Codeine & Broncleer Addiction: Signs, Symptoms & Treatment

Codeine and Broncleer abuse have skyrocketed in the United States and across the globe throughout the years — especially as the opioid crisis continues on. Although codeine is mostly known as an active substance in many cough syrups, its original form is an opiate — a derivative of morphine — that’s used to subdue mild to moderate symptoms of pain.

Codeine is considered to be one of the most widely abused prescription drugs with addiction rates that would make your head spin. Unfortunately, its high abuse rate is primarily due to common misconceptions about its potency. Often, codeine’s ability to cause addiction is underestimated because of its reputation as a cough syrup. Far too often, many individuals don’t believe they can get addicted to this substance because it’s used to treat low-level cough symptoms and can be easily found in stores.


Like other forms of opioids, codeine and Broncleer have a significant effect on the body and brain when misused. Often, this powerful drug provides users with the feeling of euphoria and relaxation, but when it fades, it leaves them craving for more — starting the dangerous cycle of addiction.


What is Codeine?


Codeine is an opioid-based medication that belongs to a group of medicines called narcotic analgesics — better known as pain medicines. Due to its effect on the central nervous system (CNS), codeine is commonly prescribed by medical professionals to treat a variety of pain symptoms. However, codeine is best known for its ability to aid in cough suppression and also can be for anti-diarrheal treatment. It’s important to mention that while codeine is used for relief of mild to moderate pain and coughing, it doesn’t actually treat and heal the symptoms.


Typically, cough medication that contains codeine fall under Schedule III or Schedule V depending on its formula and the amount of codeine it actually contains. According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Schedule III and V drugs and substances have low to moderate potential for addiction. However, Schedule V drugs generally consist of antidiarrheals and analgesics — which we mentioned earlier. In order for a codeine-based medication to be considered a Scheduled V drug, it must contain less than 200 milligrams (100 milliliters) of codeine. Cough medications with 200 milligrams or less of codeine can be found in common brand names like Robitussin AC, Lomotil, and Lyrica.


Other brand names of cough suppressants containing codeine include:


  • Tuxarin ER – codeine, chlorpheniramine
  • Tuzistra XR – codeine, chlorpheniramine
  • Triacin C – codeine, pseudoephedrine, triprolidine
  • Hycofenix – hydrocodone, pseudoephedrine, guaifenesin
  • Rezira – hydrocodone, pseudoephedrine, guaifenesin
  • Tussionex Penni Kinetic – hydrocodone, chlorpheniramine
  • Vituz – hydrocodone, chlorpheniramine
  • Zutripro – hydrocodone, chlorpheniramine, pseudoephedrine
  • Broncleer


In addition to cough syrups, codeine can also be found in a variety of painkillers. These include:


  • Hydrocodone
  • Oxycodone
  • Vicodin
  • Oxycontin


Usually, codeine can be taken orally in either liquid or tablet form. However, many individuals who are addicted to this drug also consume it via injection. When codeine is ingested, it is broken down and metabolized by the liver, where its chemical components revert to that of morphine. Once the liver processes it, the drug travels to the brain’s reward center and throughout the central nervous system — producing intense feelings of euphoria.


The Abuse of Codeine


For a long time, codeine was an easily accessible medication that anyone could purchase. However, as the opioid crisis exploded, a plethora of information came to light on the abuse of codeine. As a result, many of these medications were taken off the shelves and kept behind the counter at pharmacies. Now, individuals need a legitimate prescription for codeine products for the intention to treat cough and pain symptoms. Legal restrictions in the United States were even placed on the addictive drug in accordance with each medication’s concentration of codeine. While these efforts are admirable, it hasn’t stopped the continued abuse.


Unfortunately, it seems like more and more teens and young adults are abusing codeine recreationally. For years, we’ve been told that marijuana is the gateway drug to more serious substance abuse, but as time goes on, it seems like codeine might be the new alternative. After users build a tolerance to the effects of codeine, they will typically pursue a more potent variety of opioids like heroin or painkillers. Not to mention, it’s not uncommon to become addicted to the pain pills prescribed for chronic, acute, or post-operative pain. Although codeine isn’t as potent as morphine, it’s still a form of opiate, and individuals who are using it to treat pain can very easily become addicted.

Frequent abusers of codeine have the dangerous tendency to mix the drug with other substances in order to expand and intensify that euphoric “high” feeling. Oftentimes, codeine is mixed with cannabis and smoked. However, many users also mix it with alcohol — also known as “purple drink.”


Symptoms and Side Effects of Codeine


Codeine is considered to be a depressant due to the negative impacts it has on the brain and central nervous system. When taken in excess, codeine can slow a person’s breathing drastically, which can be potentially fatal. If ingested too much, it can stop one’s breathing altogether and even lead to seizures or coma — common signs of overdose. In addition to these fatal effects, the repeated abuse of codeine can cause a variety of serious symptoms and side effects on the body and brain. Some short-term and minor codeine abuse symptoms include:


  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Slurred speech
  • Dizziness and drowsiness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Restlessness
  • Vertigo
  • Tremors
  • Respiratory depression
  • Low blood pressure
  • Weakness
  • Pancreatitis
  • Low libido
  • Impaired function/thinking
  • Sedation


As one’s addiction to codeine persists, their side effects and symptoms will only worsen and grow more severe. Some of these long-term side effects include:


  • Liver damage
  • Kidney failure
  • Heart damage
  • Heart attack
  • Seizures
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Death


If you are an avid user of codeine and are experiencing any of these symptoms, it could mean that your substance abuse has grown into a full-scale addiction. Importantly, if you’re tired of letting codeine take control of your life, it’s advised that you seek help from a medical professional and do not quit take codeine cold turkey. Ceasing codeine cold turkey will only cause withdrawal symptoms to intensify, and without the right medical supervision, this process can be life-threatening.


