making sense of my cocodamol withdrawal symptoms...?

Posted , 4 users are following.


I was using cocodamol 30/500mg - up to 30 a day for about 7 years on and off. The last two years I have been heavily dependent. I went off them cold turkey 6 days ago, I didn't feel too bad in the beginning, probably because there was still a huge amount of codeine in my system...but now, the last two-three days, I have been so exhausted I literally can't stay awake or get out of bed. I haven't had digestive issues or nausea, but I have lost about 5lbs in weight (need to lose a few stone anyway). It's mainly been a lack of motivation, disorientation, low mood, agitation and cravings. 

I am just wondering when I will feel normal, when I will shake off these feelings and what could help me get through?

Any advice welcome! Thanks 

1 like, 12 replies

Report / Delete

12 Replies

  • Posted


    I am also one week abstinent but have had cravings, periods of brightness and then anxiety and tiredness/nausea.  Some other contributors have been very supportive so hang in there - we are both at the start of a long road. 

    Report / Delete Reply
  • Posted


    Wow, that was a pretty drastic step to go from 30 tabs a day to zero! It would have been much easier on your system if you'd tapered them down over several weeks which is what I did - even then the first few weeks were pretty uncomfortable with some symptoms going away quite quickly and others hanging on in there for 2 - 6 weeks. The disorientation, low mood, anxiety and cravings are part and parcel of withdrawal for most people, but I've not heard of anybody losing weight before unless nausea is a symptom and they just can't face food.

    As you've been taking such a huge dose over a long period, you should def visit your GP and confess all as the paracetamol may have caused damage to your liver: you need some tests doing to check that out.

    I wish you well with this and please do get some professional help.


    Report / Delete Reply
  • Posted

    Hi Bobbs

    I went cold turkey off 30/500 co-co last November, I too would definietly advise seeking medical help for your liver, that was a large dosage you were taking.  I ended up in a&e where they gave me the paracetamol antidote.  It took nearly 21 hours but was worth it to get all the paracetamol out of my system and the re-assurance that I hadn't wrecked my liver.  I say this as liver damage shows no symptoms up until its really bad.

    Withdrawal took me about four week, and since then I haven't touched anything with an opiate of any kind in it and I feel like a new woman

    Good luck


    Report / Delete Reply
  • Posted

    Thanks to all of you. Yeah it was a huge amount, but I was so desentised to it, I barely felt any high at all - I was just taking them out of fear of the withdrawal symptoms. Funnily enough I did have a liver enzyme test done and it was normal. Weird! The weight loss is because I have barely any appetite, but no nausea. My dependency is more of a psychological thing because I took them because of clinical depression and anxiety, but the doc wouldn't give me anything for anxiety, just an SSRI for depression.

    I didn't want to taper because having tried it a few times, I just couldn't do it - I'm a sort of 'all or nothing' type person.

    I was starting to get pelvic pain over the last few months and went to the doc about 10 days ago who had referred me for an ultrasound, where they will check my kidneys/liver, etc, so that is reassuring me. I just hate these cravings, wanting to make my mood brighter with codeine. I won't return to them though, I hate being a slave to something. I gave up smoking and alcohol entirely over a year ago, so I know I can do this. It's just hard, isn't it? 

    Thanks again x

    Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Hello there Bobbs.

      Hard? Absolutely right. Through no real fault of your own (so no beating yourself with guilt), you drifted into dependency on this drug. I think a lot of people underestimate the power of Codeine and its opiate effects. At first it rewards you with a warm feeling of security which gradually wears off as your brain finds its own way to let your anxiety bypass the 'gate' that the Codeine has been blocking.

      Naturally, human nature is to think, 'well, a couple more won't do any harm', and so people try to regain that feeling they had at the beginning.

      Think of it this way. The drug is like a malevolent force in disguise. It offers you relief not only from physical pain, but also a welcome sense of euphoria. Once it has you enjoying that, it cuts off the rewards and beckons you to enter a cave where you will be given more of the drug to get those feel-good sensations again.

