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Codeine is a prescription drug used to treat mild to moderately severe pain. It comes in a tablet. Like other opiates, codeine is a strong and highly addictive drug. Kicking the habit can put your body through withdrawal. Read on to learn about symptoms of codeine withdrawal and how to cope. Over time, you may develop tolerance to the effects of codeine. This means your body needs more and more of the drug to feel the same pain relief or other desired effects. In other words, tolerance makes the drug seem less effective to your body.
As your body becomes more tolerant of codeine, your cells begin needing the drug to function properly. This is dependence. One of dependence is feeling that you must take codeine to prevent withdrawal symptoms. Dependence can occur if you take codeine for more than a few weeks or if you take more than the prescribed dosage. Dependence and addiction both cause withdrawal when the drug is stopped, but they are not the same thing.
Physical dependence on a prescribed opiate is a normal response to treatment and can be managed with help from your doctor. Addiction, on the other hand, may follow dependence and involves drug craving and loss of control over your usage. It often requires more support to get through. Withdrawal symptoms may come in two phases. The early phase occurs within a few hours of your last dose.
Other symptoms may occur later as your body readjusts to working without codeine. Many withdrawal symptoms are a reversal of codeine side effects. For instance, codeine use can cause constipation. Likewise, codeine often causes sleepiness, and withdrawal may lead to trouble sleeping. Symptoms may last for a week, or they may persist for months after stopping codeine use. Physical withdrawal symptoms are strongest in the first few days after you stop taking codeine. Most symptoms are gone within two weeks.
However, behavioral symptoms and cravings for the drug can last months. In rare cases, they can even last years. Your doctor will likely advise you to taper off your codeine use slowly rather than suddenly stopping the drug. Gradually reducing your use allows your body to adjust to less and less codeine until your body no longer needs it to function normally. Your doctor can help you through this process or refer you to a treatment center. They may also suggest behavioral therapy and counseling to help you avoid relapse.
Your doctor may also suggest certain medications depending on whether you have mild, moderate, or advanced withdrawal symptoms. Your doctor may suggest non-narcotic medications to ease more mild withdrawal symptoms. These medications may include:. Your doctor may prescribe stronger medications. Clonidine Catapres, Kapvay is often used to reduce anxiety. It can also help ease:.
Your doctor may also prescribe a long-acting benzodiazepine such as diazepam Valium. This drug can help treat muscle cramps and help you sleep. If you have severe withdrawal, your doctor may try different options. For instance, they may switch you from codeine to a different medication, such as a different opiate. Or they may prescribe one of three medications that are commonly used to treat opiate addiction and severe withdrawal symptoms:. Codeine is milder than other opiates such as heroin or morphinebut it can still cause dependence and addiction. Your doctor can support you through withdrawal and recovery.
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Codeine Withdrawal: What It Is and How to Cope