If you neglect to get help for your addiction to codeine, you are opening yourself up to a plethora of health deficits that can affect you for the rest of your life. Not to mention, the more you use, the more likely you are to suffer from a fatal overdose. Common codeine overdose symptoms include:


  • Unresponsive
  • Blue fingernails and lips
  • Shallow, labored breathing
  • Cold/clammy skin
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Coma
  • Muscle twitching
  • Constricted pupils
  • Abdominal spasms


If you or someone you love is experiencing any of the above-mentioned overdose symptoms, it’s imperative that you seek help from a medical professional immediately. Overdoses from codeine can be fatal if they are not treated right away.


Mental Illness and Codeine


Codeine is a dangerous addiction on its own, but when we add mental illness to the equation, it can only get worse. Sadly, individuals who struggle with their mental health are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol — codeine included. As dependency increases, one’s mental health will only continue to decline, and symptoms will intensify.


Many studies show that prolonged use of codeine can cause a variety of depressive symptoms and can likely cause the deepening of dysphoric mood states. However, if individuals who abuse codeine do not have depression to begin with, they are still at risk for developing this disease by 30%. In addition to depression, those who abuse codeine are also at risk for developing anxiety disorders and antisocial personality disorder.

Unfortunately, mental health and substance abuse often go hand-in-hand, but it doesn’t have to be a death sentence. Many top-tier addiction rehab facilities specialize in treating co-occurring disorders. With the help from the right team of professionals, individuals can receive treatment for both their mental health and their addiction.


The Widespread Abuse of Codeine and Broncleer


As mentioned earlier, many over-the-counter cough syrups use to contain levels of codeine — especially before the 1970s. While today’s over-the-counter cough syrups may no longer include codeine due to certain legal restrictions, they do, in fact, contain another derivative of morphine — Dextromethorphan. Dextromethorphan falls under the class of medications called antitussives due to its sedative, dissociative, and stimulant properties. In cough medication, dextromethorphan decreases activity in the part of the brain that tells the body to cough.


Unfortunately, the United States isn’t the only region experiencing a heavy spike in codeine abuse. For example, Zimbabwe — a nation in Southern Africa — had a massive surge in cough syrup abuse. Specifically, a form of cough syrup called Broncleer. Made by a pharmaceutical company in Africa, Broncleer is a mixture of alcohol and 16.9% of codeine. This deadly mixture of two powerful substances enables users to experience euphoric highs while being intoxicated at the same time.


Broncleer abuse became so bad in Zimbabwe that over 57% of those who were admitted to Zimbabwean mental institutions were due to extreme Broncleer abuse. As a result, officials of Zimbabwe banned the dangerous substance in order to put a stop to the increasing overdoses and deaths.


In addition to regions of Africa and the United States, the United Kingdom also has experienced its fair share of problems related to cough syrup abuse. The United Kingdom’s drug of choice is called Syndol. Syndol is an over-the-counter drug containing codeine that is used to treat moderate levels of pain. Typically, Syndol is recommended to those whose pain can’t be relieved by common generic pain-relievers like aspirin or ibuprofen. Even though Syndol contains potent levels of codeine, U.K. officials do not require a prescription in order to purchase it. Not only is this a growing problem for U.K. residents, but also affects those who travel to the country. Syndol is widely available to anyone — resident or visitor — who needs a quick fix for a headache or other body pain.


Treatment for a Codeine Addiction


While codeine abuse is a serious and sometimes fatal addiction, treatment and recovery are still possible. In fact, there are a few excellent options that individuals struggling with codeine addiction can choose from to aid in their recovery.


In some cases, medication-assisted treatment is a useful tool in managing the symptoms of common opioid disorders — including codeine addiction. Medications like naloxone and buprenorphine are common drugs that are approved to treat addiction. These medications help to reduce the effects of opioids and, with luck — prevent future relapses. Although these medications are specifically designed to aid in the detox of opioids, they shouldn’t be the sole method of treatment. In fact, it’s highly recommended for those struggling with codeine addiction to attend an inpatient or outpatient treatment program for the best recovery results.

Many reputable addiction treatment centers are equipped with professionals who are trained to treat a variety of addictions. Importantly, these facilities require behavioral and cognitive therapy sessions that help patients dig down to the roots of their addiction and learn how to function without the need for codeine. Therapy is a cornerstone of addiction treatment that can make a life-changing difference in one’s recovery journey.


So, are you ready to take the next steps and walk the path of recovery? It takes tremendous strength to reflect on your life and know that you need to make a change for the better. It may seem like it’s buried deep down inside, but you have the power within you to get help. And when you do, you’ll be grateful that you took the leap and chose to live free from addiction.


Finding Support for Recovery


The journey to sobriety is a challenging one and requires ultimate strength, determination, and support, but it’s a journey you will never be alone in. Many individuals battling addiction are also struggling with the thought of being alone — that no one understands what they are going through. But the team at Find Addiction Rehabs does, and we are here for you every step of the way. Our team is available around-the-clock to assist you in getting starting on the recovery process by locating treatment centers in your area that provide services that meet your unique needs. After you select the right treatment center, you’ll be on your way to creating a new and sober life.


For more information and resources on codeine addiction, give us a call today.