Codeine Addiction Symptoms

Codeine is a prescription opioid used to treat mild to moderate pain and is highly addictive.

Codeine addiction is a chronic and relapsing disorder that can lead to serious physical and psychological consequences. According to a study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, codeine addiction can occur within as little as 3-7 days of regular use.

The symptoms of codeine abuse can vary from person to person, but there are some common signs to look out for.

  1. Physical Symptoms: This can include drowsiness, constipation, nausea, and slowed breathing.
  2. Behavioural Symptoms: Mood swings, increased secrecy, and isolation, as well as changes in social or work behaviour, may be observed.
  3. Psychological Symptoms: Anxiety, irritability, and agitation are common psychological signs of codeine addiction.

Codeine addiction can be caused by a combination of factors, including:

  1. Genetics: Some individuals may be more predisposed to addiction due to genetic factors.
  2. Environmental Factors: Childhood trauma, stress, and peer pressure can contribute to codeine addiction.
  3. Co-occurring Mental Health Disorders: Individuals with mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety, may use codeine as a form of self-medication, leading to addiction.

Diagnosing codeine addiction involves a comprehensive evaluation that includes a physical examination and psychological evaluation. Treatment options for codeine addiction include a codeine detox, therapy, medication, and support groups. It is essential to seek medical help to safely manage withdrawal symptoms and address underlying issues.

Prevention of codeine addiction can be achieved through proper education, responsible prescribing practices, and regular monitoring of patients taking codeine. Early intervention and seeking help for any signs of addiction can also prevent a codeine addiction from developing.

What Is Codeine Addiction?

Codeine addiction is a condition in which individuals become dependent on the drug codeine.

Codeine is a strong painkiller that can also create feelings of relaxation and euphoria. Those with codeine addiction may experience withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit, such as cravings, restlessness, and changes in mood.

It is important to seek assistance from healthcare professionals if you or someone you know is dealing with codeine addiction. Treatment options, including therapy and medication, can help individuals overcome their addiction and regain control of their lives.

What Are the Symptoms of Codeine Addiction?

Codeine, a pain medication that is often prescribed, can also lead to addiction if not used correctly.

In this section, we will examine the unpleasant symptoms of addiction to codeine and how they may appear in individuals. From physical changes to behavioural patterns and psychological states, we will explore the various aspects of codeine addiction and the signs to be aware of.

By understanding the signs and symptoms of codeine abuse, we can more effectively identify and address this increasing problem.

Physical Symptoms

Physical symptoms can present themselves in various ways. Here are some steps to recognise these symptoms:

  1. Tolerance: The body requires higher doses of codeine to achieve the same effects.
  2. Withdrawal symptoms: When codeine use is ceased, individuals may experience symptoms such as muscle aches, nausea, and sweating.
  3. Constipation: Codeine can cause severe constipation due to its impact on the gastrointestinal system.
  4. Respiratory problems: Codeine can suppress the respiratory system, resulting in slow and shallow breathing.
  5. Constricted pupils: Individuals with codeine addiction may have narrowed pupils.

Behavioural Symptoms

Behavioural symptoms can manifest in various ways. Here are some signs to look out for:

  1. Changes in social behaviour, such as withdrawing from friends and family or isolating oneself.
  2. Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.
  3. Erratic or unpredictable behaviour.
  4. Engaging in risky behaviours, such as driving under the influence.
  5. Continued use of codeine despite negative consequences, such as legal issues or relationship problems.
  6. Stealing or lying to obtain codeine.
  7. Obsessive thoughts and preoccupation with obtaining and using codeine.
  8. Neglecting responsibilities, such as work or school.
  9. Mood swings and irritability.
  10. Changes in sleep patterns, such as insomnia or excessive sleep.

Recognising these behavioural signs and symptoms can be crucial in identifying codeine abuse and seeking appropriate help and treatment.

Psychological Symptoms

Psychological symptoms can present themselves in various ways. Here are some common psychological signs and symptoms to watch out for:

  1. Mood swings: Codeine abuse can cause extreme changes in mood, ranging from feelings of euphoria to irritability and depression.
  2. Anxiety: Individuals may experience higher levels of anxiety or panic attacks.
  3. Depression: Codeine can disrupt the brain’s chemistry, resulting in feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
  4. Impaired cognition: Codeine addiction can affect cognitive function, resulting in difficulties with memory, concentration, and decision-making.
  5. Psychological cravings: Individuals may experience intense desires for codeine, leading to obsessive thoughts about obtaining and using the drug.

What Are the Causes of Codeine Addiction?

Codeine addiction is a complicated problem that can originate from different factors. In this section, we will examine the reasons behind codeine addiction and how they contribute to the development of this substance use disorder.

From genetic predispositions to environmental influences and the presence of co-occurring mental health disorders, there are several factors that can influence the development of codeine addiction.

By comprehending these causes, we can enhance our understanding of this addiction and how to prevent and treat it.


