Codeine is an opiate narcotic pain reliever. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has classified it as a Schedule II substance, which means it has noted abuse potential.

The drug is typically prescribed for cough and pain relief. The drug itself is addictive – that is, repeated use can lead to dependency and withdrawal.

When used in doses and frequency that exceed what is outlined on a prescription, users can quickly develop a dependency to codeine. There are various routes of administration for this medication, including:

Liquid (as is commonly found in prescription cough syrup).

Pill form (under trade names such as Tylenol 1, Tylenol 3 and Tylenol 4 – all combinations of varying doses of acetaminophen and codeine, sold as a Schedule III drug when codeine content is not above 90 mgs.).

Injection (less common than administration by pill or liquid).

What are the Signs of Addiction?

No one ever plans to become addicted. There are countless reasons why someone would try a substance. Some are driven by curiosity and peer pressure, while others are looking for a way to relieve stress.

A codeine addiction has likely taken hold, to some extent, once the body begins to build up a tolerance to the drug. The abuser of the drug will begin to notice that the initial dose of the medication no longer “works”, and repeated or more frequent doses of the codeine are required to achieve the desired effect.

When taken in high doses, it can cause:

Euphoria/drunk-like feelings.



Slowed breathing.


Constricted or “pinpoint” pupils – a telltale sign of opiate use.

Clammy, cold skin.


Urinary problems.





Breaking the Habit

How to successfully deal with your codeine addiction

Codeine addiction has become an epidemic across Nigeria but all hope is not lost. There are ways to regain control of one’s life and combat addiction.

How to successfully combat a codeine addiction

How to successfully combat a codeine addiction  (

A codeine epidemic is sweeping Nigeria and many are falling fowl to its effects and find themselves in the grips of a difficult drug addiction. For those who realise they have a problem and need help, here’s how to successfully deal with your codeine addiction.

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.

Codeine is an opiate (sometimes called a narcotic). Other opiates include oxycodone, heroin and morphine.

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 getting access to ot and abusing it is relatively easy. Though less potent, codeine provides effects similar to morphine.

The effects of codeine include:





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.

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.

What is addiction?

In order to understand why you are suffering from a codeine addiction, we need to understand addiction in its most simple form. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease defined by a physical and psychological dependence on drugs, alcohol or a behaviour. When an addictive disorder has formed, a person will pursue their toxic habits despite putting themselves or others in harm’s way.

An addiction heavily impacts the way a person thinks, feels and acts. Many individuals with addictive disorders are aware of their problem, but have difficulty stopping on their own.

While it can be tempting to try a drug or addictive activity for the first time, it’s all too easy for things to go wrong especially in the case of drug and alcohol abuse. When a person consumes a substance repeatedly over time, they begin building a tolerance. A tolerance occurs when you need to use larger amounts of drugs or alcohol to achieve the same effects as when you started.

Prolonged substance abuse can result in a dangerous cycle of addiction in which a person needs to continue using drugs or alcohol in order to avoid the uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal. By the time a person realises they have a problem, drugs or alcohol have already seized control and becomes the most important thing to them.

No one ever plans to become addicted. There are countless reasons why someone would try a substance. Some are driven by curiosity and peer pressure, while others are looking for a way to relieve stress.

In the end however, all fall prey to the devastating effects of addiction.

Recognising and understanding addiction

Identifying a substance abuse problem can be a complicated process. While some signs of addictive behaviors are obvious, others are more difficult to recognize. Many people who realize they have a problem will try to hide it from family and friends, making it harder to tell whether someone is struggling.

Television, media and film often depict people with substance abuse issues as criminals, or individuals with moral shortcomings. The truth is, there’s no single face of addiction. Anyone can develop patterns of abuse or risky behaviours, no matter their age, culture or financial status.

There is a serious codeine epidemic going on right now in Nigeria and many youth are in the throws of serious drug addiction

» more There is a serious codeine epidemic going on right now in Nigeria and many youth are in the throws of serious drug addiction  (Business Guide Africa)

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 which is the most powerful and destructive opiate of all.

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.

How to combat codeine addiction

For those with a serious addiction to codeine, a change of environment can lead to higher chances of recovery. Treatment centers provide a medically managed programme that helps ease the stress of withdrawal.

Apart from the mental dependence that often develops, the biggest challenge facing codeine abusers is the withdrawal symptoms. Although codeine is far less potent than other opiates like heroin, it still produces uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms ranging from sleeplessness to depression.

Other symptoms of codeine withdrawal may include:

Muscle cramps

Cold flashes



Nervousness and anxiety


Quitting cold turkey can cause serious side effects, such as extreme dehydration or vomiting and breathing the stomach contents into the lungs. It is always recommended to enlist a doctor for a medically supervised detox.

Codeine treatment usually begins with a detoxification period at an inpatient treatment center. Inpatient facilities also provide group counselling and specialised support to help recovering addicts learn how to live healthy, happy lives without codeine.

If you feel that your or someone you love is suffering from a codeine addiction, pay a visit to a doctor and be honest about your addiction. They will be able to point you in the direction of a treatment centre and get you back on track and on the road to recovery.

Even though the journey is tough, once you are free from addiction, the struggle to become sober will be well worth it.

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