Codeine Abuse: How Long Does Codeine Stay In Your System?

Codeine Abuse: How Long Does Codeine Stay In Your System?


Codeine may stay in your system for 2 to 5 days. However, the detection period may vary based on several factors like intake amount, frequency, age, metabolism, etc.

According to the National Institute of Health, drug overdose deaths crossed 106,699 in 2021, which included the consumption of prescription opioids and illegal drugs.

Prescription opioids, especially Codeine, have the highest abuse potential than morphine, which, when consumed without a doctor’s consent, might lead to opioid addiction. 

If you or your acquaintances are suffering from codeine abuse and if you love them the most, this blog is for you.

Learn more about codeine abuse, the signs, and symptoms, treatment, and how long codeine stays in your system.

Table of Contents

  • Codeine - An Overview
  • How To Identify Codeine Abuse?
  • Codeine Abuse Symptoms
  • Codeine Abuse Treatment Measures
  • Does Codeine Abuse Impact Your Drug Test?
  • How Long Does Codeine Stay In Your System?
  • Does Codeine Show Up As Morphine In Urine Test?
  • How To Pass Your Drug Test If You Take Prescription Opioids Like Codeine?
  • Codeine - An Overview

    Codeine is a prescription opioid and one of the pharmaceutically recommended narcotic pain relievers to treat short-term pain and reduce cough. It works by binding with specific neuro receptors in the brain, which helps in pain management and coughing. 

    Codeine is available in tablets and capsules. Some Cough syrups (prescription-based cough syrups) may contain codeine. According to Reuters Report, Codeine is unsafe for kids and should not be prescribed for cough. 

    As the drug has the potential for prescription drug abuse, Codeine is listed as a Schedule III drug in the USA per the Controlled substances Act. Beyond medical use, it has potential abusive effects. 

    Codeine Abuse

    Codeine, when consumed more than prescribed, might lead to dependence, substance abuse, and addiction, leading to threatening side effects and health concerns.

    Codeine, when taken with other combination drugs like benzodiazepines and alcohol, may create adverse effects and even lead to death. According to SAMHSA, codeine stands as the third most abused drug in the USA among the population of age 12 or older. 

    Codeine Abuse in California

    California Department of Public Health reported nearly 1,500 opioid-related overdose deaths in California in 2019, with a majority of them involved prescription opioids like codeine. 

    The state has taken steps to address the problem by implementing prescription drug monitoring programs to track the dispensation of opioids and increasing access to naloxone.

    California’s drug testing law that allows employers to drug test candidates and employees on pre-defined circumstances. Most employers in California, including Tesla, have a drug testing policy in place to regulate drug abuse.

    How To Identify Codeine Abuse?

    Codeine abuse happens when you misuse the drug. It always starts with taking the drug for pain management or coughing without a prescription. Some abusers might mix them with other illicit drugs like benzos to get high, which increases the chances of heart attack or other serious health concerns. 

    Some abusers might use codeine with alcoholic beverages or non-alcoholic sodas, creating a dreadful combination that comes under the names - lean, purple drank, sizzurp, etc. 

    Signs of Codeine Abuse

    There are some signs which you can identify that you are under the influence of codeine. They include

    • Using higher doses of codeine than is prescribed or recommended.
    • Craving for codeine even if you do not have pain or cough, or related symptoms.
    • Using codeine continuously despite its negative consequences and health problems. 
    • Facing withdrawal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and muscle aches while trying to stop using codeine.
    • Signs of mood swings, irritability, or depression.
    • Moving away from responsibilities like work or family obligations just to use codeine. 
    • Using codeine in combination with other drugs or alcohol to enhance its effects.
    • Lack of hygiene and sudden changes in appearance, such as weight loss.

    Note: The signs of codeine abuse may vary from one person to another. If you are facing one or more symptoms, you must visit your doctor and get adequate treatment.

    Codeine Abuse Symptoms

    Codeine abuse, if not treated when it shows certain signs, may initially show up some health symptoms, which will later lead to serious health concerns and death. Here are some of the well-known symptoms of codeine abuse.

    • Drowsiness or sedation
    • Dilated pupils
    • Difficulty in breathing ( slow or shallow breathing)
    • Nausea
    • Constipation
    • Lightheadedness or dizziness
    • Skin Rashes and Itching
    • Confusion or disorientation
    • Mood swings and depression
    • Hallucinations 
    • Impaired coordination/ Difficulty walking
    • Reduced sex drive

    When left untreated, you might face severe symptoms like respiratory problems, liver damage, heart attack, and even death.

