Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
ALTHOUGH codeine found in cough mixture Broncleer is not a prohibited substance in sports, according to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), it’s abuse can undeniably lead to serious health problems and even death.
That is why in Zimbabwe it is illegal to be found in possession of Broncleer without a doctor’s prescription.
The danger with continuous consumption, prescribed or not, of codeine by athletes is that it can lead to positive urine tests for morphine.
Morphine is classified as a doping drug by WADA.
The morphine/codeine (mor/cod) ratio is widely used in forensic medicine to differentiate between consuming codeine and morphine (2,3) and mor/cod ratio below one is considered as a sign of codeine only intake, whereas the ratio above one is considered as a sign of using morphine or heroin (4,5) but the number of one is not absolute to determine the source of morphine.
Therein lies the danger for sportspersons that abuse Broncleer.
According to a United Kingdom psychiatrist Syed Omair Ahmed, a consultant at Priory Hospital, an independent provider of behavioural care in the UK, long-term codeine use can result in many unpleasant outcomes.
“For someone misusing or addicted to codeine, the long-term effects of codeine can include all or any of the following; insomnia and nightmares, liver damage, pain, seizures, gastrointestinal disturbances, kidney damage, confusion or delirium, depression, anxiety as well as lethargy,” writes Ahmed on the www.priorygroup.com website.
Other consequences of long-term codeine abuse are, as explained by Ahmed, developing a dependency, as it is addictive.
When it is used repeatedly, a person can develop a dependency to the drug as well as suffer from codeine side effects.
As they build up a tolerance from taking it regularly, more codeine is needed to prevent drug withdrawal symptoms.
A person will physically and psychologically need the drug to be able to function, which is one of the unfortunate long-term effects of codeine.
One of the riskiest side effects of codeine is that taking higher doses of codeine regularly comes with a risk of overdose.
A codeine overdose can cause respiratory failure, which is the most common cause of death from opiate addiction.
When high doses of codeine are taken, dangerous side effects can occur from respiratory depression, including slowness in breathing, a drop in pulse rate and low blood pressure.
Codeine abuse and addiction can have a serious impact on a person’s quality of work and home life.
A person may be unable to hold onto a job and relationships can also become strained, as the user concentrates on acquiring more of the drug.
They can also fall into criminal activity as a way to source the codeine they need.
It is therefore clear that while WADA may not classify codeine on its list of prohibited drugs, it still remains a dangerous drug for athletes, whose livelihoods could solely be dependent on sports.
Its social effects are devastating, regardless of how the sporting world views it.
Zimbabwean athletes abusing Broncleer should know that besides risking arrest, their careers and lives are in grave danger.
Article Source: The Chronicle