Signs of a Developing Codeine Dependence
According to the NLM, “Codeine is used to relieve mild to moderate pain. It is also used, in combination with other medications, to reduce coughing.” While codeine helps many individuals who struggle with pain and other issues, it can also become habit-forming and cause dependence. This is why patients are told not to take more of the drug than prescribed or take it more often than prescribed.
If you abuse codeine, you can also become dependent on the drug which can lead to addiction with continued abuse. If you are concerned that you may be developing a codeine dependence, look for the signs of such in your behavior, physical health, and even your moods and ask yourself if you might benefit from codeine dependence treatment.
Physical Signs of a Developing Codeine Dependence
There are many physical signs of a codeine dependence, and you can determine whether or not you may have an issue by looking for them. To clarify, just because you are dependent on codeine does not mean you are addicted or even that you have been abusing the drug. Dependence occurs when you become dependent on a drug, when you come to need it in order to feel good and normal. It can occur even if you have been taking codeine as prescribed.
Physical signs of a developing codeine dependence are
- Physical withdrawal symptoms (that occur when you suddenly stop taking the drug) including
- Muscle pain
- Bone pain
- Joint pain
- Abdominal cramps
- Runny nose
- Dilated pupils
- An inability to get out of bed in the morning or to fall asleep without taking codeine
For someone who is dependent on codeine, the withdrawal syndrome that occurs often feels similar to having a bad case of the flu. If you are dependent on codeine and stop taking the drug, you will experience these issues and they will be very painful and uncomfortable. If you are already experiencing this as a result of stopping your codeine use (or an inability to get more codeine), you are already dependent.
If you begin to feel that you need codeine just to fall asleep or to curb your pain enough to get out of bed every day, you are likely dependent as well. If you decide to stop using codeine (whether you are using it legally or not), you should absolutely take precautions to minimize the effects of your withdrawal syndrome and even attend formal detox.
Behavioral Signs of a Developing Codeine Dependence
When you become dependent on a drug, you will notice that your behavior changes. It may be subtle at first, but it will become more obvious over time. If you are concerned about whether or not you are becoming codeine dependent, ask yourself the questions below.
- Have I begun acting differently toward my friends and family since I began taking codeine?
- Do I not take part in other activities which used to make me happy before I started taking codeine?
- Do I make excuses to take more codeine?
- Do I take more codeine than I should because I realize that my tolerance for the drug is getting higher?
- Tolerance occurs when “a higher dose is required to achieve the same effect” (NIDA). This occurs often in chronic drug use whether the drug is being abused or not. If the person starts taking more of the drug in order to feel the effects better, this is considered abuse.
- Tolerance and dependence often go hand-in-hand in both licit and illicit drug use.
- Do I get upset with others if they will not let me take codeine or if they ask me about my codeine use?
- Do I become incredibly irritable when I am unable to take codeine?
If you realize that your behavior has become harder to control when it comes to codeine, you may be experiencing codeine dependence. The important part is that you realize it and are able to ask for help. It may not be a problem now, but if you decide to stop taking codeine, you could deal with very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
Other Signs of a Developing Codeine Dependence
Codeine dependence can sneak up on you. It is important to pay attention to the way you feel because there are some signs of dependence only you will notice. You don’t want to be caught off guard when you stop taking codeine, especially if you are taking it for pain or coughing. According to the NLM, “Some people even withdraw from opiates after being given such drugs for pain while in the hospital without realizing what is happening to them. They think they have the flu, and because they don’t know that opiates would fix the problem, they don’t crave the drugs.”
Other signs of a developing codeine dependence are
- Feeling apathetic toward the other aspects of your life that do not involve your codeine use
- Neglecting to eat, to take care of your personal hygiene, and other important aspects of self-care
- Considering taking more of the drug than you used to feel its effects more strongly or considering taking a stronger opioid altogether
- Feeling like you’re only happy or only feel normal when you are on codeine
- Becoming depressed when you are off codeine
- Becoming anxious when you are off codeine
What Does a Developing Codeine Dependence Mean?
Developing a codeine dependence means that your body and mind need the drug to feel normal. This occurs in any long-term use of opioid drugs, but most people require some sort of treatment in order to successfully stop using codeine at this point, especially if they are abusing it. According to Harvard Medical School, detoxification, or “controlled and medically supervised withdrawal from the drug,” is where treatment should start. If you are only dependent on the drug (and not addicted), you may be able to end your treatment after you have successfully withdrawn from codeine.
It is normal to become dependent on codeine if you are using it for a long time. Just remember to look for the signs of a developing codeine dependence so that you can be treated appropriately when you are ready to stop taking the drug.