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The signs and symptoms of Codeine addiction

Codeine is an opiate drug used for pain relief and to suppress coughs. People can develop a tolerance to the drug which can lead to them taking higher dosages.

When higher dosages are used over a long period of time, a person can become addicted. This can begin a dangerous path into opiate abuse, where other highly addictive drugs such as oxycodone or hydrocodone are used.

When someone is struggling to stop taking codeine or another opiate drug, it is important that steps are taken to help them towards recovery. Dr Syed Omair Ahmed (MBChB, MRCPsych, Dip.CBT, Dip.EMDR), consultant psychiatrist at Priory Hospital Woodbourne, has looked at the symptoms that someone suffering from codeine addiction may exhibit, and the drug addiction treatment that is available to them.

Codeine addiction symptoms

A person may have feelings of elation, euphoria and drowsiness when taking codeine. However, when addicted, they are unlikely to get the associated high, as they just need the drug to function.

If you are worried that someone you care for may be addicted to codeine, there are signs and symptoms that they may display, which include:

  • Dizziness
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Slow breathing
  • Blue lips
  • Itching
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Confusion or delirium
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Lethargy

Someone with codeine addiction may appear sedated, and even suffer from stomach pain and constipation. They may also experience changes in vision, while heavy users can suffer from seizures.

The person may also have financial problems and have become involved in criminal activity in order to source codeine. Relationships with the person may also be faltering, as they become increasingly focused on their addiction.

Support for codeine addiction is available

Recovering from codeine addiction can be difficult. A person may not understand why they have become addicted, or what steps they should take in order to no longer be dependent on the drug.

Seeking the medical advice of a GP can be a first port of call. They will be able to advise on the withdrawal symptoms, detox process and routes to recovery that could be taken.

Specialist addiction treatment at Priory

Priory also has specialist addiction services that can help a person identify and remedy their addiction. Detoxification and psychotherapy are among the treatment options that can be used for people dependent on prescription drugs. In some cases, when a person is addicted to an opiate drug and cannot stop taking it, inpatient treatment may be needed to help cleanse the mind and body within an environment of maximum safety and comfort.

During treatment for codeine addiction, group work and individual counselling can be used to help a person learn strategies for life without codeine, through building self-esteem and positive attitudes. Priory also offers support for family and friends, while helping a person open up and talk to those closest to them.

This page was reviewed by Dr Syed Omair Ahmed (MBChB, MRCPsych, Dip.CBT, Dip.EMDR), Consultant Psychiatrist at The Priory Hospital Woodbourne

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