Codeine Pharmacology

  • Generic Name or Active Ingridient: Codeine

It's important to understand what codeine is and how it works if you plan to take it for pain relief, cough suppression or relief from diarrhea. Codeine is an opiate, an alkaloid found in the opium poppy plant. It is more often synthesized from morphine and has secondary effects of euphoria, itching, dry mouth and constipation. All opiates depress the central nervous system, so labored breathing can result, depending on the dosage of codeine.

The body converts codeine into morphine. An individual's makeup and genetics will have an effect on how codeine is metabolized within the body. This may also play a role in the effects a person experiences and whether these effects are mild, moderate or severe. This may also explain why some people experience more effective analgesia than others when taking codeine.

How Codeine Works In The Body To Relieve Pain And Suppress A Cough

Codeine works by binding to opiate receptors in the brain and body to block pain signals. Receptors are activated once opiates reach the brain, producing effects such as analgesia and stimulating pleasure centers that signal reward. Codeine also works in the brain to suppress the cough reflex. This is why it is often found in codeine cough syrup formulations.

Potential Issues To Be Aware Of When Taking Codeine

Codeine is known to be a milder opiate that has less of an abuse potential when compared to other opiates. While it can be a very effective medication, codeine can cause complications including serious side effects, potentially dangerous allergic reaction and interactions with other substances.

Codeine is considered a drug with a potential for abuse and dependence. Depending on its formulation and dosage, codeine is classified under the Controlled Substances Act, which lists drugs according to these parameters. When taken appropriately, codeine seldom causes serious problems with abuse and opiate dependence.

However, if codeine is taken for an extended period of time or abused in any manner, the risks for complications increase. Codeine dependency and addiction can be very serious and may require professional assistance with codeine detox.