Codeine: A Guide On The Pain Relieving Narcotic

Opioids are among the most frequently used painkillers in today’s pharmaceutical world. They are also the leading, number one most abused substance due to their powerful tendency to create addiction. Codeine is one of these well-known and widely used opioids.

Due to the ever-increasing abuse of opioids, there has been a rapidly rising awareness around the issue and a desire from many solution seekers to find ways in which the problem can be combatted effectively; namely, by finding natural solutions that placate these addictive appetites. In other words, helping people find a natural alternative that eases drug cravings and also benefits their bodies in other positive ways.

Scientific and the holistic healthcare communities are still battling for thoroughly effective remedies. However, there have been recent studies done on one particular natural substance that shows promise in possibly being a big breakthrough for codeine addicts.

However, before getting into this possible breakthrough solution, there must a be a detailed ground knowledge of what codeine is, its effects on the brain and body, and why it is so big in the pharmaceutical world before the natural solution effects can be fully understood as an effective alternative. So that being said, what is codeine and why is it so highly addictive for so many people?

What is Codeine

Codeine is a narcotic drug that acts as a depressant on the central nervous system, causing a calming, sedative effect. This, in turn, makes it good for pain relief, especially when taken with another pain reliever such as acetaminophen, which is Tylenol, or aspirin.

Additionally, this medication makes a really good codeine cough syrup as well as an effective antidiarrheal medicine. Therefore, because codeine slows the central nervous system, the body’s natural activity become slowed as well. It slows the production of irritating mucus which produces a nagging cough; hence the need for codeine cold medicines. It also slows the digestive tract, resulting in less watery stools; hence the need for codeine antidiarrheal medications.

Lastly, it slows the body’s ability to receive pain messages because the opioids contained within codeine attach to the opioid receptors that are responsible for getting the pain message to the brain; hence the high demand for using codeine for pain.

Codeine medicines were approved by the FDA in the 1950’s. Codeine is derived from the Papaver Somniferum plantwhich is also known as the opium poppy plant. The opium poppy plant consists of morphine. Therefore, morphine is contained within codeine and is the most active ingredient in the popular analgesic.

The Benefits Of Codeine Usage

The reason codeine is approved in varying medications is that it effectively works in reducing pain symptoms and also aiding people with the common cold and flu cough symptoms. Additionally, it helps with any pain associated with these sicknesses. In some cases, codeine even helps tremendously with any case where diarrhea symptoms become a short-term health hazard.

Codeine is most beneficial to people who are extensive metabolizers, meaning that they have adequate levels of enzyme activity required to metabolize the morphine contained within the drug which then, in turn, helps them to experience effective symptom relief.

Using Codeine With Tylenol

Combining codeine with Tylenol is an extremely effective analgesic. The reason this combination makes a great analgesic is that it not only works in tandem together without any adverse reactions towards one another, therefore making it relatively safe for the body, but more importantly, its potency, when combined together, effectively abolishes pain.

While codeine is strong enough to effectively slow down the pain messengers so that pain is lessened, Tylenol taken with codeine completely shuts down the body’s ability to send pain messages to the nerves, therefore, totally eradicating an individual’s symptoms.

Therefore, while codeine by itself might be a good answer for patients who have moderate pain, the Tylenol/codeine combination is great for patients with severe pain.

Comparison With Other Opioids

Codeine is comparable to other Opioids due to its analgesic properties, which it shares with other opioids. Codeine is particularly comparable to hydrocodone.

Codeine vs Hydrocodone

Codeine and hydrocodone are both effective analgesics. However, they are made differently and, also, used for different types of pain. While codeine is a naturally derived part of the morphine opium plant, hydrocodone is a man-made version that contains codeine.

Additionally, codeine, as mentioned before, is less potent and does not treat severe pain, but rather, only milder forms. Hydrocodone treats more severe types of pain.

