New and needing advice on withdrawal

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Hi  I have just joined and have been using co-codamol to excess for years.  I realised it was getting out of hand when I was planning in advance which pharmacy to go to rather than use the same one too often (I have a list of about 12!)  I stopped using last Sunday and have had a pretty rough week - my head is feeling clearer now and I am starting to improve very slowly but still keep getting very achy joints and also nausea and having to rush to the loo (not diarrhoea just urgent if that makes sense).  Can anyone help with a timeline of how long this carries on?

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  • Posted

    Hello Debbie

    I came off the 30/500 co-codamols last November after sevaral years of use which culminated in an overdose which hosipitalised me.  The worst withdrawal effects were over in two weeks but I'd say it was four weeks before I felt really OK.  Have you thought about getting a liver function test as the paracetamol in these tablets is very damaging, might be worth confiding in your gp. 

    Hope you feel better soon


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  • Posted

    Dear Debbie

    You have shown great courage to recognise and be open about your dependence on Co-Codamol. Well done for taking the first step toward freedom from the control this drug has on you.

    Lizzie46881 has suggested a blood test for liver function, and I fully support that advice. I know what you are thinking. You don't want to consider tests because it means 'coming clean' with your GP or other health professional about your regular self-medication. Let's leave that to the end of this message.

    Firstly, you need to know that I understand how you developed this habit. Codeine is a narcotic drug, and apart from being an effective painkiller for more severe pain, it has a side-effect on most people of making them feel pleasantly drowsy, soporific, or relaxed. Everyone’s metabolism is different, so the effect will vary.

    If you take CC for a short while for legitimate pain, the body and brain adjust to the Codeine intake, and those initial side-effects begin to wear off and you can continue taking the drug safely on a regular basis for legitimate pain.

    As you have realised, the feeling you initially experienced can be pleasant, and there is always a risk that some people will want to regain that, particularly if they are struggling with other conditions such as anxiety or depression. The problem is, as time goes on, you have to take more and increased amounts of Codeine for the brain to induce that feeing, and this is where you end up in an ever-ascending spiral.

    Your post suggests you have gone 'cold turkey', which is brave. Your brain is now used to its daily 'fix', and deprived of it suddenly, you will experience withdrawal symptoms, which may be unpleasant or scary. Under supervision, you would be helped to gradually reduce your dosing.

    Apologies if you know all this already, but I need you to know that you are far from alone, and if you have an approachable GP, you may be surprised how sympathetic, non-judgemental, and understanding they would be.

    It must be mentally exhausting using a rota of pharmacies, and you clearly want control of your life back. May I encourage you to speak to your Doctor or other Health Professional, as there are a number of things they can do to help relieve any cravings you have in a controlled way. I guarantee you will be one of many people that they've heard this from before.

    Back to Lizzies point, to get the 'high' from the Codeine means you are putting too much Paracetamol into your system and this is stored in the liver until it can be metabolised. The 2 x 500mg dose, four times in a 24 hour period, is designed to allow the liver to process all the Paracetamol without storing it, which is when there is the potential to do damage to yourself.

    You have shown great strength and courage to post your problem. I believe you can use that same strength to approach your GP and turn the whole situation around.

    I wish you every possible success. Trust me, you absolutely CAN do it Debbie.

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    • Posted

      Thanks for your reply - I have already been referred for a liver scan.  I did tell my GP some time ago but in the form of a letter as I did not know how to come clean with him.  Day 11 tomorrow wink
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    • Posted

      Well done you!

      Eleven days, then twelve, and by this weekend that will be a fortnight. Keep in mind each day should be easier than the one before. You've come this far, you're approaching the point of no return.

      Everyone is willing you on. Keep going Debbie - you're doing just great!

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  • Posted

    Hi Debbie,

    I stopped taking co-codamol at the end of December 2014 and experienced panic attacks, diarrhoea, nausea etc. I found that the nausea took about 2 weeks to stop. The diarrhoea took about 2 weeks and then morphed into the urgency to go that you speak of and this has only gone away in the last 2 weeks. My digestive system is still a bit dodgy, but I read on another site that it can take up to 6 months for this to put itself right. Panic attacks stopped after about 5 weeks and, on the whole, I'm feeling approx 95% better than I did at the beginning of this year.

    We're all different, so your timeline will probably vary from other people's, don't worry about it, you'll get there in the end as long as you don't fall prey to temptation and start taking codeine again!

    Best wishes,



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    • Posted

      Thanks for your reply - I have had a few wavers but holding firm and no lapses.  Still feeling a bit like the british weather - rough with a few patches of brightness.  Day 11 tomorrow!
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  • Posted

    Hi Debbie,

    I went cold Turkey on 2/2/2015 after taking cocodamol for 3-4 years I new I was addicted, I tried to come of them several times but after all the withdrawal affects I would start them again.

    This time I was determined to come off so I stooped 2nd Feb, It was hard at first but I did it and now feel great, no more side affects. It will take you will power, guts & determination but you can do it if I can good luck.

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