      This same process is repeated over and over again, and suddenly, you realise you have wandered deep into the cave and have become lost and confused and just want to get out. Ironic that you might panic at the outcome, when often it was panic the Codeine was helping you with in the first place.

      Personifying the medicine in this way will strengthen your very clear determination to get those shackles off, and get your freedom back. You are a great example of what can be done just with the tools of your own willpower. Well done. In fact, extremely well done.

      I'm certain you know enough about the problem you have been dealing with not to become complacent. It is early days and there may be things that trigger the desire to just have a couple of doses to 'take the edge off'. But you know as well as I do what that could mean.

      I think it is excellent that you have created your own post. It's a real step forward in acknowledging your problem, and hopefully, now you have had some response, you will feel supported.

      Let me wish you every possible success. You deserve it.

      One last point, and I apologise if this feels like Granny telling you to suck eggs, but I would like to add my voice to the excellent advice already given to you by Roz, and from reading Lizzies reply, she agrees with Roz too.

      Your liver can safely metabolise 4grams of Paracetamol in a 24 hour period. Any more than that is temporarily stored, and if you stop taking the tablets after a few days, the liver will deal with the 'backlog' if that sounds sensible.

      If you have in fact been taking up to 15grams a day for some time, then your liver will be unhappy with you. There is no shame or guilt whatsoever in approaching your GP or other Health Professional and telling them what you have told us here. Trust me, they won't look in the least surprised or shocked! This is a lot more common than you may think.

      You have done amazingly well to go cold turkey alone, but I'm with Roz and Lizzie that you should not continue alone without the support of your Doctor.

      If I had a hat, I would take it off to you. May you go from strength to strength and remain free from the slavery of your 'friend' in disguise who ultimately would like to rob you of your life.

      Best wishes Bobbs.

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Hi Rainboy!

      Thank you so much for your lovely advice smile

      I do tend to think of things in a metaphorical way about all this, I just fear expressing myself as abstractly as I would like because my self-esteem is pretty shot.

      My depression was under control somewhat, and I was recovering from yet another depressive episode when something happened that changed my life. I couldn't manage the emotional pain, it was too much to bear and so I did follow the will o' the wisp instead of using my head, and, more importantly, follow my intuition.

      You know that feeling of 'if I could just go back in time and take the other road!'? I have that a lot because the emotional pain that I was trying to blunt is still there and I can't seem to reconcile it. I haven't got closure on it yet and do need some talking therapy. 

      I was so low yesterday, I have a migraine now, which I do suffer from, but at leats there's ibuprofen for that.

      My mind's just a little muddled as I damaged myself with the cocodamol -emotionally, and then found out I had something physically wrong with me, which I believe to be a manifestation of the emotional see the loop I am in?

      I am 32 and I have been battling with myself for a long, long time, it's exhausted me. I just wanted to numb myself and not feel anything for a while so that I could just rest, but it doesn't work out quite as nicely as that, does it? The things you were battling are still there, just hidden. Then you find yourself battling with addiction on top of it all. God, if I could just go back in time lol

      I will see my doctor, you, Roz and Lizzie are all right. I wanted to just overcome it alone because I am in denial about just how much it affects me and has damaged me. My doctor has been fully aware all along that I am an addict, but little has been done to help. I even complained to the NHS about the poor care I received. I just couldn't get through to them that I needed help, it was honestly like banging my head against a brick wall and it was incredibly stressful. It made me distrustful of the healthcare system, and let down. I had already been let down badly by another system in this country, which had led me to a nervous breakdown in 2013. I felt like I was screaming and no one could hear me. I often had dreams that I had lost my voice - literally, because that mirrorred how I felt in reality.

      Feeling so burdened by this sadness makes it harder to give up my 'safety net' - 'a few tablets and I will feel okay', y'know?

      I don't want that though and luckily I do have strong willpower and am tenacious - at least I can say that about myself. 

      I am now on day 7, it's around 3am. I just have to be patient and wade through the tunnel of s*1t before I reach freedom, ala Andy in Shawshank Redemption lol

      Thanks again for your kind words, you've helped alot! x

      Report / Delete Reply
  • Posted

    Dear Bobbs

    You really are an amazing person! You certainly have a strong grip of your own perceptions and the ability to express them so powerfully that anyone reading would be heartless not to feel and sense your pain.

