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Codeine Addiction

Addiction will, by definition, involve a financial loss, damage to personal, social relationships and other destructive effects to the life of the user. Sometimes, the negative consequences are irreversible, such as with damaged health, job/business losses, family disputes and many more or in simple words “thodi der ka maja, jindagi bhar ki saja”

Codeine is an alkaloid found in opium and produced from morphine. It is  prescribed by physicians to treat moderate to severe pain and is also present in some cough syrup preparations. Codeine can effectively treat moderate pain, when taken as prescribed. But when abused, dangerous codeine addiction is frequently the result. Street names for codeine include cough syrup, schoolboy and T-three’s.

Codeine is taken orally, either as a cough syrup or as a tablet. Codeine is also found in a number of liquid cough suppressants and is used to a lesser extent as an inject able solution in treating pain.

Short effects of Codeine: The short-term effects from codeine are milder than those of other prescription pain relievers, but codeine is still a drug that can be very addictive and difficult to quit. The short-term effects experienced by codeine users include:

  1. Pain relief
  2. Sedation
  3. Respiratory depression
  4. Constipation and difficulty in urination.


Long term effects of Codeine:

  1. Dependence on prescribed medicine.
  2. Tolerance which means forcing the user to consume higher doses to achieve the same high as before.
  3. Overdose which can be very harmful like, can cause liver failure, slow heartbeat and troubled or slowed breathing.
  4. Difficult withdrawal symptoms experienced by long-term users who try to quit, which requires opiate detoxification.

Codeine addiction during pregnancy: Codeine addiction can cause serious harm to unborn babies during pregnancy. Codeine use by pregnant women has been linked to fetal physical dependence, withdrawal and growth retardation. Stronger warnings have been issued for use of codeine during breastfeeding.

Difficulties in quitting Codeine

Because codeine is legal, there are many codeine addicts who underestimate how addictive and dangerous it can be. Withdrawal symptoms tend to peak around 48-72 hours after the last codeine dose, after which symptoms can quickly fade.There are also very difficult withdrawal symptoms experienced by long-term users who try to stop, which include:

  1. Nausea/ Vomiting
  2. Muscle/bone aches
  3. Cold sweats
  4. Insomnia
  5. Tremors

Treatment:  Newer medicines for codeine addiction are very effective for the treatment. OPD based treatment is preferable as it is cheaper as well as convenient for patient and his/her relatives. About 70-80% patients can be cured on OPD basis. Only few patients require admission

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