Dihydrocodeine Withdrawal

Posted , 16 users are following.

I am starting this new thread because I am having what i believe are different withdrawal symptoms to most everybody. 

I have been taking Dihydrocodeine for just over 6 years now, I started on a high dose and have taken varying amounts over these past years. I took them for pain relief from Cauda Equina Syndrome (and still do, although thankfully after 6 years it seems a little more managable with regular painkillers)

I am currently on 2 a day one morning, one late evening.

When I dont take them I experience what can only be described as a need to defecate, mixed with the feeling of being excited (the kind that kept you awake at night when you were a kid - remember that, fun right?) although there is NO fun in it whatsoever! It's like a 'tingling' low down in my groin, impossible to explain succinclty enough that you would understand what I'm talking about. My description is weak, but it's all I can offer.

My biggest problem with stopping them entirely is that this 'feeling' for want of a better word gets more and more intense the longer I go without them. 

The last time I tried to go cold turkey, I laid awake for 2 nights straight, without an ounce of sleep. My hope was that I would 'eventually' be so tired that my body and mind would just shut off. Unfortunately this did not happen and the intensity of the 'feeling' got so bad that I simply HAD to take a tablet just to get some rest. 45 minutes after taking it, I was asleep.

Add to all this the irritability, the restlessness, the not knowing where to put yourself, the rising 'feeling' there almost 24/7 all be it mild when i take my two tablets a day, and I can honestly say that this condition is driving me completely mad!  

Now, why post here? Firstly I want to know if anyone else has a similar feeling when trying to drop them.. Or HAD a similar feeling?

The reason i ask this question directly is I have no way of knowing if this IS withdrawal... It's entirely likely that Cauda Equina nerve damage has given me this condition and the dihydra's are masking it. 

honestly I think it's withdrawal but I cant find anyone else speaking of a similar feeling? 

And secondly, HOW DO I STOP!!??

I am down to 2 tablets a day, if I lessen the amount, the 'feeling' becomes so noticeable that I have to up the amount again. (please believe me when i say it's like torture - it's unbearable to the point of 'screw it i'm taking one!' - this is not 'addiction' I WANT to stop.. I am just unable!)

I am going to start with 3/4's of a tablet from tomorrow.. I will let you all know how I get on. 

In the meantime, please discuss.. Please tell me your own experiences ESPECIALLY if you know the 'feeling' i'm talking about. 

Thanks for time, and patience with my long-winded post. 


4 likes, 69 replies

69 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi Kutter-uk what you describe sounds about right for withdrawal. That excited feeling is literally that i.e. the exciitation of your neural pathways and Central Nervous System after being sedated and occupied by opiates (dihydrocodeine). Try cutting down as you suggest but really 2 a day is not going to be all that bad. I think it is important to recognise and accept that you are not going to sleep much for a while. Once you have accepted that it is easier I found. Actually that excited feeling can become a source of strength if you view it as becoming alive again after being much the opposite. One thing that I found helped was Pregabalin  or Gabapentin. Ask your GP if he will give you a few for a week. They enabled me to rest if not sleep and made the w/d's bearable. I hate to state the obvious but that excitation of your groin could be seen as the return of sex drive after opiate suppression. Good luck and it gets so much better. John

    • Posted

      Thank you John, hearing it confirmed makes all the difference. When you explain it as you did it makes so much sense! Thank you. 

      Interestingly I have pregabalin which I was taking to try and deal with nerve pain a little while ago. They helped me sleep no question about it but the other things I was taking them for didnt subside, so I stopped.

      Taking them as you suggest may well be a way I can get through this, I'm certainly willing to give it a go. 

      Thanks again John, lots of food for thought. 

    • Posted

      Hi Kutter-uk I would definitely give the pregabalin a try just to get you through the worst  of  detox . All the best. John
  • Posted

    Hi art 

             I understand how your feeling .. ive been reducing from methadone ( significantly more powerful than dihydrocodeine ) but the symptoms are similar as they are both semi-synthetic opioids ( man made opioids compared to morphine which is derived from opium ) 

             all the symptoms you are presenting are classic signs for opioid withdrawl and reduction ... insomnia is caused by the opioid receptors going crazy .. literally theres fireworks going off in your brain and it does not allow you to relax .. the body can be extremely tired but your brain is working overtime 

             however ( and this is the good news ) this can be helped by a med called "gabapentin" ... i was diagnosed with peripheral nerve damage in my legs and was prescribed gapapentin during my methadone reduction .. the difference was amazing ... 8 full hours sleep compared to 3 ( if i was lucky ) during methadone reduction ...  

               the way this works is unclear,however since gapapentin was originally designed for epilepsy its thought it uses its marked sedating effect to "dampen" the " fireworks" in the brain ... as my doctor stated it "turns off specific eletrical signals in the brain "

              on top of that a med called "quinine" can help with leg and arm jerks which are also common during opioid withdrawl ( and reduction ) ... you can also get this in "tonic water" allthough at lower doses 

               stopping completely will be tough ( i wont say otherwise ) but not impossible ...and slowly your body will feel better to so much of a extent that the feelings you get will be better than the feelings that dihydrocodeine gave you 

                in summary your not alone .. millions have been through what your experiencing and remember that .. i know when your lying in bed unable to sleep it can feel lonely,frightening and depressing but ( and i apologise if this sounds patronising ) it does get better .. it has for me and im down to 1ml of methadone ( equal to just 1mg ) ... 

                even after you succesfully stop taking dihydrocodeine there will be days when the urges and depression will reappear .. this is were you need support ( from a doctor or drug support service ) .. or even posting on here with how your feeling 

                 anyway i wish you all the best art .. and stick with it mate 


    • Posted

      Thank you Brian, once again hearing from someone who has been through (and still going through by the sound) of this horrendous effect makes me feel SO much better.