    It is quite remarkable how there are two or three sections of your 'story' that mirror my own, and I instantly identified with your feelings. So often it's the case that just as you are beginning to stand, life comes along and knocks you back down. But you will get up, and you will continue to get up, because you have (despite your emotional problems), clearly got a very strong inner core that will not be overcome.

    I particularly empathise with you if your problems are being compounded by an "unresolved" issue from the past. Ditto! The consequences of that are really debilitating because you just feel weighed down as though you are pulling a heavy load behind you all the time. Trust me Bobbs, I 'get it'.

    You don't need to justify to me the temptation you've had to "numb" the pain. In fact, without wishing to contradict my comments from yesterday, I used to think that enduring the emotional torture was doing more damage to me than the medication. Does that make sense?

    You have encouraged me Bobbs with something you've said. I also deal with some mild/moderate physical symptoms, and I am of the firm belief that it is the many years of emotional pain that is behind them. I remember asking someone once about the expression sometimes used about a person "dying of a broken heart". I asked this person if they thought that was tangible. Their immediate response was that it is just a figure of speech.

    Well, a figure of speech it may well be, but I have come to believe over a long period of time, that it can, not always, but can happen literally.

    It sounds like you are feeling 'broken' inside. I am in no position to comment on how you deal with your daily life. That would be presumptuous and insulting. But you have had the wherewithall to pen a lovely, welcome, and fulsome reply to my message, and I bet that took a huge amount of your energy. So, whatever you are doing to get yourself back on track, keep doing it.

    Of course you are not alone, and if ever you do feel that way, remember that the messages you've had are from real people writing to you because they want to. Think of them when you have a 'wobble' because the chances are, they will be thinking about you.

    Take very good care, get that help, and in the meantime you have my very best wishes and lots of positive energy being sent your way.


    Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Hi Rainboy!

      I'm really sorry for the late response. I really appreciate your words!! I do feel a strong resonance with your way of expressing your own pain.

      I have had a setback and I started taking the cocodamol again, hence me being away from the site. The main reason was because I feel such physical pain now, but the emotional pain is still there and I often have dreams about it that cause me to feel strange, low and disorientated for the entire day following the dream. Do you ever have that? I try to suppress a lot and I have become a good actress over the years, but inside I do feel broken and my heart is in pieces. So, regarding what you said about dying of a broken heart - I think you absolutely can. I even thought that to be true prior to my suffering so badly, but having gone through something that broke the camel's back, I know in my mind and heart that you can. I have strengthened slightly in the last year, with the help of life-saving antidepressants, but I know that antidepressants don't get to the source and irradicate it. I am sure you understand this.

      When you said that 'enduring the emotional torture was worse than the medication' - that is exactly how I feel!!! Thank you for showing me there is someone who understands this feeling. smile Logically though, I know that I have to stop and endure before grtting better. No pain, no gain, kinda thing...

      Like I said, I have actual physical pain, going through blood tests, STILL waiting impatiently for the ultrasound scan and rheumatology appoinment...that doesn't help with the stress, being in limbo and not knowing where I stand, despite feeling a lack of my feet being on the ground right now. I am having blood tests for Chronic Fatigue/ME in the near future and I know that these are a manifestation of my emotional pain. 

      I do appreciate others' telling me to see a doctor about the addictions, etc, but that is the 'suck eggs' advice. I have been to a doctor and a psychiatrist for many years (though I don't see a psych' any more), and they all knew/know that I had this addiction and why. They also knew/know the amount I take, but the information just sits there on record. I feel like a near-dead body, with notes that will be used in my autopsy. Sorry to sound so morbid, I just mean I don't feel like a person that the NHS cares about AS A PERSON. I can't stand going to my GP any more because I feel like a burden. If they could help me, they would have by now. I have begged and pleaded with them. My downfall is me being the actress I am in terms of interpersonal communication. They see me as healthy and humourous because I just can't convey the pain I am in, physically and emotionally.

