Codeine Addiction Treatment

The complete guide to finding help for codeine here.

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Reviewed by: Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

ARTICLE SUMMARY: Addiction is a complex, but treatable condition. This article reviews the best practices in medication assisted treatment and talk therapy for addiction. Learn about the evidence-based practices that can help you recover.


Addictive Potential

To begin, let’s take a look at codeine’s addictive potential. How addictive is it?

An opium-derived synthetic substance, codeine is a narcotic used to treat moderate to severe pain, and reduce cough. Depending on the dose, it can be scheduled as II, III, or V controlled substance according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Codeine is a habit-forming substance that can lead you to becoming addicted or dependent on it. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, codeine taken in tablet, capsule, or liquid form can alter a person’s thinking and judgment, leading to health risks, including addiction, drugged driving and infectious disease. Keep in mind that chemistry properties are not sole reasons to developing an addiction. There are many social and cultural factors that can influence the development of addiction.

Some of them include:

  • Availability of the drug.
  • State laws on prescribing the drug.
  • Doctors’ attitudes on prescribing the drug.
  • Illegal sales.
  • The ease of codeine synthesis in the lab.

But in the end, codeine is relatively very addictive. It produces an expected euphoric effect that keeps users coming back for more. So, in terms of potential…using codeine puts you at a fairly good risk of becoming addicted. This risk is increase if you:

Use codeine more often than prescribed.
Use codeine in higher doses than prescribed.
Use codeine in ways other than prescribed (crush, snort, or inject).

Who Becomes Addicted

People who become addicted to codeine are not social outcasts. They are people like you and me. Regular people who respond to the powerful effects of the opiate drug.


Stuck in a codeine habit?

You’re not alone. We’re here to help you understand what got you hooked, and how you can get help.

Do any of the following sound familiar?

  • High stress levels.
  • A parent with a history of addiction.
  • Severe trauma or injury.
  • Exposure to substance abuse at a young age.
  • Mental health conditions (especially anxiety and depression).
  • Psychological trauma (including loss of a loved one or chronic loneliness).

Combined with genetic pre-disposition and biological factors…these can all be causes of addiction.

Facts & Statistics

So, who exactly is battling an addiction to codeine at the moment?

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) there are 20.5 million Americans that had a substance abuse disorder in 2015, of which 2 million had a substance abuse disorder involving prescription pain reliever like codeine.

The 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that about 2.7 million individuals aged 12 or older misuse codeine products in the past year. The numbers are going up, and up…

Don’t become a statistic.

ASK for help!

Signs of a Problem

Addiction develops when a person becomes physically, psychologically and emotionally dependent to codeine. You may be addicted to codeine if one or more of the following statements apply to you:

  • I crave codeine.
  • I need codeine to function.
  • I take it every day.
  • I experience financial problems due to obtaining and using codeine.
  • I feel withdrawal symptoms when I am unable to use or run out.
  • I have strained personal relationships or marital problems because of codeine use.
  • I miss work, school, family, or other obligations because my body doesn’t function properly without the drug.
  • I take more codeine than prescribed by my doctor.

If the any of the above statements ring true, you may benefit from professional help.

In order for doctors to diagnose any addiction, you must meet criteria laid out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V) . The criteria for significant problems must include three of the following key symptoms:

  1. Increasing neglect of important areas of life for the drug.
  2. Continued use despite obvious harms or attempts to stop (compulsion).
  3. Use of codeine in larger amounts and for longer times than meant.
  4. Wanting to cut down or stop but being unable to.
  5. Spending more time obtaining, using, and recovering from the effects of codeine use.
  6. Craving codeine.
  7. Neglecting work, home, school responsibilities due to codeine use.
  8. Continuing use when it’s causing you problems or puts you in danger.
  9. Requiring more codeine to feel the desired effects (tolerance).
  10. Occurrence of withdrawal symptoms when drug level drops (dependence).

Do you recognize several of these symptoms in yourself or a loved one? These diagnostic signs, along with the experience and observation of a medical professional, can help determine the condition and potential treatment.

Remember, help is available!

