Codeine is an opiate drug used to treat mild to moderately severe pain. Like morphine, it is found in opium (extracted from the opium poppy) but it can also be synthesised in the lab. Codeine is about one fifth the strength of morphine.

Many over the counter painkillers contain codeine as one of the ingredients. An example is co-codamol which also contains paracetamol. Codeine may also be found in cough syrup. It is known that codeine containing medicines may be habit forming and packets of these medicines state that the drug should only be used for up to 3 days at a time.

As with heroin and other opiates codeine can give rise to feelings of warmth and relaxation. It can be misused although its euphoric effects are less than with other opiates such as heroin. Sometimes codeine is used as a drug to help people come off of stronger opiates like heroin.

Codeine is controlled under Class B of the Misuse of Drugs Act. That means it’s illegal to possess codeine on its own without a prescription. Possession can lead to a maximum of five years in prison, a fine or both.