Substance Use

Codeine and Alcohol Substance Abuse

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Mixing Alcohol With Codeine: What Are The Dangers?

Codeine is a prescription drug classified as an opioid primarily used as a pain reliever and cough suppressant. It’s sometimes prescribed on its own for short-term condition management, and it’s often found in over-the-counter cough syrups and cold medicines. Its wide availability puts codeine at a high risk of misuse.

Mixing alcohol with codeine is particularly dangerous, but it’s popular in certain groups to mix cough syrup containing codeine with alcohol to make illicit cocktails. Whether taken on its own or in combination with alcohol, codeine is highly addictive and can lead to permanent organ damage, overdose, or death. 

If you or a loved one is experimenting with substances and mixing alcohol with codeine, it’s important to seek help. Contact Zinnia Healing on our website or call us at (855) 430-9439 for more information. 

What is Codeine?

Like other opiates, codeine is derived from the opium poppy plant and can be habit-forming. It reduces pain and inhibits coughing by affecting the parts of the brain responsible for perception of pain and the cough response. 

Codeine is still sometimes used in the treatment of cough, usually in conjunction with other medications. However, codeine has been largely replaced with other drugs in cold and cough medicines due to rampant misuse. It’s still used for mild to moderate pain. However, codeine is considered safe only for short-term use.

Chronic misuse of codeine can rapidly lead to dependence, tolerance, and overdose. When a person addicted to codeine attempts to stop taking it, they may experience intense withdrawal symptoms. For this reason, codeine substance use disorder is best treated by a knowledgeable inpatient team of experts.

The Dangers of Mixing Alcohol With Codeine

One of the most significant examples of widespread codeine misuse is “DJ Screw,” a hip-hop DJ associated with an illicit cocktail that combined cough medicine with alcohol. The cocktail, sometimes called “Texas Tea” or “Sizzurp,” enhanced the slowed-down, brass-heavy remixes the DJ was famous for.

Pop culture icons continue to perpetrate codeine abuse in young adults. To this day, rappers like Lil Wayne still promote the beverage in their music. Unfortunately, most are unaware of the effects of codeine and alcohol use.

Mixing codeine with alcohol is extremely dangerous and not something to take lightly. The DJ himself died from an overdose caused by codeine and alcohol in 2000, but people continue mixing alcohol with codeine, usually unaware of its potential dangers.

The primary reason mixing alcohol with codeine is so dangerous is that both codeine and alcohol are depressants. The combination of the two puts stress on the central nervous system, as they both dampen mood, alertness, and energy. Together, they can slow breathing to dangerous levels. 

When mixing alcohol with codeine, it’s important to recognize that the effects will be different for everyone. These drugs are unpredictable when combined, which is why polydrug use requires a professional treatment provider. If you or someone you love is experimenting with polydrug use or codeine, call Zinnia Healing today at (855) 430-9439 for help. 

Side Effects of Mixing Alcohol With Codeine

Individuals mixing alcohol with codeine will experience a number of short-term side effects. These side effects can put an individual at severe risk of bodily harm through an accident, especially if they try to operate a motor vehicle. The side effects mimic excessive alcohol use but are far stronger.

The most common side effects include:

  • Sleepiness, drowsiness, fatigue, dizzinesses
  • Impaired thinking and judgment
  • A sense of mental fog, confusion, and trouble concentrating
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased and irregular heart rate
  • Trouble breathing
  • Impaired motor skills and delayed reaction time

Especially when combined with alcohol, codeine can make a person breathe more shallow or less often and they will likely be too impaired to realize it. This would further reduce the amount of oxygen being supplied to the brain and body. Therefore, it can worsen impairment and lead to permanent organ damage.  

All of these side effects put individuals at an increased risk of bodily injury when mixing alcohol with codeine. It also increases the risk of overdose as impaired judgment can lead them to consume excessive amounts of either. Alcohol addiction can also result from the repeat combination of codeine and alcohol.

In the long-term, low blood pressure, liver damage, and changes to behavioral health are all possible. Existing mental illness can also worsen the side effects of codeine and alcohol.

Recovering From Mixing Alcohol With Codeine

Mixing alcohol with codeine can lead to permanent side effects, including organ damage. Chronic misuse of codeine can also rapidly lead to dependence, tolerance, and overdose. When a person addicted to codeine attempts to stop taking it, they may experience intense withdrawal symptoms that could increase risk of relapse.

Withdrawal symptoms may include paranoia, anger, depression, and other mental health side effects. During withdrawal, an individual is at high risk of opioid overdose due to the complexities of the detox process. For a highly addictive drug like codeine, an inpatient or residential treatment program may be recommended. These programs immerse individuals into a safe space with like-minded individuals, full-time support, and dedicated treatment staff.

A residential program won’t just help you recover from codeine addiction and get through the withdrawal period. It can also help you get back on your feet and begin working towards a new set of goals. These programs provide you with goal setting, planning, and supports. As a result, a residential treatment program can greatly reduce the risk of relapse and long-term psychological effects resulting from drug use and recovery.

Zinnia Healing Can Help

Codeine misuse is substance abuse, especially when a person is combining it with alcohol. It’s critical that you don’t ignore the signs.

If you’re interested in learning more about how a professional treatment facility can help you or your loved one recover from codeine use, our team can help. With a quick phone call, we can walk you through your options for addiction treatment and explain the easy, confidential admissions process.

Are you ready to take the next step? Call Zinnia Healing today at (855) 430-9439 to learn more.

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