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 “Igbo has been banned (unjustly) but e still dey everywhere” – Seun Kuti reacts to ban of Codeine.

What is codeine, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?


Codeine is a narcotic pain-reliever and cough suppressant similar to morphine and hydrocodone. Moreover, a small amount of codeine is converted to morphine in the body. The precise mechanism of action of codeine is not known; however, like morphine, codeine binds to receptors in the brain (opioid receptors) that are important for transmitting the sensation of pain throughout the body and brain. Codeine increases tolerance to pain, decreasing discomfort, but the pain still is apparent to the patient. In addition to reducing pain, codeine also causes sedation drowsiness and depresses breathing. Codeine frequently is combined with acetaminophen (Tylenol) or aspirin for more effective pain relief. The FDA approved codeine in 1950.

Is codeine addictive? Is it a controlled substance?
Codeine is habit forming (addictive). Mental and physical dependence can occur but are unlikely when used for short-term pain relief. Using codeine during pregnancy can cause opioid withdrawal syndrome in the newborn, which may be life-threatening if not treated.

Yes, you need a prescription for codeine. Codeine is a schedule II controlled substance in the US.

What are the side effects of codeine?
The most frequent side effects of codeine include:

Shortness of breath
Allergic reactions
Abdominal pain
Serious side effects of codeine include:

Life-threatening respiratory depression
Severe low blood pressure
Adrenal insufficiency
Accidental ingestion of codeine can result in fatal overdose

What is the dosage?
The usual adult dose of codeine for pain is 15-60 mg every 4-6 hours as needed. The dose for cough is 10 to 20 mg every 4-6 hours as needed. The maximum dose for treating cough is 120 mg every 24 hours.

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