Dealing with side effects

It is more possible to experience side effects of opiates for users younger than 18 years of age or older than 60 years of age.

This document lists some of the possible remedies for common side effects of opiates:

Warning: Before taking any of the listed medicines, always consult your doctor, pharmacist, or other reliable source of information.


Drink plenty of water (six to ten full glasses a day) to lessen constipation. Increase the amount of fibre (fruits, vegetables, beans, whole-grain foods, and others) in your diet. You may also take a mild laxative and/or a stool softener while using opiates.

The following drugs (mostly laxatives) help relieve constipation:


Standing up or sitting down slowly reduces the risks of dizzy or fainting spells.

Dry mouth

Drinking plenty of water, chewing (sugarless) gum or sucking on hard candy may help to relieve dry mouth symptoms (and protect your teeth).


The following drugs help relieve heartburn:


Valeriana officinalisThere are plenty of substances that can help gain a good deep sleep (especially after night dihydrocodeine session), including 'drowsy' antihistamines, tranquillisers, sedatives and herbal remedies.

Stronger benzodiazepines (diazepam, alprazolam) may greatly increase the existing opiate-induced sedation.

Warning: Barbiturates should be avoided.


The following antihistamines help relieve the hives (skin rash and itching):


Lying down for few minutes usually helps relieve the nausea. You can also use following remedies:

Also, ingestion of Vitamins B6, C, and K on a regular basis can help.


There are many herbal and over-the-counter products with CNS stimulating properties:

Upset stomach

Take the opiate with food or full glass of milk to lessen this side effect.


The lethal dose of codeine is 12mg/kg (that is 840mg for 70kg person).

Doctors are usually friendly :)Doctors are usually friendly :)

In case of suspected overdose of an orally administered opiate, vomiting shall not be induced. Usually administration of activated charcoal is the best method of decreasing absorption of drugs from gastrointestinal tract, which in many cases is more effective than emesis or gastric lavage. Repeated doses of charcoal over time may hasten elimination of drug that has been absorbed. Activated charcoal can be bought in most pharmacies without prescription.

Some or all of the following procedures may be performed: administer a laxative, give a counteracting drug (eg naloxone, naltrexone), or stimulant to counteract sedation (eg methamphetamine) - multiple doses if needed, and monitor vital signs. If you suspect that you or anyone else may have overdosed, go to the nearest Accident and Emergency (Casualty) or call the Poisons Information Centre (or the equivalent in your country - browse Yellow or White Pages) or similar organization in your country. It may save yours or somebody else's life.

Related information:Overdose! article (@ Harm Reduction Coalition)
Understanding heroin overdose (relevant to all opiates) (@ Harm Reduction Coalition)