Category: News Tags: , cough medicine abuse
Today, more and more the medicine cabinet is becoming a smorgasbord of serious drugs. Anytime prescription medications are in the house parents need to keep a close eye on their use and quickly dispose of any unused quantities when the prescription period has ended. Most parents probably know to keep watch over pills and tablets, but even cough syrups have become a centerpiece of prescription drug addiction. Known as lean, syrup and purple drank, prescription cough syrups are now the star ingredient in opiate cocktails.
Prescription cough syrups containing codeine and promethazine are especially dangerous. Codeine is an opiate narcotic closely related to heroin and morphine and similar to name brand painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin. These medicines are effective pain relievers, but are often taken for non-medical reasons because users crave the relaxed feelings of contentment they provide. Promethazine is an antihistamine and added to cough syrup it boosts codeine’s potency. Using a codeine cough syrup beefed up with promethazine will effectively soothe a cough and relieve pain, but it will also amp up the sense of euphoria.
Both codeine and promethazine are effective in suppressing coughs because they work to depress the body’s central nervous system. Breathing and reflexes are all slowed down. This is why the person taking the medication feels so relaxed and at peace. However, if too much is taken, the person runs the risk that they may stop breathing altogether. For this reason, these medications should never be taken with other depressants such as alcohol. The risk of fatally depressing the central nervous system is just too great.
Sadly, these opiates are being sought out for the pleasant feelings they produce and users seem heedless of their addictive nature. Within a matter of weeks users can develop physical and psychological dependencies. In no time, the person will need to use these substances just to keep the painful symptoms of withdrawal at bay. This is because while codeine is not quite as powerful a drug as heroin, it mirrors the withdrawal symptoms users experience during detox. Common withdrawal symptoms include:
- muscle aches and restlessness in the legs
- inability to sleep
- generalized pain?
When a person is ready to get off these drugs, detox can be approached in several ways. The person may decide to simply stop taking the drugs cold turkey. This approach, while perhaps the quickest, is also the most painful and dangerous. Users will experience a minimum of one week during which their body will cry out for drugs in painful ways.
A second detox strategy is to slowly wean down the amount of drugs being taken. This approach obviously lengthens the detox period, but symptoms may be less intense. A medically supervised tapering off program is advised. Also included under the supervised detox category is a substitution program. This approach replaces the codeine and promethazine with other drugs that trick your brain into thinking it is still getting what it craves. Suboxone is the safest of these replacement drugs.
Keep in mind that even after detox, a full rehab program is recommended in order for a person to truly break free from addiction with aftercare to follow. The reality is that while the addiction can form very quickly, breaking free takes longer.