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Withdrawal from Codeine

Withdrawal from codeine

A residential wellness programme at Delamere could help you withdraw safely and comfortably from codeine

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“Delamere helped me find the pathway to challenge and change the unhelpful values I’d created over years of self-abuse to help me heal and grow.” Delamere Guest, 2021

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What is withdrawal from codeine?

Usually prescribed for severe pain, codeine belongs to a class of medicines called opioids. It also contains paracetamol, another analgesic to relieve pain. Opioids are highly addictive which means if you take codeine regularly for a long time you may get withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking it. Withdrawal from codeine can cause unwanted side effects, whether you have been taking the medication as prescribed or abusing it. Always speak to a medical professional before reducing your dosage.

Delamere wellness retreat is a purpose-built treatment centre in Cheshire. We specialise in supervised withdrawal programmes for people who have intentionally or inadvertently developed a codeine addiction. Our team of qualified clinicians will make your withdrawal from codeine as comfortable as possible in a relaxing and supportive environment. Here, we share some of the common symptoms of codeine withdrawal and what we can do to minimise them.

If you need help with withdrawal from codeine, contact our team today and learn more about the different programmes we offer here at Delamere.

See how a more holistic approach to treatment can help you truly transform your life for the better. Book a consultation

Signs and symptoms of withdrawal from codeine

Abuse of prescription opioids, such as codeine, is a widespread problem that is rapidly growing on a global scale. There are currently approximately 15.6 million illicit opioid users worldwide ranging from age 12 upwards (1). Codeine works by changing the way the brain responds to pain. These alterations in brain metabolism and function cause withdrawal symptoms when a chronic abuser quits.

Timeline of withdrawal symptoms

Withdrawal from codeine usually begins within eight to ten hours after the last dose, but this can vary depending on the amount of codeine taken and duration of abuse. Most codeine withdrawal symptoms are related to increased activity in the autonomic nervous system (ANS) which regulates functions such as salivating, sweating, crying, pupil size, heart rate and hormone secretion (2).

Phase 1

In the first seven to ten days of codeine withdrawal a dependent person may experience a runny nose, watery eyes, yawning, sweating, sleep disturbance, nausea, chills, muscle aches and involuntary movements (2).

Phase 2

The secondary phase of withdrawal, which can last 26 to 30 weeks, symptoms can include low blood pressure, slow heart rate, shivering, cold skin, slurred speech, confusion, dilated pupils and respiratory problems (2).

While the physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms of codeine addiction aren’t often fatal, they can be incredibly uncomfortable and are especially dangerous if combined with other drugs. If you are considering reducing the amount of codeine you’re taking or switching to another prescription painkiller, it is important to speak with a medical professional.

At Delamere, we have a team of codeine addiction experts who can advise you on the exact medication and psychological support you may need to wean off codeine with minimal withdrawal symptoms.

Treatment for codeine withdrawal

People who abuse codeine often resort to forums to get advice on managing withdrawal symptoms and tapering off their painkillers without medical support. However, most of the respondents are not healthcare professionals and research has shown that more formal support and awareness of codeine addiction are needed (3).

Getting tailored support from qualified therapists can make all the difference to a successful recovery. So, how can a residential rehab programme help someone with codeine addiction? Here’s what happens when you receive treatment for codeine withdrawal symptoms at a recognised wellness centre.

Initial assessment

Your clinician will run a series of tests to ascertain your general state of health. This includes checking your vital signs, a brief physical exam and an assessment of mental status. A urine toxicology report will be carried out to determine if there are any other drugs that could be making your codeine withdrawal worse. The Clinical Opioid Withdrawal Scale (COWS) is often used to assess the level of support you need, depending on whether your symptoms are mild, moderate or severe (3).


The first stage of recovery from codeine withdrawal symptoms is detoxification. Certain medications can be used during a clinical drug detox programme to lessen the side effects of withdrawal. These typically include opioid agonists, such as methadone and buprenorphine and alpha-2 adrenergic agonists, such as clonidine. The detoxification is only complete once the person has been successfully moved onto the opioid antagonist, naltrexone (4).

