Most people in the U.S. are aware of the reality of the country’s opioid addiction. At the same time, though, there’s a lot of misinformation circulating regarding opioids and opioid abuse. 

Many people think that opioid addiction only involves the abuse of illegal drugs like heroin. The truth, though, is that most people’s opioid addiction begins with the use of prescription painkillers like codeine.

Codeine is short-acting painkiller typically prescribed to treat coughs and mild-to-moderate pain.

Everything you need to know about codeine addiction and abuse is explained below.

Codeine Addiction Statistics

There aren’t many statistics about codeine abuse specifically in the United States.

The research that is available, though, indicates that nonmedical use of codeine is one the rise. The latest data shows that the percentage of people over the age of 12 who abuse codeine has increased from 2.6 to 2.8 percent

These reports also show that the abuse of codeine also appears to be most popular among adults aged 18-25. Five percent of this population reports using codeine for non-medicinal purposes.

We know, too, that the abuse of prescription painkillers, in general, is rampant throughout the country.

In fact, approximately 4 million Americans over the age of 12 (1.4 percent of the total population) abuse prescription pain relievers, including codeine. 

General Stats on Addiction to Codeine

Anyone can become addicted to codeine. But, certain people are more prone to develop an addiction than others.

Some well-known risk factors associated with codeine addiction include:

  • Genetics – those who have relatives who are addicted to codeine or other substances are more likely to develop an addiction themselves
  • Environment – those who grew up in an unstable home may be more likely to abuse drugs, including codeine, later on in life
  • Mental health – individuals who have untreated mental health disorders like depression or anxiety may be more prone to drug addiction, as they may use drugs to self-medicate
  • Coexisting addictions – those who struggle with another addiction, or who have struggled with addiction in the past, are more likely to abuse codeine in the present

Some people have also hypothesized that individuals with neurotransmitter deficiencies or imbalances may be more inclined to abuse and become addicted to drugs like codeine.

Signs Of Codeine Abuse

When it comes to drug abuse and addiction, it can be difficult to spot an addiction to a prescription drug. After all, if a doctor prescribed it, doesn’t that mean it’s safe? 

Many people believe this is the case, but it’s not necessarily true. In fact, some of the most frequently abused drugs are drugs that a doctor prescribed. Codeine is no exception.

Am I Addicted?

So, how do you determine whether or not someone is addicted to codeine? In order to figure this out, it’s important to take an honest look at yourself, your health, and your behaviors.

If you are abusing codeine or becoming addicted to it, you may notice the following signs and symptoms:

  • Changes in mood
  • Mental health disorders like anxiety and depression
  • Drowsiness and an increase in the amount of time spent sleeping
  • A decrease in appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Feelings of apathy
  • Diminished interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Digestive issues like constipation, nausea, and vomiting
  • A blue tinge to the fingernails and/or lips
  • Twitching muscles
  • Seizures
  • Fainting spells
  • Itching skin or rashes
  • Dry mouth
  • Low blood pressure
  • Respiratory depression
  • Decreased libido
  • Hallucinations and/or delusions
  • Memory loss
  • Impaired cognitive function

Individuals who are addicted to codeine may also begin visiting multiple doctors (also known as doctor shopping) to obtain more prescriptions for codeine. They may also begin engaging in behaviors like prescription forgery or stealing prescriptions from family or friends.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Another sign of codeine addiction is the experience of withdrawal symptoms when you stop consuming it. These sypmtoms include:

  • Drug cravings
  • A runny nose
  • Sweating and chills
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Muscle spasms
  • Mood swings
  • Suicidal or homicidal thoughts
  • Hallucinations

If you experience any of these symptoms when you go too long without consuming codeine, there is a good chance that you have been abusing it or are becoming addicted.

Dangers of Codeine Abuse

Long-term codeine abuse is associated with a number of serious health problems. Some conditions you may experience if you are abusing codeine include:

  • Pancreatitis
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Increased pain sensitivity
  • Muscle twitches, cramps, and/or pain
  • Seizures
  • Respiratory issues
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • A decrease in muscle tone
  • Coma

Mental health disorders are also common among those who abuse codeine (or any drug, for that matter).

Anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, depression, and antisocial personality disorders are all common when you abuse codeine for extended periods of time.

Lifestyle Changes

In addition to physical health problems, you may also experience serious, negative changes in your lifestyle if you abuse codeine. For example, you may begin to experience financial problems, a loss of productivity at work, or a job loss.

Legal issues, domestic issues, and impaired relationships also often result from codeine abuse. In severe cases, you could even end up incarcerated, especially if you’ve been engaging in prescription forgery or theft.

Remember, the greater the amount of time you spend abusing codeine, the more severe your symptoms will likely be. And, the longer you abuse codeine, the harder it will be for you to give up your addiction altogether. 

Final Thoughts on Codeine Addiction and Abuse

Are you dealing with codeine addiction and abuse? Do you need help overcoming your addiction and giving up codeine once and for all?

Achieving sobriety isn’t easy by any means. But, you can increase your chances of success by working with the right people.

At Addiction Treatment Services, we offer a variety of programs and resources to help you get sober and stay that way. 

Contact us today to learn more about our services. You can also talk to a counselor online or by phone 24 hours a day if you have questions or are in need of support.