Codeine Abuse & Addiction in Ohio

Codeine is an opioid drug, which means that it can potentially be addictive as with all other opiates. It is used as a cough suppressant, and it is also used to treat pain. It is available only by prescription. There are many prescription medications that include codeine like:

  • Tylenol with Codeine #3
  • Pediatuss
  • Maxiflu CD
  • Phenflu CD
  • Florinal with Codeine
  • Colrex Compound
  • Cotabflu
  • Fioricet with Codeine

These are just some of the prescription drugs that include codeine. There are a number of other medications.

Codeine belongs to a class of drugs that are referred to as narcotic analgesics. This means they treat pain by acting on the central nervous system, and it is used to treat pain that ranges from mild to moderate. Because it is considered to be weaker than other opiates, many people have the misconception that they cannot become addicted to codeine. This is not the case.

Is Codeine Addictive?

If you live in Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati or any other city in Ohio and you have been prescribed codeine, you may be wondering whether or not the substance is addictive. Unfortunately, codeine does have the potential for abuse, misuse and addiction. This misuse can even result in overdose, which can lead to death. Just with any other opiate, taking codeine can depress your respiratory system so much that you can enter into a coma. It can even be deadly. If codeine is taken while pregnant, it can also result in neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome.

In order to avoid cocaine abuse, misuse and addiction, codeine should only ever be taken as directed by your physician. This can include only taking the amount you are prescribed and only taking it as frequently as prescribed. It should never be taken without a prescription as that is considered abuse and can lead to addiction.

The side effects of codeine misuse are not as pronounced as the side effects of the abuse of other opioids. However, codeine abuse can still include apathetic behavior, drowsiness, impaired judgment, dilated pupils as well as coordination problems.

Why is Codeine Addictive?

Codeine is an opioid as we discussed above. While it does not have as much potential for abuse as other, stronger opioids, it can still be abused. Sometimes it can even be more problematic because people don’t treat it with as much care, thinking it is harmless. This is not the case, however. Like other opiates, codeine impacts the central nervous system, which is how it can attack pain.

Taking a drug like codeine that does affect the central nervous system floods the brain with dopamine at higher levels than are naturally produced. Because of this, your brain develops cravings for the substance as it seeks to trigger that response. This is why codeine can be addictive. Once this response has been triggered in the brain, it’s easy to develop a tolerance to and a dependence on the substance.

One of the dangers of codeine is that people often move on from this drug to stronger opioids once they have developed a tolerance and an addiction. Codeine can be seen as a gateway opioid to drugs like hydrocodone, oxycodone or even heroin.

Codeine Side Effects & Symptoms of Misuse

Even when it is used as directed by a physician, however, it can have some side effects that you need to be aware of. Some side effects of using codeine can include lightheadedness, sedation, dizziness and drowsiness. Other potential side effects can include:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Flushing of the skin
  • Rash
  • Itchiness
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pain
  • Shortness of breath

When codeine is prescribed to treat pain, it is usually prescribed from 15 mg to 60 mg. On most prescriptions, it’s supposed to be taken every four hours as needed. The side effects are likely to be more intense if the dose is higher, and there are higher risks associated with using codeine for those who are prescribed a higher dose.

Signs of Codeine Dependence

There is a difference between dependence and addiction with drugs like codeine. Addiction is the psychological disease that occurs when someone loses control over drug use due to changes in the brain. Dependence happens when your body become dependent on a substance in order to function. However, not everyone who is dependent upon codeine is also addicted to it.
One of the first signs that someone has developed a dependence to codeine is when they have a high tolerance for the substance and they have to take more and more to have the same effect. This is true of people who take codeine with a legitimate prescription as well as people who take codeine to get high.

Codeine Addiction Signs

It’s good to understand the signs of codeine addiction. These signs can include:

  • Taking codeine without a prescription or abusing it frequently
  • Doctor shopping to get multiple prescriptions
  • Trying to stop using the substance and being unsuccessful
  • Withdrawing from relationships
  • Declining performances at work or school

Signs of a Codeine Overdose

Unfortunately, there tends to be a misconception that codeine is not dangerous as it tends to be one of the weaker opioids. This is far from the case, however.

If you abuse codeine, the risk for an overdose is very real. It can easily happen as well. This occurs when you take too much of the substance, when you mix it with other substances like alcohol or other opioids or when you take it in a different way than it should be taken.

It’s important to know the signs of a codeine overdose. These can include:

  • A bluish tint to lips and fingernails
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Twitching muscles
  • Low blood pressure
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Skin that feels clammy and cold
  • Breathing problems including shallow or labored breathing

If you suspect someone is having a codeine overdose, these signs should not be ignored. A codeine overdose can easily result in coma or death.

Codeine Addiction Facts

The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that prescription drugs that are often prescribed to suppress a cough are often misused when the patient will take a much higher dose than has been prescribed. If these drugs contain antihistamines or expectorants, they are misused at rates that are even higher. Additional facts about codeine addiction are as follows:

  • When a person takes codeine, it is then converted into morphine. This is why euphoric and mind-altering effects are felt. Generally speaking, about 10 percent of codeine becomes morphine.
  • Codeine depresses breathing and other bodily functions that are essential.
  • After just two weeks of regular use, an addiction may develop.
  • When a person consumes codeine, the effects of the medication begin after 10 to 30 minutes.

If you think you and/or someone you love may have a problem with codeine addiction, it is important that you seek treatment at a treatment facility. The Recovery Village Columbus is an excellent option that provides inpatient and outpatient treatment programs that will help you begin your recovery journey.

Codeine Addiction Treatment in Ohio

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed like you don’t have anywhere to turn if you are addicted to an opioid like codeine. This couldn’t be further from the truth, however. The best course of action you can possibly take is to seek treatment in a rehabilitation facility. If any of the following signs apply to you, it may be time to seek codeine addiction treatment:

  • You need more and more codeine to achieve the same result.
  • You doctor shop or pharmacy shop to obtain multiple prescriptions.
  • You have problems in your relationships, your finances as well as your career.
  • You experience physical withdrawal symptoms whenever you stop using codeine.
  • You take more codeine than is prescribed or you take it more regularly than prescribed.
  • You use codeine as a replacement for other opioids you have become addicted to.
  • You feel like your codeine use is out of control and you don’t know how to quit using the drug.

There are treatment options available to you if this is where you are and you are ready to stop using codeine. An inpatient treatment program such as the one that is available from The Recovery Village Columbus is one of the best things you can do for codeine addiction. In this program, patients have 24/7 access to addiction specialists and medical professionals. They are able to participate in individual therapy, group therapy, substance abuse classes and healing and recreational activities.

The positive thing about a national treatment facility like The Recovery Village Columbus is that medically-supervised detox is available. With opioids like codeine, it’s important that you have medical supervision when you go through the detox process. It’s much more difficult to be successful with the detox process when you try to detox on your own.

In a facility like The Recovery Village Columbus, you will be able to go right into an inpatient treatment program following a medically-supervised detox.

After you go through an inpatient treatment program, you may then proceed to outpatient treatment followed by an aftercare program that involves meetings with groups like Narcotics Anonymous or SMART Recovery.


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  • “Codeine.” National Institutes of Health, December 15, 2020. Accessed April 22, 2021.
  • Radke JB, Owen KP, Sutter ME, Ford JB, Albertson TE. “The effects of opioids on the lung.” Clin Rev Allergy Immunol. 2014. Accessed April 22, 2021.
  • “Neonatal abstinence syndrome.” National Institutes of Health, September 29, 2019. Accessed April 22, 2021.