Codeine - A Gateway to Addiction

Codeine is commonplace in medicine cabinets across the country, as it is an active ingredient in most prescription cough syrups and some painkillers. While most people view codeine as a harmless medication, it is in fact an opiate with similar effects as morphine and hydrocodone. It has strong potential to form a physical dependence after a period of use, and can lead a person to stronger opiates like heroin or fentanyl.

Most patient’s first encounter with codeine is as an ingredient in prescription cough syrup, offered by a physician to treat a particularly violent cough. Codeine is included in the syrup to alleviate the pain caused by the wracking cough and for its sedative properties. While these are valid medical reasons to formulate the medication with codeine as an ingredient, this could inadvertently trigger the addictive nature of the user should they be predisposed to develop a substance abuse disorder. Even in those without addictive tendencies, opiates cause a physical dependence to develop rather quickly when the patient is using them on a daily basis.

Codeine has also developed a reputation of its own among teenagers as a potent recreational drug easily pilfered from their parent’s medicine cabinet. Parents may have the presence of mind to carefully store any prescription painkillers, but often overlook cough syrup as they perceive it to have no value as a recreational drug. This oversight is dangerous, as teens across the country mix beverages with the cough syrup to achieve the euphoric high provided by the codeine, causing them to develop a physical and/or psychological addiction to opiates and opening the door to full-blown abuse of stronger and more dangerous substances.

It is impossible to reside in America and be unaware of the ongoing opiate crisis plaguing our population. While most parents are mindful of the dangers associated with prescription painkillers they may possess, and take steps to store them out of reach of any children or addicts in their home. However, cough syrup or mild pain medication containing codeine is often overlooked by otherwise vigilant parents despite its potential to set off the same cycle of physical dependence and addiction as more commonly known opiates. If you or a loved one have developed a substance abuse disorder revolving around codeine, drugs, or alcohol, Evolutions Treatment Center is here to help. Call our Admissions Counselors today at 833-818-3031 and escape the vicious cycle of addiction before you experience more devastation and loss!


Evolutions is a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center located in beautiful South Florida. Our holistic approach to addiction treatment centers around addressing and healing the underlying issues at the root of addiction, rather than merely medicating symptoms away.

Our treatment program includes individual and group-based therapy to help clients understand and manage their symptoms and emotions.

If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, alcoholism, or any co-occurring disorders please call us at (833) 818-3031 or visit