Today I admitted my addiction to Nurofen Plus to my husband, my GP, two mental health crisis team professionals and my parents. Tomorrow I'm going, with my husband, to our local addiction service.
My addiction began in earnest 4 months ago when I started taking 16 of these little white demons at a time in order to blunt the world and deal with my long term anxiety issues which were beginning to resurface. I've used N+ along with Solpadeine Max, in the normal dosage, for period pain for ages. I found it would sometimes give me a little buzz, just a warm safe feeling. Occasionally, if the pain was really bad, I'd take 4 N+ instead of two - I have a healthcare background and knew this was probably okay, although I NEVER exceeded the S.Max dose because of the paracetamol ( worked in transplant for a while - teaches you about the dangers of paracetamol quite effectively).
Then, a few months ago, I started to feel my anxiety winding up again. It was probably related to a change of job, but I know myself well enough to have expected this and hoped that eventually it would calm back down again once I got settled. However, instead of doing what I should and going to my GP for help and asking to go back on my trusty old sertraline, I remembered how the codeine made me feel and started to take it to deal with the anxiety. I even looked up the toxic doses based on my bodyweight and found that 16-24 would give me the calm well-being I craved without too much risk. I would take this dose 1-2 times a day, depending on my work schedule - I never went to work under the influence of the drug, that was my line in the sand.
But then, when I wanted to stop (it's an expensive habit, and eventually you run out of pharmacies to go to) I couldn't. And that's when I realised I was already so far down the anxiety road when I started to take the N+, it hadn't been a rational decision and I was well and truly hooked, psychologically and physically. After all, it only takes three days at normal doses...
I tried to stop, by cutting down, but the addiction is like beast that has claws in every part of your body. It demands the drug, and if you don't feed it, the claws dig in. I would get withdrawal symptoms within 18-24 hours of my previous dose. But the worst thing is that the beast has a voice, like an insidious little itch. It wheedles you into obeying it. It says, "You've done really well - reward yourself - have a few more." Or, "You've had a hard day - why not unwind by having some more tonight?" Or, "Your period is due, do you really want to quit right now?" I once booked an annual leave week and planned out a withdrawal programme and the voice said, "You only get four weeks annual leave a year - do you really want to waste it withdrawing?" It even suggests things like, "It's flu season coming up - you could have a couple of weeks off for flu and do it then. No point trying now - you need to work and you can't if you're suffering with withdrawals."
And to my disgust I listened to it every time. Worse, although I think of it as a separate entity, I know that that little voice is actually me; a part of me, anyway.
But last week I was off work with anxiety (I had been for a couple of weeks at that point following a bereavement in the family which precipitated a major anxiety flare). I spent a good part of that week in a codeine fuzz. But despite that, last week, for the first time ever, I seriously considered suicide.
It terrified me. I've never been that far down the anxiety/depression road before and although the codeine was masking it, it was clear the problem wasn't getting better and underneath the opiate blanket it had festered to a worse point than it had ever been before. Yet I still didn't get help straight away. I was still under that blanket which convinced me things would be okay.
Yesterday I went back to work. It was a disaster. I have never gone to work under the influence of codeine so I was clear headed and as a result my anxiety was at it's absolute worst. I was in such a state of anxiety when I got home, about nothing rational or logical, that it took 24 N+ and a dose of S.Max just to get me calm.
Normally, that would knock me out until morning. But I woke in the early hours, still irrationally anxious, and woke my husband with my restlessness. He asked me if I was okay and it all came out. Everything. The building anxiety, which he had been aware of, and the substance abuse, which he had not.
I hate myself a lot right now. But the thing I hate myself most for is lying to and deceiving him. I can't believe how supportive and understanding he and my parents have been. Confessing to him, and later them, has been the hardest thing I have ever done, but I know it was the right thing to do.
I was completely prepared to go cold turkey but given that this will make my anxiety and depression worse, and that I have expressed suicidal thoughts, I've been advised against it, hence our appointment at the addiction clinic tomorrow. I want to stop. I want to stop lying to and deceiving my beloved husband. I want to stop trying to work out which chemist to visit today, how many packets I need to get through until next time I can get out to buy some, how to disguise and get rid of all the empty packets. Today, we took the remaining strip of 8 tablets out of the packet I bought last night and flushed them down the loo. We cleared all the empty boxes and strips away. I voluntarily gave my bank card to my husband so I can't get any money to go and buy more. We had to buy some tonight so I don't start withdrawals before we see the clinic tomorrow. He has the box. He gave me my two strips earlier like a nurse doling out meds and I have never felt so ashamed of and disgusted with myself in my life. That was my rock bottom point. And for once, when I began to feel the buzz from the codeine, I didn't feel better - I just felt disappointed that I had let myself get to such as state.
I have to complete detox before they can treat my underlying anxiety issues but I am sure I can do it. This time, I've got support, I'm not doing it alone - and I want to repay my husband's love and support by getting, and staying, clean. I've had to be honest with myself and my family - I will always be an addict. They will have to tell the medical staff any time I am admitted to hospital. I am going to go through hell once a month because I can't use the drugs for period pain any more. But it will be a small price to pay to be free of that voice, the beast, and all the lying and deceit that it brings with it. I'm looking forward to living life normally - and feeling normal - instead of blunted and fuzzy, but I know there's a tough time between then and now.
And the best thing? The voice, for now, is gone. I've finally found the way to silence it - tell people it's there. Once it's not your lonely secret, it hasn't any power over you.
My heart goes out to you & your loving family. I'm an opioid addict too. I've had several false starts on my taper. I'm also going to do this. I have Dr supervision For a long term taper. I'm here praying for your success. Keep posting. You will find a lot of support here. All things are possible. Pamela
Congratulations. Telling your secret is one of the three steps that worked for me. After 15 years of failure I'm approaching two years clean.
