effects.


Codeine Side Effects

Codeine affects everybody differently, but some of the common side effects of using codeine regularly include:

  • Mild to severe constipation
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness and vertigo
  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Confusion
  • Low blood pressure


There are ways that you can manage these side effects, talk to a doctor or pharmacist about any problems you may be having so they can guide you in the right direction on managing these symptoms or prescribe you other medicines to help.

It’s important to note that if you are suffering from extreme sleepiness or confusion, then it is best that you do not drive, operate any machinery or drink alcohol.


Long-Term Effects of Codeine

Prolonged use of codeine can lead to an increased risk of the following symptoms:

  • Severe constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach ulcers or gastritis
  • Clammy skin
  • Muscle aches
  • Mood swings
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Slow or shallow breathing


The respiratory effects that long-term codeine use can potentially cause could also lead to lung disease, so you should talk to your doctor if you feel you are beginning to have breathing difficulties.

Codeine may also contribute to kidney disease, especially when combined with other medications or substances that also affect kidney function – for example, if you begin to take other drugs alongside codeine to increase the effects.


Is Codeine Addictive?

Yes, like other opioids, taking codeine has a risk of physical dependence, tolerance, and addiction.

Regular use of codeine for pain relief can lead to physical and psychological dependence, making it difficult to stop using the drug without experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

To avoid an addiction, you should stick to a regular dosing schedule that has been approved by a healthcare professional.

When you have developed a codeine addiction, you may start to use other drugs alongside codeine in order to reach the desired effects. It is important that you do not do this as it can lead to difficulty breathing or life-threatening respiratory depression.


How to Identify a Codeine Addiction

If you feel you are struggling with a codeine addiction or somebody you know is struggling, you should reach out to an addiction specialist or speak to your doctor immediately.

If you are addicted to codeine, you may find yourself struggling to stop taking the medication, taking more than necessary or continuing use when you do not need to.

You may also find yourself taking high doses of the medication to reach the same effect. If you stop taking codeine suddenly, you may suffer from some common withdrawal symptoms. These can include:

  • Feeling agitated or anxious
  • Shaking
  • Panic attacks
  • Heart palpitations
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling restless
  • Sweating
  • Body aches
  • Stomach cramps
  • Runny nose


If you experience withdrawal symptoms like these, then your body has become dependent on codeine and you need to seek help to treat your addiction.

Misusing codeine can lead to very serious side effects or even an opioid overdose, you should lower your dose gradually so that your body doesn’t go into shock.


Understanding Codeine Withdrawal

If you use codeine more than you are supposed to, your body will become reliant and you will begin to suffer from withdrawal symptoms when you try to reduce your usage.

It is important that if you have a severe codeine addiction you don’t stop taking codeine suddenly as this can cause severe withdrawal symptoms.

This is why you should consult a health professional regarding codeine addiction as they will be able to advise you how to properly and safely withdraw from codeine.

Codeine withdrawal can be a challenging and uncomfortable experience, but it is important to remember that the severity of your symptoms will decrease as the days go by.


Recovering From Addiction With Rehab Centres UK

Although addiction can be a real struggle for your physical and mental health, recovery is possible and there is a way out. At Rehab Centres UK, we will help you to find the most suitable rehab that will help you to overcome your addiction and maintain a lifetime of abstinence.

You should talk to family and those around you whom you trust about what you are going through so that they can support you through your recovery and help you with your mental health.

At Rehab Centres UK, we have a team of dedicated addiction specialists who are on hand to help and support you to find treatment for your addiction.

We will talk to you about your addiction and your lifestyle to understand what addiction pathway will best suit you. We understand that it is not one shoe fits when it comes to recovery, every addiction is different.

That is why we work with all types of addiction treatment centres so that there are options for you. Reach out to us today and start your journey to recovery.

Need Help With Your Addiction?

If you are looking for rehab for your addiction, contact our 24/7 support line for help at 0808 175 7225 today.