Doctor Taiwo Ogundipe, a Deputy Director of Pharmaceutical Services at the Obafemi Awolowo Teaching Hospital, Ile-Ife, Osun State has revealed the various dangers associated with abuse of Codeine.
While speaking with The Punch, Dr. Ogundipe disclosed codeine is a prescription-only-medicine’ and using it without outside medical prescription can lead to addiction.
See the excerpt from the interview below:
What is codeine?
Codeine is an alkaloid found in the opium poppy, the scientific name for the plant is papaver somniferum.
Codeine belongs to the class of drugs called opioids. It is used as an analgesic for the treatment of mild to moderate pain (narcotic analgesic). It can also be used as a cough suppressant and an anti-diarrhoea. It is better avoided in children under 18 years, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers.
How addictive is codeine?
Codeine is supposed to be a “prescription-only-medicine.” When codeine is not used according to medical prescription and in high doses or high frequencies of use (drug abuse), it will lead to codeine addiction. It causes drowsiness and respiratory depression; its effect is not as high as marijuana.
It is illegal to buy or possess codeine without license or prescription from a registered medical practitioner.
What are the side effects of codeine?
The side effects of codeine use include drowsiness, constipation, itchiness, vomiting and respiratory depression. The side effects that can arise from the misuse of codeine are usually adverse effects which include dry mouth, urinary retention, orthostatic hypotension and respiratory depression.
What are the dangers of mixing codeine with other drugs?
As a result of addiction, codeine alone may not be enough even at the high doses they take, they have to combine it with other drugs to get the expected high effects.
They combine codeine with alcohol, codeine with tramadol and some other agents that are known to the users. The danger of mixing codeine with other drugs is that there is the possibility of drug-drug interaction between codeine and the other drugs which may lead to toxicity, cause some complications and may be life-threatening.
If the codeine-addict eventually comes to the hospital for treatment, the doctors may not even know other drugs combined with codeine which may make treatment difficult.
What treatment options work best in treating codeine addiction?
The best treatment options are some chemical agents (medicines) can be used for detoxification of the body system of the codeine addict. Some implants have been developed which may be inserted to treat addiction. Some anti-craving agents can be used. Rehabilitation of the subjects during and after treatment is very important. Psychological counseling of the subjects is also very important.
What are the street names for this drug?
Some of the street names for codeine include school boy, science student, captain cody and cody. When it is mixed with alcohol, it is called Lean, sizzurp, purple drank. When mixed with tramadol, it may be called Lean-T.
What are the health risks of the drug?
The health risks of codeine are devastating to health and psychological state of the subjects. It produces euphoria, altered consciousness, confusion, cardiac arrest, allergic skin reaction, organ damage, heart rate and blood pressure can drop.
What are the signs of addiction?
Some of the signs of addiction include cyanosis (blue skin), slowed heartbeat, pinpoint pupils, lack of pulse, loss of consciousness, seizures, frequent vomiting and fatigue.
What are the symptoms of withdrawal?
If a person suddenly stops using codeine, withdrawal symptoms may occur which include running nose, chills, stomach cramps, sweating, pains, muscle spasm, weakness, yawning, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, insomnia and drug craving. To minimize withdrawal symptoms, long-term users should gradually reduce or tail-down their codeine use under medical supervision of a healthcare professional.
What are the relapse prevention techniques for addicts?
In advanced countries, there are addiction treatment centres, where you have addiction consultants and psychologists who attend to the needs of addicts through personal clinic contacts, phone calls, and text messages. This can be adopted in Nigeria too.