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karen90873 karen90873

Codeine addiction

Hi, I'm Karen I'm 40 and from Cambridgeshire. I'm Epileptic and developed an ear problem 2 years ago and eventually ended up taking 500/30 codeine. My partner takes the same however he prefers effervescent and after a seizure I also find it easier to take them that way for the head pain that then develops. Anyway, I've reached a point where I crave them when I'm not in pain and I take them for any small sort of pain. I feel like a fraud in comparison to some of your problems but I don't want things to get worse. At the moment I take 2 tablets each time but I can't stick to the 4 hour recommended gap between doses because of the craving, I get really anxious if there isn't any in the house and I've started mixing them with anything to hide how often I'm taking them from my partner. I don't want to go to my doctor as I'm afraid he'll stop prescribing them, I'm starting to take more and more, I don't seem to get anything from them physically, I just think I'm relying on them for the emotional problems I have at the moment. Not sure if that makes sense to anyone. I know this is really minor however I really don't want it spiralling out of control. My partner doesn't understand any of it, I'm sure it affects my seizures, it definitely affects my mood, so much so I overdosed twice at Xmas obviously unsuccessfully. I'm at the point where I just don't want to carry on like this, does anyone know if I'd be taken seriously with such a small addiction?

5 Replies

  • Ritchie2168 Ritchie2168 karen90873

    Hi Karen.

    Firstly, please don't think you're a fraud because of the small doses you're taking compared to others on here.

    You've done exactly the right thing by asking, as you obviously believe you have a problem.

    It may not be the largest amount of the strongest medication but, the fact you feel you have to take it for hardly any reason & also that you get anxious if you have none in the house, to me means it's the start of something that can quite easily get out of control really quickly.

    I know you won't like my answer but, I really think you should talk to your GP who can put you in touch with a local drug service. I am yet to come across a drug service that is any good but, there must be some out there!!??

    I would be concerned about all the paracetamol you are taking as extended heavy use can cause liver damage.

    I'm sorry I can't give you the answer you want but, unless you can taper it down yourself & control it, which by the sound of it the draw is just too much for you to control by yourself, then I think seeing your GP is the only option to be honest. Unless someone can advise differently.

    Take care & good luck with it

    Ritchie xx

    • karen90873 karen90873 Ritchie2168

      Thanks Ritchie, I've been unable to log in so I've only just seen your reply. Thank you for helping me feel more comfortable about asking for help. I was a student nurse but had to leave university because of my epilepsy. During my time as a student I saw many people with addictions and in comparison I just felt like who is gonna think I'm anything to worry about with a few too many tablets. I do understand the issue with the liver, so I have now seen my pharmacist who I really trust and she is working with me. I had been recommended a recovery centre by a friend who had substance abuse problems but I didn't go as when I looked into it everyone who went seemed to end up on Methadone, which I'm sure you'll agree would not have been progress for me.

      ​Thanks again, take care

      ​Karen xx

  • brianthesnail brianthesnail karen90873

    Hi karen 

             first of all dont feel bad about a codeine addiction ... its a freely avalible ( and prescribed ) medication that can be addictive without realising it .... codeine is metablosied into morphine in the body which is part of the reason why it becomes addictive 

              first of all lets discover why codeine ( and all opiates ) are so addictive ...... when you take codeine it enters the brain and causes the release of neurotransmitters that stimulate the reward center of the brain, leaving the user feeling intense feelings of wellbeing and pleasure.

               however when the drug is stopped these feelings become the opposite making you anxious and nervous .... this is essentially how all opiates work and during long term use the symptoms when stopping the drug can be significantly enhanced causing cramps,severe pain and sweating 

               what concerns me is your epilepsy ....the codeine on top of your seizure medication can create problems such as increased drowsiness and in some cases issues with managing your seizures 

               you have two options ... 

    1) speak to your gp about this and see if he can set up a reduction plan .... for example reducing by 30mg every two weeks 

    2) do the reduction yourself.. reducing by the same amount and this way you body ( and brain ) has the chance to adjust to the less codeine in your system 

                 any doctor ( especially your gp ) should take the addiction seriously .. lets remember it was your doctor who originally prescribed it so its their responsibility to help you with the addiction ..however the procedure for codeine addiction is to be sent to a local drug service who in turn will put you on methadone ( in the uk only ) 

              however as a ex methadone addict you dont want to be put on this ... insist you want to be slowly reduced off codeine and get your life back ....

               i wish you all the best karen 

                   bri xx 

  • ted46777 ted46777 karen90873

    Hi Karen. I was in a very similar boat to you. I don't have epilepsy but did have the addiction. It doesn't matter how much your on, the point is you have developed some tolerance.

    I have some advice. You should obviously look to start decreasing and stopping the codeine. But in the interim you should look to swap to codeine without the paracetamol. I'm not encouraging you take it but if you are, the paracetamol is really unsafe.

    My experience is doctors are really understanding. If you talk to one they will not stop you cold turkey. You should be put on a maintenance dose with decreasing amounts. For the amount you're on I would say that the withdrawal would be slight. Of course they're will be pain but you'd be free within weeks.

    If you don't, you will start taking more and more and the effort of stopping will get bigger and bigger.

    Hopefully you'll be able to stand up to it.

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