Is Codeine An Opiate?

  • Generic Name or Active Ingridient: Codeine

Codeine is a mild prescription medication that is often used to treat pain. It may also be combined with other medications to suppress a cough. Secondary effects include sedation, drowsiness and depressed breathing. Codeine is an opiate, which is a natural derivative of opium. Opioids (oxycodone and hydrocodone) are semi-synthetic and derived from opiates.

Opioid alkaloids found in the sap of the opium poppy plant are referred to as opiates. Active opiates found in the opium poppy also include morphine, thebaine and papaverine.

How Does Codeine Work?

Opiates and opioids work by attaching to receptors in the brain and body. They block the transmission of pain signals. They are prized for their ability to treat pain, but the downside is that they can be habit forming. Codeine and other drugs in this class can be taken safely and effectively. The tricky part is that they can lead to habitual use if taken for a long period of time or if they're abused.

Opiates and opioids activate neurotransmitters in the pleasure center of the brain. This can cause feelings of euphoria. This feeling can be intensified if the medication is abused in any way – taken in too high of a dosage, combined with some other substances or taken in an unintended way.

The Dark Side Of Opiates Such As Codeine

No one sets out to become addicted to opiates. For many, it begins with legitimate, therapeutic use. A person can start off taking opiates and build a tolerance to it. This means that the body becomes used to it and requires increasingly higher dosages. Without realizing the dangers, he or she may begin to take more. Physical and/or psychological dependence can develop quickly from here.

A codeine addiction is serious but can be remedied. Codeine detox can help to eliminate the physical dependency, in some cases rather quickly. Once this is accomplished, there is still more work to be done. An aftercare or rehab program can help to prepare patients for the transition to recovery. This can be accomplished through therapy, behavior modification and other treatments.