Codeine drug problems are medical in nature. As such, addiction is treated medically. Get rid of the shame. Doctors and specialists can help you live a life free from codeine.


What happens if you don’t get help on time?
You may end up in the ER, or overdose, or die…

This is not a scare tactic. Fatal death caused by codeine use is a reality. From the time OD’s were tracked in the early 2000’s…the numbers are increasing. The 2011 DAWN Report on National Estimates of Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits stated that there were nearly 1,000 visits involving nonmedical use of codeine products in that year.

Moreover, 2016 CDC National Vital Statistics Report reported that there are 47,055 opoid overdose deaths in 2014. Also, it is estimated that, 40% of all U.S. opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid.

Don’t wait until you become a statistic, seek help for your codeine habit.

How Do I Get Better?

You can recover from codeine addiction with the help of medications and talk therapy. Most often, addiction treatment occurs in a residential rehab setting. Deciding on a treatment program can involve thorough research. You can ask your doctor for a referral or you can call a helpline like the one listed on this page.

When searching for a treatment program for yourself or a loved one, it is important that treatment programs address the physical, emotional, and social effects of drug use on the patient and their families.

Here are some helpful questions to consider when deciding on a rehab center:

  • Is inpatient or outpatient best for my situation?
  • Does the center specialize in codeine or opiate addiction treatment?
  • Does the program offer dual diagnosis treatment (if applicable)?
  • Will insurance cover treatment?
  • What methods of funding can I use for treatment?
  • How long will the program last? 30-60-90+ days?
  • Will the program accommodate any special needs?
  • What quality of aftercare is available upon completion of a program?

Call a drug helpline directly for effective results and information. If you need help beating your addiction to codeine, knowledgeable support staff can provide you with more information about your recovery options. Hotlines are usually staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Simply call for information about treatment facilities that can be a fit for your personal needs.

Treatment Options

You have two main options for treating codeine addiction:

TREATMENT OPTION #1: Inpatient rehab.

Inpatient rehab facilities offer the most structured treatment environment for those overcoming codeine addiction. Generally, these rehabs require individuals to leave home and reside within the facility for the duration of the program. Studies suggest that a minimum of 30-60 days (for more severe cases of codeine addiction even 90 days or more) in treatment is essential for successful outcomes and long-term sobriety.

During inpatient treatment, specialists provide around-the-clock care and will prepare you for life after rehab. A typical day at an inpatient facility could include:

  • Individual therapy sessions.
  • Group therapy sessions.
  • Educational lectures about addiction and recovery.
  • Regular exercise and social activities.
  • Regular mealtimes.
  • Regular sleeping times.

TREATMENT OPTION #2: Outpatient clinics.

Outpatient treatment programs offer similar forms of therapy as inpatient programs that can range in levels of intensity. This is because you do not live at the rehab facility for the length of your treatment program. Instead, you will visit your drug abuse counselor on a set schedule (usually a few times per week) to ensure that you’re following the program, while continuing to live at home, go to work or school, etc. This option requires a lot of discipline and dedication, which is why it’s not recommended for people with a more serious level of codeine addiction.

Executive & Luxury Rehab

Sometimes, standard care is not enough. Executive addiction programs specialize in addressing the challenges of entering rehab, getting you the needed treatment, while at the same time maintaining your business reputation. Your career responsibilities don’t end when you need help. These types of rehabs know this.
So, if you are looking for a highly confidential and private treatment experience, dial our toll-free helpline listed on this page at your earliest convenience. Executive and luxury rehab facilities are ideal because they allow the executives to resume their work duties and interact with clients, while working on their codeine addiction treatment. You can expect good programs for executives to provide:

  • Access to computers/wifi
  • Comfortable furnishing
  • Confidentiality and discretion
  • Exercise and recreational areas
  • Healthy meals
  • Privacy and seclusion
  • Private conference rooms
  • Private rooms
  • Travel support

What Happens In Rehab

If you’re ready for help…what does it look like?

