Codeine Addiction | Codeine In Ohio

Kimberly Langdon, M.D.

Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly Langdon, M.D.

on December 7, 2022

Codeine is a short-acting opiate that metabolizes in the body to form morphine. It is an active ingredient in certain cough suppressant products and is also prescribed as a mild to moderately potent painkiller, often in combination with the mild pain reliever acetaminophen (Tylenol).

Codeine serves an important purpose in medical practice, but it can be misused with abuse leading to codeine dependence, addiction, and other short- and long-term harms.

Codeine Addiction In Ohio

As with other opioid analgesics (also known as opioid painkillers or narcotics), codeine relieves stress and pain at therapeutic doses. At higher doses, it can cause a pleasurable and habit-forming euphoria, which can lead to codeine dependence and addiction.

Codeine dependence occurs when your body adapts to the medication over a period of prolonged use. This will likely result in uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when you eventually stop using the medication after dependence has formed.

Addiction, on the other hand, occurs when your abuse of codeine changes your behavior and personality and becomes compulsive and unmanageable.

Physical dependence can develop after any prolonged use of prescription opioids, including legitimate medical use. However, when a drug is abused heavily leading to addiction, physical dependence tends to develop more rapidly and intensely as a result.

Codeine Withdrawal Symptoms

Symptoms of withdrawal from codeine may include:

  • appetite loss
  • chills
  • diarrhea
  • drug cravings
  • goosebumps
  • irritability
  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • muscle spasms or aches
  • rapid heartbeat
  • runny nose
  • sleep problems
  • stomach cramps
  • watery eyes

These symptoms vary greatly between individuals and can last for a week or longer. In cases of codeine addiction, withdrawal should be managed through medical detox before other treatment interventions can begin.

Codeine Abuse

Codeine-containing cough syrups are sometimes mixed with alcohol or soft drinks to form a substance known as sizzurp, purple drank, water, or lean. 

This mixture is referenced in a variety of rap and hip-hop songs and has been responsible for a number of high-profile musician hospitalizations and deaths.

Codeine is also commonly abused with other drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, benzodiazepines, and alcohol, to enhance or change the drugs’ high.

Effects Of Codeine Abuse

Codeine use is known to cause certain short-term side effects. These may occur more frequently and severely at high doses, and can include:

  • anxiety or depression
  • appetite changes
  • constipation
  • drowsiness
  • dry mouth
  • mood swings
  • stomach pain

Codeine Overdose

Although codeine is weaker than other common opioids like hydrocodone or oxycodone, abusing it in high doses or with other central nervous system depressants can result in dangerous or fatal drug overdose.

Signs and symptoms of a codeine overdose may include:

  • dizziness
  • bluish tint in the fingernails or lips
  • cold and clammy skin
  • low blood pressure
  • muscle spasms in the intestines
  • severe drowsiness
  • slow breathing or respiratory depression
  • weak or reduced heart rate
  • unconsciousness
  • weakness

In addition, codeine products containing acetaminophen can be extremely toxic to the liver, potentially causing fatal liver failure if misused.

If you suspect an overdose has occurred, call 911, administer naloxone (Narcan) if available, and provide first aid until help arrives.

Other Long-Term Effects

Long-term, codeine abuse can have a significant effect on a person’s mental health and physical well-being. These effects can include:

  • deteriorating mental health
  • gastrointestinal problems
  • injury to the pancreas, liver, and kidneys
  • insomnia
  • memory issues
  • reduced immune functioning
  • sexual dysfunction

Signs Of Codeine Abuse & Addiction

There are a variety of common signs and symptoms that can help identify when a person is developing an opioid use disorder or struggling with some other form of drug addiction/substance use disorder.

These signs can include physical evidence like stashed pill bottles or empty cough syrup containers. Or they can be behavioral and include: 

  • stealing
  • doctor shopping
  • forging prescriptions
  • ordering illicit prescription drugs online from rogue pharmacy sites

If confronted, individuals may become evasive, defensive, deceitful, and emotional. They may withdraw from their former friends, family members, and loved ones, instead turning inward and devoting more and more time and energy towards drug use.

Unusual apathy, depression, and anxiety symptoms are common and responsibilities at work, school, or at home will tend to be neglected. 

Individuals are often sleepy and may nod-off while under the influence of the drug, and they may become agitated as withdrawal symptoms emerge when they go without drug use for too long.

Codeine Addiction Treatment In Ohio

Codeine addiction treatment begins with medical detox, a specialized medical service that helps patients through withdrawal symptoms safely with close medical supervision.

Alternatively, patients may opt to begin medication-assisted treatment (MAT) using methadone or buprenorphine. These long-acting opioids can help reduce drug cravings and prevent withdrawal symptoms while also blunting the effects of other opioid drugs.

Patients should also continue in a personalized inpatient or outpatient treatment program that may feature proven treatment services such as:

  • individual or group counseling
  • cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • motivational enhancement therapy (MET)
  • MAT using naltrexone, an opioid antagonist
  • peer support groups
  • aftercare support

If you or a loved one struggle with prescription drug abuse or addiction, please contact Ohio Recovery Center today.


How Long Does Codeine Stay In Your System?

Codeine can stay in your system for about 15 hours after last use. Drug testing methods, including urine tests, can detect codeine for an average of 1-4 days later.

Learn more about How Long Codeine Stays In Your System

How Much Does Codeine Cost On The Street?

Codeine costs about $5 per pill on the street. Codeine cough syrup can vary, with street prices ranging from $7 to $50. Factors that affect codeine’s street value include location (where you buy it), quantity (how much you buy at once), and authenticity (how pure it is).

Learn more about Codeine Street Prices

What Does Codeine Look Like?

Codeine is available in tablet, capsule, and liquid form. As a tablet, it is white with numbers that designate the type of pill and the strength. The same is true with codeine capsules. The liquid form of codeine, however, appears in pink, red, and purple colors.

Learn more about What Codeine Looks Like

  1. National Drug Intelligence Center - Resurgence in Abuse of ‘Purple Drank
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) - Prescription Opioids DrugFacts
  3. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Codeine

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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