The Recommended Dosage For Codeine

Codeine, when properly monitored by a doctor, is generally started out at a very low dose, although the light dose varies depending on the type of treatment that’s needed.

The reason for this is because doctors know a patient’s medical history, and if there is no recent history of the patient taking codeine or any other type of opioid, especially if they are children,  the person’s body will most likely not be able to tolerate a high dose right away.

That being said, the safe milligram dosage range that doctors often give for pain and cough in children and in adults are as follows:

In children that have pain, treatment with codeine is generally prescribed by doctors at doses from less than one milligram to 30 milligrams every six hours, and sometimes if the pain is severe enough in these children, the treatment can go up to 60 milligrams for children above 12. This is not to be exceeded in seasoned codeine patients by 240 milligrams daily.

A special note about pediatric codeine treatment: the FDA prohibits the use of the analgesic treatment in children under the age of 12. Children right at the age of 12 generally get the lowest milligram treatment starting out.

Doctors will generally give children that have a cough seven and a half to 30 milligrams every six hours, depending on age and the severity of a cough. For adults that have pain, the initial treatment dose given by a doctor is anywhere from 15-60 milligrams every four hours with a maximum dose of 360 milligrams daily.

For adults with a cough, treatment dosages given by a doctor range from seven and a half milligrams to 30, depending on the severity and the individual taking it.

The Codeine Side Effects

The side effects of codeine are both negative and positive. The negative side effects range from mild to more severe, depending on the milligram strength and how often it is taken. The list of the most well-known side effects are as follows:

Common Side Effects

  • Fatigue or a sluggish feeling
  • Dizziness
  • Restless feeling
  • Dysphoria
  • Less of a sex drive
  • Difficulty concentrating or feeling foggy-headed
  • Excessive sweat
  • Blurry vision
  • Limbs feeling cumbersome and heavier, or even stiff
  • Muscle twitches
  • Constipation
  • Needing more and more to get the same medicinal effect as the body builds a tolerance
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Allergic reactions such as itching, hive breakouts, or rash
  • Dry mouth

However, the reason codeine is so addictive is for the following side effects that are experienced as pleasurable and positive:

  • Loss of pain
  • Euphoria
  • Dream-like states
  • Contentment
  • Reducing stress, anxiety, and irritability
  • Sedation

Severe Side Effects

Some of the side effects of taking codeine overtime put an individual at risk for more serious health risks or even premature death. These are the symptoms that are more serious in nature:

  • Depression
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Breathing problems such as slowed and shallow breathing also called respiratory depression
  • Heart palpitations
  • Stomach pain
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Chronic constipation
  • Consistent low blood pressure

Codeine Can Cause Life-Threatening Respiratory Depression

As mentioned above, codeine can cause respiratory depression, which is exhibited as shallow or slowed breathing. If a person does not receive adequate supplies of oxygen in any small pocket of time, it can cause hypoxia, a condition that quickly develops when the brain starts to become damaged from inadequate oxygen supplies.

This can cause permanent brain damage, a coma, and even puts the person at risk for a sudden death.

A person that goes into respiratory depression, which leads to hypoxia, is especially at risk if either the patient is sleeping or they are so drugged that they cannot tell that this is occurring. However, make no mistake, inadequate oxygen supplies caused by Respiratory depression is highly life-threatening, no matter when a person takes codeine.

Codeine Can Lead To Severe Low Blood Pressure

Severe low blood pressure also puts a person at a higher risk for possible death. The reason for this is because it shocks the body. This shock leads to damaged organs, namely the brain and the kidneys because they do not get enough blood to function adequately.

This severe low blood pressure shock can then cause the sudden death of the individual because the organs are forced to shut down.

What Are The Effects Of Mixing Codeine And Alcohol

The temptation to mix codeine and alcohol together is enormous, especially when already under the influence of one of the drugs. This is because of the pleasure centers in the brain, namely the dopamine, serotonin, and GABA receptors.

