Codeine Addiction: Are Veterans at Risk?

A codeine addiction usually starts innocently, with no intention of becoming addicted. Initially, doctors prescribe this medication to patients experiencing mild or moderate pain. However, in some cases, prolonged use can morph into misuse, dependence, and ultimately, codeine addiction. While everyone’s experience with codeine differs, veterans are at an increased risk of developing an opioid habit. If you’re a veteran living with a prescription painkiller addiction, Heroes’ Mile can help get you back on the right path.

What Is Codeine?

What Is Codeine?

To better understand how a person forms a codeine addiction, first, you should know what codeine is. Codeine is an opioid and belongs to a class of medications known as opioid analgesics. As a pain reliever, codeine attaches to opioid receptors at the end of your nerves. Normally, these receptors capture chemical messengers called neurotransmitters to send pain signals to the brain.

However, opioid receptors do the opposite by keeping electrical pulses from wandering through nerve cells. Codeine blocks out the pain signals inflamed muscles produce via neurons in the spine. Furthermore, opioids have three central receptors: delta, kappa, and mu. But the mu receptor is what’s primarily responsible for the aftermath of opioid use. This receptor relieves pain and gives people a warm, euphoric feeling.

Analgesics like codeine can make you feel:

  • Drowsy
  • Relaxed
  • Dizzy
  • Disoriented
  • Confused

While severe pain may require a more powerful pain reliever to numb the effects, doctors tend to prescribe codeine to veterans with slight discomfort. Unfortunately, codeine can disastrously impact a veteran’s life once they develop an opioid addiction.

Why Do Veterans Become Addicted?

As a former member of the U.S. armed forces, you are not alone in your codeine addiction. In fact, the U.S. is currently involved in an ongoing public health crisis related to opioid deaths. In 2019, the National Council on Safety released information showing that—for the first time in U.S. history—an individual is more likely to perish from an unintentional opioid overdose than a car crash.

Chronic Pain

This rise in fatalities includes members of our military, who are among the most at-risk groups for developing an opioid use disorder (OUD). One reason for this is that many veterans have sustained injuries from combat. This makes them more likely to have chronic pain and require a prescription to ease the pain of their residual wounds of war. Unfortunately, many accept the medication without realizing the risk of developing a possible addiction.

Military life can be dangerous and cause sustained damage to a person’s physical health. In addition, circumstances like training accidents or combat exposure contribute to intolerable pain that refuses to subside. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services determined that nearly 66% of military veterans have elevated rates of chronic pain. This contrasts with 56% of non-veterans with chronic pain.

This explains how veterans are prescribed opioids, but how does codeine addiction happen? Over time, codeine addiction develops as physical tolerance grows. When veterans need increasing amounts of codeine to get pain relief, they usually start misusing codeine by taking more than prescribed. They may ask for higher dosages, doctor shop, or even turn to illicit opioids like heroin, which is how codeine addiction can become even more dangerous over time.

Everyone’s experience with codeine addiction is different. And while some veterans misuse it to relieve their chronic pain symptoms, others might do so for mental health purposes.

Mental Health

Many veterans struggle to adapt back to civilian life after their time in the service ends. Certain stressful situations and mental health concerns increase a veteran’s risk for an opioid-related overdose. To illustrate this, in 2017, nearly 70% of drug overdoses involved prescription opioids. And the percentage of opioid use disorder among Veterans Health Administration (VHA) patients is seven times higher than that of non-VHA patients.

Moreover, many veterans struggle with some form of mental health problem after their time in the military. Illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the struggle to re-acclimate to civilian life contribute to veterans being more prone to forming a codeine addiction in an effort to self-medicate.

PTSD is a type of anxiety that occurs after an individual experiences trauma that their brain cannot effectively handle. For example, veterans are typically left with the invisible wounds of war from moral injury or military sexual trauma. But while veterans face many of the same causes of PTSD, each individual has their own unique experience with its symptoms. In some cases, people experience the symptoms of PTSD immediately following the event, whereas in others, symptoms may present immediately.

The symptoms of PTSD are vast and affect everyone differently. However, there are some common symptoms that veterans with PTSD experience. These symptoms include:

  • Flashbacks
  • Night terrors
  • Avoidance
  • Overly emotional
  • Irritability or aggression
  • Negative thinking
  • Feelings of shame or guilt
  • Hyperarousal
  • Lack of interest in hobbies

Codeine addiction often forms as a result of trying to manage these PTSD symptoms. For instance, veterans might initially take codeine for their chronic pain. But what many physicians fail to fully explain when they prescribe codeine to veterans is the numbing effect it can have on their emotions. So over time, former service members start to rely on these opioids to relieve their negative mental health symptoms, leading them to increasing dosages and potentially even using other opioids. In this way, codeine addiction can easily become a polysubstance abuse problem.

Treatment for Codeine Addiction

The treatment option you need will depend on the disorder you have. Heroes’ Mile in DeLand, Florida, provides comprehensive care for veterans battling a codeine addiction.

Our veteran-focused addiction treatment programs include:

While participating in these opioid addiction treatment programs, veterans have various treatment options available to help them address their codeine addiction.

The techniques at Heroes’ Mile work by creating a veteran-to-veteran peer support network. This means you will be surrounded by other military personnel you can relate to on your recovery journey.

These treatment options include:

Every patient at Heroes’ Mile follows a treatment program tailored to their specific needs. This helps to ensure each veteran is getting the individualized care they need. In addition, our rehabilitation center is a place where veterans can come together to support each other even after their time in the military has ended. Finally, talking to other veterans who have experienced similar situations will help you stay focused on your recovery.

A Veteran Rehab Center Can Help

A codeine addiction is treatable with the right help.. Veterans with an opioid addiction should know that they are not alone. At Heroes’ Mile, our highly qualified staff can help veterans dealing with a co-occurring disorder. In addition, you will be surrounded by other veterans who know what you are going through. For more information on how Heroes’ Mile can help you, contact our admissions specialists at 888-838-6692 or fill out a confidential contact form online

The post Codeine Addiction: Are Veterans at Risk? appeared first on Heroes’ Mile Veterans Recovery Center.

Original Author: Heroes’ Mile

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