Genetics plays a significant role in codeine addiction, and understanding its influence can be crucial. Here are some key steps to consider:

  1. Family history: Identify if there is a history of substance abuse in the family.
  2. Gene variations: Certain genetic variations can affect how codeine is metabolised in the body.
  3. Risk assessment: Consult with a healthcare professional to assess your genetic risk factors.
  4. Personalised treatment: Genetic testing can help tailor treatment plans based on individual genetic factors.
  5. Education and support: Learn about the genetic component of addiction, and seek support from professionals or support groups.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors can have a significant impact on the development of codeine addiction. Here are some factors to consider:

  1. Peer Influence: Being surrounded by individuals who abuse codeine can increase the likelihood of addiction.
  2. Availability: Having easy access to codeine, whether through a prescription or illegal means, can contribute to addiction.
  3. Family Environment: Growing up in a household where drug abuse is common can make substance use seem normal and increase the risk of addiction.
  4. Stressful Life Events: Traumatic experiences like loss, abuse, or financial difficulties can cause individuals to turn to codeine as a coping mechanism.
  5. Media and Advertising: Being exposed to advertisements or media that glamourise or normalise drug use can influence attitudes and behaviours.

It is important to identify these environmental factors and take measures to address them in order to prevent codeine addiction.

Co-occurring Mental Health Disorders

Co-occurring mental health disorders often contribute to codeine addiction. It is crucial to address these underlying conditions during treatment to achieve successful recovery. Here are steps to address co-occurring mental health disorders:

  1. Screening: Conduct a thorough assessment to identify any mental health disorders that may be present alongside codeine addiction.
  2. Diagnosis: Accurately diagnose specific mental health disorders, such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder.
  3. Integrated treatment: Develop a comprehensive treatment plan that combines therapy and medication to address both codeine addiction and mental health disorders simultaneously.
  4. Individual therapy: Engage in one-on-one counselling sessions to explore the underlying causes of addiction and develop healthy coping strategies.
  5. Group therapy: Participate in group therapy sessions to gain support from peers and learn from their experiences.
  6. Medication management: Work closely with a healthcare professional to determine if medication is necessary to manage the mental health disorders.
  7. Continued support: Maintain ongoing support through aftercare programs, such as support groups or outpatient therapy, to prevent relapse and manage mental health.

How Is Codeine Addiction Diagnosed?

In order to receive a correct diagnosis of codeine addiction, a comprehensive assessment must be carried out. This usually includes two main parts: a physical examination and a psychological evaluation.

Through these assessments, healthcare professionals can gather important information to determine if someone is experiencing codeine addiction.

In this section, we will delve into the details of how codeine addiction is diagnosed and what factors are considered.

Physical Exam

A physical examination is an important step in the diagnosis of codeine addiction. The following steps are involved in a physical examination:

  1. Medical history: The healthcare provider will ask about your medical history, including any previous substance abuse or addiction.
  2. Vital signs: Blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature will be measured to assess overall health.
  3. Physical assessment: The healthcare provider will examine various body systems, such as the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, to check for any codeine-related complications.
  4. Laboratory tests: Blood and urine tests may be conducted to detect the presence of codeine or its metabolites in the body.
  5. Screening for other health issues: The physical examination may also include screening for co-occurring mental health disorders or other medical conditions that could contribute to codeine addiction.

These steps help healthcare providers gather important information to accurately diagnose codeine addiction and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Psychological Evaluation

A psychological evaluation is an essential part of diagnosing codeine addiction. It involves assessing a person’s mental and emotional state to determine the psychological factors that contribute to their addiction.

The evaluation may include interviews, questionnaires, and psychological tests to identify any co-occurring mental health disorders, such as anxiety or depression, that may drive the addiction.

Understanding these psychological aspects is crucial for developing an effective treatment plan tailored to the individual’s needs.

Psychological evaluations provide valuable insights into a person’s emotional well-being and help guide the therapeutic approach for codeine addiction recovery.

Treatment Options for Codeine Addiction

When it comes to treating codeine addiction, there are several options available. In this section, we will discuss the various treatment options and their effectiveness in helping individuals overcome codeine addiction.

These options include detoxification, therapy, medications, and support groups. By understanding the different approaches, we can better understand how to address and manage codeine addiction.

Let’s dive into each option and explore their potential benefits.

Codeine Detox

Detoxification is an essential step in treating codeine addiction. Here are the key steps involved in the codeine detox process:

  1. Assessment: A healthcare professional evaluates the individual’s addiction severity, medical history, and any co-occurring conditions.
  2. Medical Supervision: Codeine detox should be done under medical supervision to ensure safety and manage withdrawal symptoms.
  3. Tapering: The dosage of codeine is gradually reduced to minimise codeine withdrawal symptoms.
  4. Medication: Medications may be prescribed to alleviate codeine withdrawal symptoms and manage cravings.
  5. Monitoring: The individual is closely monitored for physical and psychological changes during the detoxification process.
  6. Support: Emotional support is provided through counselling, therapy, and support groups.
  7. Aftercare: Transitioning to further addiction treatment, such as therapy or codeine rehab programmes, is crucial to maintain recovery.