      I am a very spiritual person and I know I have to open up to receive the help I need, but when I have opened up to the extent I possibly can right now, I get rejected and so close right back up like an unhappy clam lol. 

      I am 32 now and cannot foresee my future. I used to be able to atleast idealise a future for myself. That feeling of not knowing where I am headed makes me insecure and, of course, the tablets add some security in the sense that they are a safety net if everything gets too much. I have to fully realise that that is an illusion created by the tablets and I enable them.

      Again, thank you so much for your messages, I feel that you really understand and that is a nice feeling.

      If you ever want to PM me, feel free.

      I wish you lots of good energy too and the healing you deserve from your pain.

      G x

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Dear Bobbs

      I have just read your reply and what a powerful response it is. I am deeply moved by it and you actually brought a lump to my throat as there are several sentences that to illustrate how much I understand, I could cut and paste them into a post about me!

      If I responded in the way that I wished, which is to identify very solidly with 80% of your personal feelings, expressions of self-worth, outlook on life, and feelings about seeking further help, I would need to change my name to 'Tolstoy' by deed poll.  confused

      My heart goes out to you. I am not going to put forward any more practical advice or comment, because it is blisteringly evident that you are an extremely intelligent person with a complete grasp of your situation. Far better then that my energy is focused on moral support.

      I have written very little about myself on this site, and I haven't initiated a discussion. I joined because I felt my life and my experience meant I could give more than I could take, but I know if my back was to the wall, I could start a post and request support knowing it would come.

      What I will confess to you here, is that I am going through one of my 'trough' phases at the moment and you are literally pulling the words from out of my mouth when you describe your feelings about seeing a Doctor again. I get Bobbs. Trust me, I really do get it. But I think that is my problem, not the Doctors. It could be the same with you.

      We both may be guilty of projection. We overlay what we are convinced others think about us onto them, when in reality, they don’t feel that way at all.

      Your apology to me is not accepted. Why? Because it is not needed. I know where you have been, and I know that you understand exactly what I mean by that. Never apologise to me for yourself or your feelings. In these situations your behaviour on a day-to-day basis has to include what gets you through the day and if that means feeling unable to write, then so be it.

      Tolerance, unending patience, and understanding should be the hallmark of any member of this website, particularly this section of it where we are dealing with mental health.

      Bobbs, you're a star. Your candour and openness are vividly clear. If there is one thing that saddens me apart from the fact that you are having to deal with this pernicious illness, is that such an intelligent and articulate young person, aged just 32, has so much to offer and the potential for the most rewarding life. It grieves me to think of a roadblock to that becoming a reality.

      If it was a simple matter of removing an obstruction, I would cheerfully request to borrow a Sherman tank and personally drive it straight through that barrier to give you a clear road ahead.

      Sadly, the MOD would not accept my request, so you will have to use your powerful imagination to see me do it.

      Thank you for your reply. The fact that you have after quite a gap is actually a sign of your sincerity, not a reason to say "I'm sorry".

      Here's to a better tomorrow.

      Sent with my very best wishes.  smile

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted


      I am not too familiar with Tolstoy, but I do like to read his quotes. I love his eloquence and spot-on observation! So, feel free lol

      One thing I would like to cite to doctors? " the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you."

      What you say regarding us projecting our feelings onto doctors is partly true in my case, I must admit, and I have thought many times that I need to look at the whole picture sometimes and not brood over the details. Then, I think that having had very little luck with doctors over the years, I am bound to be conditioned to avoid them, expecting the same result each time (as Einstein said, 'Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.' - I don't want to be labelled insane lol). I don't truly believe that, of course, because I am tenacious and I happen to like routine and repetition haha. Sanity is a man-made concept any way.

      It's a lack of faith really and I don't like feeling it because it makes me feel helpless and diminished. I have known for a looooong time that I need to work on my trust and faith in people because the barriers I put up have sharp barbed wire on top that hurt me more than any one else in the long term. People don't stand a chance of being hurt if they can't even get close to me, right? Yet the wire digs at me and cuts me. I have taken responsibility for that, but need the courage to bulldoze the barrier!

