In all likelihood, you’ve heard about the opioid crisis the United States is currently facing. During the peak of this crisis, 115 lives were claimed every day as a result of opioid overdose. Opioid abuse and addiction can involve prescription painkillers, heroin, and other synthetic opioids (such as fentanyl). This epidemic is a tragic example of what happens when doctors overprescribe medications. In the late 1990s, pharmaceutical representatives reassured physicians that patients wouldn’t become addicted to opioid pain relievers. Nevertheless, after these revelations were uncovered, the frenzy began.

Doctors began prescribing opioid pain medications at rates that had never been witnessed by public health officials, which led to a widespread misuse. They didn’t realize how this misuse could affect the U.S. as a whole until it was too late. These medications are clearly addictive. In 2015, during the peak of the crisis, an estimated 33,000 individuals died due to opioid overdoses (including prescription opioids, heroin, and illicitly manufactured drugs).

While measures are now in place to battle this opioid epidemic, it is far from over. Far more  intense scrutiny is now being placed on doctors who prescribe the medication, and more regulations are in place to stop the overprescribing. Doctors have forced long-term patients to cut down on doses they grew accustomed to, and they have been far more selective about who they prescribe these medications to, which has helped. However, a new problem now exists: Patients will find illegal ways to get their medications.

Opioid addictions can start by taking codeine and eventually blossom into an addiction to heroin. As mentioned above, the overprescribing of medications has largely contributed to the public health emergency we’re experiencing. This addiction has become so widespread that it’s running our first responders thin, but there are ways to help treat it, which has become more efficient due to research about the use of codeine. Therefore, there are more ways to help than ever before.

What Is Codeine?

Codeine is a prescription pain medication that’s used to treat mild to moderate pain. It comes in tablet form, and it’s themain ingredient in prescription-grade cough suppressants. It’s an opioid medication that’s often called a narcotic. As an opioid medication, it is very similar to opium derivatives such as morphine. It’s similar to heroin, but it’s much milder. It’s commonly used to treat chronic coughing, and it’s sometimes used to treat irritable bowel syndrome and diarrhea.

Several side effects are attributed to the use of codeine, such as constipation, drowsiness, itching, nausea, vomiting, euphoria, and dry mouth. As with all opioids, the risk for respiratory depression is one of the more dangerous side effects, which is usually the result of an overdose or mixing codeine with alcohol, benzodiazepines, or other opioids.

Long-term use or abuse of opioids can eventually lead to tolerance, physical dependence, or addiction that results in withdrawal symptoms, which can imitate the flu and give the user a runny nose, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, body aches, and chills.

What Are the Signs of Codeine Addiction?

Addiction to codeine can lead to severe consequences for the user that lead to legal issues, the use of illicit drugs, and infectious diseases. An astonishing three out of four heroin users admit to using prescription painkillers before trying heroin. Substance use disorders often show outward signs, but in the early stages, it may be tougher to distinguish what they are. However, they will eventually become clearer as the user’s life becomes engulfed in obtaining codeine.

The first sign of a substance use disorder is marked by tolerance. If you’ve been consuming the drug over an extended period of time and feel your regular dose is less effective, your body is getting used to the drug. At this point, it will start relying on the substance to balance normal functions, which leads to the next step: chemical dependence. If you suddenly stop using the drug or miss a dose, this step will be characterized by feelings of withdrawal or cravings, which have been compared to the worst flu you’ve ever had.

A substance use disorder eventually leads to an addiction, which is compulsive use despite the consequences. Someone addicted to codeine will display very obvious signs, which could result in them losing their job or ending up in jail.

What Is Involved in Codeine Addiction Treatment?

Many opioid users get to the point of wanting to stop, but they fear the withdrawal symptoms. However, with the emergence of high-quality and customized addiction treatment, there is hope for life after addiction. In order for treatment to be effective, it must be tailored to individuals’ very specific needs. 

Addiction treatment is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and the medical team will sit down to better understand what’s driving your addiction. Individualized treatment boasts the highest success rates. There are various underlying issues that must be addressed in treatment, such as mental disorders, medical problems, and financial troubles that can ultimately lead to relapse.

The first step in the treatment process is a detoxification that will address any medical needs. During this time, the client will take part in an intake and assessment process that will dictate the level of care. You will then be placed under the strict supervision of a medical team that is trained to handle all situations related to withdrawal. While codeine withdrawal isn’t dangerous by nature, it’s uncomfortable enough to push some people into relapse, and it will be combined with medication to alleviate the worst symptoms and help the client rid the toxins from their system.

Following detox, you’ll be placed in the level of treatment that best corresponds with your needs. If you require continued monitoring, you’ll probably be placed in a residential treatment center for additional care. When the team assesses your needs and background, you’ll be placed in an outpatient program if they determine you’re a low risk. During residential treatment, you’ll be living in an onsite facility for up to 90 days. Again, this treatment will be dependent on the staff’s determination about your needs.

During residential treatment, you will attend various therapies, including group therapy, individual therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and family therapy. These treatments are important, as they have been created with clients like you in mind. Furthermore, they’ll allow you you to delve deeply into your behaviors and start learning about coping mechanisms that will allow you to better transition back into the world. You’ll have the support of staff and all of the individuals that are attending treatment as well.

Codeine Abuse Statistics

  • Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S. There were 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015.
  • Opioid addiction is the driving epidemic. In 2015, 20,101 deaths were related to prescription pain relievers, and 12,990 were related to heroin.
  • Between 21% and 29% of people misuse opioid prescriptions.
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