Long-Term Effects of Codeine Misuse

Although for a significant period of time, codeine was easily obtainable without a prescription, concerns about codeine addiction, intensified by the epidemic of opioid-related overdoses and deaths, led to a tightening of restrictions for how the drug can be prescribed and sold.

This page will explain what codeine is, the long-term effects of codeine misuse, and how to find codeine addiction treatment.

What Is Codeine?

Codeine is an opioid prescription drug that is FDA-approved for the treatment of mild to moderate levels of pain.1

Pure codeine is a Schedule II substance under the Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of controlled substances. This means that while it does have a legitimate medical use, there is a high risk of misuse with a potential for developing physiological dependence, which can lead to a substance use disorder or codeine addiction.1

As a Schedule II substance, codeine has the same classifications as other opioids, like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl.

Codeine Side Effects

As with other prescription medications, there is a potential for side effects. These effects may vary from person to person. Codeine side effects may include:1

  • Nausea.
  • Sleepiness.
  • Constipation.
  • Vomiting.
  • Tiredness.
  • Headache.
  • Dizziness.
  • Abdominal pain.

Codeine Misuse Long-Term Effects

A person may misuse codeine or other opioid prescription drugs in various ways, including:2

  • Taking a prescription that belongs to someone else.
  • Taking the drug in a different way or a different dose than prescribed.
  • Taking the medication for the purpose of feeling euphoria.

Codeine misuse is associated with several adverse effects, including:1

  • Respiratory Depression. Codeine, like other opioids, can result in slowed breathing, also known as respiratory depression. This can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. The risk of life-threatening respiratory depression is increased if codeine is used along with benzodiazepines, other CNS depressants, or alcohol.
  • Tolerance. Over time, a person can develop tolerance to codeine. This means the person needs to use more of the drug to produce the desired effects.
  • Physiological Dependence. Repeated use of codeine can result in physiological dependence, which means the body becomes used to the presence of the drug and when a person abruptly stops using codeine or dramatically lowers the amount they use, they experience withdrawal symptoms.
  • Addiction. Codeine has a known risk of misuse and addiction. Addiction, or substance use disorder, is the continued compulsive, uncontrollable use of a substance despite the harmful consequences.

Codeine Overdose

As with other opioids, it is possible to overdose on codeine. A codeine overdose is a life-threatening medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention.1 When a person uses an amount of codeine that results in an overdose, symptoms can include:1

  • Respiratory depression.
  • Coma.
  • Cold and clammy skin.
  • Constricted pupils.
  • Limp body and limbs.

Codeine Withdrawal Symptoms

When a person has developed a physiological dependence on codeine, if they abruptly stop their use or drastically lower the amount they use, codeine withdrawal symptoms will emerge.1

Codeine withdrawal symptoms can include:1

  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Increased blood pressure, heart rate, or respiratory rate.
  • Insomnia and sleep disruptions.
  • Flu-like symptoms (e.g., fever, chills, and cold sweats).
  • Watery eyes.
  • Runny nose.
  • Agitation, depression, and unexplained mood swings.
  • Deep pain in the muscles and bones.
  • Intense cravings for more codeine.

These symptoms abate if the person takes more codeine, which can make it difficult to quit.

However, professional help is available to help manage codeine withdrawal symptoms. Medical detox involves supervision by doctors who can administer medications to ease the distress of the symptoms. Getting support during codeine withdrawal can help the person have a better chance of recovering from codeine addiction.

Codeine Addiction Treatment in Las Vegas, Nevada

If you or someone you love are struggling with codeine misuse or addiction, help is available. Desert Hope Treatment Center—a drug rehab in Las Vegas—provides several levels of addiction treatment, including medical detox for opioids such as codeine.

To learn more about the Desert Hope facility, the levels of addiction treatment offered, and ways to pay for rehab, including using health insurance, call .

Our compassionate admissions navigators can answer your questions and walk you through the rehab admissions process.

Desert Hope is in-network with most major insurance providers. You can quickly check your insurance coverage for rehab by completing our confidential .

Please know we are here for you 24/7. Reach out for help today.

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Desert Hope is located in Las Vegas, Nevada, which is easily accessible from most locations in the Southwest. We offer a full continuum of care that spans from inpatient medical detox and rehab to outpatient services and sober living. Take the next step toward recovery: learn more about our addiction treatment programs near Vegas or learn about how rehab is affordable for everyone.