Acetaminophen with codeine is a prescription pain medication. An overdose occurs when someone takes too much of this drug. An overdose is very dangerous and can be fatal.
If you think you or someone you know may have overdosed, call 911 or the National Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222 immediately. Be ready to tell first responders:
- the name of the medicine ingested
- weight and age
- how much medicine was taken
- when the medicine was taken
- if the medicine was prescribed to the person who took it
Acetaminophen with codeine has many names. Some of them include:
- Capital & Codeine
- Tylenol with Codeine (#2, #3, #4)
The prescribed dose of acetaminophen with codeine is based on your weight, age, and how much pain you’re experiencing. If you take more than you’re prescribed, you could overdose.
If you take too much of the medicine, the chemicals in the drug can cause you to not think clearly. You can help remember when to take your medicines and how much to take by:
- making notes on a calendar
- keeping medicines in a weekly pill organizer
- asking someone to remind you
Some people may take acetaminophen with codeine because it makes them feel high. This isn’t a safe use of this medicine. Only people who’ve been prescribed acetaminophen with codeine should take it, and it should always be taken exactly as prescribed.
Keep medicines out of reach of children. Ask your pharmacist for childproof packaging.
A breastfeeding baby can overdose on acetaminophen with codeine if their mother is taking the medicine. Nursing mothers taking acetaminophen with codeine should consider bottle-feeding their babies. If this isn’t possible, they should immediately call 911 or the National Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222 if their baby:
- is more drowsy than usual
- has difficulty breastfeeding
- has difficulty breathing
- has pale skin
Symptoms of acetaminophen with codeine overdose include:
- shrunken pupils
- shallow breathing
- slow breathing
- heavy sweating
- cold, clammy skin
- nausea and vomiting
- pale skin
Call 911 or the National Poison Control Center and listen carefully to their instructions. They may send emergency medical care. Someone who has overdosed on acetaminophen with codeine could be sent to the hospital.
Hospital treatments include:
- activated charcoal
- artificial respiration
- intravenous fluids
- a tube through the mouth into the stomach (stomach pumping)
People who’ve overdosed on acetaminophen with codeine may also receive two medicines to reverse the effect of the drugs:
- naloxone (Narcan)
- N-acetyl cysteine
The faster you get medical help, the sooner you’ll recover. Recovery can take a day or two.
If your liver is affected, recovery could take longer. Long-term liver damage is possible because toxins are released into your system when acetaminophen is broken down into other chemicals by your liver.
Codeine can be habit-forming. Taking too much codeine can cause:
Long-term use can cause dependency and addiction to the drug. If you think you’re addicted to codeine, you should see your doctor right away to discuss your treatment and rehabilitation options.
To avoid an overdose and protect others:
- only take medication prescribed for you
- follow your doctor’s orders and dosage instructions
- keep all medicines out of the reach of children