By Jongbo Olubukola

Codeine is an Opioid pain reliever used in the treatment of moderately to severe pain. It is much less potent than morphine and also less inclined to cause adverse effects and dependency*. It can also be called a narcotic. While kits precise mechanism of action is not known, it is known to bind to the opioid receptors in the brain just like morphine which are important in the sensation of pain. For pain relief, codeine is frequently combined with acetaminophen or aspirin.


Indications: Mild to moderate pain: diarrhoea, cough.


Contra indications: use should be avoided in asthmatic patients or those with respiratory disorders and diseases (obstructive airways diseases).


Adverse effects: Constipation on long term use, nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, light headedness


Doses: for mild to moderate pain: 15-60mg every 4 hours when necessary. For cough: 10-20mg every 4 hours as needed.

Warnings: codeine should not be taken with alcohol or other sedatives as their interaction could potentiate the sedative action of codeine.

Because codeine causes constipation, drugs that inhibit acetylcholine activity should not be used concomitantly.

*Mental and physical dependency can occur from the long term use of codeine but much less possible when compared to morphine if it is used at therapeutic doses.

 Jongbo Olubukola belongs to IPSF AfRO Media and Publications Subcommittee.