Prescription drug abuse is more common than some might think. Codeine is a drug derived from morphine which is available in dozens of prescription medications. It can be used for young children to suppress coughs, for the relief of minor aches and pains, as well as for more significant pain resulting from surgery or injury. This widespread use of the prescription drug codeine makes it a concern because of its wide availability. While other opioid drugs, such as hydrocodone, are available in tablet form, codeine is often a liquid combined with other drugs for the specific purposes. A report in USA Today, published in 2006, highlights the increasing use of codeine for non-medical purposes by mixing the syrupy liquids with sports drinks or other beverages. When an individual takes codeine without a prescription or for non-medical reasons, it is illegal and a form of drug abuse. Sometimes, an individual is prescribed the drug for legitimate purposes but their use of the drug in ways other than directed can still cause problems. For instance, they may feel as though the drug is not working correctly or their dose is not high enough so they increase the dose or they take the medication more frequently than directed. Regardless of the manner in which an individual abuses a prescription drug, such as codeine, they place themselves at risk for tolerance and addiction. Tolerance is the process that develops as the body and brain get used to certain chemicals ingested. If you have ever been prescribed a drug that might cause a lightheaded feeling, but the manufacturers insert explains that this feeling should go away within a few days of taking the medication, then you have experienced the effects of tolerance. When used correctly, the intended benefits of the prescription medication will still be in effect, but your system has become tolerant of those euphoric effects. Individuals who abuse drugs like codeine for recreational purposes often want that euphoric effect. As their body develops a tolerance to the drug, they are forced to consume more of the drug in order to achieve the “high” they are looking for.
Addiction Is a Disease That Can Be Successfully Treated
As the body develops a higher tolerance for certain drugs, addiction can result. Addiction, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, is a treatable condition that can be managed and controlled with certain treatment programs. There are several types of effective treatments available. Some individuals will require inpatient treatment for a period of time that is determined by their specific illness. Other individuals can be effectively treated for their drug addiction in an outpatient setting. It is important to remember that drug abuse and addiction are unique to an individual. Because drug addiction is a mental disorder that is often co-occurring with other mental illness, such as anxiety, depression, and even schizophrenia, every person brings to their illness their own set of circumstances, inherent belief systems, and personal needs for help.
Symptoms of Codeine Abuse May Not Be Obvious
The symptoms of codeine abuse can be similar to the symptoms of other types of drug abuse. The symptoms that someone on the outside of the problem looks for are different than the symptoms someone may experience personally if they suspect they may have a problem with the prescription drug codeine. For instance, according to the Mayo Clinic, someone who personally may have an issue with codeine abuse may want to ask themselves the following questions to determine if they should seek help:
- Do I feel a compulsion to use codeine several times each day?
- Have I tried to stop using codeine unsuccessfully?
- Do I turn to my prescription of codeine to relax or deal with my daily problems?
- Have I spent money that I cannot afford, putting aside financial responsibilities, to obtain more codeine?
- Is the amount of codeine prescription medication that I have on hand of paramount importance to me?
- Have I found myself driving under the influence of codeine?
- Have I been tempted to, or have I actually, stolen from others in order to obtain drugs or the money for drugs?
These types of symptoms for drug addiction are guidelines. An individual does not have to experience all of them in order to suffer from the disease. If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may want to consider talking with a professional medical provider who is experienced in the treatment of addiction for more information. When someone you love is experiencing difficulties with drugs such as codeine, you may notice certain changes in their behavior and their attitude. Individuals who suffer from addiction often do not have interest in participating in activities that used to bring them enjoyment.
An example might be a parent who used to enjoy attending their child’s sports games and practices, dance recitals, or other significant effects. Someone who is suffering from addiction may find they do not have the energy or inclination to attend these events, choosing instead to stay home or socialize with other friends who also abuse drugs. An individual who has always been punctual, financially responsible and career-driven may become lackadaisical, financially irresponsible (for instance, borrowing money from friends and family on a regular basis), and unable to maintain steady employment. All these changes may occur so gradually that you don’t notice them right away.
For others, the changes may be abrupt and more obvious. If you suspect that you or someone you love has developed a tolerance or pattern of abuse of the prescription drug codeine, it is important to get help as quickly as possible.
Codeine Addiction Recovery Begins With Detox
Opioid drugs can induce a series of withdrawal symptoms if the individual taking the drugs stops suddenly. These symptoms can mimic the flu, and include:
- Cramping and diarrhea
- Muscle aches and pains
- A runny nose
- Increased anxiety
When an individual who has developed a tolerance to codeine through normal use experiences these issues at the end of their prescription, they may simply attribute it to an unrelated illness. However, someone who is struggling with addiction may understand what is going on in their body and have an overwhelming compulsion to use drugs to make the symptoms go away. To effectively fight this type of relapse during the first stages of recovery, it is sometimes necessary to participate in a medically assisted detoxification program that can help ease some of the symptoms and provide support for the one who is seeking help.
Detox, however, is only the first phase of the treatment and recovery process. Once the detox period ends, the recovering addict must participate in a treatment program that includes evidence-based therapies in order to maintain control over the illness and develop healthier habits for the future.
Choosing the Right Treatment Center for Codeine Abuse
Trusting your health, or the health of someone you love, into the hands of people you don’t know can be stressful at best. Understanding what to look for in an effective treatment center, on the other hand, can assuage some of the anxiety that comes along with treating a condition as severe as drug addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has come up with a series of questions you can ask the facility you may be considering, helping to make sure you are receiving the best care possible.
One of the first questions you’ll want to ask is whether the facility uses evidence-based treatments. These are methods of treatment that have been scientifically proven to be effective when treating opioid addiction. For instance, some facilities may offer a plan that includes a community reinforcement approach plus vouchers as a way to rehabilitate behavior patterns for outpatient clients. Another effective treatment for codeine abuse is the 12-step model of recovery, according to experts. Other information you need to glean from the treatment facility includes whether they have the ability and inclination to tailor a treatment program to your specific needs and issues, whether the program treatment will be flexible enough to change as your needs and condition change, and if you can remain in treatment long enough to obtain the results you need.
Family Therapy can Help Heal Everyone Affected by Codeine Abuse
Drug addiction is a condition that can affect the entire family, from young children to elderly grandparents and everyone in between. Trust and compassion are sometimes difficult to maintain when one member of the family is behaving erratically and unable to control their attitudes and choices because of the addiction. Family therapy can address the needs of each family member and bring the addiction into a place where it can be addressed honestly and thoroughly, giving everyone a foundation upon which to build a lasting and healthy relationship. If you or someone you love is struggling with codeine abuse, it is never too late or too early to find the help your family needs to recover. Contact us today to find out how our trained and dedicated staff can help you and your family today.