What Is Codeine?


We want to help clear up your confusion about codeine. Source: Shutterstock.com

You may have heard of codeine recently after the reports of Justin Bieber and his friends allegedly being in the presence of “sizzurp” – an alcoholic mixed drink which also contains codeine and promethazine.

I want to give you some more info on sizzurp, but I don’t feel super cool linking out to any of the sites I found about the drink. They’re all basically instruction manuals on how to make the drink. Um, linking out to a how to for something really dangerous and illegal? Not in my blog post!

But, I do think that it’s important to talk about codeine so that you can be informed about what it is, how it’s supposed to be used and what icky stuff can happen when it’s abused. Hopefully by learning more about it, you’ll realize why something like sizzurp is totally bad news.

According to MedLine Plus, codeine is prescribed as a pain reliever, and it works by affecting those parts of your brain that sense pain in your body. It is also often used to help reduce coughing, and in those cases, codeine affects the area of the brain that causes you to cough.

It comes in a few different forms, including a liquid, capsule and tablet. Before you take codeine, it’s really important to fill your doctor in on certain health-related issues in your life so that they can supervise a treatment that is as safe as possible.

Even when codeine is taken as prescribed, there can be some side effects. Some of those side effects include drowsiness or vomiting, and even more serious ones like irregular heartbeats and seizures. And guess what? Alcohol can worsen codeine’s side effects.

According to the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, about 1 in 5 teens said that on at least one occasion, they had taken a prescription drug that hadn’t been prescribed for them. Even though it’s a prescription drug, you can develop an addiction to codeine. In fact, it is on the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s “Common Abused Prescription Drugs” chart. So it should only be taken as your doctor advises. As with any prescription drug, taking it without a prescription can be especially dangerous.

Using codeine recreationally, or mixing it with alcohol to get a high (like with sizzurp) is an abuse of its intended purpose. You guys are all way too amazing to get mixed up with something so dangerous. If a friend or someone you know is abusing codeine or another prescription drug, seek out a trusted adult so that they can get help.

Have you ever heard of codeine before? Tell us in the comments!

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Posted in: Just the Facts
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  • julia

    Um…. Lean/sizzurp does not contain alcohol. If youre going to inform, atleast be accurate.

  • Shelby

    I was prescribed codeine last year because I was having severe pains in my hip. Turns out I had septicaemia and I could’ve died. But the side effects are horrible, I was so drowsy that I couldn’t stay awake, I felt dizzy like I was swaying although I wasn’t moving, and I ended up being sick, but that was probably because I hadn’t eaten anything, and I had really horrible stomach pains. :/

  • Melissa

    I was pescribed codeine just after christmas after having my lip piercing *cough* surgically*cough* removed.
    Didnt take any though, simply because I wasnt in pain. The box is full, and still in the cupboard.
    But I cant swallow tablets, so I probably wouldnt have been able to take em anyway XD

    My mum joked that we could sell them on the streets XD