The Effects of Codeine on the Body

With the rising tide of opioid addiction across the United States and the devastation caused by highly-addictive drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and heroin, you don’t often hear about codeine abuse statistics or the harmful effects of codeine on the body. Codeine may not be as widely abused as other powerful opiates, which means it doesn’t often make headlines, but there is strong evidence suggesting that codeine abuse may be a precursor to opiate addiction. If you know someone who is abusing codeine or has developed a codeine addiction, contact Freedom Drug Rehab today to speak to a certified substance abuse recovery counselor. With the help of a professional rehab facility, you can ensure that your loved one gets the help he or she needs.

What is Codeine?

Codeine is an opioid pain medication used to treat mild to moderate pain and to relieve a cough, and it is typically found in prescription-strength cough syrups or in combination formulations with other pain relievers, like acetaminophen. The drug works after being broken down by the liver into morphine and acts as a depressant of the central nervous system, which results in feelings of relaxation, drowsiness, apathy and euphoria, all perceived as pleasant effects. Codeine can be found in dozens of different formulations, including prescription cold, cough and flu medications like Tylenol with Codeine, Maxiflu CD, Phenflu CD, Colrex Compound, Cotabflu, and Fiorinal with Codeine, among others, and the prevalence of this drug in pharmaceuticals means users could be abusing codeine without even knowing it, simply by taking more than one codeine-containing medication.

What Does Codeine Do?

Though it may seem harmless as a pain reliever or cough medicine, codeine is an addictive drug, and whether it’s used appropriately or abused, codeine has many of the same side effects as other opioid drugs, like oxycodone and hydrocodone, including nausea, vomiting, and drowsiness. Since opiates suppress breathing, codeine users may experience slowed breathing or difficulty catching their breath, and people who take too much codeine may suffer an overdose, characterized by shallow and slow breathing, loss of consciousness, slow heartbeat, and cold and clammy skin. Some other possible side effects of codeine abuse may include the following:





Slowed heart rate

Gastrointestinal distress


Changes in vision

Drastic lowering of blood pressure

Liver malfunction




Codeine Abuse and Addiction

Codeine as an opioid drug may seem fairly harmless compared to other highly-addictive opiates, like oxycodone, hydrocodone or heroin, but the threat lies in the fact that someone who abuses codeine is likely to progress to more powerful opioid drugs. With long-term use, there is usually little euphoric effect to opiates, and this is what typically leads to an opioid dependence when the user must continue taking the drug just to function properly each day and keep withdrawal symptoms at bay. By moving on to oxycodone or hydrocodone, users can achieve that euphoric high again, for a little while at least, until they become dependent on that drug as well. Opioid dependence progresses to addiction when the person is no longer able to control his urges to use the drug.

The Experts at Freedom Drug Rehab Can Help

Codeine is often abused due to its euphoric side effects, and codeine addiction is a widespread problem that affects millions of people in the United States. According to the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 4.7 million Americans reported non-medical use of prescription pain relievers, including codeine, in the previous month. For a person who has been abusing codeine or another opioid drug, the best and most effective course of treatment is a drug rehabilitation program designed to help opioid addicts achieve lasting sobriety. If you or someone you love is abusing codeine or struggling with an addiction to codeine, don’t hesitate to get the help you need. Contact the addiction recovery experts at Freedom Drug Rehab today to find out the best way to put an end to their codeine abuse.


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