Codename Codeine

It is a well known fact to those who know it well that Codeine is the most dangerous substance of all on our little island. Do not be distracted by the so-called “hard drugs” or Class-A narcotics like Heroin or Cocaine. These are virtually impossible to obtain, try as you might. You need to know certain people and, unless you already happen to know them, who has the time to develop these relationships?  Besides, such drugs are in no way affecting anyone for whom our government feels an ounce of concern. Codeine, however, is not only addictive through excessive use but has been available without restriction until quite recently.

Indeed, the government should be lauded for intervening in the accessibility of products containing Codeine. Our government laid down a serious marker that their authority is to be respected. No longer can you, humble citizen, simply purchase a Codeine product. You must obtain it from “over the counter” – which is to say that you must request it from a pharmacist or perhaps an unqualified person behind the till should the pharmacist not be available at the time. Imagine that! The unscrupulous individual seeking a codeine product for illicit reasons must request it from a person with a greater incentive to complete a sale than to refuse them. Of course, the thought of asking alone will deter the most hardened addict!

Somehow, dear reader, if you overcome this gargantuan ordeal and convey that you do indeed require a Codeine product to soothe your ills, there is more to follow. At this point, you shall be made to hear “the speech”; in which you will be advised of the perils of Codeine. Whatever we think ourselves, it would appear that not all of our fellow citizens have heard that medicines and drugs are not all absolutely good. If it is news to you at this point, your pharmacist will educate you on the topic to ensure that you are prepared for the heavy burden that is possession of a Codeine product.

Admittedly, it is a sort of routine between your unwell self and the pharmacist. You both have your part to play, roles in this drama of everyday life. Allow me to illustrate accordingly:

[SCENE: A pharmacy, mid-morning. CUSTOMER enters and approaches Pharmacy counter. PHARMACIST enters from area behind the counter.]

CUSTOMER: Hello. Could I ask you for Solpadeine, please? They do wonders for my chest. (Coughs)

PHARMACIST: Certainly… Now, I must ask, are you aware of the regulations regarding Solpadeine and other related Codeine products?

CUSTOMER: Yes, I am. (Coughs – mild splutter for effect)

PHARMACIST: So you are aware that you can only take Solpadeine for a maximum of three days, and if your condition has not improved, you should consult a doctor. Also, under no circumstances should you combine a Codeine product with any other Codeine product. Is that OK?

CUSTOMER: That’s perfectly fine. I use two at most and sleep for about four hours, usually that sees me right again. (Light cough)

PHARMACIST: As long as you are aware, that’s the main thing.

CUSTOMER: But of course – (Covers mouth in anticipation of a cough)

PHARMACIST: Would you like a 12 or 24 pack?

CUSTOMER produces an unmerciful cough the force of which was never before witnessed, hacking and spluttering of biblical proportions.

CUSTOMER: I better get the 24… (rubs chest) Best to have them leftover in case this returns, it’s the season of it unfortunately.

PHARMACIST: It is indeed. Now, here you are.

CUSTOMER completes payment and exchanges pleasantries with PHARMACIST before bidding farewell. Exit CUSTOMER.



This scene is set in a generic Irish town where there are – ordinarily – ten or more separate pharmacies including two which operate within shopping centres. Extra to these, there are smaller stores which stock the acceptable products such as cough bottles and so on. With a little bit of patience, one may visit all of the pharmacies in their area and acquire a 24 pack on each visit, amounting to 240 individual Solpadeine overall in a ten-pharmacy town. Or some other Codeine product to a similar quantity, as the taste of soluble Solpadeine is perhaps as strong a discouragement to Codeine addiction as one is likely to find.

In any case, you can clearly see the success of our regulations regarding Codeine products. Before, people would be able to acquire their desired quantity all in one pharmacy! The government have succeeded in ensuring there are limits nowadays which is undoubtedly a good thing. After all, no right-thinking person would go visit all of the pharmacies in their area. Only someone completely and utterly addicted to Codeine would be prepared to do that.

And that, my dear reader, is how our government have absolutely solved this problem.

4 thoughts on “Codename Codeine

  1. I attended the Rutland centre in January 2011 for alcohol problems and meet another client who attended for Solpadeine addiction. He hung himself 10 weeks after giving up the tablets because he was driven demented with “the itch” a symptoms of withdrawals from solpadeine. He was a married man with two young kids.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for this, Tony. In particular, I am sorry to hear of what befell your fellow client, a man with a life and family. Behind all of this, there is a harsh reality that there are countless Irish families and homes affected by addiction, in one form or another. I don’t think that truth is highlighted enough. It’s devastating because no one begrudges another person some relief in their day to day lives, but through addiction that relief is ultimately causing more harm. As with so many other issues, we do not talk about addiction as openly as we should. Thank you so much for sharing, Tony, I really appreciate it.


  2. It should of course either be put as a prescription only medicine or left as a regular OTC. Unfortunately at the moment it is the counter assistants, who are only following protocol – as per instructed by their employer and the Pharmacy Council, that get the unnecessary abuse from the customer. It is a restricted OTC medicine and therefore held in the dispensary under Pharmacist supervision,(there is a reason for that and thats why it isnt freely on the counter) failure to complete the sales questions and relay to this info to the Pharmacist can lead to disiplinary action from employer and possible action from the PSI if caught not following protocol. How people cant understand or accept this Ill never know. They should take their frustration out on the PSI not on underpaid, overworked counter assistants. They gain nothing from these questions, they’re just doing their job, same as anyone else.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hannah, thank you for your comment. Being sincere, I agree that Codeine should either be unrestricted or by prescription only. The current situation is unfair on pharmacies and their staff and represents another one of many cases where the political decision is mainly to achieve plausible deniability for any perceived problem. It should be obvious that the problem is with the vagueness of the regulation and not the people beholden to it.


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