LETTER: Codeine abuse a big problem

2016-06-28 06:00

I wish to applaud the pharmacists’ association for taking the very responsible stand to curtail the abuse of codeine amongst our youth. This stand should be supported nationally by pharmacists and the medical profession and as well as the community.

The Western Cape branch of the South African Medical Association has recently written to the Medicines Control Council requesting the rescheduling of codeine containing substances because of the growing prevalence of codeine abuse amongst our youth.

Having dealt with a number of patients with codeine addiction I have learnt that many patients are unaware that they are addicted to codeine. They buy codeine containing tablets on regular basis with the erroneous belief that they are treating their headaches. Some of them can be addicted to as many as 500 codeine containing tablets a month.

Codeine, being an opiate, can lead to severe headaches once it starts withdrawing because the brain is starving for the codeine. It is for this reason most people addicted to codeine would wake up with severe rebound headaches after their bedtime dose starts to withdraw. This leads to a poor quality of sleep; poor work performance; a feeling of irritability and in some case a feeling of depression.

People addicted to small doses of codeine tablets can be safely weaned off their codeine with intensive psycho-education. Patients with severe codeine addiction can be treated with safe opiod replacement therapies.

Parents are strongly urged to watch out for signs of addiction in their children. Some of the signs would be asking for extra pocket money, lying, becoming argumentative, grades dropping, truancy, large and unexplainable number empty codeine cough syrup bottles and empty packets of codeine tablets not just in the kitchen bin but in the bottom of big black wheelie bins.

Dr E.V. Rapiti, Email

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.