Codeine is a short-acting narcotic prescribed by physicians most often used for the treatment of pain relief. Codeine can be highly addictive and provides the user with an overall sense of calm and feelings of pleasure. When codeine is used it enters the brain and causes the release of neurotransmitters that stimulate the reward center of the brain, leaving the user feeling intense feelings of wellbeing and pleasure. This kind of pleasure can lead to both psychological and physical dependence.
Some individuals use for legitimate medical purposes, but over time develop an addiction problem. After prolonged use an individual develops a tolerance for this substance and needs to take more and more of the drug in order to feel the effects. Someone who is addicted to codeine can begin to feel symptoms of withdrawal if they go even a short time without using the substance.
Other individuals become addicted to codeine and begin to use it to manage other problems in their lives, such as emotional pain or stresses due to the euphoric feelings it causes. Many who become addicted to codeine will use it with other substances – polysubstance abuse – such as benzodiazepines or alcohol to increase the calming sense of wellbeing these substances cause. This can lead to major health risks such as respiratory depression and coma if taken in high quantities. Other people may take codeine with stimulants like cocaine or methamphetamines in order to reduce the severity of unwanted side effects of the stimulants. This combination of uppers and downers can lead to cardiovascular failure and myocardial infarction.
As codeine is one of the less concentrated narcotics, individuals who develop an addiction to codeine may seek out more powerful prescriptions narcotics such as OxyContin so that they experience even greater feelings of euphoria. If prescription narcotics are not available, an individual may opt to use heroin (a morphine derivative and illegal narcotic) to achieve an even more powerful high.
Often individuals who have a substance abuse problem struggle with other mental health disorders. Some of these disorders may include:
- Anxiety disorders
- Bipolar disorders
- Depressive disorders
- Conduct disorders
- Antisocial personality disorders