However, a person automatically puts themselves at a higher risk for severe side effects or even a sudden death if they use alcohol alongside codeine.

Although there are well-known effects that take place with the singular sedation of one or the other, such as the extreme hindrance of motor skills, slurred speech, dizziness, etc., the dangers increase with using both at one time, namely respiratory depression. As mentioned before, this is life-threatening to the individual because it compromises the necessary oxygen needed in the brain.

Ultimately people cannot function at all under the influence of both. Therefore, not only does it drastically compromise one’s health, even putting their very lives at risk, but it also hinders one from functioning normally and healthily in life.

Buying Codeine Online

Codeine is not legally given out without a prescription. However, if a person feels that they need a codeine prescription, they have the option to order online versus going to a local doctor. There are many online pharmacies that have licensed, certified doctors who can determine based off an extensive questionnaire whether or not codeine is the right option for the individual seeking pain relief.

However, a word of caution: There are such things as fake prescriptions, doctors, and online pharmacies. If you feel that an online pharmacy might be a good option for you, make sure to research thoroughly the pharmacy and doctors you are thinking of using. In this way, you can avoid getting a drug could potentially harm your health.

Codeine Abuse And Addiction

As already stated, codeine and morphine addiction are rampant today. The very nature of morphine predisposes people that are prescribed the analgesic to become quickly addicted. What the FDA once thought was merely an effective drug that would help thousands has now become a mass addiction epidemic with millions currently addicted to codeine.

This is now where the discussion turns to, not only the promised natural solution topic that was hinted to at the beginning of the article but also other prescription drug options that are available today.

Alternatives To Codeine

There are other drug alternatives to Codeine, both opioid and non-opioid:

Opioid Alternatives

  • tramadol
  • tapentadol
  • oxycodone
  • oxymorphone
  • hydromorphone
  • hydrocodone bitartrate
  • butorphanol
  • morphine sulfate
  • fentanyl
  • levorphanol tartrate
  • buprenorphine
  • meperidine hydrochloride
  • methadone hydrochloride

Non-opioid Alternatives

The Natural Alternative For Pain Medication: CBD


Although CBD does not aid in reducing cough symptoms, it has revealed itself to be an effective pain reliever.  

 CBD Helps With Pain

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid found in the marijuana plant that does not produce the psychoactive high that THC, the other popular cannabinoid in cannabis, gives you. Research shows that CBD has the proven ability to reduce, and even eliminate, pain.

According to the GW Pharmaceuticals in Washington, who did an extensive review of studies done from the 1980’s up to 2007, CBD is an effective pain management supplement for chronic pain.

Cannabidiol helps to relieve pain by interacting with the cannabinoid receptors in the brain and throughout the body. In this way, it effectively slows the chemical connections which signal the brain that the body is in pain. This then, allows the body to relax.

 Why Choose CBD Over Codeine?

There are a couple of big reasons why CBD is a much better alternative to codeine. The number one reason would be that it does not harm your health, unlike chronic codeine use. CBD is all natural, having no synthetic chemicals and liver-damaging properties within it.

Additionally, CBD can help with other health issues. Insomnia, depression, anxiety, and generalized stress-related emotions. It also relieves any inflammation in the body. Pain is directly related to inflammation in the body.

Where To Buy CBD

CBD oil can be easily obtained whether you seek it out at your local dispensary or you purchase it online. The easiest way for most is to purchase the oil online.

Word of advice, however: Not all CBD oils are created the same. It is imperative that you do your research on high-quality oils for the best symptom relief. Poorly made CBD oil will not give you the results you are desiring and you will feel you have wasted your money. This can be discouraging for people who are in need of a fast pain management alternative to the opioids.

Hope For the Future

The hope is that while codeine and morphine have their place as extremely effective drugs that help millions every year who are in pain that codeine abuse be quelled, and even possibly eradicated, in the future. By discovering and promoting other alternatives, especially plant-derived medicines like CBD, opioid addiction may one day become a thing of the past.