What is Co-codamol?

Co-codamol is a common painkiller made of paracetamol and codeine. It is usually used to treat headaches, migraines, dental pain, and muscular pain.1 Codeine is a type of opiate drug, which means that it is a powerful painkiller. When used appropriately, it can provide significant pain relief, and is one of the most commonly used opiate medications.2 Unfortunately, co-codamol is often misused, and those who do so put themselves at risk of health issues.

As an opiate, codeine is a highly physically and psychologically addictive substance.3 When addiction develops, professional treatment is required. Misuse of opiates can be fatal, so it’s essential that treatment is sought and provided at the earliest possible stages of addiction. Here we will outline some of the most common signs and symptoms of co-codamol addiction, so that you may know when to seek help for yourself or for your addicted loved one.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Co-Codamol Addiction?

A person suffering with co-codamol addiction may exhibit some of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Using co-codamol more frequently than their doctor’s recommendation
  • Taking co-codamol when not in pain
  • Buying co-codamol illegally
  • Secrecy about co-codamol use, (lies, denial, hiding tablets)
  • Experiencing withdrawal when cutting down use or missing a dose
  • Confusion, dizziness
  • Neglect of personal hygiene
  • Social withdrawal
  • Finding empty co-codamol packets

What are the dangers of co-codamol addiction?

As is the case with any addiction, co-codamol addiction can damage a person’s mental and emotional well-being, and impact every other area of life. Addiction can become a person’s overriding preoccupation, to the detriment of their relationships, their finances, their personal safety, and their overall quality of life. Many people assume that because co-codamol is legal in some countries that it is safer; the fact is that it can be just as dangerous as any illegal street drug.

When co-codamol is used for a prolonged period of time, and in high doses, a person may suffer from:

  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Seizures
  • Respiratory depression
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Substance withdrawal symptoms

Co-codamol addiction can be fatal. When taken in high doses, codeine can lead to respiratory depression, which involves slowed breathing, a drop in heart rate, and a fall in blood pressure. As a result, a person may suffer from respiratory failure and fatal overdose.

Long term paracetamol use can also be fatal. Paracetamol, when taken in large amounts, is known to be toxic to the liver.4 More recent research has found that liver cell death, as is observed in patients with liver condition such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver cancer, is also linked to paracetamol misuse.

Although liver damage caused by paracetamol toxicity has been the subject of intense study for 40 years, recent developments in biosensor technology are enabling a fuller picture of the biological mechanisms involved’, says Dr. Pierre Bagnaninchi, co-author of a research report on paracetamol toxicity.5

Co-codamol Addiction Recovery

Recovery from co-codamol addiction requires an appropriate level of treatment and recovery support. Withdrawal from codeine can be extremely uncomfortable. Typically it involves intense feelings of depression and anxiety, powerful craving for the substance, insomnia, gastrointestinal issues, and may cause suicidal ideation. Recovery and treatment require a full medical detoxification, compassionate care and support during the withdrawal stage, and various therapies in residence or as an outpatient depending on the needs of the client.

Detoxification at Addcounsel

At Addcounsel, we offer a full medically supervised detoxification programme to help clients break the physical dependence which they have developed on codeine. With medical supervision, the withdrawal process is made much safer and more comfortable than it would be without medical assistance.

Residential (Inpatient) Treatment

Treating addiction is not just about eliminating the physical dependence on a substance. After our clients have been detoxed, we work with them to understand the reasons that they were using in the first place. Our team of clinical experts will deliver an expert diagnosis, followed by a bespoke treatment program. Most of this can be delivered in the comfort of one of our luxury Central London properties. We offer support 24 hours a day, which means that our clients can get the compassionate and dedicated care as and when they need when they need it.

Aftercare

To make the transition back to normal life from residential care as smooth as possible, we offer a comprehensive aftercare programme to our clients. This includes support as the person re-integrates into society, academic tutoring and career planning, and life skills coaching.

1 nhs.uk. 2020. Co-Codamol For Adults: Painkiller Containing Paracetamol And Codeine. [online] Available at: <https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/co-codamol-adults/#:~:text=Co%2Dcodamol%20is%20a%20mixture,their%20own%2C%20have%20not%20worked.> [Accessed 26 October 2020].

2 Peechakara BV, Gupta M. Codeine. [Updated 2020 Jun 23]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526029/

3 Azadfard M, Huecker MR, Leaming JM. Opioid Addiction. [Updated 2020 Oct 15]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK448203/

4 British Liver Trust. n.d. Acute Liver Failure Caused By Paracetamol Overdose – British Liver Trust. [online] Available at: <https://britishlivertrust.org.uk/information-and-support/living-with-a-liver-condition/liver-conditions/acute-liver-failure-caused-by-paracetamol-overdose/> [Accessed 28 October 2020].

5 University of Edinburgh. “Paracetamol study could open door for way to treat liver damage.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 January 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170131104436.htm>.

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