Codeine is a prescription opioid analgesic used to treat mild to moderately severe pain and reduce coughing. Typically, patients have prescribed codeine with other medicines such as acetaminophen or over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines.
Additionally, the risk of addiction is always present with this class of pain medication. And if misused, the side effects of codeine abuse can cause this and other symptoms to become more pronounced and severe. Being aware is the best prevention.
Respiratory depression is one of the main side effects of codeine use, as with other opioid drugs. When one experiences respiratory depression, they may have a shortness of breath, difficulty filling their lungs, or even feel like a weight is pressing down on them. This effect occurs even when taken responsibly, as prescribed.
Although this side effect is expected, codeine may significantly cause severe or life-threatening respiratory problems if the dosage increases. If this is the case or you have asthma or ever experienced slowed breathing, you must notify your doctor before considering codeine.
Decreased or irregular appetite
It is very common for Codeine to have the side effect of decreasing the user’s appetite. Considering that codeine will depress many of the body’s functions, those functions need less fuel to maintain. As a result, your appetite will decrease or become irregular.
Codeine can cause an imbalance in the serotonin levels present in the brain. This imbalance is due to the conversion of codeine into morphine in the body, which is then the agent that triggers the release of neurotransmitters that affect the brain’s reward center and decrease pain. Since these are the same chemicals that control mood, they can be affected more acutely for some than others.
Tolerance can occur quickly
Tolerance occurs when a higher dose is needed to achieve the same therapeutic effect. Due to the way codeine affects the brain’s reward center, the more taken, the more the user will need. To achieve the desired results, take the lowest dosage possible.
Also, taking an opioid, like codeine, in the lowest dose possible will help reduce the chance of drug addiction and abuse. This follows the idea that the less you take, the less your body will become dependent on the drug, and the easier it will be to stop before there are problems with drug abuse or addiction.
Addiction can occur even when taken as prescribed
This is the side effect often overlooked for codeine and other opioid drugs. Even if you take it as the doctor prescribed, there is a chance that addiction can occur. Each person’s reaction to the drug is heavily dependent on body chemistry, so no two people will have the same reactions to it. The risk of addiction is different for everyone.
Words in parting
The main thing to remember with codeine is that you must be careful and aware of what is going into your body. Just understanding this can help you avoid potential problems with the drug.