Codeine off shelves: Here's what you need to know — Daily Times Nigeria Press "Enter" to skip to content

Codeine off shelves: Here’s what you need to know

Although many people believe that codeine has a soothing relief on cough and flu, not many people are aware that persistent intake of codeine is harmful to the body. According to some health experts, “Codeine can cause opioid tolerance, dependence, addiction, poisoning, and in high doses, death.”

Research published in the Medical Journal of Australia found the rate of codeine-related deaths in Australia more than doubled between 2000 to 2009. “Nationally, we are seeing 150 people die each year because of codeine overdoses,” Dr Bastian Seidel of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

Daily Times recalls that the Federal government government of Nigeria had on May 1,2018 announced the ban on cough syrups containing the painkiller codeine following concern about misuse and addiction.

Health Minister Professor Isaac Adewole had said that the ban was introduced because of “the gross abuse of codeine usage in the country”. The announcement followed a BBC investigation into the illicit sale of the medicine to young people and the dangers of addiction.

But Adewole said in a statement that the new measures were the result of recommendations by a working committee set up in January to look into the misuse of prescribed drugs.

The ban applies to all “sales of codeine-containing cough syrup without prescription across the country”, he said. Similarly, the Health Minister, directed the Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria, (PCN) and NAFDAC to supervise the recall for labelling and audit trailing of all codeine containing cough syrups in the country, while he equally banned sales of Codeine containing cough syrup without prescription across the country.

He noted that the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control had an emergency meeting with the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group (PMGMAN) to inform them that there is an embargo on all new applications for registration of codeine- containing cough syrups as well as applications for renewal has been abolished.

The PCN has been directed to continue enforcement activities on pharmacies, patent and proprietary medicine vendors’ shops and outlets throughout the country.

Codeine, one of the most commonly used opioid narcotics in the world, is a relatively short-acting analgesic, with most effects lasting a few hours. A member of the opiates 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. Codeine is generally prescribed by a physician to treat mild-to-moderate levels of pain, manage a pesky cough, and occasionally treat gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea.

Most individuals who are prescribed codeine to manage a medical illness, take the drug directly as prescribed and never have a problem, but some individuals develop an addiction.

Used for centuries to manage pain in chronic pain sufferers, codeine and other opiates are becoming the drug of choice for many drug addicts. In fact, opiates are now the most commonly abused drug in the world. Opiates such as codeine are drugs of abuse due to the powerful effects on the user.

In addition to pain relief, in higher doses codeine can lead to a pleasurable euphoric sensation. 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 for.

While many individuals do find that codeine is a miracle drug for the relief of symptoms, codeine addiction is no miracle. Like any addiction, codeine use and abuse can lead to devastating health and interpersonal problems.

Many individuals who abuse codeine become tolerant to the mild effects of the narcotic and begin to abuse heavier and stronger narcotics to achieve greater highs. In addition, many individuals with codeine addiction begin to use other drugs such as benzodiazepines and alcohol in order to achieve greater highs.

Others may abuse codeine and stimulant drugs in order to reduce the side effects of the stimulants and produce a more mellow high. Codeine addiction is a serious disorder that can cause much suffering for all involved. Many people who are addicted to substances such as codeine find that they have underlying mental illnesses that can worsen with the usage of substances.

These co-occurring disorders include: Bipolar disorder, Conduct disorder, Schizophrenia, Depressive disorders, Alcoholism and Anxiety disorders.

While the causes for codeine addiction are not well-understood, addiction is thought to be a combination of a number of factors working together. Some of the causes for codeine addiction include: Genetic: It’s been determined that addiction to certain substances runs in families.

Individuals who have a first-degree relative, such as a parent, who are addicted to substances are more likely to develop an addiction later in life. Biological: The interaction of codeine in the brain has caused a number of researchers to question whether or not certain individuals are born lacking the neurotransmitters that cause pleasure and well-being.

These individuals may be attempting to correct this inborn deficiency by abusing codeine. Environmental: Individuals who are raised in home environment in which addiction runs rampant may be at higher risk for developing addiction disorders.

In addition, individuals who begin to abuse drugs at an earlier age may be more prone to develop an addiction later in life. Psychological: Many individuals struggle with undiagnosed mental illnesses that cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms. In order to alleviate these unpleasant emotions, an individual may turn to substance abuse in order to feel more normal.

The symptoms of codeine abuse are varied among addicts depending largely upon the length of time a person abuses codeine, the amount used, and the frequency of usage. Some of the most common symptoms of codeine abuse are: Mood symptoms, Depression, Anxiety,

Emotional numbing, Euphoria Sense of well-being and calmness, Mood swings While behavioral symptoms according to health experts include withdrawing socially from loved ones, Social isolation and forging prescriptions in order to obtain more codeine.

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