Codeine abuse presents many problems

Mthandazo Ndlovu

The biggest long term issue with codeine abuse is that the drug causes dependency. Besides the physical problems that codeine abuse does, it can lead to a number of social lifestyle issues and these may include financial problems as dependency means increased intake and as such an increased budget to maintain the drugged lifestyle.

Emotional and relationship issues arise as the abuser is not in constant touch with reality and as such does not communicate well with those around them.

Also the drugging effects have some emotions attached with it, some you will find them crying, others laughing loudly or just carrying this empty smile.

The abuser, especially if in a relationship or is married, loses touch with the other partner’s emotions or needs as they constantly chase after the substance. Again the substance numbs the body and as such sexual desires are killed.

As the drug numbs the body it makes one unable to work and prone to accidents hence the person becomes a hazard at their place of work and also under-performs as most of the time, the individual will be floating on the drug or asleep.

Most abusers of this substance end up becoming perpetrators of crime, intentionally or unintentionally.

Some will commit crimes like robbery and theft to maintain their drugged lifestyle. Others will commit fraud in order to get their drugging substance like prescription fraud or even thefts in medical institutions or pharmacies.

Others find themselves having to answer to crimes that they do not remember committing as they would have done them under the influence of the codeine substance, crimes like assault, indecent assault, rape and even murder.

Dependency on the drug can lead one to what is called “drug-seeking behaviour” doctor shopping “where one can visit five or so different doctors every week presenting the same symptoms of illness to all five doctors so that they can have as much of the codeine substances they need as they would have reached tolerance levels of no return.

The abusers of this substance also grow a smooth lying character as they hide their dependency on the substance to friends and close family, but fleecing them all of their resources in order to maintain the lifestyle.

The worst part is abuse of this substance leads to intolerance and this becomes critical in the life of the abuser as that is where we find them in overdose comas if lucky or dead as they try to get that high that they will never do through its use as they would have reached the tolerance level.

Abusers of these substances need help quickly and help should be sought from qualified rehabilitation specialists who can help the person withdraw from the substance dependency, without much pain and high risk of loss of life.

Withdrawal signs of codeine may include irritability, anxiety and depression, difficulty in sleeping, muscle cramps and many others.

-Mthandazo Ndlovu is a drug prevention and rehabilitation specialist. For help and more information contact 0026377239934 or email