How Much Does Codeine Cost?

Fikret Terzic

Written by: Fikret Terzic MD, MS

The average street price of codeine is $5 per pill. Location, quantity, and authenticity can affect the cost in Ohio. Buying codeine on the street is dangerous because it’s unregulated and may be laced with toxic substances.

Codeine is an opioid analgesic (painkiller) and antitussive (cough suppressant). It changes how your brain responds to pain and decreases brain activity that triggers coughing. 

The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies codeine as a Schedule III controlled substance because it has abuse potential and can be addictive. 

Though it’s not the most popular opioid for abuse, codeine is sold on the street and on the black market. Its street price can vary because of several factors, including where you buy it, how much you buy at once, and how pure it is.

Codeine Street Value

The street value of codeine depends on its formulation. Codeine is available as a tablet (mixed with acetaminophen) or a cough syrup (with promethazine or chlorpheniramine). 

Based on reports across the United States during a 2-week period in July 2022, codeine and acetaminophen pills cost around $5. A 500 mL bottle of codeine cough syrup (15mg/5mL) can cost anywhere from $7 to $50.

Factors That Affect Codeine Street Price

The street price of prescription opioids like codeine often differs based on location, quantity, and authenticity.


Buying codeine on the street in a rural area can be more expensive than buying it in a city. The price difference is caused by a lack of supply and demand. 

In a highly-populated area, there are more drugs available and more people to buy them—plus more competition—so dealers can afford to charge less.


Some dealers charge a premium for single pills or give a discount if you buy more pills at once. Like legitimate businesses, drug dealers may encourage you to buy more by offering a lower cost so they have a higher guaranteed profit. 


You can be sure that the codeine you get from a registered pharmacy is legitimate and pure. Not so when you buy it on the street. While some street drugs are diverted from pharmacies, others are made in home labs that use adulterants to stretch the supply. 

If the street cost of codeine is too low, it’s probably not what you’re looking for. Don’t risk it.

Prescription Cost Of Codeine 

The prescription cost of codeine depends on your insurance and can vary slightly based on your location and the pharmacy you use. The price of generic codeine is lower than the brand name version (Tylenol 3, Tylenol 4, or Tuzistra XR).

Many insurance providers will cover all or most of the cost of a limited codeine prescription. They may require a small copay at the time of pickup. If you don’t have insurance (or even if you do), discount programs such as GoodRx and WebMDRx can get you a better price.

The average prescription price for 30 tablets of 30 mg codeine sulfate in Ohio is $35. With discount programs, you can get it for $12 to $19 at pharmacies like Walgreens, Rite Aid, and Giant Eagle.

This same prescription if you buy it on the street (at $5 per pill) would cost $150.

Codeine Abuse In Ohio

Codeine isn’t the first choice for substance abuse because it’s milder than many opioids. But there is a street market in Ohio for people who abuse it. 

In 2018, 14 people were arrested in the Ohio area for forging codeine cough syrup prescriptions and attempting to fill them at Ohio pharmacies. They planned to sell this cough syrup on the street to people who didn’t have legitimate prescriptions.

The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy has rules to curb the illegal distribution of prescription medications like codeine. For example, pharmacists cannot give someone more than a 90-day supply of an opioid and they generally cannot fill an opioid prescription that’s more than 14 days old.

Ohio combats prescription drug abuse because the state has one of the highest rates of drug overdose deaths in the US. 

In addition to codeine, prescription drugs that are widely abused and linked to overdose in Ohio include:

  • Opioids: hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet), hydromorphone (Dilaudid), tramadol (ConZip, Ultram)
  • Stimulants: amphetamine (Adderall), methamphetamine (Desoxyn)
  • Benzodiazepines: diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax)

Dangers Of Street Codeine

Adulterants in street codeine may include irritants and toxins like baby laxatives and laundry detergents. It could also be cut with other drugs. Fentanyl, a potent opioid, is increasingly found in opioids sold on the street and is responsible for most opioid overdose deaths in the last decade.

Since it’s more expensive to buy codeine on the street than to get it at a pharmacy—even without insurance—the only reason to buy it illicitly is that you don’t have a prescription. And if you can’t get a prescription from your healthcare provider, you shouldn’t be taking codeine.

Like all opioids, codeine is an addictive drug that can cause mental and physical dependence. Once you become addicted, it could lead to you abusing more potent opioids or needing codeine to function in daily life. 

Addiction takes a serious toll on your physical and mental health, not to mention your relationships and finances.
If you or a loved one are struggling with codeine abuse or addiction, reach out to a specialist at Ohio Recovery Center. We’re always available to answer your questions and help you find the right codeine addiction treatment program for you. Call us today.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Drug Overdose Mortality by State
  2. Ohio Department of Health — 2020 Ohio Drug Overdose Data: General Findings
  3. State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy — Requirements for Outpatient Opioid Prescriptions
  4. StreetRx — latest street prices for illicit and prescription drugs
  5. United States Department of Justice — 14 Charged with Making Fake Prescriptions to Obtain & Distribute Codeine Cough Syrups

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: December 2, 2022

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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