Codeine guaifenesin cough syrup is a commonly prescribed medication to treat cough that combines the opioid painkiller codeine with the expectorant guaifenesin.

Codeine with guaifenesin or codeine guaifenesin cough syrup is a commonly prescribed medication to treat cough that combines the opioid painkiller codeine with guaifenesin, an expectorant that loosens congestion in your chest and throat.

What is Codeine?

Codeine is a prescription opiate drug that’s used to treat mild to moderate pain, cough and sometimes diarrhea. It’s often used in combination with other substances, like paracetamol, to be more effective, and it’s considered a controlled substance in the U.S.

When someone takes codeine, it converts to morphine in their brain and then it binds to opioid receptors. This suppresses pain as well as the activity of the central nervous system. Codeine can be abused to get high because it can trigger feelings of euphoria as it binds to opioid receptors, but the effects are often less than other prescription opioids. There is also the risk for addiction and dependence, which is also lower compared to other opioids.

Some of the common side effects of codeine include:

  • Constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Headaches

While codeine may be less potent than other opioids, codeine overdose is possible and can be deadly.

What is Guaifenesin?

Guaifenesin is classified as an expectorant, meaning it can loosen congestion in the throat and chest. It’s given to people to reduce congestion in their chest resulting from allergies, infections or colds.

Some of the side effects of guaifenesin on its own can include headache, dizziness, rash, nausea, vomiting or general stomach discomfort.

Codeine with Guaifenesin

A doctor would prescribe codeine with guaifenesin to treat colds, allergies, or the flu in some cases. It’s not intended to treat a cough resulting from smoking or asthma. Some of the most common side effects of codeine with guaifenesin include constipation and drowsiness.

People are also warned against taking codeine with guaifenesin with other prescription narcotics or alcohol because it could lead to an opioid overdose. This often involves slowed or shallow breathing, which can lead to coma and death.

Codeine Guaifenesin Cough Syrup

Codeine-guaifenesin cough syrup comes in many brand names, including Cheracol, Cheratussin and Robitussin AC. Codeine-guaifenesin cough syrup is taken by mouth every four to six hours, and people are encouraged to drink plenty of water when taking it to deal with constipation or nausea side effects.

This medication is a short-term treatment. People who take codeine guaifenesin cough syrup over the long term may experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking it suddenly.

It is possible to become addicted to codeine guaifenesin cough syrup, and people who are at a higher risk for a substance use disorder should let their doctor know before taking any medication with an opioid.

Codeine Guaifenesin 10-100

There are different doses available for codeine-guaifenesin combinations, and one of the most commonly prescribed is codeine guaifenesin 10-100. The ten refers to 10 mg of codeine and 100 mg of guaifenesin. This is an oral, liquid version of the drug.

Taking Codeine with Guaifenesin

It’s important to tell your doctor or pharmacist of any and all other substances you’re taking before taking codeine guaifenesin. Taking codeine guaifenesin with other medications that affect the central nervous system or slow respiration can lead to severe side effects and a potentially fatal overdose.

If you or your loved one is misusing codeine guaifenesin despite negative consequences, help is available. Contact The Recovery Village to discuss opioid addiction treatment options that can help you on your way to a codeine-free life.

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Editor – Melissa Carmona
Melissa Carmona puts years of writing and editing experience to work helping people understand substance abuse, addiction and mental health disorders. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Heena Joshi, PharmD
Dr. Joshi earned her Bachelor of Science in Physiology and Neurobiology from the University of Maryland. She went on to earn her Doctorate in Pharmacy from The Ohio State University. Read more

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Cough and Cold Medicine Abuse.” May 2014. Accessed August 12, 2021. “Codeine and guaifenesin.” January 5, 2021. Accessed August 12, 2021.

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U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Guaifenesin.” MedlinePlus, February 15, 2018. Accessed August 12, 2021.

U.S National Library of Medicine. “Codeine.”  MedlinePlus, December 15, 2020. Accessed August 12, 2021.

U.K. National Health Service. “Codeine.” November 27, 2018. Accessed August 12, 2021.

U.S. National Library of Medicine. “CODEINE-GUAIFENESIN- codeine phosphate a[…]uaifenesin solution.” DailyMed, July 13, 2020. Accessed August 12, 2021.

U.S. National Library of Medicine. “CODEINE-GUAIFENESIN- codeine phosphate a[…]harmaceuticals, LLC.” DailyMed, July 2020. Accessed August 12, 2021.

University of Michigan Health. “Dextromethorphan, guaifenesin, and pseudoephedrine.” December 2016. Accessed August 12, 2021.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.