What Are The Medications For Codeine Withdrawal?
April 12, 2022
Codeine is a prescription drug often used as a pain reliever. It belongs to a class of drugs called opiates, which include heroin, morphine, and oxycodone. They are highly addictive, and some people end up becoming physically dependent on these drugs.
When you become dependent on codeine, you will most likely experience withdrawal when you try to quit using the drug. These symptoms can become very uncomfortable.
The good news is there are treatments for codeine withdrawal. Read on to find out more about them.
What are the symptoms of codeine withdrawal?
Withdrawal from codeine often occurs in two phases. The first phase happens within a few hours of your last dose of the drug, while the second phase happens later. Phase 2 occurs because your body is adjusting itself to the absence of codeine.
Symptoms of the first phase include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Teary eyes
- Runny nose
- Fast heartbeat
- Muscle pain
As for the second phase, symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach cramps
- Enlarged pupils
Some withdrawal symptoms are opposites of the effects of codeine. For example, you may experience constipation when using codeine. But when you’re in withdrawal, you could have diarrhea instead. Here’s another example: Codeine can make you sleepy, but when you’re experiencing withdrawal, you may have trouble sleeping.
Duration of withdrawal
Withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere from a week to months after you stop using codeine. The first few days are the most painful, as the physical symptoms often peak at this time. Most of the time, you will feel no more symptoms after two weeks. But some behavioral symptoms can persist for months. In rare cases, they may continue for years.
In short, each individual’s experience with codeine withdrawal is different.
Treating codeine withdrawal
It is not advisable to quit codeine on your own. The withdrawal symptoms can get too uncomfortable, leading you to take the drug again just to get relief. Some of the symptoms can also endanger your life.
The best way to quit codeine is with medical supervision, counseling, and other forms of support. You can successfully quit codeine at home, in a rehab facility, or in a hospital if your withdrawal symptoms are severe. Quitting at home, though, requires a solid support system and medications. Recovery is also much harder when done at home because there could be triggers for drug use there.
The best outcomes happen in rehab facilities or hospitals, where doctors and mental health professionals closely monitor your progress. In these settings, you may also be given a number of medications. These procedures are known as medically-assisted detox.
Methadone is a common medication in treating withdrawal from opiates like codeine. It mainly reduces your cravings for the drug, and it also helps to relieve withdrawal symptoms. If methadone is prescribed to you, it is often a long-term maintenance medication to deal with codeine dependence. The maintenance period may last as long as years, depending on your case. After the maintenance period, your dose will be decreased slowly over a long time.
This is another common medication used in opiate withdrawal treatment. Buprenorphine is usually given if your body does not respond well to methadone. It can also be used as a long-term maintenance medication, similar to methadone. In many cases, buprenorphine is used in combination with Naloxone to help prevent misuse.
Clonidine is effective in reducing specific codeine withdrawal symptoms, like agitation, anxiety, muscle pain, cramps, sweating, and runny nose. It has no effect on drug cravings, though.
This medication is used to help reduce cravings for codeine. Also, it is useful in preventing relapse. Naltrexone is not used immediately when you enter detox, as it can trigger withdrawal symptoms when you are still dependent on codeine. This medication is often given 7 to 10 days after you have stopped taking codeine to make sure it’s effective.
What happens after medications are done?
Medications are not the only treatments for codeine withdrawal. Medically-assisted detox is only the first step in a full recovery program. More treatments are needed, like behavioral therapies, support groups, and a host of other treatments.
Recovery programs for codeine dependence may either be inpatient or outpatient. What your doctor will recommend to you depends on how severe your case is. If it’s mild, you can do well in outpatient rehab. Here, you only have to go to the rehab facility when you have scheduled therapies. After your therapies for the day are done, you are free to go back home. With outpatient rehab, you can still continue studying or working.
If your case is more severe, the recommendation for you will be to enroll in an inpatient rehab program. Here, you will have to live in a rehab facility for one to three months. The duration of treatment will again depend on the severity of your case.
While you may not be able to go back home for months, inpatient rehab offers the best possible outcomes. You will be focused on treatment, as your day will consist mostly of therapy and counseling sessions. You will interact with therapists both one-on-one and in group settings. Group therapies strengthen the sense of community between you and fellow patients, and it makes you feel that you are not alone in your recovery journey.
You may also pick up new hobbies while inside the rehab facility. If it offers amenities like basketball courts, badminton courts, ping pong tables, swimming pools, and the like, you may find that you enjoy playing sports. Eventually, those new hobbies will take over your cravings for drugs. That way, you will have healthy coping strategies that do not involve addictive substances.
After your rehab program is done, you can expect to take control of your life once again. You can live sober and free from the influence of codeine.