codeine side effects

codeine side effects

You know your daughter has been using drugs because you’ve seen the signs. Changes in her appearance and friend groups, loss of motivation, a drop in her grades, and even white residue in the bathroom and on her nightstand. With your stepson being only 8 years old, you didn’t think it was smart for her to live with you anymore. What if he was accidentally exposed, or worse? What if he began to think drug use was okay? Reluctantly, you sent her to live with her father for a few weeks so you could brainstorm ways to help her.

She calls you one night in distress, saying her stomach hurts so bad she doesn’t know what to do. You tell her to go to the hospital, but she informs you she is in so much pain she can’t move. As a medical receptionist, your gut instinct tells you it’s an emergency. You pick her up and she is sweaty, doubled over in pain, and needs help to the car. Once you arrive, the doctor informs you that her pain is a side effect of chronic codeine use, and that she has a bowel obstruction they have to clear.

In Scott County, VA, up to 8 out of every 100,000 residents experienced a fatal prescription opioid overdose in 2021. ReVIDA® Recovery understands that not everyone is familiar with all the side effects that can accompany substance use disorders. By educating the community on subjects like codeine side effects, we also bring education to treatment for substance use disorders. We offer same-day appointments so there is no need to wait for your loved one to be seen.

Side Effects of Codeine Addiction Over Time

Codeine use disorder can happen to anyone and cause a slew of side effects in the process. While some effects may appear right away, others develop over time and affect physical and mental health. These side effects can lead to complications and affect relationships, job performance, and self-esteem. Let’s take a look at short-term and long-term side effects.

Short-Term Side Effects of Codeine Use

Codeine is an opioid which means it binds to opioid receptors in the brain. This blocks the sensation of pain and produces a euphoric effect. Other side effects include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Itchiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Poor coordination

These side effects are noticed early on after taking a dose of codeine. However, as the person builds a tolerance to codeine, the desired effects may become less noticeable. The person will have to take more to achieve the same results.

Long-Term Side Effects of Codeine Use

As codeine use continues, more undesirable effects may be noticed. The person’s body has most likely already become dependent. When codeine is not present, the brain sends signals throughout the system to show it needs it. This is the beginning of withdrawal, and it can set in as soon as 6-8 hours after the last dose. Withdrawal symptoms are uncomfortable and painful and include:

  • Stomach and muscle cramps
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Shakiness
  • Insomnia
  • Mood Swings
  • Increased depression and anxiety

These symptoms can progressively get worse until another dose of codeine is taken or if the body detoxes completely. Detox can take days and symptoms can last up to a week after the last dose. It is recommended to detox from codeine in a medical facility to avoid complications.

managing codeine adverse reactions

How Codeine Affects the Mind and Body

Codeine use can have a profound effect on the body and mind. It can change behaviors, cause psychological stress, and affect the body physically. Some of these symptoms will resolve themselves when codeine use is stopped. However, there are some that can lead to permanent, lasting side effects.

Behavioral Side Effects of Codeine Use

Codeine can change behaviors and cause the person to do things they normally wouldn’t. As dependence takes over, the person will do whatever it takes to get their next dose. This could involve stealing from family members or public places, resulting in relationship strain and possible legal consequences. They may engage in risky behaviors such as using other substances or having multiple sex partners. These behaviors may result in physical harm to the person and possibly a permanent condition such as HIV/AIDS.

common side effects of codeine use

Physical Side Effects of Codeine Use

One of the biggest physical side effects of codeine use is constipation. This occurs because opioids prevent peristalsis in the gastrointestinal tract. Peristalsis is the muscle contraction of the intestines that pushes waste through the colon and out of the body. When this process doesn’t occur, the waste builds up in the intestinal tract. On top of that, opioids also increase the absorption of fluid within the intestines. This creates a lack of moisture in the waste, resulting in hard stools. When constipation is left untreated, it can result in an obstructed bowel, which can lead to serious complications. Medical attention will be needed to address the issue.

Another physical side effect of codeine use is experiencing an overdose. A codeine overdose occurs when too much of the substance builds up in the body. This can cause the central nervous system to become dangerously slow, resulting in breathing coming to a halt. This is life-threatening and can result in permanent organ and brain damage as well as death. Always seek medical attention if an overdose is suspected.

Lastly, a key side effect of codeine is in sexual function for both males and females. Opioids such as codeine suppress hormone release, resulting in lower testosterone levels in males and irregular menstruation in females. This can cause a decrease in libido, fatigue, and overall sexual dysfunction in both males and females.

Psychological Side Effects of Codeine Use

Codeine can cause side effects that take a toll on mental health. While codeine may seem to relax the person at first, as dependence develops, they will begin to experience anxiety between uses. This can be combined with unstable mood swings, ranging from depression to irritation, and even violence. In some cases, the person may develop hallucinations, leading to unsafe situations for the person and whoever is around them.

As codeine use continues, the person may lose relationships with those around them. Loved ones may cut the person off until they stop taking codeine, resulting in isolation. Also, the person may have witnessed friends experience an overdose, which can be very traumatic. Over time, depression begins to build, causing low self-esteem and creating self-doubt. These feelings can result in thoughts of self-harm or suicide. If these thoughts ever occur, seek help immediately. There are helplines available in case of crisis, such as 988, a nationwide hotline for mental health help.

How Long Does Suboxone® Block Opiates

Treatment for Codeine Use Disorder in Virginia

Feeling the side effects of codeine may seem pleasant at first, but in the end, they can take a huge toll on your well-being. Seeking treatment for codeine addiction  is the first step to getting your life back on track and becoming who you always wanted to be. It may seem scary, trying to stop taking codeine when it seems to have only made you feel good. In reality, it has taken more than you realize, and therapy can help discover that. Coping skill development and understanding what led you to addiction will help you set the building blocks to a successful recovery. You will be able to leave codeine behind and look forward to a bright, beautiful future.

If you or someone you love is living through the side effects of codeine, don’t wait until it’s too late. ReVIDA® Recovery is here to find what works for you. We are proud to offer medication-assisted treatment as we have seen the benefits in our patients. Our facilities are located throughout Tennessee and Virginia, allowing an ease of access to care. With outpatient therapy, we can customize your plan and work with your schedule so you don’t have to miss out on work or home life. Call us today at 423-631-0432 to learn more about our program offerings.

Reclaim your life.