Codeine Withdrawal – Symptoms, Timeline & Treatment

Codeine is an opioid medication prescribed by doctors to treat sleeplessness, coughing, and pain. Like other opiates, codeine has a strong effect on the human body. It can lead to opiate addiction and be a gateway to other substance abuse. This is true even if you take codeine with other drugs, such as acetaminophen.

When you try to stop taking codeine, it can lead to unpleasant symptoms of codeine withdrawal. In this article, we will discuss codeine withdrawal symptoms, how long they last, and advice on how to cope with the codeine detox process when quitting your opioid addiction.

Codeine Withdrawal

Your tolerance for codeine and other prescription drugs can affect how you experience codeine withdrawal symptoms, such as:

  • Genetics
  • How much codeine you have been taking
  • How long you have been taking it

Those who have developed a dependence on the drug are more likely to experience codeine withdrawal. What’s more, their codeine withdrawal symptoms may be more intense than people who simply consumed codeine a few times.

Severe Symptoms of Withdrawal

Codeine withdrawal symptoms can either be physical or psychological. Every person’s codeine use is different. Therefore, some may experience mild initial symptoms that fade away, while others suffer from long-term withdrawal symptoms that are more severe depending on the amount of codeine being abused, age, genetics, and other variables.

Severe Symptoms of Withdrawal

Physical withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Dehydration
  • Abdominal pain
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Headaches
  • Fever
  • Dry mouth
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Rashes
  • Muscle aches
  • Sweating
  • Teary eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Fatigue

Psychological symptoms of codeine withdrawal may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Disorientation / confusion
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Hallucinations

The uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms above are enough for many people to seek medical supervision, such as a medically assisted detox program. However, they are typically not life-threatening.

But there is the potential for more intense symptoms. You should absolutely not ignore these severe withdrawal symptoms. If you experience severe withdrawal symptoms, you should immediately call 911 to be tended to by emergency medical professionals.

Severe physical codeine withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening. These intense withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Seizure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain

It is also possible to experience codeine withdrawal symptoms that are mental in nature. These severe psychological withdrawal symptoms also require attention by medical professionals:

  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
  • Thoughts of harming others
  • Delusion

How Long Do the Symptoms Last?

Codeine abusers tend to start experiencing withdrawal symptoms as soon as a few hours after their last dose. Physical codeine withdrawal symptoms tend to start as soon as the opioid receptors no longer have enough of the molecules found within the substance being used. The full codeine withdrawal timeline can vary per person, but the worst of the physical codeine withdrawal symptoms typically go away after a week. However, if the user has developed physical dependence, then their codeine withdrawal timeline could be longer.

In addition to physical symptoms, there are psychological symptoms that may last several months after someone quits their codeine addiction. These longer-lasting psychological symptoms of codeine withdrawal include depression and social anxiety. Still, it is recommended that the individual stop their drug abuse cold turkey. This is the quickest way to rid yourself of codeine dependence or drug cravings for other opiate drugs.

How to Manage Withdrawal Symptoms

In some cases, your doctor may prescribe medication or recommend over-the-counter pain medication to prevent the cravings for codeine and other opiates. While managing your symptoms, it is vital to surround yourself with a support system.

Our Profound treatment center can help you manage your opiate withdrawal symptoms. We specialize in analyzing your medical history and targeting the source of any mental illness or codeine abuse. Our qualified, friendly professionals are experts in codeine withdrawal symptoms. A mix of therapeutic, medical, and detox methods allows you to resist the urge to take opioid medications and other drugs that could trigger your codeine abuse again.

Timeline of Codeine Withdrawal

The question of “How long does withdrawal last?” actually depends on a codeine withdrawal timeline. At various stages of this codeine withdrawal timeline, opioid receptors are still healing from prescription drug abuse.

Let’s look at the different stages of the withdrawal process, and what people kicking their opiate addiction can expect:

Day One to Four

Through the first four days of the codeine withdrawal timeline, people develop early symptoms. These symptoms of withdrawal include muscle aches, chronic pain, nausea, vomiting, headaches, insomnia, nausea, and sweating.

When people develop withdrawal symptoms like these during a codeine detox, they often seek to take opioid medication again for pain relief and to eliminate other withdrawal symptoms. However, it is best to completely stop the use of liquid codeine and other opiates. Codeine use can start the process over again. Instead, be sure to stay well hydrated, rested, and seek a treatment center if possible.

Days Five to Seven

Physical symptoms of codeine withdrawal begin to fade. Muscle aches tend to subside as your body is becoming less addicted to opiate medications. Certain symptoms like sweating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or dilated pupils may still be present at this point in the codeine withdrawal timeline.

Days Eight to Thirty

All, if not most, physical symptoms and psychological symptoms of withdrawal should go away by this point. The person previously suffering from opioid addiction may still have cravings and psychological dependencies but the physical symptoms have usually begun to fade. Codeine is water-soluble and while painful, the drug does pass through the system fairly quickly.

Remedies and Coping Tips For Severe Withdrawal Symptoms

When going through any drug withdrawal period, the desire to relieve symptoms can be intense. It is important to cope in a healthy manner that helps to overcome the drug cravings for good. Certain prescription medications from your doctor can help treat mild pain.

A codeine detox is also an effective coping remedy. By receiving drug addiction treatment including behavioral therapy, evaluation of medical history, and other support to prevent codeine abuse, you can make it through drug withdrawal more easily.


Codeine withdrawal can become very serious. The withdrawal symptoms are sometimes even worse than the codeine side effects in the short term. If you feel trouble breathing, irregular heart rhythms, or otherwise dangerous symptoms, you should contact a doctor or receive emergency medical attention immediately.

How to Prevent Withdrawal

Opiate withdrawal is not easy. Once you have developed a codeine addiction, your chronic pain and drug cravings may stay around long after your last dose. A medically assisted detox program can help.

At Profound, we ensure that your “last dose” really is your last dose. Our detox process involves treating the physical and psychological symptoms of codeine withdrawal at their source. We use a mix of proven, evidence-based therapies and techniques that work. Creating a safe space and safely handling detox with dignity, coupled with our innovative addiction treatment protocols ensure a thorough process that allows our patients a chance for a new journey and new experience with recovery.

We can help you manage withdrawal symptoms with kind and caring substance abuse treatment. It is important to have a guiding hand through the withdrawal process of any opioid pain relievers or other drugs. Otherwise, your codeine use could continue — causing mental health issues, opioid overdose, and other serious health complications.

What to Expect after Withdrawal Ends

After codeine withdrawal ends, you can expect physical symptoms like muscle aches to cease within a few weeks. However, opiate withdrawal isn’t complete until your psychological symptoms of withdrawal subside as well.

A new life free of codeine withdrawal awaits you. You will begin to feel like your “normal self” again. At this point, you will have weathered the most difficult part of the storm thanks to undergoing a codeine detox at a qualified treatment center. Codeine withdrawal and your drug addiction can be a thing of the past.

If you do experience further symptoms of opiate withdrawal or the temptation for prescription drug abuse in the future, contact our treatment center. It is important to prevent codeine use before it starts again.



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