Citation: J. "Flushed Face & Hard to Breathe: An Experience with Codeine & Alcohol (exp7210)". Erowid.org. Feb 7, 2003. erowid.org/exp/7210
When I was sick as a child, which was a rather frequent occurrence, my mother used to give me codeine cough syrup. It was a deep burgundy red and delicious-tasting, although it never seemed to do much for my cough.
Years later, when I got into drugs as a teenager (mostly weed), I began to experiment very occasionally with using the codeine cough syrup to get high. In college, I began to use other drugs such as LSD and mushrooms, and became a more or less daily pot smoker. I had a supply of codeine cough syrup (from home) but rarely if ever used it... until a couple of years after college when I went through a period of six months unemployment, at which time I rediscovered (or perhaps discovered for the first time) the joys of codeine.
I developed a certain discipline for maximizing the high, which entailed drinking a quart bottle of beer on a more-or-less empty stomach, and then ingesting four or five tablespoons of the syrup. This produced a very pleasant opiate-type high, affecting both mind and body. Fifteen to 20 minutes after ingestion, a deep feeling of relaxation and all-over warmth and peace ensues. It is very sweet.
I tend to be a highly anxious and worried individual, but there are no worries on codeine; the worries are chilled right out of my bones on a wave of gentle euphoria. The high lasts about two hours overall, with a peak period of about 30 to 45 minutes. The one notable side effect is a mild itchiness that comes on with the buzz, lasts the duration of the high, and then goes away. But when I'm high, the itch is not really a bother. It's rather pleasant, in fact, to scratch the itch, while my stoned mind is dwelling on other things.
It should be noted that the stuff is both psychologically and physically addictive, in a low-grade sort of way.
Psychologically, one is always craving the high, the altered state, which is more pleasant than reality. Physically, if I take it on a regular basis, I get mild withdrawal symptoms in the nature of a vague bodily dis-ease that is relieved only when I take the drug. I found I could only get one 'good' high per day; any attempt to do more than that was a waste of the drug. Because I loved the high so much, and wanted to maximize it, I used it somewhat parsimoniously, i.e., only once a day. Fortunately, I think, my supply ran out following that six-month period when I was using regularly. Thus, I never really had a chance to get 'hooked' in a serious way. But I really loved that stuff while it lasted, and I do believe I was hooked on it in a mild sort of way, and it was a definitely drag to stop using it.
On two occasions, I experienced a scary side of codeine.
Once, I went through my standard ritual of fasting for several hours, drinking a quart of beer, and then ingesting codeine. Then I went to a coffee shop with a friend and had a full, heavy meal (steak and french fries). Halfway through the meal, I started feeling very strange. I broke out in a cold sweat, and felt very lightheaded and flushed in my face. My field of vision became blurry on the sides and seemed to telescope. I could barely talk, and it was hard to breathe. Feeling very ill, I had to lay down in the booth, and almost passed out. My friend called an ambulance. By the time it arrived 20 mins. to half-an-hour later, I had basically recovered. The nasty paramedic asked me if I had been taking any drugs, which I denied. He gave me a brief check-up, and left. Although no harm was done, it was scary.
I felt like Mr. D had tapped me on the shoulder with his cold, bony fingertip.
Following this incident, I laid off the drug for a time. When I began to use it again, I always took care to have some food in my stomach, and never again experienced those symptoms.
Another time, I offered some to a friend, who was intrigued by my stories of what a pleasant buzz it was.
He drank the syrup in the back of the car one night when we were out partying, and after a few minutes went into a semi-coma of the type I had experienced in the restaurant. He couldn't talk, and was on the verge of passing out. I was really worried; he looked like death warmed over. But he recovered after about 20 minutes, and after that was fine (though he never wanted to do codeine again).
I haven't done the drug in years. I am still worried and anxious.
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