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What is Codeine?
Codeine is an opioid pain reliever used to treat mild to moderately severe pain. It is also used, usually in combination with other medications, to reduce coughing.  Codeine is available as a single-ingredient product, or in combination with acetaminophen or aspirin, and in some cough and cold medications.

What is its origin?
Opium is a highly addictive non-synthetic narcotic that is extracted from the poppy plant, Papaver somniferum. The opium poppy is the key source for many narcotics, including morphine, codeine, and heroin.

The poppy plant, Papaver somniferum, is the source of opium. It was grown in the Mediterranean region as early as 5000 B.C., and has since been cultivated in a number of countries throughout the world. The milky fluid that seeps from its incisions in the unripe seedpod of this poppy has been scraped by hand and air-dried to produce what is known as opium. A more modern method of harvesting for pharmaceutical use is by the industrial poppy straw process of extracting alkaloids from the mature dried plant (concentrate of poppy straw). All opium and poppy straw used for pharmaceutical products are imported into the United States from legitimate sources in regulated countries.

What are common street names?
Common street names include: captain cody, schoolboy, little c.

What does it look like?
Identifying whether a drug has codeine in it or not can sometimes be difficult due to the variety of medications and forms this substance comes in. Codeine is available in tablet or liquid form, and can be ingested orally or through an injection.

How is it abused?

Codeine is commonly known for its presence in cough syrup, but it’s also an opiate used to treat mild to moderate pain.

Though it’s included in cough syrup partially for cough suppression, there’s not technically enough evidence that it possesses this attribute. It’s actually better for treating diarrhea, especially in association with irritable bowel syndrome.

This substance is broken down by the liver and reverts into morphine. It’s a naturally occurring substance that makes up about 2 percent of opium, and is the most commonly ingested opiate.

What is its effect on the mind?
Once broken down, the drug affects the brain’s reward center, producing feelings of pleasure and wellbeing, among other effects. When opiates enter the central nervous system, they activate the reward system of the brain, allowing for excessive release of pleasurable hormones. It is this feeling that codeine addicts crave.

What is its effect on the body?

The long-term effects of codeine addiction can impact nearly every area of an individual’s life. These effects may include:

  • Acute pancreatitis

  • Liver damage

  • Kidney damage

  • Increased sensitivity to pain

  • Major depression

  • Muscle twitches, cramps, spasms and pain

  • Respiratory depression

  • Cold and clammy skin

  • Lack of muscle tone

Which drugs cause similar effects?
A member of the opiate class of narcotic prescription medications, codeine is derived from a member of the opium poppy plant. Opiates include other drugs such as heroin, Vicodin, hydrocodone, OxyContin, and Demerol. 

What is its legal status in the United States? Codeine is a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and has an accepted medical use for treatment in the United States. 

Testing for Codeine

Typically any drug testing panel that includes Opiates will included testing for Codeine. This is mostly all drug test panels.

To perform the codeine drug test, you’ll need either a nail, hairurine or sweat patch sample from the individual you suspect of using. If you are an employer requesting the codeine drug test, you’ll want to make sure that you not only meet state guidelines and regulations but that you also meet those set forth by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Be sure to look into their Regulated Drug Testing requirements. Codeine is part of the opiated panel for required DOT drug testing.

If you choose a hair test, you’ll be able to see codeine use dating as far back as 90 days. The analysis should provide an accurate sample so that you can determine if a loved one was using and, if so, the best way for you to go about seeking treatment on their behalf.

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