Codeine, Tramadol & Xanax
There is a good chance you have heard of at least one (and possibly all three) of the following pharmaceutical drugs:
- Codeine: often used to treat coughs, this drug can also be helpful for pain management
- Tramadol: a painkiller that is generally considered less dangerous than other opioids
- Xanax (alprazolam): an extremely effective anti-anxiety medication that is one of the most prescribed drugs in the United State
Because these drugs are so familiar—perhaps your doctor has prescribed one or more of them for you at various times—it can be easy to think of them as safe. After all, we tend not to worry too much about things with which we are familiar.
And by and large, codeine, tramadol, and Xanax are safe. Used as directed, each is very good at its job or jobs. But, as you may have guessed, any and all of these drugs can lead to serious problems if they are misused.
Why would anyone misuse a cough suppressant, a pain reliever, or a calming sedative? The answer in all three cases can be summed up succinctly:
Drugs: When You Can’t Get Enough of a Good Feeling
Though codeine and tramadol are opiates and Xanax is a benzodiazepine (or benzo, as they are commonly called), they have something important in common. All three can provide the user with a positive feeling that they have been sorely missing. Codeine and tramadol can provide welcome relief from ongoing pain, and Xanax can provide desperately desired calm to a person who has been perpetually anxious.
This feeling of relief can be described as euphoria. And once a person has experienced it, they can be extremely reluctant to give it up. So reluctant, in fact, that they may start taking more of the drug or use it for longer than it has been prescribed—or both. They may start trying to find alternative supplies of the drug, including from illegal sources. And once they are buying from drug dealers, it’s a short step to more dangerous drugs.
But make no mistake, all three of these drugs are plenty dangerous on their own.
An Accounting of the Symptoms of Misuse
A listing of the negative impacts of each of these drugs is a stark reminder that something that makes you feel good at first can quickly become something that makes you feel very bad indeed.
- Symptoms of codeine abuse can include:
- Building up a tolerance (needing more to achieve the same effect)
- Respiratory failure
- Symptoms of tramadol abuse can include:
- Headaches and/or dizziness
- Drowsiness, slurred speech, and/or a reduction in coordination
- Excessive sweating and/or muscle aches
- Changes in appetite as well nausea, vomiting, and/or constipation
- Pinprick pupils
- Significant increase in symptoms of depression
- Seizures, dangerous depression of the central nervous system, and or serotonin syndrome. Each of these can lead to death.
- Symptoms of Xanax abuse can include:
- Agitation, anxiety, depression, and/or rage
- Confusion, disorientation, and/or mania
- Forgetfulness, incoherent speaking/thinking, and/or focus issues
- Delusions and/or hallucinations
- Tremors, vision issues, headaches, heart palpitations, jaundice, and/or swelling in the hands or feet
- Changes in appetite and/or levels of sexual desire
- Increased sweating, dry mouth, decreased urination, diarrhea, and/or constipation
- Persistent suicidal thoughts
- A range of serious physical and mental issues that may persist long after a person stops taking Xanax
After reading those lists, we hope you will agree that no temporary feeling of euphoria is worth the permanent damage these drugs can do to your physical and mental health. But there is an additional problem that can make it extremely difficult to give up any of these medications once a substance use disorder has developed.
That problem is withdrawal.
Drugs: Caught Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea
It’s an old phrase—caught between the devil and the deep blue sea—but it certainly applies to many people who struggle to stop abusing drugs. On the one hand, you have the devil in the form of the terrible consequences of continuing to misuse drugs like codeine, tramadol, and Xanax. On the other hand, you have the deep blue sea in the form of withdrawal symptoms (and believe us when we say those withdrawal symptoms easily rival many of symptoms we listed above) that threaten to swallow you up. It can feel like your only lifeline is returning to the drugs to ease the symptoms of withdrawal.
And so there you are again: caught between two terrible, unsustainable options.
But there is good news. Being caught between the devil of drug use and the deep blue sea of withdrawal is what is known as a false dilemma. In a false dilemma, you think you have to choose from two options—often two lousy options. But the reason the dilemma is “false” is because you are not, in fact, limited to those two options.
There’s a third option always at your disposal.
That option is getting help at a fully accredited treatment facility like Peak View Behavioral Health.
The First Step of Your Recovery Journey
At Peak View Behavioral Health, we can help you regain and maintain your sobriety. We understand that you may feel embarrassed if you are struggling with a common prescription medication like codeine, tramadol, or Xanax—but we can assure you that we are here to help, not to judge.
We can also provide robust mental health services that can address any disorders that may have contributed to—or been worsened by—your substance use issues. Good mental health is an essential component of recovery, and our commitment to evidence-based, compassionate care provides a foundation for dealing with issues like depression, anxiety, or trauma-based disorders.
Don’t let a false dilemma keep you from reclaiming your sobriety and your life. We are ready to help.