What are the Long Term Risks of Codeine Abuse?

In spite of the fact that codeine is a widely prescribed painkiller, codeine addiction is becoming a serious health issue and the ranks of codeine users in America are swelling to epidemic proportions. Though its status as prescription medication makes it seem harmless enough, codeine is classified as a schedule 2 narcotic and is an opiate, which places it alongside dangerous drugs like morphine and heroin. Excessive dosage can lead to complications and significant health risks. Prolonged usage can lead to chronic medical problems, overdose, and even death.

Misuse of the drug can lead to a lack of coordination, dulled response time, difficulty breathing, liver damage, kidney problems, and internal hemorrhaging. Substance dependence can occur in just two or three weeks, which can lead to a physical and mental addiction that can be very difficult to break.

Part of the reason that codeine abuse is so dangerous is that it is much simpler to acquire than illegal substances. Doctors routinely prescribe codeine for pain, especially following surgery. Codeine can be a very effective painkiller when taken as prescribed, in the proper dosage. However, once habits begin to increase, codeine can become a dangerous drug. It can be acquired from such simple household items as cough syrup or Tylenol making codeine that much more accessible and dangerous.

Common Signs of Abuse

Common signs of codeine abuse include taking medication without apparent symptoms, taking excessive doses, and beginning to take larger doses to relieve symptoms. In addition to pain relief, codeine also provides a temporary feeling of euphoria, so that users often feel happier when they are on it. Such a frame of mind can easily transition into a psychological addiction.

However, treatment is an option. The standard treatment for most painkillers involves gradual cessation (because stopping cold turkey can be very dangerous) and usually begins with a period of detox. Generally, detox lasts for seven days and involves your body eliminating all traces of the drug from your system. Following detox, patients may be moved to a residential treatment facility, where care continues.

The most important thing to remember if you or someone you love is struggling with codeine addiction is to keep the lines of communication open. If you suspect addiction, be willing and open to discussing the situation and the same is true during the recovery process. Let family and friends form a safety network to help make the process easier.

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Heather Beleno is a part of an elite team of writers who have contributed to hundreds of blogs and news sites.

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