Codeine is a narcotic pain-reliever and cough suppressant similar to morphine and hydrocodone. Moreover, a small amount of codeine is converted to morphine in the body. Second, the precise mechanism of action of codeine is not known; however, like morphine, codeine binds to receptors in the brain (opioid receptors) that are important for transmitting the sensation of pain throughout the body and brain. Codeine increases tolerance to pain, decreasing discomfort, but the pain still is apparent to the patient. In addition to reducing pain, codeine also causes sedation drowsiness and depresses breathing. Codeine frequently is combined with acetaminophen (Tylenol) or aspirin for more effective pain relief. The FDA approved codeine in 1950.
To begin, You should not use codeine if you have severe breathing problems, a blockage in your stomach or intestines, or frequent asthma attacks or hyperventilation.
In addition, Codeine can slow or stop your breathing, and may be habit-forming. MISUSE OF THIS MEDICINE CAN CAUSE ADDICTION, OVERDOSE, OR DEATH, especially in a child or other person using the medicine without a prescription.
Codeine is not for use in anyone under 18 years old.
Furthermore, taking codeine during pregnancy may cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the newborn.
Fatal side effects can occur if you use codeine with alcohol, or with other drugs that cause drowsiness or slow your breathing.
Before taking this medicine
First, you should not use this medicine if you are allergic to it, or if you have:
- severe asthma or breathing problems;
- a blockage in your stomach or intestines; or
- frequent asthma attacks or hyperventilation.
Secondly, In some people, codeine breaks down rapidly in the liver and reaches higher than normal levels in the body. And, this can cause dangerously slow breathing and may cause death, especially in a child.
Do not give codeine to anyone younger than 18 years old.
To make sure this medicine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:
- liver disease;
- breathing problems, sleep apnea;
- asthma, COPD, sleep apnea, or other breathing disorders;
- abnormal curvature of the spine that affects breathing;
- kidney disease;
- a head injury or brain tumor;
- low blood pressure;
- blockage in your digestive tract (stomach or intestines);
- a gallbladder or pancreas disorder;
- underactive thyroid;
- Addison’s disease or other adrenal gland disorder;
- enlarged prostate, urination problems; or
- mental illness, drug or alcohol addiction.
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Codeine is used to help relieve severe ongoing pain (such as due to cancer). Hydromorphone belongs to a class of drugs known as opioid (narcotic) analgesics. It works in the brain to change how your body feels and responds to pain.
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Read the Medication Guide and, if available, the Patient Information Leaflet provided by your pharmacist before you start taking this product and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions regarding the information, consult your doctor or pharmacist.
Take codeine phosphate by mouth as directed by your doctor, usually once daily at the same time each day, not as needed for sudden (breakthrough) pain. You may take this drug with or without food. If you have nausea, it may help to take this drug with food. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about other ways to decrease nausea (such as lying down for 1 to 2 hours with as little head movement as possible).
Swallow the tablet whole. Do not crush, break, chew, or dissolve the tablet. Doing so can release all of the drugs at once, increasing the risk of side effects.
Suddenly stopping this medication may cause withdrawal, especially if you have used it for a long time or in high doses. To prevent withdrawal, your doctor may lower your dose slowly. Tell your doctor or pharmacist right away if you have any withdrawal symptoms such as restlessness, mental/mood changes (including anxiety, trouble sleeping, thoughts of suicide), watering eyes, runny nose, nausea, diarrhea, sweating, muscle aches, or sudden changes in behavior.
- the person’s size, weight and health
- whether the person is used to taking it
- whether other drugs are taken around the same time
- the amount is taken.
- Side effects
The most common side effects of codeine are:
- confusion, difficulty concentrating
- euphoria, restlessness
- blurred vision
- dry mouth
- limbs feeling heavy or muscles feeling stiff
- mild allergic rash, itching, and hives
- decreased heart rate, palpitations
- stomach-ache, nausea, vomiting, constipation
- inability to pass urine
- severe constipation and obstructed bowel
- cold clammy skin with a bluish tinge
- mental numbness
- very slow, shallow breathing
- hallucinations and sometimes seizures
- coma and death.1difficulty urinating.1
These side effects may disappear with continued treatment, but if they persist, speak to a medical practitioner.
If the dose is too high, you might overdose. Call an ambulance straight away by dialing triple zero (000) if you experience any of these symptoms:
Long-term effects of codeine
Regular use of codeine may eventually cause:
- reduced sex drive
- irregular periods
- tension and muscle twitches
- needing to use more to get the same effect
- dependence on codeine
- financial, work and social problems.1,2
Discuss the side effects of long-term use with a medical practitioner.
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Using codeine with other drugs
The effects of taking codeine with other drugs, including alcohol, prescription medications, and other over-the-counter medicines, are often unpredictable.1
Codeine taken with alcohol can cause mental clouding, reduced coordination, and slow breathing.1
Giving up codeine after using it for a long time is challenging because the body has to get used to functioning without it. Please seek advice from a medical professional.
Withdrawal symptoms usually start within a few hours after the last dose and become strongest between 48 and 72 hours. These symptoms can include:
cravings for codeine
- abdominal cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting
- lack of appetite
- runny nose and sneezing
- yawning and difficulty sleeping
- trembling, aching muscles and joints
- goosebumps, fever, chills, sweating
- restlessness, irritability, nervousness, depression
Effects of codeine
There is no safe level of drug use. The use of any drug always carries some risk – even medications can produce unwanted side effects. It’s important to be careful when taking any type of drug.
Codeine affects everyone differently, based on:
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 failure. Learn the criteria for diagnosing codeine addiction today.
Codeine is available as:
- Tablets: 15, 30, 60 mg.
- Solution: 15 mg/5ml (teaspoon).
- Injection: 15 and 30 mg/ml.
Codeine should be stored between 15 C to 30 C (59 F to 86 F).
You need a prescription from your doctor to obtain codeine.