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Is Tylenol With Codeine Addictive?

By Manjari Bansal
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Moe Gelbart, PhD on March 23, 2022
Tylenol 3 is a painkiller and you cannot get it without a prescription, but can it be addictive?

If your doctor prescribed you Tylenol 3, you may be wondering, Is Tylenol with codeine addictive? Tylenol 3 is a stronger variant of Tylenol and contains both acetaminophen and codeine. It is the presence of codeine (opioid) that makes Tylenol 3 highly potent for addiction and/or abuse.

Tylenol 3 and Codeine: Everything You Need to Know

Tylenol 3 is a stronger painkiller and you cannot get it without a prescription. Doctors usually prescribe it for mild to moderate pain. You may form an addiction to Tylenol 3 because it contains codeine. Like other opiates (heroin and morphine), codeine is a highly addictive drug. “Tylenol with codeine has the potential for abuse and is addictive. That is why the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) gave it a C3 controlled substance rating depending on how much codeine it contains,” Jason Reed, PharmD, Founder of BestRxforSavings, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

Addiction may happen when you take Tylenol 3 more than prescribed, take it more frequently, or take it from someone else’s prescription. “Signs of codeine addiction include the normal opioid addiction signs such as mood swings, drowsiness, constipation, sleeping disturbances, and small pinpoint pupils,” Reed says.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2012, more than two million Americans were addicted to prescription opioid painkillers. “Young people seem to be much more addicted to codeine drugs, especially for fun or leisure activities. These are generally young individuals who have less to no experience with drug abuse and want to start with something that looks [like a] less harmful substance to them,” Aniko Dunn, PsyD, Psychologist at EZCare Clinic in San Francisco, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

When you do not take the drug, you may suffer from withdrawal symptoms,which is another sign of addiction. “Withdrawal symptoms include anxiousness, sweating, faster heart-beat, muscle pains, excess nasal drainage, and teary eyes,” Dunn says.

Overdose of Tylenol 3 can be dangerous. “Large doses will depress the subconscious brainstem respiratory drive. This is what kills most opioid overdose patients as they stop breathing. Heart rate is also slowed by opioid overdose,” Reed says.

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