      To hear you describe it, as with John before you, it makes sense, I already feel better about it. 

      I do have Gabapentin and as I said in my reply to John I took them for a while and did notice a difference in sleep. They didnt touch what I was actually taking them for (a heavy feeling - for want of a better term) in the position of my Gall Bladder (which was removed for this exact reason) but never went away. 

      I stopped taking them because I didnt think they were working but on taking 200mg last night before bed, I slept! It was GLORIOUS! 

      I haven't had a decent nights sleep since I stopped taking them about 3 weeks ago... Why I didnt make the connection who knows but thanks to this thread I'm back on them!

      Sleep I would have said was my number one problem because like you I only slept around 3 hours a night and the description you gave of brain being awake is EXACTLY how I've described it to my wife in the past. It's like not being able to relax! 

      It's weird because i thought all this was bought on by nerve damage from Cauda Equina but now I am seeing that it's the opiate's that are giving me all these symptoms... Maybe even the pain in my side!?

      The 'urge' to take DHC is nowhere near as strong as it used to be. When I realised I needed to come off them (which was about a year ago now) I started to tell myself 'no' to the buzz they give. I like the buzz, I always did and taking two when I only really needed one was a battle sometimes but that thankfully is under control now and I am strict on my two a day. 

      That said, today is my first day on 3/4 of a tablet. Just took it actually, along with another 200mg of Gabapentin. Keep your fingers crossed for me, DHC is on it's way OUT! 

      Thanks for the support all, I hope this thread can help others because this is one of the most vile things I've had to go through in my life.



    • Posted

      Ack.. Gabapentin/Pre Gabalin... Have gotten those two mixed up something chronic in the past! I seem to have some kind of mental block. 

      For the record... 

      Its pregabalin that I'm taking and they too give me a great nights sleep. 

      Gabapentin I couldn't take, they made me feel 'weird' is the best way I can describe it. Thats why the doc put me on PreGabalin instead. 


    • Posted

      Hi art 

               The problem with any medication ( including gabapentin ) is taking them long term .. any recovering addict will ( but not allways ) tend to take medication for the effects it gives them .... but you need to be strict with yourself and adhere to strict guidelines set down by the prescriber ..

               myself i had a MRI scan last weekend ( lower lumbar ) and it looks like i will need pain meds just as im finishing my methadone reduction 

              and im hoping my doc does not give me dihydrocodeine ( or dhc long acting versions ) ... granted i may need them but im scared if i go down the same route as methadone ...and you know how hard it is to come off dihydrocodeine ..

               that said if i do need pain meds i will ask to doctor to give me them at the lowest dose and see if that works 

                whats the difference between gabapentin and pre-gabalin ... is the latter better as it has less side effects .. interesting to know 

                 finally have you tried valerian root ... ive heard good stories about this natural supplement and its well known to help with opiate reduction and withdrawal ...

                  good luck art 

    • Posted

      Hi Brian, 

      Man lower back pain is a bitch! I know it SO well, I had sciatica for 6 nearly 7 years and then that turned into Cauda Equina, which is less rare than you'd expect! Bottom line, you dont need to tell me about lower back pain my friend believe me, I feel for you! 

      That said... dhc was the ONLY drug that helped with the pain, and believe me again when I say the pain was so intence that you would take dhc without a second thought if you knew it would help with it. 

      This is exactly what happened to me. 

      My experience went on from there to be one of pain management/liking the buzz the drug gave me, I dont mind admiting it now, I'm coming out the other end and the actual road itself wasn't so bad. 

      Now however, well I don't need to tell you.. It's hideous.. BUT pregabalin and lessening the tabs to 3/4s twice a day is working. I feel no withdrawal feelings whatsoever at the moment, so fingers crossed. 

      The good news however is that I took dhc 4 times (in the sciatica years) for several months at a time. The longest being around 8 months of agony (something i;ll never forget) and dropping them cold turkey after this sort of time... I didnt even notice any side effects. 

      After 6 years however, it's a different story. 

      I guess what I'm trying to say Brian, is dont be too scared about taking them because firstly, the work! Theres no question (for me at least) they were THE best painkiller and I'd tried many others. 

      But more importantly, you know how to get off of them.. Hell you gave that advice to me and it's working a treat!

      As for Gabapentin and Pre-Gabalin, I 'think' and this is only because my doctor alighted to it in a round about way when he prescribed me pre gabalin; is that Pre Gabalin is only given if you have a reaction to Gabapentin because it's much more expensive to create. 

