Codeine is a prescription cough suppressant and sleep-inducing narcotic that falls in the category of opiate drugs. This medication is highly addictive to users, and unfortunately, even people who take it as prescribed can develop a tolerance to codeine.
People who want to stop taking codeine might try to stop by themselves, but once you become dependent and tolerant to the drug, you will experience withdrawal symptoms. However, these withdrawal symptoms can be distressing and painful.
Even though codeine withdrawal is not typically dangerous, the process can result in symptoms that can be hard to manage by yourself at home. There is also a risk of experiencing severe side effects or relapsing if you attempt a codeine detox at home or try to quit cold turkey.
The intensity of withdrawal symptoms experienced during codeine detox will also depend on the individual’s extent of dependence on the drug. Overall, going through codeine withdrawal is a challenging process, but if you want to break your dependence, then detox is the first necessary step.
What to know before doing a codeine detox at home
When you have a codeine dependence, the body will be accustomed to having the drug in your system. The body might also develop a tolerance to most of the codeine’s side effects, such as constipation, so when you try to quit cold turkey, it can result in a strong reaction.
It is advisable to slowly taper off your current codeine dosage before stopping completely. This will help to restrict the severity of the withdrawal symptoms. However, since addiction causes the affected individual to develop compulsive behavior, it can be hard to self-regulate when tapering. Most of the time, this causes relapse.
It is never safe to quit codeine cold turkey if you have already developed a tolerance or dependence on this medication. In such cases, the body has already gotten used to functioning with codeine in the system, so when you remove it suddenly, it will go into shock.
The withdrawal symptoms experienced during an at-home detox are most intense if you quit cold turkey. Thus, you can encounter severe medical problems if you try to detox at home without the necessary medical supervision.
You are better off conducting a codeine detox in a medical detox facility. Medical professionals in these facilities can give you a proper tapering schedule and prescribe drugs to alleviate withdrawal symptoms, such as Naltrexone or Buprenorphine.
Depression is also one of the withdrawal symptoms experienced during codeine detox. If you don’t have the proper supervision and medical assistance, you can become severely depressed and attempt suicide or self-harm. Some people even turn to alcohol or other drugs to manage the withdrawal complications experienced. In a medical detox facility, therapists and doctors monitor your symptoms and any withdrawal complications during codeine detox.
Generally, it is not safe for you to conduct a codeine detox without any assistance or supervision. You may try to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs, relapse, self-harm, or end up in the ER due to potential medical complications. It is also not advisable to take caffeine during codeine detox as it can increase your heart rate, blood pressure, and feelings of anxiety.
How to go about a codeine detox at home
If you try a codeine detox at home, you must be prepared. You can become dehydrated due to symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting, which can result in serious health complications such as heart problems if it is not treated.
Many people usually end up being hospitalized from dehydration when undergoing codeine detox. You may find it hard to eat or drink anything during codeine detox. It is essential to drink lots of electrolyte solutions like Pedialyte and hydrating fluids to help keep you hydrated throughout the detox process.
Fever, chills, and sweating are common symptoms of codeine withdrawal. You can manage this by wearing thin layers of clothing that you can easily remove or add on as needed to help you maintain an acceptable body temperature. You can deal with muscle pains using over-the-counter NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen. A cool compress can help you manage a fever.
Over-the-counter drugs like Dramamine, Bonine, or Antivert can relieve nausea, while Immodium can help address diarrhea. If you are looking for a more natural remedy for nausea, you can take ginger tea or ginger ale to ease your symptoms.
Take precautions with your diet during a codeine detox the way you would with stomach flu. Eat several small meals throughout the day with gentle foods to avoid stomach upsets.
When preparing for a codeine detox in advance, you’ll need safeguards to fight the drug cravings experienced in the process. Techniques that help fight codeine cravings include the following:
- Using distraction techniques as a healthy distraction alternative for drug use, e.g., going on a walk, exercising, or listening to music.
- Identifying negative thought patterns and thoughtfully fighting them back with reality
- Writing down your reasons for pursuing recovery and sobriety so you can refer back to the list when you need to
Natural home remedies
Other options are also available if you prefer using natural supplements and remedies to ease withdrawal during codeine detox. Make sure that any natural remedies you use will not interfere negatively with any other medications you use or any health conditions you have.
St. John’s Wort is a herb that can help you relieve any feelings of heaviness in your limbs. Melatonin is a sleep hormone that is very helpful for managing the restlessness and insomnia associated with codeine withdrawal. Other treatments you can use include:
- U’finer: This is a Chinese herbal blend that can help repair the damage from opiate abuse.
- Acupuncture can also help in reducing withdrawal symptoms
Overall, stay as comfortable as possible during an at-home codeine detox. You can keep occupied with books or movies or any other distracting activities. Ensure you have informed a loved one that you intend to conduct a codeine detox so they can offer assistance and support while monitoring you. If you are worried that you will not be able to go through codeine withdrawal alone, talk to your doctor or go to a rehab treatment facility for assistance.