Codeine Addiction

Q) What is Codeine?

A) 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.


Q) How is Codeine used?

A) 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.


Q) What are the effects of Codeine addiction?

A) 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

Q) What are the symptoms of withdrawal?

A) The worst symptoms pass within a few days, but it can take months to feel normal.

  • runny nose
  • sweating
  • muscle twitching
  • muscle pain
  • headaches
  • irregular heartbeat
  • nausea and vomiting
  • high blood pressure
  • fever
  • insomnia
  • dehydration
  • yawning
  • weakness
  • stomach cramps

Q) What is Codeine addiction?

A) 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.


Almost all addicts tell themselves in the beginning that they can conquer their addiction on their own without the help of outside resources. Unfortunately, this is not usually the case. When an addict makes an attempt at detoxification and to discontinue drug use without the aid of professional help, statistically the results do not last long. Research into the effects of long-term addiction has shown that substantial changes in the way the brain functions are present long after the addict has stopped using drugs. Realizing that a drug addict who wishes to recover from their addiction needs more than just strong will power is the key to a successful recovery. Battling not only cravings for their drug of choice, re-stimulation of their past and changes in the way their brain functions, it is no wonder that quitting drugs without professional help is an uphill battle.

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