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Key Information



Codeine (DF118)




Empirin compound with codeine, Tylenol with codeine, Codeine in cough medicine


Codeine belongs to a group of medicines called opioids. They combine with the opioid receptors in the brain to block the transmission of pain signals.  Opioid medicines are classified as strong or weak. Strong opioids such as morphine are used to relieve severe pain, including cancer pain. Weak opioids, such as codeine, are available over-the-counter (OTC) in low doses to provide pain relief.   Codeine has a different molecular make up to morphine and heroin, which makes it much weaker.  As a result, it is less addictive than its more potent counterparts that is why in OTC medicines codeine is always combined with paracetamol or ibuprofen.  Combining codeine with these medicines creates a more effective pain relief product than the other analgesics on their own. 


Taken orally in pill form, liquid cough syrup and intramuscular or subcutaneous injection.

HEALTH RISKS (long term) which includes withdrawal & tolerance:

Opiate based drugs affect every part of the body; heart, lungs, brain, eyes, muscles, digestive system, reproductive system and the immune system. Long term use can bring on an insensitivity to pain, lowered blood pressure, and confusion. More often, Codeine tends to abused in combination with alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and/or speed which can be lethal. Most codeine abusers will start with experimentation and anywhere from 15 days to a year can develop an addiction that leads to the abuse of other opiates, especially heroin.  Abuse is common through cough syrups and may stop there with the uncomfortably of drinking cough syrup and the side effects. The body does quickly develop tolerance and more of the codeine is required to achieve the desired effects. Codeine is addicting, physically and psychologically and requires treatment to aid in stopping use.


As part of its ongoing commitment to the safe use of OTC medicines containing codeine, industry manufacturers brought in voluntary guidelines in 2005 which added addiction warnings to packs and patient information leaflets citing that regular codeine use can lead to addiction and that users should consult their doctor if they need to continue taking codeine containing products after three consecutive days of use. 

  1. Codeine or Methylmorphine is an Opiate used for its analgesic, antitussive and antidiarrheal properties.
  2. It is one of the most widely used Opiates in the world and very likely most commonly used drug overall according to numerous reports over the years by organizations such as the World Health Organization.
  3. It is one of the most effective orally-administered Opioid analgesics and has a wide safety margin.
  4. It is from 8 to 12 percent of the strength of Morphine in most people; differences in metabolism can change this figure as can other medications.
  5. Codeine was first isolated in 1830 in France by Jean-Pierre Robiquet.
  6. Although Codeine is a naturally-occurring Opiate, Codeine can also be made by complete synthesis as well.
  7. Common adverse drug reactions associated with the use of Codeine include euphoria, itching, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, dry mouth, orthostatic hypotension, urinary retention and constipation.
  8. When taken for recreational use, codeine is commonly referred to as "cilly" (pronounced like silly) or "loopy c" because of the euphoric effects it causes. Codeine is also known as juice (when in cough syrup form) and school boy, codys (when in tablet form).
  9. Codeine can cause itching for a large percentage of users.
  10. Codeine itself doesn't have any pain-relieving effects, but our body changes it into Morphine, and that's what combats the pain.
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