A member of the opiate class of narcotic prescription medications, codeine is derived from a member of the opium poppy plant. Opiates include other drugs such as heroin, Vicodin, hydrocodone, OxyContin, and Demerol. Codeine is generally prescribed by a physician to treat mild-to-moderate levels of pain, manage a pesky cough, and occasional treat gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea. Most individuals who are prescribed codeine to manage a medical illness take the drug directly as prescribed and never have a problem, but some individuals develop an addiction. Used for centuries to manage pain in chronic pain sufferers, codeine and other opiates are becoming the drug of choice for many drug addicts.