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Codeine is used in the treatment of mild to moderate pain and can also be prescribed for the treatment of chronic cough such as that associated with bronchitis.  The drug is derived naturally in very small amounts from the opium poppy but can also be synthesized from morphine, another natural derivative and more commonly found substance that comes from the opium poppy. Because the alkaloid for morphine is more abundant in the opium poppy than codeine, but codeine is more widely prescribed than morphine, much of today’s supply of codeine is synthetically derived from the morphine which comes naturally from the opium poppy.  Regardless of the method by which codeine is derived, the drug has analgesic properties that make it widely prescribed for pain reduction.  Unfortunately, according to the US National Library of Medicine, the drug is also used for recreational purposes and can lead to physical dependence and addiction.

Side Effects of Codeine

Codeine can cause a number of side effects when a user takes the drug, especially if the user takes excessive amounts or takes the drug for a prolonged period of time.

Some of the most common side effects of codeine include:
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Upset stomach
  • Constipation
  • Dehydration

In certain cases, more serious side effects may occur.

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Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following side effects while taking codeine:
  • Trouble breathing
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Rash
  • Itching or hives
  • Changes in vision or blurred vision
  • Seizures
  • Irregular heartbeat

These could be symptoms of overdose or may signify an allergic reaction to codeine. Do not hesitate to seek medical attention if you experience any of the adverse side effects listed above.

Brand Names


Headache and nausea are common side effects of codeine.

Codeine is marketed under a number of brand names associated with the use of codeine in various formulations that are used in the treatment of pain. The most common brand names are typically those associated with Tylenol with Codeine such as Tylenol 1,2,3, or 4.

Other codeine brand names include:
  • Colrex
  • Calcidrine
  • Fiortal with Codeine
  • Phenflu CD

Codeine Street Names

Codeine is most often referred to as T-3s or purple drank on the street.  Purple drank is the term used to described cough syrups that have codeine which are typically a purple color.  T-3s is the term used to describe the most widely prescribed codeine medication, Tylenol with codeine #3 which contains 30mg of codeine.  Various other street names may be used to describe codeine but these are the most common.

Codeine Street Names


Sustained use of codeine, either for medical or recreational purposes carries a risk of causing physical dependence and addiction.

Codeine addiction can lead to many consequences including:
  • Problems at work or school
  • Problems at home
  • Accident or injury
  • Illness
  • Organ damage
  • Death

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47,300* People Addicted
23,100* Getting Help
8,209* Deaths
*Statistic from 2015

Although codeine does have a potential to be abused and addiction can occur, this is not the most widely abused narcotic on the streets.  In fact, the DEA considers most formulations of codeine to be a schedule III narcotic which means that it is right in the middle of the spectrum for potential abuse and the likelihood to cause addiction.


If codeine addiction does occur, quitting the drug can be a difficult process that requires professional treatment. Treatment for codeine addiction can usually take place in an outpatient facility and may include individual and group counseling to help the user learn other methods of tolerating pain, coping with their addiction and saying no to future drug use.  In severe cases, especially if codeine has been abused for a very long time, there could be a need for more invasive treatment such as that which is found in a residential facility or hospital detox center, however this is a rather seldom occurrence with this particular narcotic.

For help finding codeine addiction treatment, call our toll-free helpline at (800) 407-7195(Who Answers?)

The Dangers of Codeine Abuse and Knowing When Treatment Help is Needed

the Take-Away

Codeine usage can cause physical dependence and addiction. It is possible to overcome an addiction to codeine with professional treatment.