Codeine

Codeine | Codeine Addiction | Codeine Withdrawal

Codeine is a member of the drug class opiates. Opiates include all naturally occurring drugs with morphine-like effects such as codeine and all semi and fully synthetic drugs with morphine-like effects such as heroin and meperidine (Demerol). Codeine was first discovered as a natural constituent of opium in very small concentrations, in the range of 0.7% – 2.5% by weight. Most codeine found in pharmaceutical products today is synthetically produced via the methylation of morphine.

How is Codeine used?

Codeine can be administered orally (PO), subcutaneously (SC), intramuscularly (IM) and rectally (PR). Codeine cannot be safely administered by an intravenous (IV) injection as it may result in pulmonary oedema, facial swelling, dangerous release of histamines, and various cardiovascular effects. It cannot be administered intranasally (snorting). Codeine free base can be smoked on the aluminum foil (“chasing the dragon”) similarly to smoking heroin.

Effects of Codeine addiction

Codeine is absorbed quickly from the GI tract and it’s first pass through the liver results in very little loss of the drug. This contrasts with morphine in which over 90% of the drug is metabolized in the first pass through the liver resulting in a considerable loss of potency when administered orally. Narcotics induce an “opioid analgesia” by altering the perception of pain at the spinal cord and brain. They also affect emotional responses to pain. Opioids have stimulating effects as well because they block inhibitory neurotransmitters. Repeated use of these drugs can cause long-term changes in the way the nervous system functions. Stomach bleeding, kidney damage, liver damage, “itchies”, constipation, nausea, hangover, tiny pupils, blurred vision, poor night vision, impair your ability to drive, lowered heart rate, blood pressure and breathing, disorientation, convulsions, hallucinations, depression, sexual problems, agitation, tremors, seizures.

Symptoms of Codeine withdrawal

The worst symptoms pass within a few days, but it can take months to feel normal. They include a runny nose, sweating, muscle twitching, muscle pain, headaches, irregular heartbeat, nausea and vomiting, high blood pressure, fever, insomnia, dehydration, yawning, weakness, stomach cramps, muscle cramps, convulsions, hallucinations, heart attacks and even death.

Codeine addiction

Addiction is a major risk with prolonged use (over 2-3 weeks) of narcotics. Even moderate doses of some narcotics can result in a fatal overdose. When increasing doses of narcotics, the person may first feel restless and nauseous and then progress to loss of consciousness and abnormal breathing. Other risks include withdrawal symptoms that may last for months. Addictive drugs activate the brain’s reward systems. The promise of reward is very intense, causing the individual to crave the drug and to focus his or her activities around taking the drug. The ability of addictive drugs to strongly activate brain reward mechanisms and their ability to chemically alter the normal functioning of these systems can produce an addiction. Drugs also reduce a person’s level of consciousness, harming the ability to think or be fully aware of present surroundings.

Codeine addiction treatment programs

Codeine is a highly addictive prescription drug. Recovery and rehabilitation from Codeine addiction may require a treatment program ranging from certified addiction counselling to treatment at a residential alcohol and drug rehab centre, depending on the extent of the addiction and a number of other factors. In most cases, withdrawal must be medically monitored by experienced personnel.

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