What happens when you take codeine?

Aka: Solpadeine, Nurofen Plus, Feminax, Migraleve, Panadeine, Syndol, Tylex.
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Remember: All drugs, including the misuse of prescribed medication, can pose serious health risks, up to and including possible death.

Codeine is an opiate and is sold by pharmacists as a pain reliever, and to help remedy colds and flus.

It is available at pharmacies in various painkillers and cold and flu remedies. Some of the well-known brands include Nurofen and Solpadeine.

If used regularly enough for long enough, it can become addictive.

What are the effects of codeine?

Some of the effects of taking codeine include:

  • Feelings of warmth, relaxation and sleepiness
  • Pain relief
  • Vomiting and constipation may occur

Codeine can be highly addictive, so it’s important to be careful when taking codeine. Common symptoms of codeine addiction include:

  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Sexual difficulties
  • Depression
  • Low blood pressure
  • Stomach pains, which made lead to serious gastrointestinal problems
  • Fatigue

Things to be aware of when taking codeine

Codeine can lower blood pressure and suppress normal breathing, and so can increase the risk of respiratory arrest (when you stop breathing altogether).

There is more risk of overdose and death if you are mixing too much codeine with other drugs that suppress breathing such as alcohol, benzodiazepines like diazepam (Valium), or other opiate drugs.

When a higher than recommended dose of codeine is taken in a tablet combined with another type of painkiller (commonly paracetamol, aspirin or ibuprofen), there is a real risk of experiencing the side-effects of these other drugs. They can cause really serious problems in overdose – with risks of kidney failure, liver failure, and of indigestion or bleeding from the stomach, which can be fatal.

Supports and Services

  • Drugs.ie: Online information and support for drug and alcohol use. Includes a national directory of drug and alcohol services
  • HSE Drugs, Alcohol, HIV and Sexual Health Helpline: Freephone 1800 459 459.
  • The Club Drug Clinic offers advice, support and detoxification for GHB (Liquid Ecstasy, G) and other chemsex and club drugs is an integrated person centred specialist addiction service: Tel 016488600
  • Rialto Community Drug Team
  • Find a local service through the National Directory for Drug and Alcohol Services at Drugs.ie
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