Promethazine Withdrawal Effects and Timeline
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction to promethazine you may wonder if stopping will cause withdrawal symptoms. This article will explain what promethazine is, its addictive potential, withdrawal symptoms, and how to get help if you or a loved one have a substance use disorder.
What Is Promethazine?
Promethazine is an antihistamine used to treat a variety of conditions, such as allergies, motion sickness, and post-surgery pain relief. This synthetic drug is also a powerful sedative, which is why it is often added to sleep aids and medications that cause drowsiness like cough syrup or cold medicine.
Is Promethazine Addictive?
On its own, promethazine is not particularly addictive; in fact, a study from the Journal of Addiction Medicine found that only 354 instances of promethazine misuse were reported to the National Poison Data System between 2002 and 2012. The study goes on to report that, of these 354 cases, less than 20 percent required admission to a medical facility, further proving the minimal effects promethazine has on its own.
However, this drug is not always used on its own. Promethazine is often combined with powerfully addictive substances like codeine. Codeine is an opioid – an addictive drug from the same family as heroin – and it produces a feeling of euphoria when ingested. Combine this euphoric feeling with the powerful sedative effects of promethazine, and the result is a highly addictive substance that is easily procured.
Promethazine Withdrawal Symptoms
Admittedly, withdrawing from promethazine and codeine is not an easy task. This is because codeine, like all opioids, attaches to and activates the opioid receptors in the brain. The drug also affects the brain’s limbic system, which controls mood and feelings of pleasure and relaxation. As the drug leaves the body, individuals may experience uncomfortable physical and psychological effects. This withdrawal period can last up to seven or eight days, and some symptoms can linger even longer.
Some of the most common withdrawal symptoms from promethazine and codeine include:
- Restless legs.
- Muscle aches.
How Long Does Withdrawal Take?
A typical withdrawal period lasts around seven days — though some symptoms can last longer. These symptoms can be managed by professionals at a medical detox, which can make individuals feel more comfortable as they move through the withdrawal process. Addiction specialists typically break up this time into three phases.
Phase 1: The first phase lasts 1-4 days, and during this time, physical withdrawal is at its peak. An individual may experience nausea, soreness, headaches, and other uncomfortable symptoms as codeine begins to leave the system. This is also a result of promethazine leaving the system. The U.S. National Library of Medicine reports that promethazine has a total elimination half-life of 12 hours, which means that its sedative effects will vanish within 24 hours of a person’s last dose.
Phase 2: The second stage of withdrawal occurs during days 5-7. At this time, the physical symptoms will begin to fade, and new symptoms will take their place. Instead of feeling sweaty, shaky, or nauseated, an individual may feel fatigued or dehydrated. This is a direct result of the previous four days, and these symptoms often dissipate with appropriate care.
Psychological symptoms tend to set in during this stage too. People who have experienced withdrawal from promethazine and codeine have reported feeling depressed around day five. They have also reported feeling cravings for their drug of choice.
Phase 3: The final stage of withdrawal begins on day eight and lasts for some time after, sometimes for as long as 30 days. At this time, almost all physical symptoms will have passed, and the individual will be fully detoxed from codeine and promethazine. However, cravings, depression, and other psychological effects remain. During this time, a person in recovery should continue looking to their family, friends, and treatment professionals for support as their sobriety is still fragile.
Managing Promethazine Withdrawal
Whenever someone goes though withdrawal from any drug, it is best to have a medical professional available to help with any potentially adverse effects. In the case of promethazine, the physical withdrawal symptoms are not life-threatening though they are uncomfortable. Regardless, having an addiction specialist or doctor available for the person going through withdrawal is still useful. If the individual becomes dehydrated, or even if the psychological symptoms begin to feel like too much, professional intervention can make all the difference for the person.
Whether a person is experiencing withdrawal from promethazine, codeine, or cocaine, it is important to remember that this stage of recovery will pass. The discomfort only lasts for a few days, and loved ones are there to offer strength and support every step of the way. Once a person has completed the withdrawal process, they can begin therapy in a comprehensive treatment program.
Getting Help for Substance Use Disorders
If you or someone you love is struggling with a substance use disorder, getting professional treatment can help get you on the road to recovery. At our inpatient rehab in Aliso Viejo, CA we offer safe and effective treatment for substance use disorders that uses evidence-based addiction focused healthcare to help people struggling with addiction.
Contact our helpful and knowledgeable admissions navigators 24/7 at to learn more about our different levels of addiction treatment and to find out more information about how to start rehab admissions. They can also answer your questions about how to pay for rehab or using your insurance to cover addiction treatment.