The process of addiction treatment usually involves:

  1. Safe withdrawal.
  2. Medical detox.
  3. Long term therapies.

Due to the symptoms of withdrawal and the psychological grip codeine has on its users, a professional treatment center usually offers the best chances of a successful recovery. Here is what you can expect to happen during a codeine rehab program:

1. Safe withdrawal. When you lower doses of codeine or stop suddenly or abruptly, you will go through opiate withdrawal. One of the reasons that inpatient treatment centers come so highly recommended is because of the difficult withdrawal symptoms and the risk of relapse. It’s best not to try detoxing alone or at home without the help of a physician.

2. Medical detox. The next step in any addiction help program is detox. When you go through detoxification, you are flushing the drug out of your system. Additionally, doctors can recommend substitution therapies like buprenorphine or methadone which can be taken over the course of months or years. This medicines begin during detox but can help stabilize you so that you can work more fully on the mental and emotional issues that drive drug use.

3. A long-term treatment plan. Treatment of at least 3 months is the best option for most codeine addicted individuals. In fact, most people benefit from a 60-90 stay in a rehab center. During those months, you will have time to go through the withdrawal process, but also focus on the underlying root causes of what led to the addiction in the first place.

Group and individual therapy will form the basis of your treatment, as will psycho-educational classes and regular fun activities. The idea is to get you into healthy habits of sleeping, eating, and routine…away from the temptations of your regular patterns. Rehab is a “time out” for adults – a time when you can become introspective and prioritize your mental health!

Don’t wait too long to make the call for help… When you’re ready to start a new life without the burden of codeine, connect with someone who will listen and help support you in your recovery.


Q: Which medications can help you as you try to quit codeine for good?
A: It depends on the severity of your withdrawal symptoms!

Codeine withdrawal does not have to be hell! There are medicines that are prescribed to help ease the intensity or severity of symptoms. These medications are administered during medical detox and given during your stay in a residential rehab. Make detox easier on yourself! Consider the following…

For mild pain, you can use non steroid pain medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen.

For diarrhea, Imodium can be found over-the-counter.

To reduce anxiety, your doctor may prescribe Clonidine; it is also prescribed to help ease: muscle aches, sweating, runny nose, cramps, and agitation.

For muscle cramps or sleep, a long-acting benzodiazepine such as Valium may be prescribed to help treat muscle cramps and help you sleep.

For codeine dependence, Rx therapies can help. These “pharmacological” therapies refer to medications administered to treat codeine dependence by physiological means. They are usually prescribed by a primary care physician or other health professional and may be used alone or in combination with counseling. These include:

  1. Buprenorphine produces weak opiate-like effects, and over time, it can reduce your risk of abuse, dependence, and side effects from codeine.
  2. Methadone helps prevent withdrawal symptoms and cravings. This medication allows your body to return to normal and makes withdrawal easier.
  3. Naltrexone can block codeine (and other opiates) from acting on the brain. This action takes away the pleasurable effects of the drug, which helps prevent relapse.

NOTE: The doses of these medications are reduced (or ‘tapered’) over time, thus ‘weaning’ the patient off drug dependence and allowing them to work on abstinence and recovery from addiction.

Tapering Guidelines

The safest way to quit any opioid medication is by slowly reducing the daily odes over a period of time. Before stopping the medication, you need to consult with your doctor to help you plan an individualized tapering schedule. The tapering protocol need to be done by doctor’s instructions. The approved FDA label for codeine claims that the dose should be taper gradually, by 25% to 50% every 2 to 4 days. If the patient shows any withdrawal symptoms, then the taper should be done more slowly.

Cold turkey withdrawal from codeine is not recommended.

Custom is Best

In order to get your long-term recovery, you need to find the best treatment for you. So, what’s the best rehab?

Any treatment is good, but individualized rehab program created just for you are ideal for everlasting sobriety. An excellent rehab program will first evaluate your past drug use and you current health condition, and then suggest a program based on your individual situation. The right services are tailor-made on several factors such as:

  • past drug use
  • the severity of patient’s addiction
  • family history
  • co-occurring mentah health issues.

NOTE: The specialized support that you will get during your rehab stay can make the deference in whether you will walk the recovery road, or not.