      That's so sweet and funny what you said about the Sherman tank and the MOD lol! I will use it as a meditative tool though. :D 

      It honestly means so much to me that my words resonate with you, and yours with me. I just hope you can not give of yourself too much without getting something back, in terms of help with what you are going through. If you want to confide in me, or just vent, I am here for you too. I don't want to be the psychic vampire to your energy! Being in the trough you are in, you need support too, and it would come, like you said, and of course, not just from me!

      I feel for you, just as you feel for me and, even knowing little about you, I feel that you are trying to make sense of your own world. It's easier to be objective and offer your words of comfort (which mean a hell of a lot to me), but actually quite hard to lay bare your soul and become vulnerable. You can though. The old tower has to be knocked down in order to rebuild, right? Over the last few years, at least, ther signs were there for me that my tower was crumbling, but I denied it and used alcohol, codeine and cigarettes to escape. Then, naturally, it came crashing down any way. So, despite me still using escapism, I gave up alcohol and smoking and, without realising it, I was actually very slowly rebuilding my tower. It's in its infancy, construction wise lol, but it's a start. You have actually made me realise this today.

      I hope you are doing okay, but even if you aren't, I wish you the best, also. smile


      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Dear Bobbs

      Once more you demonstrate your complete and thorough grasp of your own personal difficulties and problems. Once again, I find myself in agreement with the bulk of your analysis, including your wariness of the medical profession.

      Just a comment on the way you illustrated your life as a crumbling tower. It is certainly one way of looking at it. How often do people use the expression that everything feels like it's 'falling apart'. I felt as though I was disintegrating, and that, I know you will understand.

      I do agree with you Bobbs that in order to rebuild, you have to destroy, particularly if the 'structure' of your life has been demolished. Here is a very big 'but' I want you to think about though.

      When that tower was standing proud and tall, it did so because it was resting on a solid foundation. Even if your tower has been razed flat, the foundation remains as solid as ever, and rebuilding can start. Evidence of that, is that construction has already begun with the changes you have made recently in your life.

      Your vivid articulation, and clear grasp of where you are in life, is the best indication there is that despite the horrors I know you have been through, (and I know it is not over), your mind, your true personality, has survived. You have not lost hope. You have kept your determination. You have made allowances for failure. It may well be that for the rest of your life you will be touched in some way by what has happened to you so far, but I believe that with your attitude, it will not hold you back, but actually be to your advantage.

      You are very well equipped to understand other people with mental health problems, and one day when you have refilled your emotional and spiritual reservoir, you will have the spare capacity to offer support to others you come across.

      I fear that I am rambling again Bobbs, so it's time to stop for breath. I read your post on Monday and normally would have sent this reply after reading it, but yesterday I couldn't find any concentration whatsoever and felt depleted physically and mentally. Had I tried to write in that state of mind, the response would not have been worthy of your message.

      Keep going from strength to strength Bobbs. Be kind to yourself and remember that you are allowed to have setbacks and bad days. It would be good to know that before too long, the good days outnumber the bad by a very large margin.

      Best wishes as always.  smile

      Report / Delete Reply
  • Posted

    Hi Bobbs,

    WOW you were cetainly taking a mammoth amount of cocodamol, the most of anyone I have read about.

    I was taking nowhere the amount that you were but new i was addicted after taking them for abour 3-4 years.

    I went cold Turkey on 2/2/2015 and now seem to have it all out of my system and feel great.

    Stick with the withdrawal it will get easier I promise you need lots of will power good luck.

    Report / Delete Reply

Join this discussion or start a new one?

New discussion Reply

Report or request deletion

Thanks for your help!

We want the forums to be a useful resource for our users but it is important to remember that the forums are not moderated or reviewed by doctors and so you should not rely on opinions or advice given by other users in respect of any healthcare matters. Always speak to your doctor before acting and in cases of emergency seek appropriate medical assistance immediately. Use of the forums is subject to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and steps will be taken to remove posts identified as being in breach of those terms.

newnav-down newnav-up