TAPERING off Co-Codamol

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Hi I really need some advice. I've been to the A&E department this morning because I have got that anxious about taking this co-codamol for the last 8 months and the horrific withdrawal symptoms I've had since stopping it. Anyway the consultant decided the best way for me to do this is to taper because I suffer with bad health anxiety. They have also started me on Citalopram because the anxiety is ruining my life. Anyone got any experience with tapering? Thanks Sam x

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    Hi Sam, I completely agree with the consultant; slow and steady worked for me. The docs have had me on strong opiates for years for pain and I decided in January I had had enough. At that time I was on 60mg twice daily of extended release morphine.

    I got down to 10mg twice daily and got stuck a few weeks ago. Went to my doc and asked for liquid morphine instead as I didn't think the extended release was helping matters. That was about 2 weeks ago, I only take about 4 mg when the yawning/restless legs get too much, once or twice a day. So in 3 months I have reduced from 120mg to about 6mg a day. 

    I understand people want to come off quickly once they decide, I've had to slow down a few times as I was going too fast, but this really is the easiest way to do it, especially if you're also suffering with bad anxiety.

    I'm ill anyway with adrenal insufficiency and I wonder if ironically that helps a little, as I'm used to feeling bad. 

    But honestly it has been so easy compared to coming off 'cold turkey'.

    Try and have the patience to do it slowly.

    Doctors probably won't give you the following advice because any 'messing around' with controlled drugs is taboo.

    But when you get down to less than half or quarter tab however many times a day, crush the tablets and make smaller and smaller piles until you're taking a tiny bit of dust if necessary, if you want to follow my advice.

    Start with the minimum you can take to take away the withdrawal symptoms and work from there.

    My daughter suffers from crippling anxiety and far from being weak (which she appears to be to some people) I find she is incredibly strong. She stuck 4 years in an engineering apprenticeship at the worst company she could have come across. For months at a time in the last year or 2, she would phone me up before work, absolutely sobbing her heart out because she couldn't handle another day at that sh*tty place. But day after day she went in; she was determined to finish and she did. I am so proud of her, but it breaks my heart what she has to go through.

    She is finding 'mindfulness' helpful at the moment. There is a phone app called 'Calm', check out the reviews on Google Play, or Apple if you have an iphone. Seems to be really helping people.

    Good luck to you, it's not failing to start taking them again. It's just realising that you need to be more gentle about it. smile

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    Hi Sam,

    I just wanted to add, that although it still really upsets me to see my daughter struggle with everyday life more than the average person, anxiety is no longer 'ruining' or 'ruling' her life. This is a year on and in comparison she is doing great. Just finished the last year at college and is about to start a new job.

    The meds didn't work for her, so it's maybe been harder for her to gain more control over her anxiety but it can be done. There's so much material online that you can use to help you. Sometimes she forgets and I remind her that she has to be proactive in helping herself. It's hard, but it really helps.

    When the drugs work, which I really hope they do for you, they can help enormously, but I would still advise actively looking for exercises and programs that you can practice yourself, so that you can learn how to live with it when, hopefully you eventually come off the citalepram (?). You can't cure anxiety, it's a part of our makeup. Everyone has it as a part of the flight or fight reflex. The trick is to learn how to control it better. You certainly don't need to be going through awful opiate withdrawals while it's bad.

    Again, good luck, I hope tomorrow is a much better day for you. 😘

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    • Posted

      Thank you so much for your reply. Your support has overwhelmed me. Your daughter sounds inspirational, what a proud mum you must be. I am a mum myself, to a beautiful little girl whose my word. I have only been taking the cocodamol for 8 months and am down to 2 a day (the most I took in a day was 8 in total). Because I tried to stop cold turkey my anxiety went through the roof.  I suffer with health anxiety after a collapse a few years ago, so I have visited A&E 36 times now which is ridiculous, any little symptom I have I think I’m going to die. This has been going on for a year to this extreme so I am hoping the Citalopram will help as it is interfering with my job and being a mum.

      Thank you for the info on the mindfulness app, I will have a look at those. 

      One thing I’m unsure about is it I’m on 2 tablets a day, when do I go down to 1 and then 1/2 and so forth? Once again I’m immensely greatful for your support 😘

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      You're very welcome Sam, I'm glad I could help.

      I would recommend getting a pill cutter, pennies on Amazon or ebay, and cutting the tablets into halves and quarters when necessary. So for 2 tablets a day, go next to 1 and 3/4 for a week or 2, then drop by a 1/4 each couple of weeks. Longer if necessary. Then when you get down to a quarter, you probably won't be able to cut anymore, so crush and make 2 piles. Eighth. Then sixteenths if necessary. You might be able to stop at quarters, but if you feel withdrawals it can be too tempting to take a half or whole tablet again just to try and get rid of the horrible feelings. You might just as well continue getting smaller and smaller, then if you're anything like me, you'll suddenly realise you've gone a couple of days without taking them at all. But I still got symptoms eventually, but that's me down to 4mgs every other day.

      I am so proud of my girl, I read her the reply I wrote to you yesterday. She started crying and saying she lives to hear me say that because she felt so weak, but she can look back now and realise she must have been strong to get through it.

      That's what you have to remember. Don't think you're weak for having anxiety (and I'm sure health anxiety must be so scary), realise the strength you must have to still manage to get through the days, being a Mum and holding down a job.

      Let me know how you get on and try not to rush it. 😙

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