People who are considering rehab for codeine addiction often want to know how much a treatment program will cost. The cost of treatment can be a factor when selecting a certain approach. You can expect the price of treatment to vary according to:

1. The type of facility. Inpatient treatment programs tend to cost more than outpatient treatment because they provide therapy, meals, lodging, and accompanying activities. Standard inpatient addiction treatment facilities cost between $2,000 and $25,000 for a 30-day program. Outpatient treatment programs, on the other hand, can range from state sponsored (FREE) up to $10,000 per treatment episode.

2. Where the facility is located. Near home or not, or in the mountains or on a beach…you can expect the location to influence travel costs, thus the price of the overall treatment episode.

3. The size of the program. Large programs with more participants will cost you less, while smaller, more intimate rehab programs can be more expensive. Having a few recovering addicts can mean the staff can focus on each individual more.

4. The treatments provided. When the treatment program includes detox, medication-assisted treatment, various therapy options, and comprehensive aftercare, you can expect to pay more. Detox only costs about $300 to $800 a day. Some or all of the cost may be covered by health insurance or paid in part or in full (subsidized) by government programs.

5. How long the program lasts. Addiction treatment program length can vary from 30 to 90 days (and sometimes more) depending on a person’s needs. The longer you stay in treatment, the more it costs.

6. The other amenities offered. Services such as a swimming pool, an on-site gym, massage therapy, nutrition counseling, and more can significantly help your recovery process, but are also included in the price.

How to Help a Loved One

Having an addict in your close circle of family or friends is a hard situation to face up with. BUT, you are there to help your loved one… How?
The first thing you may do is to help them find the best rehab program for them. If you feel lost, and you don’t know what to do, just follow these steps:

#1: Educate yourself. Learn as much as you can about codeine, its effects, and consequences it may cause over your loved one.

#2: Don’t criticize, judge, or label. Don’t waste your time in pointless arguments, and don’t look someone to blame… instead gather your energy in showing support, and understanding. Take a look into the CRAFT Model for family intervention that will help you learn how and when to encourage rehab in a successful way.

#3. Participate. Take part in all family programs that are offered at your loved one inpatient facility. Be a source of support!

#4 Stage an intervention. If you are unable to talk with your addicted loved one, ask help from a licensed interventionist. People with substance abuse disorder may need a professional to tell them that they really have a problem. An intervention is a gathering where family and friends confront the addict about the negative impact of their behavior, and offers him/her options for rehab help.

Aftercare Treatment

During the weeks, months and even years after completing codeine rehab, individuals in recovery are still at risk for relapse. Because every recovery process is as different as the person recovering, rehab centers should carefully plan for ongoing care once the initial treatment duration has ended.

Aftercare programs keep you moving forward on the road to a completely drug-free life. The aftercare may be short-term or available as long as you are in need of support and help. Services may include:

  • Individual counseling
  • Group meetings
  • Ongoing addiction education
  • Social activities
  • Occasional recreational outings

In addition, some codeine aftercare programs include alumni who share success stories and even sponsor alumni group meetings or special events. This way, you can hear real stories of people who walked in your shoes before you…and some day, you can even join the alumni program help others just like you were helped during your recovery.

Your Questions Are Welcomed!

There are numerous reasons and circumstances that may lead a person to codeine addiction. Codeine can physically alter areas of the brain that are associated with reward, memory and motivation. It can change the WAY your brain works. Any opiate – especially codeine – works to make you feel incredibly good. It can get you high! When you combine physical dependence and increased tolerance over time…it’s the perfect storm for repeated use…without a way out!

So… take hope!

Once you understand and address the physical and environmental factors…you can get better. You can live the life you are meant to live!

Do you have any more questions about addiction help for codeine? Maybe you are in search of the right codeine addiction treatment program for you or a loved one?

We can help!

Simply post your questions in the comments section below and we’ll try to respond personally and promptly to all legitimate inquiries. Start your journey towards a drug-free life!

Reference Sources: NCBI: Effective Treatments for Opioid Addiction
NIH: Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction
NIH: Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide
SAMHSA: Treatments for Substance Use Disorders
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
Medical Reviewers
Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS serves as the Chief Medical Officer of the Texas Healt...

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a licensed medical professional.

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