      I could be wrong, but I got that impression at least. 

      I will try valerian root alongside the Pre gabalin, thanks for that heads up too. 

      Good luck Brian, stay safe.



  • Posted

    Well, I hope someone see's this or at the very least it helps someone in the future. 

    Further to my original post I am pleased to announce that I am down now to ONE tablet per day. Half in the morning and half in the evening. 

    It hasn't been an easy road but pre-gabalin have helped with the ability to sleep and the extra withdrawal symptoms I feel. 

    I still feel them full on if I cut the dose any further, so we are going to have to move in baby steps from here. 

    I will keep everyone posted. 

  • Posted

    Hiya ive been reading your story with intrest as I too right now am withdrawing from dihydrocodeine I've been taking them for 20 years due to a severe back problem I've just reduced my dose from 6-4 a day then this week from 4-2 and I'm experiencing very similar symptoms to you the worse being restless legs and insomnia along with terrible diahorea

    I am thinking of asking my Dr for gabapentin but I'm concerned that I will be putting more pills into my system

    I'd like to know how you are getting on as I don't know anyone else going through this

    Thanks for your time


    • Posted

      Pregabalin will help with sleeping and wrestles legs syndrome, I stopped palexia back in sept it took me 7 weeks and it was hell, I was on them for chronic back pain to but decided enoughs enough, I'm still getting wls it's awful and insomnia so I take 1 at night, I hope this helps and good luck 😊

    • Posted

      gabapentin will help with restless leg syndrome and insomnia.. its actually a anti-seizure medicine and essentially switches off parts of the brain that causes seizures ( gaba receptors ) ... this stops the brain getting to stimulated which is what happens when opioid withdrawal occurs ..

                  many doctors have noticed gabapentin helps during opioid withdrawal but its not been officially recognized 

                  however allways start on a low dose ... they can interact with opioids (even low doses ) ... so take 1 x 100mg on the first night and see if this helps .....

                 what ive learned to do is work out what my system can tolerate ... and slowly increase until i feel no side effects .. however as everyone is different this can fluctuate from one person to another 

                  pre-gabalin is like gabapentin but also helps with anxiety .. also it comes in a much smaller dose (25MG ) ... 

                  the only problem in your case is your back problem .. coming off dihydrocodeine may make the back problem worse which in turn will mean you may have to start taking dihydrocodeine again ....

                  we all hate taking medication but as your taking it for a condition you should discuss this with your doctor ... maybe switching to another opioid may be needed 

                                good luck 

    • Posted

      Hi Elaine, hopefully you'll see this and sorry for being late to reply... It seems that GMail has decided that mails from this site are spam, despite the fact I click withon them often! 


      I am still on 1 tablet a day... I can't drop that extra half a tablet AT ALL. I know people will think this ridiculous but I assure anyone reading that my wirhdrawal for having 'no' DHC in my system is as bad now as it was when i was taking a full dose. Seriously, no difference whatsoever! 

      So I have resigned to the fact that I will just have to continue with one a day certainly for the foreseable future.

      I hope your managing to keep the dose low. 

      Take care! 


    • Posted

      Have you tried gabapentin. They worked for me with regards to sleeping and WLS, I started my withdrawals back in September and lime you was worried about putting more pills in my system, they helped with sleep when my withdrawals where at there worst. I still take the odd one at night if WLS comes back but what I found is I havnt took any for a week and have had no side effects what so ever, give them a try they might be what you need to drop that last one. Good luck 😊

    • Posted

      Sorry I meant pregabalin 🙈

    • Posted

      Thank you so much for this conversation. It's been so helpful to me - but not because I want to come off dihydrocodeine just yet (I'm on 4 x 30 mg tabs a day for various issues - back, fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis). However last week I was put on steroids for poss Polymyalgia Rheumatica. Felt much better immediately including pain, but after 48 hr's the pain began coming back with muscle lock, tingling and tightness in the areas you described.

      What I think happened was that the diuretic side effect of the steroids (which was very strong ) caused 3 different things, dehydration, loss of potassium, and flushing my pain killers out of my system.

      I was already doing something about the first two and your experience confirmed that I needed to take the dihydrocodeine every 4 hours to get the symptoms to recede and that they would do.

      Thank you also everyone for the pregabalin suggestion, that will help.

      Kutter, could it be that the reason you can't get below one Tablet is that you are trying to halve the dose at this stage, a much bigger drop percentage wise than you have taken so far. How about having one Tablet free day in 5 for a few weeks, then every 4, 3, 2 days so you are cutting down at a much slower rate?

      I hope I remember all this good advice when I come to cut down / give up!

      Blessings everyone


    • Posted

      When the time is ready for you just remember you can message anytime for support and advice to help you through, I had so much support from some good people on here and it makes all the difference, there will be some tuff times but my advice would be to taper slowly reducing the withdrawals as much as possible, there is no race to the finish line, I went to quick and suffered unnecessarily, good luck and I wish you well 😊

    • Posted

      Gabapentin  works on  different opiate receptors in your brain and for some cannot help  completely if at all in  covering the with drawl symptoms. Pregabli are more likely to help 

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