If you have ever needed to go to the doctor due to a nagging cough, they may have prescribed Tylenol with codeine. While the combination of these medications does work well, it also opens the door to ongoing substance abuse in some people.

You may not have realized that Tylenol with codeine is addictive when it is abused or even when you take it for too long. But it is critical to understand the effects this medication can have on you in the short and long term.

Why Do People Abuse Tylenol With Codeine?

Most people who abuse Tylenol with codeine may not realize they are abusing it at all. This medication is only available by prescription, and unless you understand its ingredients, you may not know the consequences of overusing it.

Taking Tylenol with codeine will suppress your cough and offer pain relief. But it also gives you a euphoric feeling and makes you feel sleepy. A lot of people who take it excessively enjoy that experience, prompting them to continue to take it even when they no longer need it.

If this sounds similar to what you have experienced when taking this medication, help is available. Contact us at (866) 305-7134 to discuss your treatment options.

What Is Tylenol With Codeine?

Tylenol with codeine (or Tylenol with codeine #3, as it is often called) is a combination medication doctors prescribe to relieve pain and reduce coughing.

Tylenol (acetaminophen) is a widely available over-the-counter pain reliever that has been around for a long time. It is generally considered safe for most people when taken in moderation.

Codeine is an opiate analgesic and an antitussive medication. It works by changing the way the brain reacts to pain and by decreasing activity in the brain that causes you to cough.

Side Effects

When you take Tylenol with codeine, you may experience some side effects, such as:

  • Constipation
  • Problems with urination
  • Itching with or without a rash or hives
  • Nausea and vomiting

Most side effects shouldn’t be too problematic for people taking this medication on a short-term basis, which is how it is typically prescribed. However, more serious side effects can occur, such as:

  • Hallucinations
  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Confusion
  • Swelling of the tongue, face, hands, and other parts of the body
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Problems with swallowing

If you’re taking Tylenol with codeine and you experience any of these side effects, please report them to your doctor immediately.

Is Tylenol With Codeine Addictive?

Yes, Tylenol with codeine can be highly addictive because codeine is an opiate drug. Most cases of codeine addiction begin with psychological dependence, and eventually, people become physically dependent.

When you begin abusing codeine, your brain may convince you that you need it for the euphoria or to help you sleep. But addiction develops because opiates cause your brain to produce higher levels of dopamine. Dopamine is the “happy” chemical you experience when you spend time with loved ones or enjoy a delicious meal.

You may not even realize you are addicted to codeine until you attempt to stop using it. If you go through withdrawal when stopping this medication, it is an indication that you are addicted.

Understanding Opiate Withdrawal

Opiate withdrawal can be uncomfortable, but it is typically not dangerous. Once you are addicted to an opiate pain medication like codeine, you may need professional treatment to stop using it safely.

Once you stop using codeine, you will experience physical and mental withdrawal symptoms. Opiate withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Feeling anxious and restless
  • Symptoms of depression
  • Intense cravings
  • Problems concentrating
  • Hot flashes and/or chills
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Tremors and shaking
  • Sinus congestion
  • Digestive issues such as bloating and diarrhea

You may begin noticing withdrawal symptoms within 8-24 hours following the last dose of your medication. Without treatment, it is possible for withdrawal to last as long as six months. However, with treatment, the duration of withdrawal is significantly less.

The Dangers of Overdosing on Tylenol With Codeine

Unfortunately, opiate overdoses have become far too common, and we certainly have an opioid epidemic in the United States. Opiate overdoses often occur for one of three reasons.


If you are addicted to codeine, you may have started taking larger doses of your medication than prescribed. This is common because of how quickly the body adjusts to opiates. Once you stop using and begin going through withdrawal, you may be tempted to begin using again to get some relief from your symptoms. This is called relapsing.

Your tolerance level begins going down quickly after you stop using opiate drugs. But if you are not aware of this, you may take the amount of Tylenol with codeine that you’re used to taking. However, that amount can be too much for your body to handle, which can result in an overdose.

Mixing Alcohol and Other Drugs With Codeine

It’s also possible to overdose on codeine if you take it along with other drugs or alcohol. Once you get addicted to codeine, it may be tempting to drink alcohol to enhance its effects as your body gets used to it.

Both alcohol and codeine are depressants, and taking them together can lead to an overdose.

Making Purple Drank (Lean)

Purple Drank is a drink concoction that goes by several names, including Lean, Sizzurp, and Purple Jelly. It is a combination of codeine, promethazine (an antihistamine), and usually a soda like Sprite.

People consume Purple Drank because of its highly euphoric effects, and it is very easy to drink too much of it at once. This can result in an overdose.

Common symptoms of opiate overdose include:

  • Labored or stopped breathing
  • Clammy, cold skin
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Convulsions
  • Pale skin
  • Purple or blue lips and/or fingers
  • Nausea and vomiting

It is also possible for victims of opiate overdose to fall into a coma.

A codeine overdose is a serious medical emergency that requires immediate attention. If you suspect someone you love has overdosed on an opiate drug, call 911 right away.

Getting Treatment for Codeine Addiction

Because of the risk of relapsing, getting treatment for codeine addiction is vitally important. At Olympus Recovery, we recommend our patients go through a period of drug detox followed by rehab in order to recover.

What Is Drug Detox?

The purpose of drug detox is to help you get through withdrawal safely. If you are addicted to codeine, medication-assisted treatment is the best option to treat your withdrawal symptoms.

Medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, involves taking medications to help with your symptoms as well as receiving behavioral therapy. MAT has proven to be very effective for people with opiate addictions.

The length of time you will need to undergo detox varies based on your response to treatment. However, most people find that they feel better fairly quickly and are able to soon move on to the next phase of recovery — drug rehab.

Drug Rehab for Codeine Addiction

It isn’t enough to just go through detox when you are addicted to codeine. Sometimes people assume that successfully getting through withdrawal means they have recovered, but that isn’t true at all.

You must also address the reasons behind your addiction, which is what occurs when you go to drug rehab. People get addicted to codeine for a number of reasons. Sometimes it happens accidentally because they didn’t realize their medication was addictive. But others may use codeine as a way to self-medicate feelings of depression or anxiety.

When you go to drug rehab for Tylenol with codeine addiction, you may need any of the following types of treatment:

  • Co-occurring disorder treatment
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Experiential therapy

You should receive a personalized treatment plan that specifically targets your unique needs. That will give you the best possible chance of long-term recovery.

Choose Olympus Recovery for Tylenol With Codeine Addiction Treatment

Like most people, you probably didn’t mean to get addicted to Tylenol with codeine. However, if an addiction has formed, it’s easy to panic because you’re not sure what to do.

At Olympus Recovery, we have years of experience working with patients in your situation. We can provide you with information about what you can expect during detox and rehab and set up a treatment plan that will address your individual needs.

Ready to get started? Please contact us today.


  1. gov. Codeine. December 15, 2020. Available at MedlinePlus.gov.
  2. gov. Acetaminophen and Codeine. December 15, 2020. Available at MedlinePlus.gov.
  3. gov. Opiate and opioid withdrawal. April 30, 2022. Available at MedlinePlus.gov.

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