Dihydrocodeine addiction

Dihydrocodeine is a potent opioid medication that is most often used to alleviate pain. While its medical applications are long proven, there is a less-discussed aspect of dihydrocodeine that is often overlooked: its potential for addiction. Dihydrocodeine addiction is a critical issue that users and healthcare providers need to be aware of, as it can lead to a host of physical, psychological and social problems. For those already addicted to dihydrocodeine, it is also crucial to understand that effective treatment is available if you are ready to make a change.

What is dihydrocodeine?

Dihydrocodeine, known chemically as 4,5-epoxy-3-methoxy-17-methylmorphinan-6-ol, is an opioid analgesic that is primarily used for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. This includes pain from surgery, injury or chronic conditions. It is also sometimes prescribed as a cough suppressant for its antitussive qualities.

Dihydrocodeine works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and nervous system, altering the perception of and response to pain. However, dihydrocodeine can also produce side effects like nausea, dizziness, drowsiness and constipation, with more severe effects occurring in cases of misuse.

Abuse of dihydrocodeine typically involves taking it in higher doses, more frequently or in ways other than prescribed, such as crushing and snorting or injecting the pills. It can be abused both for the feelings of sedation and euphoria it creates and for self-medication purposes.

Dihydrocodeine…Did you know?

  • It is approximately twice as potent as codeine and has a similar side effect profile.
  • Dihydrocodeine is classified as a Class B drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act in the UK.
  • The drug can interact with other medications, particularly those that depress the central nervous system.
  • What is dihydrocodeine addiction?

    Dihydrocodeine addiction is a medical condition caused by a compulsive need to use the drug despite negative consequences. Dihydrocodeine addiction usually begins with repeated use, which leads to a tolerance where you need higher doses to achieve the same effects. This can progress to dependency, both physical and psychological, characterised by a need to continue using dihydrocodeine to function or to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Once a dependence has been established, a full dihydrocodeine addiction can then develop if you have certain underlying causes and risk factors.

    Like all forms of opiate addiction, you can become addicted to dihydrocodeine both through genuine medical use and the abuse of the drug for recreational purposes.

    What causes dihydrocodeine addiction?

    Understanding the causes of dihydrocodeine addiction is essential for effective prevention and treatment. The path to addiction is often complex and multi-faceted, involving a combination of personal, environmental and genetic factors. Identifying these causes is crucial in recognising the risk factors and implementing mitigation strategies.

    Some of the most common causes of dihydrocodeine addiction include:

    Prescription misuse
    This misuse can occur when you take dihydrocodeine in a manner or dosage other than prescribed, such as taking higher doses to achieve greater pain relief. This form of misuse can quickly lead to physical tolerance, a further increase in dosage and, finally, dihydrocodeine addiction.
    Chronic use
    Even when taken as prescribed, long-term use of dihydrocodeine can lead to the development of tolerance, dependence and addiction. That is why chronic use requires careful monitoring and management by healthcare professionals to prevent the development of an addictive disorder.
    Recreational use
    The recreational use of dihydrocodeine, particularly for its euphoric effects, significantly elevates the risk of addiction. When used recreationally, the drug is often consumed in higher quantities and more frequently than medically recommended, leading to a rapid onset of tolerance, dependence and addiction.
    Psychological factors
    Individuals with a history of mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, and those with a history of substance abuse are at a higher risk of becoming addicted to dihydrocodeine. These psychological factors can lead to self-medication, using the drug to alleviate mental distress, which can then spiral into dihydrocodeine addiction.
    Genetic predisposition to addiction
    Certain genetic factors can predispose people to substance abuse disorders, influencing how they metabolise and react to opioids. This means that you may have an inherently elevated risk of becoming addicted to dihydrocodeine without even knowing it.
    Environmental influences
    This includes factors like peer pressure, stress from personal or professional life, easy availability of dihydrocodeine and early exposure to drugs. These influences can encourage the initiation of dihydrocodeine use and contribute to its continuation.

