Codeine is one of the trickiest opiates to withdraw from, because addicts aren’t always taken very seriously and there are very few systems in place to help them. Methadone and other opiate substitutions are simply not credible with codeine addiction, and because the symptoms are not as severe and not as prolonged as other opiates, it is often overlooked. However, codeine is much easier to acquire, and relapses are therefore much more common.
Codeine Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawal often sets in within 48 hours of the last dose. Unlike alcohol or benzodiazepine withdrawal, the withdrawals from codeine (and other opiates) is not a direct threat to your health, but it is certainly not a pleasant or comfortable experience. On the plus side, with the right help, the right guidance and the right support, it can be a short-lived and relatively painless experience.
The main symptoms associated with acute codeine withdrawal include:
- Runny Nose (and other “Flu-Like” symptoms)
- Aching Muscles
- Stomach cramps
- Excessive Yawning
- Hot/Cold Flushes
How Long Does Codeine Withdrawal Last?
Codeine withdrawal tends to reach its peak between 48 and 96 hours after the last dose, and the acute withdrawal can last for up to 2 weeks after that, with the worst symptoms subsiding after a week. There is also something known as Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome, which is present in most opiate withdrawals, but this tends to be more prevalent with morphine, heroin and other potent opiates, and is rarely a big issue in codeine withdrawal.
Can Other Opiates Help with Codeine Withdrawal?
You have probably heard of heroin addicts using methadone to help with withdrawal. Methadone is an opiate and effectively offers a prolonged high that is not as potent as heroin. It is more controlled, which allows the addict to taper-off. However, this is a very slow method, and it isn’t always effective. What’s more, it would have the opposite effect on codeine addicts. Codeine is one of the weakest opiates out there, so substituting it for methadone (or anything else) would be like asking an alcoholic to substitute beer for whisky.
The best way to withdraw from codeine is with some simple mind and body techniques, as well as a solid diet and some helpful support. You may also benefit from the use of certain vitamins and minerals, as well as drugs like Kratom. Just remember that this activates opiate receptors and it is easy to get addicted to this as well.
Helping Codeine Withdrawals
There are a few things that you can do and take in order to help lessen the symptoms of codeine withdrawals and help you through the process. We have discussed treatments in more detail on our Codeine Treatment page, but here is a quick rundown focusing on codeine withdrawals in particular.
- Taper: As mentioned above, a taper is always the best. You may be prolonging the withdrawals, but they will be much less severe. We have more details on the best kind of taper on the aforementioned treatment page.
- Balanced Diet: You may not feel like eating, but a healthy diet is a great cure for withdrawals. Most importantly, you need to avoid high doses of caffeine, sugar and processed foods. They may make you feel better in the short term, but you’ll feel much worse when the short-term fix wears off.
- Baths: Codeine withdrawals can make it feel like your skin is crawling. This is often at its worst after a shower when you’re getting changed into new clothes. So instead, take a long and soothing bath and then simply climb into a cozy gown. After your skin has returned to its normal temperature then you can wear your clothes without feeling like you’re wearing nettles.
- Supplements: There are a few things that you can take to help you relax and wind down. A cup of camomile tea with a little ginger will settle the stomach and the mind; lavender on your pillow will soothe you; melatonin will help you sleep. Valerian root tablets can also help to relax you. Don’t resort to alcohol or addictive drugs though. If you are a long-term user who is comfortable with the drug, you might also benefit from a little marijuana on an evening.
Spotting Codeine Withdrawal in Others
As we said above, it is important that the addict seeks help when they are going through codeine withdrawal, and indeed any form of withdrawal. A loved one may hide their addiction and they may also hide the fact that they are going through withdrawal. So, if you’re here because you’re worried this is happening and want confirmation, then here are signs of codeine withdrawal to look for in others:
On and Off Codeine Withdrawal Symptoms
Someone who can not get a steady access to their fix will likely suffer from withdrawals. It is common for many addicts to experience the onset of withdrawals on a regular basis, contrary to popular belief that suggests an addict is constantly high. They do this because their supply runs out and this is when they are often at their most reckless and dangerous. Someone in this position will likely be easier to spot.
They may start making strange demands of loved ones that they were hiding their issues from previously. It is not unheard of, for instance, for them to try and trick their loved ones into giving up their own supply, or asking them to request such a supply from a doctor. This desperation may also lead to serious crimes and desperate measures.
So, just because you recognize withdrawals in someone it doesn’t mean that they are ready to give up. From the perspective of someone going through these withdrawals it is important to try and stay calm and not to do anything you would regret. Follow the help on this page in order to soften those withdrawal symptoms. You may find that you wait 5 or 6 days and then decide not to use again and to give up there and then.
It is also important to note that these on-again-off-again withdrawals are not doing you any favors in the long-run. The addiction is still there and you will still suffer the same when you finally decide to knock it on the head. The only real difference is that your tolerance drops ever-so-slightly, but if you continue then it will increase in a matter of days.
Does Codeine Show up on a Drug Test?
Codeine will show up as an opiate/opioid on a drug test. However, this drug clears the body very quickly, certainly much more so than many of the other drugs we have covered on this website.
How Long Does Codeine Stay in your System?
The length of time that codeine remains detectable on a drug test depends on which drug test is being used. In this case, blood is one of the worst tests for codeine, while hair and urine are much better options.
In your blood codeine will only remain detectable for 1 or 2 days. If the person being tested is addicted to the drug then this will still be effective as there is a good chance they will have used it within hours and a guarantee it will have been used within 24 hours. However, if testing for recreational use and occasional use it is just not an effective drug test.
How Long Does Codeine Stay in your Urine?
As with blood, codeine will only remain detectable in urine for 24 to 48 hours. The exact time will depend on the dose and the length of time that the person was using the drug.
How Long Does Codeine Stay in your Hair?
This is the best test for codeine, at lat from he perspective of the tester. That’s because a hair test will detect codeine that has been used within the last 90 days. The actual time of detection may be shorter than this if the dose used was very small or if the amount of use was minimal.