Therapy is a vital part of treating codeine addiction. It assists individuals in addressing the underlying causes of their addiction and developing healthier ways of coping. The following steps outline the therapy process for codeine addiction:

  1. Evaluation: Therapists assess the individual’s addiction history, mental health, and personal circumstances.
  2. Goal Setting: The individual and therapist collaborate to establish treatment goals and create a personalised plan.
  3. Individual Therapy: One-on-one sessions offer a safe space to explore triggers, develop strategies, and work through emotional challenges.
  4. Group Therapy: Participating in group sessions allows individuals to gain support, learn from others, and develop communication and interpersonal skills.
  5. Family Therapy: Involving family members can aid in repairing relationships, educating loved ones, and creating a supportive home environment.
  6. Continued Support: Following treatment, therapy may continue on an outpatient basis to provide ongoing support and prevent relapse.


Medications can play a crucial role in the treatment of codeine addiction. Here are some options for medication-assisted treatment:

  1. Buprenorphine: It helps reduce codeine withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
  2. Methadone: It can be used for long-term maintenance, reducing the risk of relapse.
  3. Naltrexone: It blocks the euphoric effects of the opiate drug, helping to prevent relapse.
  4. Clonidine: It helps manage withdrawal symptoms like anxiety and restlessness.

These medications are typically used in combination with therapy and support groups to provide comprehensive treatment for codeine dependence. It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most suitable medication approach based on individual needs and circumstances.

Support Groups

Support groups play an important role in the treatment of codeine addiction. Here are some steps to consider when looking for support groups:

  1. Research: Look for local support groups that specialise in addiction or specifically focus on codeine dependence.
  2. Attend meetings: Regularly attend support group meetings to connect with others who have had similar struggles.
  3. Share experiences: Openly discuss your challenges, progress, and setbacks within the support group setting.
  4. Receive support: Benefit from the understanding, guidance, and encouragement provided by group members and facilitators.
  5. Learn coping strategies: Acquire valuable skills for coping, techniques for preventing relapse, and healthy ways to manage cravings.
  6. Build a recovery network: Develop relationships with individuals who can offer ongoing support outside of support group meetings.

How Can Codeine Addiction Be Prevented?

To prevent codeine addiction, it is important to be proactive and make informed decisions. Here are some steps to consider:

  1. Consult a healthcare professional for proper guidance on how to use codeine.
  2. Follow the prescribed dosage and adhere strictly to the recommended duration.
  3. Avoid self-medication or increasing the dosage without medical advice.
  4. Monitor and keep track of your codeine intake to avoid becoming dependent.
  5. Consider alternative options for pain relief, such as physical therapy or non-opioid medications.
  6. Engage in healthy coping mechanisms for pain and stress, such as exercise or relaxation techniques.
  7. Stay well-informed about the risks and potential side effects of abusing codeine.
  8. Seek support from friends, family, or support groups if you have a history of substance abuse.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is codeine and why is it commonly abused?

Codeine is a painkiller derived from the opium poppy plant.

It belongs to the opiate class of drugs and is frequently used to suppress coughs and relieve severe and moderate pain.

However, due to its addictive properties and ability to produce pleasurable sensations, it has become a preferred drug for many individuals.

What are the symptoms of codeine addiction?

Codeine addiction is a serious disorder of the brain’s reward system, where the user feels compelled to seek out and use the drug despite negative consequences.

Symptoms may include physical signs such as blue lips, muscle twitches, dry mouth, and changes in vision, as well as behavioural signs like increased tolerance, a constant quest for more drugs, and difficulty urinating.

Can codeine addiction be treated?

Codeine addiction can be treated with prompt medical intervention and therapeutic measures.

The NHS, private drug treatment services, and organisations such as Frank Drugs Helpline and Narcotics Anonymous can provide a solid foundation for long-term recovery.

However, for severe or complicated cases, residential codeine rehab may be necessary.

How does codeine abuse affect an individual’s health and well-being?

Codeine, like other opiates, can have severe effects on an individual’s health. People suffering from chronic pain, in particular, may use codeine as a temporary relief but end up in a dangerous cycle of dependence.

Codeine abuse can also lead to gastrointestinal problems, respiratory issues, and even sexual dysfunction. Seeking help and reducing harm is crucial for maintaining a healthy and fulfilling life.

What resources are available for those struggling with codeine addiction?

There are various resources available for individuals struggling with codeine addiction.

These include the NHS, private drug treatment services, the Frank website and helpline, Narcotics Anonymous, and the Adfam website.

These resources can provide support, guidance, and evidence-based approaches to understanding and overcoming codeine addiction.

Free Callback Service

Our trained addiction counsellors are available 24 hours a day to help you