Can you get high on promethazine?

Yes, promethazine affects the central nervous system and can get you high. But when combined with codeine, promethazine hydrochloride can lead to psychological and physical dependence. More on promethazine use and addiction characteristics here.

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Yes, promethazine can get you high.

So, if you take promethazine to get high, will you get addicted? We review the use of promethazine hydrochloride, euphoria and the risk of promethazine addiction below. As always, your questions and comments are welcomed in the comments section below.

Promethazine chemistry and use

Promethazine is an antihistamine which is used clinically for the temporary relief of coughs and upper respiratory symptoms associated with allergy or the common cold. Further, prescription-strength promethazine combined with codeine cough syrup is legitimately used to treat allergies, bronchitis, the common cold, influenza, and sinusitis. The three main characteristics of promethazine include:

1. sedative effects
2. the ability to treat allergies
3. prevention or alleviation of nausea and vomiting (antiemetic)

Promethazine is an H1 receptor blocking agent which affects the central nervous system. In fact, drowsiness is the most prominent effect of this drug. However, most people take promethazine in combination with codeine (a prescription opioid) as a prescription strength cough syrup. And it is the combination of codeine and promethazine which most likely leads to euphoric effect.

Promethazine and euphoria

Cough syrup that combines promethazine and codeine is the main ingredient in a drink called Purple Drank. Drinking Purple Drank results in a sedative and woozy or swooning euphoria. But when you drink a combination of promethazine and codeine for effects of mild stimulation and intoxication to dissociation…the risk for developing dependence on the drug increases. Even more, Purple Drank has contributed to overdose deaths.

And although it’s rather unlikely that you can become addicted to promethazine on its own, you can get addicted to codeine. If you are taking a promethazine and codeine combination you MUST KNOW that psychological dependence, physical dependence, and tolerance are known to occur with codeine.

When do people get addicted to promethazine?

Promethazine is readily available and pretty easy to get. But promethazine hydrochloride and codeine phosphate syrup is a Schedule V Controlled Substance. This is because although it has a medical use, it can be abused. And abuse of cough syrups containing promethazine may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence. So how do you know if you are addicted to cough syrups containing promethazine, or not?

First, you have to separate the promethazine from codeine. Although promethazine is known to cause euphoria, codeine is more likely to cause it. So if you are drinking Purple Drank, know that your body and mind can start to NEED the drink instead of WANT it.

Second, there is a distinction between addiction and dependency. You can be dependent on cough syrups with codeine without being addicted to them. Addiction is generally characterized by psychological needs such as lack of control of drug use, compulsive use, continued use despite harm, and craving. But people who are physically dependent on codeine can withdraw from it and not take it again.

And finally, if you are taking promethazine with codeine to get high, you are at risk of becoming addicted to it. Why people get addicted to drugs is different for every person. No single factor can predict whether a person will you become addicted to promethazine and codeine, or not. In fact, risk for addiction is influenced by individual biology, social environment, and age or stage of development. But in general, if you are taking something to get high, and continue to do so over time, your body and mind will start to change chemistry and make durg use the most important part of your life.

Questions about promethazine

Do you have more questions about the use or abuse of promethazine? Maybe something to share with us. We publish all relevant comments here, and answer all your questions personally. Sometimes, we’ll even write a new article just for you. Please leave your ideas below. We look forward to hearing from you.

Reference sources: Resurgence in Abuse of ‘Purple Drank’ from the U.S. Department of Justice
FDA drug information on promethazine hydrochloride and codeine phosphate solution
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Drugs and Human Performance Fact Sheets
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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