August 8th, 2023
For many people, codeine is a useful medication that helps them through root canal pain or a bout of nasty coughing. However, if you are addicted to codeine, it can be a whole other matter. Recovery requires a comprehensive treatment programme incorporating detox, codeine rehab therapy and rehab aftercare. If you are going through codeine detox, the withdrawal process can be difficult and potentially even dangerous but with the right help and support, you can detox successfully and start on the road to recovery.
How does codeine withdrawal affect you?
Codeine works by changing the way your brain and nervous system respond to pain, creating a sense of euphoria and helping to relieve discomfort. Over time, codeine use can lead to physical dependence, which means your body becomes used to the presence of codeine and needs it to function normally.
Once you have a dependence, if you suddenly stop taking codeine or reduce your dosage too quickly, you will likely experience codeine withdrawal symptoms. The type and severity of the symptoms you may potentially suffer will depend on how long you have been taking codeine, how much of it you were taking before you quit, your age, and your overall mental and physical health.
Common codeine withdrawal symptoms include:
- Low blood pressure
- Extreme fatigue/drowsiness
- Stomach spasms
- Uncontrollable vomiting
- Constricted pupils
- Cold, clammy skin
- Breathing problems
- Bluish nails and lips
Withdrawal symptoms can be difficult to cope with and can often lead people to start taking codeine again just to get relief. However, it’s important to know that with the right help and support, you have every chance of getting through the withdrawal period and preparing for the next step!
Codeine withdrawal psychosis
In the most severe cases, you may develop codeine withdrawal psychosis. According to the NHS, psychosis is defined as a “mental health problem that causes people to perceive or interpret things differently from those around them”. The condition causes four main symptoms:
- Confused and disturbed thoughts
- Lack of insight and self-awareness
Those who experience codeine withdrawal psychosis might feel an intense sense of hopelessness, and their desperation might cause them to act irrationally, putting themselves and others in danger. They may become paranoid and experience intense fear. Panic is another common symptom, often making it impossible to reason with the individual.
How to detox safely from codeine
The presence of withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit codeine might be enough to send you straight back to the drug or make you feel as though you are never going to be able to break free. Nevertheless, codeine detox can and does work, provided it is managed correctly.
At a professional detox facility like our UKAT centres, you will have the care and support to help you get through the process. Staff with experience with codeine withdrawal will be aware of the best methods to make the process easier and more comfortable. They can prescribe medication to help lessen the severity of any withdrawal symptoms being experienced and may also be able to prevent other symptoms from occurring in the first place.
Withdrawing from codeine on your own at home is not recommended because the symptoms may become so uncomfortable that the temptation is there to take the drug again just to make them subside. This can be extremely dangerous because your tolerance levels will have dropped significantly, even with just a few days of abstinence. When you then take the same amount of codeine as you were taking before the process began could result in an overdose.
To find out more about codeine detox treatment at UKAT, get in touch with us today and we will be happy to discuss your options. We understand how difficult it can be to give up codeine, but we also know that it is possible with the right help and support.
Medication and supplements for codeine withdrawal
Managing codeine withdrawal using different medications and nutritional supplements can help to make the process run smoother and ensure your comfort and safety:
Vitamins and minerals
You are likely to have experienced nutritional deficiencies during your time taking codeine, which can continue during the detox process. These deficiencies may cause muscle spasms or pain and in some cases can result in a condition known as restless leg syndrome. Your carers are therefore likely to recommend a healthy diet but may also prescribe vitamins and minerals to help restore the balance.
Rehydration salts and sports drinks
You are also likely to experience dehydration as the codeine leaves your system; this is generally caused by excess sweating, vomiting and diarrhoea. To keep you hydrated, you will be advised to drink plenty of fluids, but doctors may also recommend rehydration salts or sports drinks to restore the lost electrolytes.
Anti-diarrhoea and anti-nausea medication
As diarrhoea and vomiting often occur during codeine withdrawal, it might become necessary to take medications to relieve the symptoms of said conditions. Anti-diarrhoea and anti-nausea medication can help to make you feel better and give you the energy you need to complete the codeine detox.
Your doctor may also prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen as a natural sleep remedy to help you get some rest. This is important because the symptoms of codeine withdrawal such as spasms and pain can lead to insomnia.
In some instances, it may be considered appropriate to prescribe a substitute opioid medication, which can help to keep withdrawal symptoms to a minimum while you withdraw from codeine. Nevertheless, as most of these medications are more potent than codeine, this method is usually only used for the most severe cases.
What to expect from codeine detox
When you start to detox from codeine, you are likely to experience the first symptoms within a few hours of taking the last dose. The first four days tend to be the time when most of the symptoms you are going to experience will appear. These could include muscle cramps, restless legs, nausea, diarrhoea, sweating, and headaches. Your symptoms might be quite intense during this time but will usually reach their peak around the fourth day.
Over the next couple of days, you will notice that most of the physical symptoms will begin to subside. You might, however, see the development of psychological symptoms such as depression or anxiety. These psychological symptoms could potentially last for many months so it is crucial that you only detox with the assistance of medical and detox professionals.
Once your codeine detox is complete and you have overcome the physical aspect of addiction, it is then time to address the mental and psychological aspects. This is best done through a professional treatment programme incorporating therapy and aftercare. These stages will help you to address your underlying triggers and causes and help you to stay codeine-free long term.
The benefits of codeine detox
Detoxing from codeine can be a difficult and uncomfortable process, but it is worth it. Once the codeine has left your system, you will find that your energy levels have increased and that you are able to think more clearly. The mental fog that codeine can cause will begin to lift and you will start to feel like yourself again.
You may also find that your relationships have improved as a result of detoxing from codeine. This is because the consequences of codeine abuse can put a strain on even the strongest of relationships. Once you are no longer using, you will be able to focus on rebuilding any damaged relationships and creating new and healthy ones.
Detoxing from codeine can also have physical benefits such as weight loss and improved skin. In addition to this, you will no longer be at risk of the health problems that excessive codeine use can cause such as liver damage and respiratory problems.
What to do next
If you are looking to detox from codeine, get in touch with UKAT today and we will be able to help you find the right detox centre for your needs. We understand how difficult it can be to give up codeine, but with our help, you will be able to get through the process safely and comfortably and start on the road to recovery.
UKAT has a number of centres across the UK which offer codeine detox, so there is sure to be one near you. We have a team of experts who will be able to answer any questions you might have about codeine detox and recovery, so do not hesitate to get in touch.
Frequently asked questions
Can I die from codeine withdrawal?
Deaths from codeine withdrawal are extremely rare, but going back to codeine after a period of abstinence can be very dangerous because tolerance reduces significantly. This means that if you then take a large amount of codeine, you could be at risk of a fatal overdose.
Will my information be kept confidential?
At UKAT, your personal and medical information will be kept completely private both during your detox and afterwards. It is natural to worry about others finding out that you are in treatment, but you can rest assured that your details and information will not be shared with a third party without your permission.