A Guide to Codeine Detox & Withdrawal

Many people with an addiction to codeine have tried to quit in the past, and in some cases, their inability to change their lifestyle has come from the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms as their bodies detox.

If you are concerned about how you will react mentally and physically to quitting, this article will help you understand the effects, symptoms, and treatments available to assist you in maintaining a life of sobriety.

therapy session

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Do I need a codeine detox?

Codeine is an addictive medication, as well as a central nervous system depressant, you may experience relaxation and euphoria while codeine is being processed within your body. If you have grown concerned about your usage of codeine, tried to stop in the past, and been unable to, or feeling the negative effects on your health, you may need to consider detox as the first step towards recovery.

What is Codeine Withdrawal?

Frequently using codeine causes the body to become chemically dependent as such your body begins treating codeine as important for normal functioning. Quitting the medication disrupts the normal functioning of the body, causing a wide range of symptoms. Withdrawal Syndromes – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf

Codeine Withdrawal Symptoms & Timeline

Codeine withdrawal is characterised by:

  • shivers,
  • diarrhoea,
  • difficulty sleeping (insomnia),
  • sweating, body aches (myalgia),
  • widespread or increased pain,
  • irritability and agitation,
  • nausea and vomiting.

Other signs and symptoms include:

Withdrawal symptoms usually begin shortly after you miss your next usual dose of codeine but can vary from person to person. Physical symptoms, such as muscle aches and tremors, typically get worse over a few days, then quickly improve but psychological symptoms, such as cravings, may last several weeks.

You may feel so overwhelmed by the withdrawal that you decide to treat your symptoms with a small dose of codeine, but taking any codeine resets the withdrawal period, causing symptoms to last longer or become more severe.

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How Long Does Codeine Stay in Your System?

Codeine can be detected in your urine for between 2 and 7 days depending on your usage.

How to Undergo a Codeine Detox?

There are different ways to undergo a detox, and seeking a medical professionals advice and guidance during your detox will keep you safe and assist in easing withdrawal symptoms:

The Pros and Cons of Detoxing from Codeine at Home

Pros:

  • Cheaper than private facilities
  • Less time off work
  • Recovery in a familiar environment
  • Loved ones can provide care for you
  • You are not restricted by rules, such as TV allowance time, smoke breaks, etc
  • Privacy

Cons:

  • Contact with trigger situations
  • Having to continue with your day to day responsibilities whilst also experiencing withdrawals
  • Medical needs arent assessed and monitored 24/7
  • You won’t have the same access to support as those offered by residential detox & rehab programmes
  • Risk of dehydration

Medically Assisted Codeine Detox

A residential detox programme is a private service where you would remain in residence for the duration of your treatment away from stress, your day-to-day responsibilities, and without access to Codeine.
Delivered in a supportive and holistic environment, residential detox aims to make your detox and withdrawal phase more comfortable and where necessary offer medicines to ease your symptoms.

The Benefits of a Medically Assisted Codeine Detox:

  • No waiting periods for receiving treatment within a private facility
  • Alleviating physical suffering.
  • Ensuring your body’s safe transition to a toxin-free state
  • Reducing mental and physical withdrawal symptoms.
  • Providing extra nutrients and vitamins to supplement your body
  • 24/7 assistance through the detox process as well as supportive care during and after your stay to help you maintain your sobriety.

Although some treatment centres can provide a supervised detox, a medically assisted detox can be included as part of a residential rehab programme where a holistic treatment plan is developed with beneficial health-oriented activities incorporated, such as, balanced diets, exercise including yoga, medication, and individualised healthcare that aims to restore your physical, mental, and spiritual connection as well as:

  • Teaching you coping strategies to minimise and manage your cravings
  • Keeping you motivated
  • Getting your loved ones involved in family therapy sessions that strengthen the whole family as a tool against relapse
  • Introducing you to the 12 steps programme and a community support group

How can I manage withdrawal symptoms?

therapy session supporting each other

Codeine withdrawl symptoms are generally mild to moderately uncomfortable and can be assisted with supportive medications that can be prescribed by your GP or in the detox treatment centre you choose.

Your GP may recommend that your dose be tapered to minimise the risk of withdrawal reactions, if you are a chronic codeine user you may need a medication taper with buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist. (Buprenorphine tapering schedule and illicit opioid use)

This approach can take weeks or months, depending on your response and the dose taken. You can help ease your withdrawal by doing a few simple things yourself:

Take Time Off Work

As you detox and during the initial period of recovery, you will feel moody, irritable, and not yourself. Having time away from work will help you focus on your recovery.

Remove any leftover Codeine

As you detox and during the initial period of recovery, you will feel moody, irritable, and not yourself. Having time away from work will help you focus on your recovery.

Stay Away from Weekend Benders

This includes staying away from ‘friends’ that supported and influenced your usage.

Keep Busy

Find hobbies and healthy outlets to fill your time and get healthy levels of dopamine flowing.

Eat Healthy & Exercise

A lot of time eating and living a healthier lifestyle takes a back seat to addiction, start feeding your body with foods that help it heal.

Talk to Friends & Family

Open communication with your family and loved ones will reassure them that you are taking your recovery seriously, also ask loved ones, that if they take Codeine themselves, to keep the temptation to a minimum.

Remind Yourself Daily the Reasons You’re Quitting

Open communication with your family and loved ones will reassure them that you are taking your recovery seriously, also ask loved ones, that if they take Codeine themselves, to keep the temptation to a minimum.

Sleep

Open communication with your family and loved ones will reassure them that you are taking your recovery seriously, also ask loved ones, that if they take Codeine themselves, to keep the temptation to a minimum.

Treating the causes of codeine dependence

Whether influenced by family, friends, or your concern about your codeine usage, seeking addiction treatment is about more than just the substance that is being abused (in this case codeine) and ridding your body of the toxic buildup, there are other factors in play, like environment, genetics and mental health issues that need to be addressed.

Relapse prevention is best achieved when a person is treated as a whole; with facilities and services available in most local areas, there are options available that can assist in giving you the best chance in recovery possible.

The Benefits of a Residential Rehab Programme

group therapy session

During residential treatment, you will have access to a therapist daily or weekly. The therapist will help you look at the nature of your addiction and assess whether pre-existing mental health conditions (Dual Diagnosis), hereditary factors, or trauma are contributing to your dependence.

You will also have the opportunity to receive. Choosing a residential treatment centre is a safe place to start your recovery, starting with a medically assisted and supervised detox, you will have 24/7 care and assistance to help ease the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms you may experience. If you wish to carry on your rehabilitation treatment, you will have a seamless integration into your rehabilitation programme that has been developed holistically around you as a whole, to help change the habits you have formed into new more beneficial, and healthier ones for once you have left rehab.

Support Groups

The underlying psychological causes for your addiction – childhood trauma, dual diagnosis (anxiety), etc – can be treated with ongoing therapy, and there is a benefit to sharing your journey within a group setting – NA or other mutual aid (support group) organisations.
The UK Public Health has issued guidelines detailing the benefits of support groups: MA briefing 12Dec13 (4)MJ)

SMART Recovery UK, is a free, nonprofit, Self Management and Recovery Training programme available to help assist in the recovery process of addiction.
The SMART Recovery approach to recovery is summarised in the Four-Point program.
SMART Recovery teaches how to:

1) Enhance and maintain motivation to abstain
2) Cope with urges
3) Manage thoughts, feelings, and behaviours
4) Balance momentary and enduring satisfactions
(FAQs – SMART Recovery)