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Treatment Options for Codeine Addiction

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Treatment for codeine addiction usually involves the use of both medications and therapy. With medication-assisted treatment (MAT), medications like buprenorphine are used to manage opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings for codeine, and therapy aims to build skills that help to resist future drug use.

Codeine is an opioid that works by directly targeting opioid receptors within the central nervous system. It can reduce the perception of pain by altering the transmission of nerve signals between the body and brain. The result is a euphoric effect that can lead to abuse of the drug, resulting in tolerance, dependence, and addiction. 

While opioid use disorder (OUD) is persistent and intense, it can be effectively treated with comprehensive care.

What Treatment Options Are Available for Codeine Addiction?

The right treatment option for you will vary based on a range of factors, such as the severity of your addiction, whether or not you have overdosed on codeine or other drugs, your preferences for treatment, your insurance coverage, and the types of services available in your area. 

Here are some of your treatment options for codeine addiction:

Medication-Assisted Treatment

MAT is considered the front-line treatment option for OUD. Opioid withdrawal can be intense, and it is accompanied by strong cravings for opioids that persist for months or even years. Through MAT, these cravings can be controlled, so you can focus on the work you’re doing in therapy. 

Buprenorphine is often used in MAT, generally in the form of Suboxone, which is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. If the user attempts to misuse the medication, such as by crushing and injecting, the naloxone component will be activated, rendering buprenorphine ineffective. 

With MAT, withdrawal is largely avoided. Because of this, relapse is less likely during the early phases of recovery. 

While medications are key to MAT and support long-term recovery, therapy is crucial to addressing the root issues that led to codeine abuse in the first place.  

Medical Detox

While MAT is commonly used to avoid opioid withdrawal, in some cases, treatment for codeine addiction may begin with medical detox. This is often what people think of when they hear the term detox

A full cessation of opioid use will result in uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, sweating, headache, muscle aches, and insomnia. If MAT is not employed, it’s wise to undergo opioid detox in a professional setting. Medical professionals can treat withdrawal symptoms as they arise, and you’ll have support around the clock.

Medical detox is much less likely to result in relapse since you have professional care. If you attempt a cold-turkey detox on your own at home, relapse is likely.

Inpatient Rehab

If you have a long-standing or severe codeine addiction, inpatient rehab is often a good choice. With inpatient rehab, you’ll live at the treatment facility for the duration of care, often 30 to 90 days. You’ll participate in therapy and other treatments throughout the day, addressing underlying issues that prompted substance abuse. 

In this environment, you won’t have access to codeine or other opioids, so the risk for relapse is low. Since you are wholly focused on your recovery, you’re able to build a strong foundation in this protected environment. 

Outpatient Rehab

After inpatient rehab, most people transition to outpatient care. And many people simply begin with outpatient rehab. You’ll continue to live at home, or in another sober environment, while you receive treatment. 

The intensity of treatment will depend on the specifics of your addiction. Outpatient rehab may involve almost daily sessions at the treatment facility, or it may involve a couple sessions per week. Oftentimes, people begin in a higher level of treatment, and the intensity of the care lessens as they progress in recovery. 

Therapy in Codeine Addiction Treatment

In therapy, you’ll identify triggers that lead you to abuse codeine. And you’ll build skills that help you to better manage these triggers, so you don’t return to abusing codeine in the future. 

  • Individual therapy: A good amount of the work you’ll do in many addiction treatment programs will be done in individual therapy. In this one-on-one environment, you can dig deep into specific issues that contribute to your codeine abuse.
  • Group therapy: Group therapy is part of most opioid addiction treatment programs. Generally, there is one therapist and a few clients in each session. The therapist will guide the conversation, and participants can learn from the expression and experiences of others. 

Therapeutic Approaches Used in Treatment

Your treatment team will determine the best approaches to use in therapy. Oftentimes, multiple approaches may be used, and the overall approach may change throughout the course of treatment, depending on your response to it.

Two of the most therapeutic options for addiction are cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of talk therapy and behavioral modification grounded in the principles of cognitive and behavioral psychology. This approach involves identifying thought patterns that contribute to substance abuse and examining the underlying beliefs that drive them. In sessions, you’ll also challenge negative thoughts and learn to cope with triggers that may cause you to relapse back to codeine or other substances. 

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy addresses motivational ambivalence that may prevent you from seeking recovery and rehabilitation. This form of psychotherapy is highly effective for individuals who are not motivated to discontinue substance abuse, such as those who have been required to enter a recovery program by law. 

Life in Recovery

Life in recovery may feel daunting, but by the time you exit formal treatment, it will feel manageable, thanks to the work you’ve done in therapy. At this point, you’ll begin to feel a sense of empowerment and control over your life that you never thought possible. 

One of the key steps to maintaining a life in recovery is to continue to engage in either individual or group therapy as well as other forms of aftercare. In these settings, you can continue to work on how to cope with stressors and triggers. 

Building a healthy, balanced, and fulfilling life will sustain you in recovery. This is a good time to identify personal goals you can work toward. Whether they are goals related to your career, relationships, or other areas of life, defining them and establishing a plan to work toward them can help you to remain focused and productive in your new life.

Support Groups for People Recovering From Codeine Addiction

There are numerous support groups and options for people recovering from codeine addiction. Many groups are simply open to anyone struggling with addiction to any substance, though some are designed for people with specific types of addictions.  

Many of these groups are in the 12-step model popularized by Alcoholics Anonymous. Principles involve a personal transformation based on the acceptance of a higher power, taking a complete moral inventory, and making amends for past mistakes and harms caused toward others. For codeine abuse, Narcotics Anonymous and Pills Anonymous may be good choices. For people who aren’t interested in the belief in a higher power that is linked to the 12-step model, there are many secular options available, such as LifeRing Secular Recovery and SMART Recovery.

Updated August 23, 2023
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