If you’ve had surgery, headaches, or even a severe cough, you may have been prescribed codeine for pain. Codeine is an opiate, just like heroin or morphine. However, it’s usually considered one of the lessaddictive opiates—though that’s not always the case. Some people suffer from chronic pain that leads them to require larger, less safe doses. Other people have genes that cause them to metabolize codeine more quickly than the general population, which also requires more of the drug. Both of these people can quickly become dependent.
How Codeine Addiction Starts
Most people who take codeine will never develop an addiction. It’s frequently prescribed after oral surgery, knee surgery, and c-sections. People with severe coughs and people with headaches may take codeine to prevent pain, relax muscles, and help them rest. In general, it’s a safe and effective pain treatment.
But for people with chronic pain and for those who metabolize codeine very quickly, doctors often prescribe higher doses, or recommend the drug for longer periods of time. In these situations, frequent use can quickly turn into dependency. What started out as a tool to relieve occasional pain becomes a necessity for daily life.
Codeine addiction can be dangerous. You’re taking the drug to neutralize pain, but the amounts you have to take leave you open to severe side effects, like gastrointestinal problems, forgetfulness, and impaired reaction times. In cases of severe addiction, the drug can even cause seizures.
This addiction can leave you unable to drive or hold down a job. It can affect your relationship with your family. You may need help to stop using codeine, especially if you suffer from severe withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal from Codeine
Once your body has become dependent on codeine and the pain relief it provides, stopping the drug can cause severe and negative physical and mental reactions. Withdrawal symptoms for codeine include anxiety, insomnia, diarrhea, stomach pains, and muscle pain.
In general, it’s best to have a professional supervise your detoxification process. A medically supervised detox program can help you find relief from your withdrawal symptoms so that you can start learning to live without the drug. Without this support, many people return to codeine to stop the pain of withdrawal. In a comfortable, private, therapeutic setting, you can get the help you need to leave you addiction behind and to prevent future relapses.
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Help for Pain Management
Often, when people break free from their addiction to codeine, they’re forced to once again deal with those unresolved chronic pain issues. Often, this pain can be treated with other, less addictive drugs. Many patients also find relief through alternative pain management techniques like acupuncture, yoga and tai chi, and massage therapy.
One key to permanently overcoming a codeine addiction is finding healthy ways of relieving pain. The ultimate goal of any treatment plan should be to give you the tools you need to live a healthy, happy, active life. Many people benefit from a holistic treatment philosophy, where treatment goes beyond medical and psychological therapies. Holistic therapists can also address unmet spiritual needs and help you rediscover the self that codeine addiction has hidden from you and your loved ones.
If you’re looking for more information, or a treatment program for codeine addiction that also teaches pain management techniques and encourages healthy, active lifestyles, reach out to us today.