People who abuse codeine typically show symptoms related to this form of drug dependence. They may appear lethargic and respond slowly when addressed. Codeine acts on the body by decreasing the heart rate and respiration, making the addict appear sluggish and listless. By learning to recognize these and other signs of codeine abuse, help can be sought to aid the addict in recovery.

One sign of codeine abuse might appear as pinpoint pupils. The drug shrinks the size of the pupils, making it difficult to see clearly in dim or dark areas. This could affect a person’s ability to drive at night, leading to accidents. Vision might also become blurry when codeine is being abused. Some addicts become agitated or disoriented when it comes to time or place. These are all telltale signs that a patient is using more than 60 mg of prescribed medication for recreational purposes. Recommended doses of the drug to control pain or anxiety typically range between 10-60 mg per dose.

Codeine addicts often turn to cough syrup to get high or buy codeine tablets illegally to feed the addiction. They might obtain prescriptions from several doctors to avoid uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Some addicts use the drug with alcohol to increase its effects. This combination could cause coma and death because both cocaine and alcohol depress breathing.

One way to recognize codeine addiction can be accomplished by noting side effects, such as vomiting and nausea. Constipation is also common, along with diminished sex drive. In some addicts, kidneys might suffer because they tend to retain urine. Some health risks also exist from ingredients added to codeine medication, such as aspirin or acetaminophen. Excessive amounts of acetaminophen can harm the liver and kidneys. Too much aspirin has been linked to intestinal bleeding.  

Codeine falls under the category of opiate drugs, which the body converts to morphine. It belongs to the same class of drugs as heroin and can lead to addiction within a few weeks. Some people begin taking combinations of codeine mixed with other drugs to control pain. It is one of the most common medications prescribed for people who suffer from migraine headaches or chronic back pain. Some prescription cough medicine also contains codeine. Codeine might be combined with aspirin, caffeine, or barbiturates to treat patients who suffer extreme anxiety attacks.

Treating codeine abuse includes addressing both the physical and mental dependence. Addicts commonly suffer from anxiety and lose their appetites during the withdrawal process. They may also experience weakness, body aches, and involuntary muscle spasms. Physical discomfort usually begins easing after a couple weeks, but some symptoms could continue for several months. Addiction treatment usually includes mental health counseling to address the root causes of drug abuse and the psychological effects of codeine.