There is a high risk of addiction and abuse for people who use Codeine regularly or for an extended period. It is common to experience cravings and eventually relapse when you stop using this medication, and the process is not appropriately supervised. If you are a recovering codeine user, you can employ specific techniques to keep you from relapsing so you can maintain lasting sobriety.
Recognizing Codeine Cravings
Since Codeine is an opioid drug, it has the potential to generate intense cravings. Even though every person will react differently to these urges, generally, they present as psychological or physical cravings.
Psychological symptoms include:
- Not being able to stop thinking about using the drug
- Having thoughts that you need the drug at that very moment
- Feeling overly anxious
- Trouble focusing on anything else aside from your urges
Physical codeine cravings may include the following signs:
- Tasting or even smelling the drug
- Increased heart rate
- Feeling ‘butterflies” or a ‘knot’ in the stomach
These cravings usually start when you are going through the withdrawal stage of codeine addiction treatment. However, they can go on for years or months after overcoming physical dependency on the medication, but they will become less intense and frequent with time in recovery. A craving typically lasts for roughly 10 to 30 minutes and can present itself at any time. This duration can differ for each individual, and the nature of the cravings will also vary for each person.
Codeine Craving Triggers
Different factors can influence the onset of codeine cravings, also known as triggers. These relapse and craving triggers can be external or internal. Internal codeine triggers stem from within the individual and include negative and physical emotions like pain, boredom, sadness, anxiety, anger, frustration, or even happiness.
External triggers include behavioral cues or environmental factors such as things, places, and people involved with past drug use. Certain people can trigger drug use and places associated with drug use in the past, such as places where you went to obtain or use drugs frequently.
Things connected to codeine use, such as storage places for the medication, paraphernalia, pill bottles, or even having a lot of money, can reignite drug use. Stressful situations can also increase strong urges in the individual before they adopt effective techniques for stress management.
Addressing Codeine Cravings to Prevent Relapse
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is widely used to help people deal with cravings and decrease the chances of relapsing. CBT works on the basis that addiction is learned while employing effective therapeutic techniques such as urge surfing, mindfulness, and consequential thinking to avoid relapse.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) works on the foundation that your thoughts can generate a feeling which results in a specific behavior. By changing one’s thought process, you can learn to take up positive new behaviors, preventing relapse.
Some approaches used in CBT include cultivating effective relapse prevention, recognizing and avoiding high-risk situations, enhancing one’s self-awareness of cravings, and evaluating all the outcomes of codeine use.
Another element of CBT focusing on unconstructive thoughts is known as cognitive restructuring. This approach helps individuals identify such thoughts to see their truthfulness and replace them with realistic thoughts instead. An example of such a negative thought is, “Using once cannot hurt,” which can be replaced by, “Using once has harmed me in the past.”
Mindfulness is a meditation approach that involves the user making a conscious decision to stay in the moment while monitoring their current sensations and thoughts without judgment. It can help you understand your cravings and the overall experience without generating the anxiety and concern of relapsing.
Mindfulness is quite effective in relaxing the individual so they can assess their thought patterns and the situation resulting in the craving.
Overall, meditation helps the person relax and helps them deal with any stressors they experience daily. On the same note, relaxation techniques can also be very beneficial under stressful situations such as trying to sleep, driving, working, social functions, and managing interpersonal conflict. These methods may include progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and deep breathing.
Consequential thinking is another technique whereby the user looks through the negative consequences they’ve experienced in the past due to their codeine use. This method helps to break down the idea that using just once or a little bit of the drug will not hurt. It helps in motivating the person to change.
Urge surfing is getting through the urges one feels to use the drug. It helps decrease cravings in the body and the mind by verbalizing the feelings, monitoring the intensity of these urges, and observing any changes.
Distraction techniques can also be part of codeine addiction treatment to prevent relapse by taking your mind off the cravings. This involves engaging in an activity to distract you and reduce the effects of the urges. Such activities could include exercise, journaling, reading, music, or watching TV.
Positive self-talk can also be quite effective in helping individuals in recovery deal with cravings through positive and realistic statements while recognizing what they have achieved on their journey. Talking about their urges with supportive peers or loved ones might help to normalize what they are experiencing and reassure these people that it is temporary and they can survive without the drug.
Medications are also administered to reduce the risk of cravings during withdrawal while blocking Codeine’s effects. These medicines include Naltrexone, Suboxone, Buprenorphine, and Methadone.
They are typically administered during the detox stage of codeine addiction treatment to decrease the intensity of cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Recovering users can also be given these medications long-term to help them engage their relapse prevention skills and adjust to life in recovery.
In conclusion, one can avoid codeine relapse if they have the right support system. Therapy, sponsorship, self-help groups, and support groups are some of the best ways to prevent relapse and minimize cravings. It also helps to have people you can talk to so you can strengthen your recovery.
Socializing with other recovering individuals and adopting behavioral changes through positive hobbies or activities such as exercise and avoiding craving triggers can help maintain lasting sobriety.