Refrain (リフレーン, Rifurēn) is an illegal and highly addictive psychotropic drug that induces hallucinatory flashbacks to pleasant past experiences. Temporary behavioral abnormality is exhibited while under the influence of Refrain, and it is also useful as a truth serum. Once the drug wears off, the user is left unable to speak for some time and finally becoming an invalid.
Refrain is described by Lelouch as a drug created by the Holy Britannian Empire in order to lull the local population into a state of blissful ignorance as a form of a mild ethnic genocide. The drug is injected by a special injector, see picture above for an example. How the drug really works is unknown and only in Code Geass: Nightmare of Nunnally is it somewhat vaguely explained.
Under Britannian law, penalization for possession of Refrain is comparable to that associated with narcotics in the real world but this does not stop smugglers and corrupt noblemen from selling it to the populace. Prior to a crackdown executed by Cornelia, it was smuggled into Area 11 from the Chinese Federation by way of the Kyūshū Route. The Black Knights and the Britannian police force are supposedly trying to keep Refrain off the streets but in the episode Refrain it is revealed that a member of the Britannian Police Force is actually secretly involved with them.
The possession of Refrain is punishable by a lengthly prison sentence, with Mrs. Kozuki recieving a one of 20 years.
Most users of Refrain are Numbers, as the drug is specificaly created for them. In Area 11, a large number of these users are people living in the Ghetto or Honorary Britannians that can no longer stand the pressure of being persecuted by their Britannian counterparts. It is still unknown if there are any non Numbers who use Refrain, though Lelouch has attempted to use it once. The Britannians however found a more practical use for the Drug and use it as a truth serum.
Effects and Side-Effects
As stated above, Refrain has the capability to induce hallucinatory flashbacks to pleasant past experiences. In other words, people who take Refrain can literally escape to a better time in their life. However, as with all illegal substances, it is not without any harmful effects. The Refrain drug enters the central nervous system (CNS) and due to the nature of its effects, possibly increases synaptic transmissions via either a direct agonism effect or binding to neurotransmitter reuptake inhibitors. Possible neurotransmitters involved include dopamine, 5-HT ( Serotonin ), Cannabinoid and/or Opioids. Long term usage generally causes downregulation and disruption in these systems often causing cognitive disturbances such as psychosis, amnesia and delirium, amongst other things. Depending on the usage of the user, LTP ( Long-term potentiation ) within the brain causes neural cell death via apoptosis, leading to the victim becoming an Invalid.
- Refrain bears a lot of resemblence to the drug 'Clarity' from Phillip K. Dick's story The Minority Report, in that it is used to allow people experience memories more vividly.