Psychosocial interventions

Sustained abstinence from codeine isn’t usually managed by a clinical drug detox alone. Many people will have built up a tolerance of dependence and addiction over time with deep rooted reasons for their addictive behaviour. Psychotherapists must work with people who are overcoming codeine withdrawal symptoms to help them pinpoint the reasons for their codeine addiction and develop ways to support their mental, as well as physical, health.

The Delamere approach to treating withdrawal from codeine

As an opioid painkiller that is frequently prescribed, codeine addiction is extremely common. The holistic therapists at Delamere wellness retreat have a wealth of experience in treating codeine dependence at our base in Cheshire. We begin each residential rehab programme with a medically supervised drug detox in comfortable ensuite rooms, where our guests are supported with round the clock care.

We believe there is always a reason for addiction and no two people will have the same story. That’s why each programme is tailormade to suit your individual needs with a varied selection of therapeutic techniques. Our guests can take part in one-to-one counselling sessions, group therapy work and a range of somatic healing experiences to rebalance body and mind.

Delamere is the only treatment centre for codeine addiction in the UK to use a unique three-step approach. Our promise to guests is that we will help to stop cravings for codeine, start to heal the trauma that is causing the addiction and help you grow beyond codeine addiction.


Settle into your new environment
and remove yourself from
any distractions

A day at Delamere A day at Delamere


Spend time with our therapists to discover what led you to this behaviour in the first place

Delamere treatment model Delamere treatment model


Set healthy boundaries,
exciting new goals and prepare for
life after Delamere

Environment Environment


Practice using the tools
while staying anchored to support.
Bring Recovery Home.

Read More Read More

Our core elements of treatment

We believe that codeine addiction – whether stemming from current stresses or past trauma – has to start somewhere. Rather than adhering to the conventional step-based programmes, we look at underlying factors that drive your behaviour. Only by recognising how you arrived at this point can you begin to positively shape your future.


Stopping the cycle of addiction or burnout safely and comfortably


Healing whatever
pain is causing
the behaviour


Instilling tools to help facilitate change and encourage continued growth

Why choose Delamere?

Holistic approach to recovery

Discreet location

Luxury ensuite accommodation

Personalised programmes

Flexible stays

24-hour care & support

On-site gym & health studio

Business & family lounges

Free collection service


Outcomes focused

Everything we do here is about outcomes. Focusing on getting you back to yourself again in the short term, but then growing beyond that when you leave Delamere. Helping you create the foundations for long-term recovery and growth.

Individual care

There’s no one-size-fits-all here. We listen, learn and tailor our programmes to meet your personal needs, whatever they may be. Your journey to recovery is yours, so we design our programmes with you in mind.


Creative therapies

Nature and creativity often bring out the best in people, especially after a difficult period in their life. We offer equine and art therapy, fire ceremonies, nature walks and more to help you relax, reflect and see the world in a new way.

“My own journey through addiction was the inspiration for Delamere. We provide exemplary care in first-class facilities, focusing on creating lasting outcomes for our guests and their families. Helping them not just overcome their addiction, but grow beyond it.”

Martin Preston, Founder & CEO at Delamere

Transformational stories

Addicted to codeine

Get help with managing codeine withdrawal symptoms.

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Know someone who needs help with codeine withdrawal symptoms?

If a friend, family member or work colleague is showing signs of codeine addiction it’s important they get help.

Our admissions team is on hand 24/7 to help answer any questions about our therapeutic programmes and make sure your loved one gets the support they need.

Call the team today on 0330 111 2015 to discuss the different options available.


  1. Zoorob R, Kowalchuk A, Mejia de Grubb M. Buprenorphine Therapy for Opioid Use Disorder. Am Fam Physician. 2018 Mar 01;97(5):313-320. .
  2. Fudin J, Ahmed N, Horlacher R. Opioid Withdrawal: A New Look at Medication Options. Pract Pain Manag. 2015;15(9).
  3. Lee E, Cooper RJ Codeine Addiction and Internet Forum Use and Support: Qualitative Netnographic Study JMIR Ment Health 2019;6(4):e12354 PMID:31021328 PMCIS:6658256.
  4. Diaper AM, Law FD, Melichar JK. Pharmacological strategies for detoxification. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2014 Feb; 77(22): 302-14.