Codeine: Treatment and rehabilitation

Last modified: Thursday, 25. December 2008 - 10:28 am

Serious addiction to codeine is not as common as it once was, possibly due to the availability of greater numbers of competing, more potent opioids. The perception by some that addiction to a “weak” opioid like codeine is not serious results in fewer individuals seeking treatment for their codeine addiction. However, in those cases where treatment is needed, codeine addiction should be approached in the same manner as addiction to other opioids, such as heroin or morphine.

Codeine overdose can be treated with the opioid antagonist, Narcan (naloxone). The goal of treating codeine addiction is for the addicted person to stop taking the drug completely and permanently. Most people who overcome codeine addiction do so by themselves, but some may need professional assistance. In either case, it is invaluable for someone to have help and support from friends and family. For chronic addiction (addiction lasting more than one year), codeine may be replaced by methadone, another opioid medication. Methadone is provided to the patient either through a physician or through a qualified drug treatment program. In a structured setting, the patient and health care professionals have a much better chance of controlling drug use with methadone, and eventually may achieve complete abstinence. The benefits of methadone over codeine are that it only needs to be taken once a day, it reduces or eliminates withdrawal symptoms and the craving for codeine, and it has fewer side effects.

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