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Codeine is an Opioid which functions as an ingredient in multiple medications. It helps alleviate mild to moderate pain and suppress coughing. Codeine is an ingredient in some versions of Floricet, a popular medication for treating migraines, as well as some versions of Robitussin and Tylenol, which are common medicines for managing the symptoms of the cold. Although Codeine has medical value, it still has potentially harmful effects if abused. Since Codeine is an Opioid, it interacts with neurotransmitters in the brain and nervous system to impair sensations of pain and cause drowsiness. Codeine, like other Opioids, also slows breathing.
It is important to understand that Codeine is structurally similar to Morphine. In fact, when someone uses Codeine, their liver metabolizes the drug as Morphine. People respond differently to Codeine partially because each person’s liver metabolizes Morphine differently. The involvement of the liver in breaking down Codeine once it enters the body’s systems is the reason why Codeine abuse sometimes inflicts liver damage. When someone’s liver metabolizes Codeine quickly, they are at greater risk of an overdose. In recent years, Codeine has contributed to the high rates of addiction and overdose which have characterized the Opioid epidemic.
What are the Effects of Using Codeine?
Codeine is not harmless, popular misconceptions notwithstanding. Since it is similar to Morphine and other Opioids, it is important to recognize that such a powerful drug presents risks for a person’s health. If people use Codeine-based medications properly, within the limits of their prescriptions, they will probably be safe. Nevertheless, Codeine-based medications have some mild possible side-effects, such as:
- Blurred vision
- Itches and rashes
- Lower blood pressure
- Stomach aches
These side-effects are not usually very serious. Furthermore, since people vary in how they react to Codeine, some people may not experience any side-effects at all.
Since it is an Opioid, Codeine is addictive. Addiction is a dangerous and long-lasting effect of using Codeine repeatedly. People who have an addiction to Codeine will have cravings for the drug which compel them to compulsively and persistently look for it and use it despite all negative consequences. Codeine addiction often begins when people develop tolerance to Codeine’s effects as a painkiller. The likelihood that someone will develop Codeine addiction depends on a variety of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Codeine causes feelings of relaxation and euphoria which some people describe as “being high.” People who uses Codeine too often or in excessively high doses to continue feeling these effects are may start having cravings to use Codeine regularly. This mentality is a major indication that Codeine abuse has developed into a substance use disorder.
The Symptoms of a Codeine Overdose
People who are suffering from Codeine addiction are especially at risk for an overdose because they are less likely to take safe doses of the drug. A Codeine overdose is potentially lethal because it disrupts or stops breathing. An overdose can cause brain damage or a seizure, in addition to suffocation. The symptoms of a Codeine overdose are:
- Confusion and lack of awareness
- Fatigue and weakness
- Loss of consciousness
- Muscle spasms
- Stomach pain
- Sudden changes in appearance (red skin, constricted pupils, or blue lips and fingernails)
- Weak pulse and irregular heartbeat
An overdose is a life-threatening emergency which requires medical attention. Narcan is a medication which can reverse the effects of an Opioid overdose if quickly administered. An overdose on Codeine is especially risky not only for users who are abusing the drug, but also for users who are above the age of 65 and who suffer from diseases which impact the liver and kidneys. People who use Codeine in combination with alcohol or other drugs are also increasing their risks for overdose.
The Long-Term Consequences of Codeine Abuse
Even if a person never suffers from an overdose, there are lasting effects of using Codeine repeatedly. People who suffer from a Codeine addiction and never seek treatment are most likely to experience these consequences. Long-term Codeine abuse may cause:
- Anxiety and depression
- Memory Loss
- Damage to the liver, kidneys and brain
- Severe insomnia
The Effects of Lean
Codeine is not only an ingredient in medication. The Opioid is also part of Lean, a party drug which is especially popular among teens and young adults. It’s sometimes called “Purple Drank” or “Sizzurp.” Lean is a drink which is made from soda, candy, and prescription cough syrups which contain Codeine. Lean causes dizziness, euphoria, and hallucinations. The effects of lean typically begin within one hour of consumption and last for about five hours.
Many people believe that drinking lean is not dangerous, especially since multiple celebrities have promoted it as a way to have fun. Nevertheless, lean causes numerous harmful effects. In fact, the opioid impact of consuming lean is similar to abusing Oxycodone or using Heroin. The potential negative consequences of drinking lean include:
- Confusion and dizziness
- Disturbing hallucinations
- Faster heart rate
- Higher blood pressure
- Impaired breathing
- Loss of consciousness and “blacking out”
The main ingredient in lean is Codeine, not candy or soda. People drink lean for its mind-altering effects, not for its sweet flavor. Drinking lean is essentially drinking Codeine, an addictive Opioid. For this reason, people can build tolerance to the effects of lean which might ultimately result in addiction.
How to Find Treatment for Codeine Addiction
Addiction to Codeine or lean is a serious problem. If you or someone you know is struggling with Codeine addiction, please contact a dedicated treatment provider today to learn more about treatment centers which can help you or your loved one overcome Codeine abuse and begin to live a better life. The effects of Codeine are potentially fatal and you shouldn’t wait for an overdose to start looking for help. If Codeine is disrupting your life, today could be the day to make a difference.
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