Menu
AddictionCenter.com

Guiding You From Rehab to Recovery

For 24/7 Treatment Help Call: (877) 655-5116

Codeine Addiction and Abuse

Though codeine is less potent than its drug relative morphine, it still holds powerful and addictive properties for the many people who abuse it worldwide.

Understanding Codeine

codeine prometh syrup
Codeine is a prescription pain medication used to treat mild to moderate pain. It comes in tablet form and as the main ingredient in prescription-grade cough suppressants. Tylenol 3, another popular pain reliever, is codeine combined with acetaminophen.

Codeine is an opiate (sometimes called a narcotic). Other opiates include oxycodone, heroin and morphine. Street names for codeine include cough syrup, schoolboy, coties and t-three’s.

Codeine Effects and Abuse

Codeine use often starts out innocently enough with a prescription for a codeine-based cough syrup. Because codeine is less regulated than some opiates considered to be more dangerous (such as morphine and OxyContin), getting and abusing it is relatively easy. Though less potent, codeine provides effects similar to morphine.

The effects of codeine include:

  • Euphoria
  • Apathy
  • Drowsiness
  • Relaxation

As an opiate, codeine runs a high risk of its users developing a tolerance and eventually a dependence on it. Although many people begin using codeine to relieve a legitimate condition, it is frequently abused as tolerance develops. Many codeine users begin to turn to the drug to cope with all of their physical pain and eventually their emotional pain as well. If you or someone you care about is struggling with a codeine problem, get help now.

Although some people think the drug seems harmless, side effects of codeine range from drowsiness and constipation to blindness and respiratory failure. In large enough doses, codeine may even be fatal.

Ready to Get Help?

Call now to be connected with a compassionate treatment specialist.

Addiction to Codeine

An addiction to codeine may develop from continued abuse of the drug in its cough medicine or pill form. Codeine can lull its users into a false sense of security because many people do not consider it to be as powerful or addictive as its opiate family members.

Codeine is considered a gateway drug to other opiates, including morphine and even heroin.

Many people don’t stop at codeine. They try to reach a better high by mixing it with other substances, including alcohol. Because codeine and alcohol are both central nervous system (CNS) depressants, combining them can lead to dangerous levels of depression in the brain and respiratory system. Learn the criteria of diagnosing codeine addiction today.

Codeine and Other Drugs

For some people, codeine is only a piece of a larger web of addictions. Sometimes, it is the gateway drug into addiction to other substances, especially other opiates like oxycodone or morphine.

Because multiple drugs in a user’s system can change the way treatment is administered, it is important to be honest in discussing all of your addictions with a treatment counselor. No matter what drugs you use, there is a treatment solution for you.

Purple Drank

Codeine cough syrup is used to make "purple drank."

Codeine cough syrup is used to make “purple drank.”

Codeine cough syrup is used to make “purple drank.” Purple drank is a recreational form of the drug made by mixing prescription-grade (codeine) cough syrup with soft drinks, such as Sprite or Mountain Dew, for consumption in large doses. It is also called lean, syrup and sizzurp.

Alarmingly glorified in popular culture, purple drank has been referenced throughout multiple songs and TV shows. It is mentioned in songs by artists like Lil’ Wayne and Three 6 Mafia.

Rapper Lil’ Wayne was admitted to the intensive care unit in March 2013 with seizures and unconsciousness caused by extremely high levels of codeine. Though he survived, he was in critical condition after having his stomach pumped three times to remove the drug from his system.

Codeine Abuse Statistics

33million

An estimated 33 million people use codeine every year.

4.7million

Roughly 4.7 million Americans reported non-medical use of prescription pain relievers, including codeine, according to the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

152percent

Emergency room visits involving painkillers increased by 152 percent between 2004 and 2008.

Overcoming Your Codeine Addiction

Despite the ease with which codeine can be obtained and the drug’s glamorization in popular culture, it is still a dangerous and potentially deadly drug that can cause lives to spiral out of control. If you’re ready to take your life back from a codeine addiction, get in touch with someone who can help you.

Request a Call

Get a Call from a Treatment Specialist

Sources & Author Last Edited: January 21, 2016

  1. Drugs.com. (2014). Codeine Fact Sheet. Retrieved on April 3, 2014, from: http://www.drugs.com/codeine.html
  2. Rx List. (2014). Tylenol-Codeine Tablets. Retrieved on April 3, 2014, from: http://www.rxlist.com/tylenol-codeine-drug.htm
  3. Los Angeles Times. (2013). Lil Wayne Seizure Puts Spotlight on Rappers' Use of 'Sizzurp.' Retrieved on April 3, 2014, from: http://articles.latimes.com/2013/mar/23/entertainment/la-et-ms-lil-wayne-sizzurp-codeine-20130321
About the Writer, Kayla Smith

Kayla Smith is the editorial director for Addiction Center. After working for years as a journalist, she joined the Addiction Center team in hopes of spreading awareness about addiction and mental health issues and helping people get treatment.

Find Treatment Nearby Learn More