    How to spot the signs of dihydrocodeine addiction

    One major obstacle in providing that support is that many people who are addicted to dihydrocodeine may not even be aware of it. Addiction is a master of hiding in plain sight, particularly prescription drug addiction, which often forms during genuine medicinal treatment. However, there are certain signs of dihydrocodeine addiction, which can indicate there is a problem. These include:

    • Consuming dihydrocodeine in larger amounts or over a longer period than intended.
    • Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control dihydrocodeine use.
    • Spending a great deal of time obtaining, using or recovering from the effects of dihydrocodeine.
    • Experiencing strong cravings to use dihydrocodeine, even if you don’t need it for pain relief.
    • Recurrent dihydrocodeine use, causing you to neglect important obligations.
    • Continued dihydrocodeine use despite having persistent or recurrent problems caused or exacerbated by its effects.
    • Experiencing physical or mental health problems as a result of dihydrocodeine use.

    If you notice any of these Dihydrocodeine addiction symptoms in yourself, it is critical to seek professional guidance for assessment and treatment.

    How to approach a loved one who is addicted to dihydrocodeine

    If you notice dihydrocodeine addiction symptoms in someone you know, it is important to approach the situation with sensitivity and care. Addiction is a complex and challenging issue, often accompanied by feelings of shame or denial, so you need to ensure that the person feels safe and not judged. Here are five important tips on how to approach a loved one:

    1. Express your concerns in a non-confrontational manner

    Use neutral language and focus on specific behaviours you have observed and their impact.

    2. Listen empathetically to their perspective

    This means offering support and understanding rather than criticism or blame. Having somebody to talk to could provide the confidence and motivation needed to confront the issue.

    3. Encourage them to seek professional help

    You can also offer to assist them in finding dihydrocodeine treatment resources or attend support groups with them.

    4. Be prepared for resistance or denial

    It is common for individuals struggling with dihydrocodeine addiction to be reluctant to acknowledge the problem. Hopefully, as you calmly discuss your concerns and observations, they will come to recognise that they need help for dihydrocodeine addiction.

    5. Avoid ultimatums or coercive tactics

    They can often backfire and exacerbate the situation. Remember, you cannot force someone to seek help, but you can be the spark that helps them recognise the need for change.

    What problems do dihydrocodeine abuse and addiction cause?

    The effects of Dihydrocodeine abuse and addiction are multi-faceted, affecting every facet of your health, life and general well-being. They often include but are not limited to:

    • Physical health risks: These include respiratory depression, constipation, nausea, dizziness and, in severe cases, overdose, which can be fatal.
    • Mental health issues: Prolonged dihydrocodeine abuse can lead to depression, anxiety, mood swings and cognitive impairments.
    • Social and relationship problems: Dihydrocodeine addiction can strain personal relationships, leading to social isolation and a breakdown in family and social connections.
    • Occupational and academic impact: The effects of dihydrocodeine addiction can impair performance and attendance in work and academic settings.
    • Financial difficulties: The cost of maintaining a drug habit, along with potential job loss, can lead to significant financial strain.
    • Legal consequences: Illegal possession or procurement of dihydrocodeine can result in legal problems, including arrest and prosecution.

    How is dihydrocodeine addiction treated?

    The complicated nature of dihydrocodeine addiction means a comprehensive approach is required to treat and support those in need. UKAT’s dihydrocodeine addiction treatment programmes recognise this and involve three critical stages:

    Stage one – Opiate detox: This first step involves medically supervised withdrawal from Dihydrocodeine, managing withdrawal symptoms in a controlled environment.

    Stage two – Opiate rehab: This combines different evidence-based therapies, holistic healing modalities and relapse prevention planning to address underlying causes and equip you with new sober coping tools.

    Stage three – Aftercare: Following rehab, ongoing support is crucial to prevent relapse. At UKAT, this comes in the form of free weekly group therapy sessions for a year.

    Start the journey to dihydrocodeine recovery today

    If you or someone you know is grappling with Dihydrocodeine addiction, UKAT offers treatment programmes to guide you through every stage of recovery. Our team of experts is committed to providing the care and support necessary to overcome dihydrocodeine addiction and reclaim control over your life. Contact UKAT today to start your journey towards a healthier, drug-free future.

    Call us now for help


    Can dihydrocodeine addiction lead to abuse of other opiates?
    Yes, dihydrocodeine addiction can potentially lead to the abuse of other opiates. As with many addictive substances, there is a risk that a person may seek out stronger, illegal opiates for more intense effects, especially if they develop a tolerance to dihydrocodeine or cannot obtain any more on prescription. Individuals struggling with dihydrocodeine addiction must seek professional help to address their addiction and reduce the risk of transitioning to other opiate abuses.