Codeine is a medicine that needs prescription. It is used primarily to treat pain that is mild or moderate. It can be taken orally and it usually comes in the form of tablet. Codeine is also a main ingredient in cough suppressants that are categorized as prescription-grade medicine. When combined with acetaminophen, codeine becomes a popular pain reliever drug called Tylenol 3.
There are times that it is called a narcotic but codeine is considered as an opiate. The other known opiates are heroin, morphine and oxycodone. Codeine is known in street names such as t-three’s, coties, schoolboy, and cough syrup.
Abuse and Effects of Codeine
Usually, people start to use codeine without the knowledge of taking the substance. They are able to do so when they take cough syrups that are codeine-based. Unlike other opiates, codeine is not heavily regulated. This is why it is relatively easier to get and abuse the substance. It is not considered as dangerous as OxyContin and morphine. Codeine is less potent but it has the same effects as morphine.
Codeine has effects such as:
Because it is an opiate, taking codeine make the user susceptible to the development of tolerance. This will eventually result to dependence to the drug. Many people’s first experience of using codeine is when they need to treat a legitimate health condition. However, this first experience is the step towards abuse of the drug. Abuse happens when tolerance has already developed. Many of the users of the drug start to use it to relieve themselves of the physical pain they are suffering from. Later on, they use the drug to cope with all of their emotional pain.
To many people, codeine is a drug that don’t pose any harm. But the truth is, the drug has several side effects such as drowsiness, constipation, blindness and failure of the respiratory system. When taken in very high doses, the drug can be a cause of death.
When the drug is continuously abused, the person using it may develop addiction. Abuse can start from the simple intake of codeine in its pill form or as a cough medicine. Abuse happens because people think that codeine is not as powerful as other opiates. They feel that they are more secure because the drug is less addictive.
It must be emphasized that many people start to abuse and get addicted to heroin and morphine after they take codeine. It is like the first step to abusing more powerful opiate drugs.
Codeine is not the end of addiction. For many people it is the start of wanting to take a better kind of high. Thus, they try to mix the drug with other addictive substances such as alcohol. Both considered as CNS or central nervous system depressant, alcohol and codeine when combined can result to levels of depression that are dangerous to the respiratory system and the brain. Continuously taking them in mixed form can hugely damage the brain and the respiratory system.
Codeine and Other Related Drugs
Some people consider codeine as just a part of the larger picture of drug substance addiction. There are times that it is their first step to other substance addiction. In particular, codeine is their gateway to addiction to more powerful opiates like morphine and oxycodone.
When there is presence of multiple drugs in the user’s body, the treatment to be administered will change. It is thus very crucial for the user to be very honest when discussing with the treatment counselor. The user should discuss all of the drugs he or she is addicted to. For every type of drug used, there is proper treatment or solution available to the user.
Purple drank is a mixture that is produced when codeine cough syrup is mixed with soft drinks. Purple drank is codeine in its recreational form. The prescription-grade codeine is mixed with Mountain Dew, Sprite or other soft drinks to produce the mixture that is also called sizzurp, syrup and lean. The convenience of the mixture makes it so easy for young people to have access to the addicting effect of codeine.
In popular culture, it is very alarming that it is continuously glorified. The glorification is manifested in the lyrics of many songs and scripts of many TV shows. Music artists like Three 6 Mafia and Lil’ Wayne have songs that mention the songs. These forms of popular art make the substance appealing to people particularly the younger ones.
In March 2013, Lil’ Wayne was found to have codeine in his body in extremely high levels. It caused him to suffer from unconsciousness and seizures. He was then admitted to an intensive care unit. He was able to survive but his condition was very critical after the incident. The doctors had to remove codeine from his body. They pumped the stomach three times.
Statistics about Codeine Abuse
Looking at the figures, it can be denied that codeine is one of the most used opiate substance. Every year, there is an estimated 33 million users of codeine. This is very huge especially when compared to users of morphine and other similar drugs. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2008, around 4.7 million of Americans were reported to have used prescription pain relievers such as codeine for non-medical purposes. On top of these figures, the years 2004 to 2008 have seen a 152% increase in the number of clients brought to emergency rooms due to overdose of painkillers. These numbers highly speak of how many people are using the drug and how many lives are affected by the drug’s dangerous effects.
Overcoming Addiction to Codeine
Without a doubt, codeine is one of the drugs that can be obtained very easily. Pop culture’s glamorization of the drug has also made it more appealing to the people. However, it should be emphasized that codeine is dangerous and is a potential cause of death. It can also make the users’ lives uncontrollable once there is addiction to the drug already.