Promethazine-codeine is a combination of cough syrup used to treat airway diseases like the common cold, influenza, and pneumonia.

Codeine is a prescription opioid medication usually used to treat coughs and occasionally pain. Codeine reduces the sensation of pain by activating the mu-opioid receptors, which decreases the number of pain signals sent to the brain. Medical experts do not yet understand why the drug works for treating coughs, but they think the drug treats coughs similar to how it treats pain.

Promethazine is an antihistamine that treats cough and allergy symptoms like runny nose and sneezing. Promethazine and codeine are combined to make codeine more difficult to abuse. The mixture is also more effective than either drug would be alone.

Article at a Glance:

  • Promethazine-codeine is a combination of an opioid and an antihistamine
  • Promethazine-codeine is used to treat symptoms of airway diseases like a cold or flu
  • Common side effects of Promethazine-codeine are drowsiness and rash
  • Severe side effects are seizures, confusion and breathing problems
  • Promethazine-codeine can be addictive and some people may need inpatient rehab treatment

What Is Promethazine-Codeine Prescribed For?

Promethazine-codeine is a prescription opioid plus antihistamine medication used to treat cough and sometimes pain. Promethazine-codeine is used to treat symptoms like:

  • Cough
  • Itchy eyes, nose, and throat
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes

Promethazine-codeine is prescribed for the common cold, influenza, and pneumonia. Promethazine-codeine is sometimes used for other airway illnesses like sinusitis and bronchitis. Prescribers would not usually give Promethazine-codeine for asthma or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

Common Promethazine and Codeine Side Effects

Common side effects of promethazine-codeine include:

  • Addiction, misuse, and abuse
  • Breathing problems
  • Change in blood pressure
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness or sleepiness
  • Increased risk of seizures
  • Overdose and death
  • Skin reactions (rash)

Can You Get Addicted to Promethazine-Codeine?

Promethazine-codeine can be abused and cause withdrawal symptoms and addiction. Promethazine-codeine works like other opioids and produces euphoria in people who take too much. If someone takes so much promethazine-codeine that they have to do it to feel normal, they might need inpatient rehab treatment.

Treatment for Promethazine-Codeine

Treatment for codeine detox and withdrawal is usually supportive care. Methadonebuprenorphine or naloxone help treat withdrawal symptoms of opioids but are too strong for codeine. Codeine is one of the least potent opioids available, so withdrawal and detox are relatively mild. The body removes codeine in less than 24 hours in most cases.

If you or a loved one live with codeine addiction, contact The Recovery Village. Call to speak with a representative about how personalized treatment programs can address addiction and any co-occurring mental health disorders. A healthier future is one telephone call away.

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Editor – Thomas Christiansen
With over a decade of content experience, Tom produces and edits research articles, news and blog posts produced for Advanced Recovery Systems. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Conor Sheehy, PharmD, BCPS, CACP
Dr. Sheehy completed his BS in Molecular Biology at the University of Idaho and went on to complete his Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) at the University of Washington in Seattle. Read more
Sources “DailyMed – PROMETHAZINE HYDROCHLORI[…]DEINE PHOSPHATE. ” 2018. Accessed May 22, 2019.

Webmd. “Drugs & Medications – Prometazine-Codeine” 2019. Accessed May 22, 2019.

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.