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Addiction to Codeine

By on Dec 13, 2021 in Addiction, Blog

illustration of woman sitting on ground with thought bubble showing pills - codeine addiction

What Is Codeine?

Codeine is a powerful prescription medication often used to treat pain. Though less potent than other forms of opioids, codeine carries a risk of addiction when misused. It’s often prescribed in tablet form but can also be found in some cough suppressants. One of the most common forms is Tylenol 3, which is made from acetaminophen and codeine.

On the street, codeine is sold under names such as t-threes, schoolboy, and coties. Many people who misuse it began using it with a legitimate prescription. Taking too much of the medication or using it too frequently can cause drug-seeking behavior to form.

Signs of an Addiction

Codeine abuse may happen to anyone taking this drug outside of prescription recommendations. When used properly and for a short time, it’s unlikely to cause addiction or dependence. However, if a person uses the drug long enough and heavily enough, tolerance will develop. At that point, the medication no longer seems to work enough. This may lead a person to use more to gain the same benefits.

Some signs of a codeine addiction occurring include:

  • Drug-seeking behavior, such as stealing or trying to access more of the drug than prescribed
  • Feeling agitated or anxious when not using it
  • Slurred speech, impaired judgment, and dilated pupils
  • Seeking out more than one prescription for the drug
  • Experiencing intense pain when not using it

It can be hard to know if the withdrawal symptoms you have after stopping the use of codeine are from addiction or chronic pain. However, if you feel anxiety, paranoia, nausea, or other intense symptoms when you stop using, it’s critical to speak to someone about substance use disorder.

What Is the Danger of Misusing Codeine?

A codeine overdose can occur, as noted by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. It occurs when a person takes more than the recommended amount of the medication, either on purpose or by accident. An overdose is a life-threatening emergency in which the body is unable to manage the amount of opioids in the system. Symptoms may include:

  • Flushing of the skin
  • Intense fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Trouble breathing
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Passing out

Aside from overdose, codeine misuse can also cause dependence. When this occurs, a person may find it nearly impossible to stop using the drugs. When they try to quit, they feel anxiety or agitation. Some people feel physically ill. The cravings may be so intense that a person feels they have to continue to use codeine to feel normal. Over time, this can lead to organ failure, cognitive function decline, and early death.

Long-term effects of codeine abuse include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Impaired memory
  • Impaired cognitive function
  • Muscle spasms and pain
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney failure
  • Heart damage

Suspect Codeine Abuse? Here’s What to Do

If you suspect you or a loved one has developed a codeine addiction, don’t stop using it abruptly. Instead, turn to your doctor for immediate help or turn to our team for support. Stopping this medication suddenly may lead to a high risk of relapse or other health complications.


Addiction treatment for codeine may require the detox process to rid the body of the substance in a safe and caring environment. Over the course of a few days, you’ll start to regain control and feel better without the drugs present. Most often, codeine withdrawal symptoms fade within 5 to 7 days.


Treatment for codeine addiction may also include therapy. That includes one-on-one therapy with a licensed counselor who will help you explore why the addiction occurred and what it may be doing to your life now. You’ll learn how to overcome cravings and release negative thoughts so you don’t feel the need to use drugs. You may benefit from family therapy, too.

Medical support

If you’re still using codeine due to chronic pain, addiction treatment can help you find non-addictive ways to ease pain. You don’t have to live your life in pain to avoid addiction.

Victory Is Ready to Help

At Victory Addiction Recovery Center, we offer a comprehensive treatment plan for prescription drug addiction. Even if you did everything right but you feel as though you’re battling addiction, our team can offer resources to support your recovery. The key is taking that first step. Reach out to us today to learn how to do just that.

victory addiction recovery center - lafayette louisiana drug addiction rehab center

Are you or someone you love looking for drug treatment in Lafayette? To learn more about our programs at Victory Addiction Recovery Center, please contact us anytime at (337) 379.7700.

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