Codeine Effects on the Body and Mind
Codeine is an opiate that comes from poppy plants known as Papaver somniferum. Codeine is prescribed to treat mild to moderate pain and as an antitussive in cough syrups. It is categorized under The Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule II narcotic in pure form. In medications of less than 90 mg per dose, such as Vicodin, Tylenol 3, and some cough syrups, the codeine products may be categorized as Schedule III narcotics. Codeine has less potential for addiction than morphine because it is around 1/10th as potent, but, the abuse of codeine and codeine products is constantly increasing and more people become physically and psychologically dependent on them every year.
How Codeine Works
Codeine works to relieve pain by changing the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain stimuli. It is a central nervous system depressant and can be dangerous if abused, taken in large doses, or used with other drugs and alcohol. In these occurrences, the person risks serious physical and mental health complications including overdose and death. When used to reduce coughing, it decreases the activity in the part of the brain that causes coughing.
Codeine Effects on the Mind
As an opioid narcotic, codeine is a psychoactive drug capable of producing euphoria and sedation for which it is considered to have a high potential for abuse. According to the 2013 National Drug Threat Assessment from the Drug Enforcement Administration, “6.1 million people (2.7 percent of the US population) aged 12 or older are current nonmedical users of psychotherapeutic drugs. Of these 6.1 million people, 4.5 million were users of pain relievers.”
Codeine has the capability of causing psychological changes after using codeine for several weeks or using in higher dosages. Repeat disruptions to the brain and central nervous from codeine use can cause side effects such as memory loss, dizziness, mood changes, confusion, anxiety, depression, somnolence, dysphoria, stupor, and other mental health impairments.
Codeine Effects on the Body
Common physical side effects include itching, constipation, nausea, and vomiting, respiratory depression, difficulty urinating, headache, or rash. If these symptoms persist, they can be serious. Overall side effects from codeine use may be more severe in patients with liver and/or renal disease. Physical dependency can cause withdrawals that may include drug cravings, agitation, nausea, restlessness, fatigue, anxiety, and insomnia, tremors, vomiting, and sweating. In chronic or long term abuse, the symptoms can become more serious. Overdose, seizures, cardiovascular problems, and hypersensitivity can be fatal.