    Note: Prolonged codeine abuse may lead to addiction, which might make the situation even worse. If you feel you or your acquaintances are under the influence of codeine substance abuse, reach out to SAMHSA’s national help line.

    Codeine Abuse Treatment Measures

    The first step towards Codeine abuse is Detox. Drug Detoxification is the initial and essential measure to treat codeine abuse. It is best to get help from a hospital for Codeine detox. Taking detox pills by searching the internet may not work. You may face some withdrawal symptoms during the Codeine detox and it will fade gradually.

    Most physicians suggest behavioral therapy and MAT (Medication Assisted Treatment) for Codeine abuse treatment. MAT is the procedure of taking medications like naloxone, methadone, etc., to manage withdrawal symptoms.

    You can also join support groups specific to Opioid addiction or Codeine addiction that will help you in your detox journey.

    Does Codeine Abuse Impact Your Drug Test?

    Yes. Codeine abuse might impact your drug test. Codeine is a natural opiate-like morphine, and hence it may show up as opiate in your standard 5 panel drug test

    Most employers might not check specifically for codeine. But if the consumption is above the cut-off level prescribed for opiates, there is a high chance that codeine might show up positive in your drug test results. 

    Codeine may also create false positive drug test results and show up as opiates. Poppy seeds in bagels, donuts, and cakes also contain codeine content. When consumed in higher amounts, it may show false positive results for opiates. 

    How Long Does Codeine Stay In Your System?

    You cannot fix a particular timeline for how long the codeine drug stays in your system. It depends on certain factors like the frequency of dosage, metabolism, age, sex, combination drugs that you take, etc.

    Normally, codeine may stay in your urine for 2 to 3 days after the last use, while in blood, it may remain for 24 hours. Codeine may stay in your saliva for 3 to 5 days, while in hair, it may stay for nearly 90 days.

    If you are a heavy abuser, the drug may stay for a longer time which will show up in your drug test for opiates. 

    Codeine, when abused with other drugs, might stay in your system for a much longer time. Codeine, when abused with Tylenol (acetaminophen), may stay in your system for 1 to 3 weeks after your last use. 

    Does Codeine Show Up As Morphine In Urine Test?

    No. Codeine will not show up as morphine in a urine test. Usually, employers do not specifically test for codeine or morphine. They check for opiates included in the list of drugs in a standard 5-panel drug test. 

    Codeine and morphine are opioids derived from the poppy plant. The only difference between them is their potency. Morphine is a high-potency opioid than codeine, and hence, are used to treat severe pain. 

    Both codeine and morphine are potentially abusive, and they appear in your drug test as Opiates if the drug metabolites are above the cut-off levels.

    How To Pass Your Drug Test If You Take Prescription Opioids Like Codeine?

    Codeine might not show up in your drug test if you are taking the drug on prescription. Inform your medication use to the employer and the MRO to avoid false positive drug test results. If you have taken the drug more than it is prescribed, here are some steps you can follow to pass your drug test.

    1. Drink a surplus amount of water.
    2. Improve your metabolism by doing exercises.
    3. Stick to your dosage instruction.
    4. Schedule your medication use
    5. Try some detoxing products

    This is what Cornell Research says about Reducing Codeine abuse.

    According to a study conducted by Cornell University, “Recreational cannabis laws substantially reduce the distribution of codeine to pharmacies, an overlooked potential benefit to legalizing recreational cannabis use.”

    Keep this in mind - Cannabis also contains THC metabolites, and regular usage of THC would also lead to failed drug test. So, it is essential to keep track of your drug use so that your employment may not be at stake.

    Final Words

    Codeine abuse is a serious concern, and you should take immediate action if you or your loved ones show signs or symptoms of abuse. Codeine may also show up on your drug test as opiates; hence, abusing it might impact your career. 

    So, it is crucial to follow the prescription if you are taking codeine or any other natural opiates, as they are potentially dangerous to your life and career. 

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Is codeine more active than morphine?

    No. Morphine is more active than codeine. Morphine is a narcotic used to treat severe pain, whereas codeine is used to treat mild to moderate pain and to reduce cough.

    Is Codeine a narcotic or stimulant?

    Codeine is a narcotic that is used to treat pain and cough. It is derived from the opium plant and it binds with the neurotransmitters and help to control pain and control cough-inducing properties.

    What leads to Codeine addiction?

    Codeine addiction may be due to several factors including social, psychological, and physical factors. Some of them include chronic pain, genetics, mental health risks and issues, recreational use, etc.

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