Telling your secret is probably the most difficult thing that you have to do in order to maintain recovery. Now the two other things that I'd suggest, and it sounds like you've already got them in place, is to cut all of your sources and get to after care.
Just one thing though - be very careful. The voice may be silent now, but it doesn't ever go away. As Sarah always says, keep your guard up. And never think for one second that you beat the addiction. We learn to manage it, but we never beat it.
Be proud of yourself.
i know, we all know here how ashamed you feel and all you are feeling and i know is tough but feel positive about this time, you are saving your life, you are dealing with a chronic illness and taking the best steps... first, stop using and you can take a lot of steps so that you feel better... therapy, exercise, healthy living... in fact, you can improve yourself and your life... don't look at this as a punishment or whatever... I share also the anxiety so i would advice you not to overlook it now... go for long walks, take long relaxing baths, meditate, exercise, work on your thoughts...be kind to yourself now, ok ? :) good luck !!!
You took a huge step to tell your husband and family. I also had a hard time telling my husband because he didn't see it coming either. I also know about being ashamed, but that goes away. Once you realize it was the best thing you could ever have done for yourself, that will fade. The road ahead is going to be difficult, but you can do this and you will be prouder and prouder of yourself everyday that goes by. Your post was amazing and I can expect each subsequent post will be just as impressive!
I wish you well on your journey...Welcome.
Hi Ruth! and welcome to the forum. Your post was so honest and inspiring! Thank you so much for sharing. It's great that you have your husband's support. Stay strong and focused, and you will make it through this. Please keep posting and keep us updated on your progress. You will find lots of advice and support here. Take care, I wish you all the best!
Thanks everyone for your lovely replies. I've been reading them with tears rolling down my face. I've hated myself so much recently I expected everyone else to hate me too so the love, support and acceptance I've received has come as a massive surprise (a nice one!)
I had blood tests yesterday to see what, if any, damage I have done to myself through my using. I'm hoping they will come back clear. I don't seem to be displaying any signs/symptoms of organ damage so hopefully I'm ok - it was one of the things which kept me using. (Although it occurred to me yesterday in a moment of morbid humour that I've cried so much over the last 24 hours, with more still to come I'm sure, that it probably won't matter if my kidneys pack up...)
The voice isn't back yet, but I know it will be. It's one of the things I am most worried about. But it came out of the anxiety and if we can treat that, I'm hopeful I can keep it away, or at least learn to ignore it. I already know that I will see any relapse as failure (I'm that sort of person) and I don't do failure - I'm very hard on myself sometimes - but I also knew I couldn't do this alone, because I'd tried and failed. I'm actually looking forward to going to the addiction clinic today. It's such a massive relief not to be hiding this any more, not to be planning which pharmacies to go to, how many can I take today, put the rubbish out to hide the packs - it already seems exhausting.
One day, when I feel better, I will get angry about how easy it is to get hold of these things, but I have to do one thing at a time - address the addiction, then the anxiety issues, so at the moment I don't have the energy or emotional resources. But I wonder how many people there are out there, pharmacy hopping, smuggling packs into and out of the house, thinking they are alone? It's true, no one forced me to take them, I am an addict and I did that to myself - but it was SO EASY. Especially if you live in or near a largish town or city, there can be HUNDREDS of pharmacies...I know my husband and family are already feeling this anger, and the health professionals I've spoken with all see it as a huge issue. I've read a couple of articles about how so many people don't even see it as addiction because it's 'respectable' and 'over the counter'. How many ruined lives will it take for someone, somewhere, to acknowledge and address the issue?
One of the reasons my husband has been so understanding (apart from the fact that he's amazing; I'm biased, but he really is) is that he has an uncle who is a recovered alcoholic, who he loves very much and who has been very open and honest about his alcoholism. When I described working out which pharmacy to go to, he remembered how his uncle used to do the rounds of fourteen off licenses, buying two bottles of whiskey at a time, so he only had to go to each twice a month. He also saw how the alcoholism destroyed his uncle's family and is determined that won't happen to us - he still loves me for some reason - because he also knows that recovery is possible. So with all that love and faith behind me, I feel I have a pretty good chance. I already can't imagine going back to the deceitful lifestyle I was living.
And the sheer expense...with me not working for a little while (a month at least, and no sick pay), money is a little worrying but I've told my husband it may not be as big an issue as he imagines as I won't be chucking cash down my throat in the form of N+ any more. Don't know if you're all in the UK but it's bloody expensive over here. There are worse things to be hooked on, but it's not the cheap option. I did some basic sums in my head yesterday and the monthly total just about made me lose my guts. I was HORRIFIED. Hence why I handed over my bank card. There are several pharmacies within walking distance but I have someone with me all the time for the next while, partly because of the suicidal thoughts - the constant company was the only way I avoided inpatient admission and hospital withdrawal (not pretty).
I WANT to stop - and I have told my family about these nearby sources so I am going to find it very difficult to sneak off. I've also told them what I will be like if I have got hold of some from somewhere - normal, cheerful even, then fuzzy, a bit drowsy perhaps. If they are suspicious, they must confront me and I know I won't be able to lie to them any more. I've told them all about how I hid my use, where I hid my stashes. They've seen how low I am without it, and the difference when I took some last night to avoid withdrawals before getting to the clinic (on medical advice), so they know what to look for. I am not making this easy for myself but I know it's the only way and I owe it to them and everyone else who has been so encouraging.
I'm going to try to engage fully with the addiction service but I'm not a social person, I find that difficult which is part of my anxiety disorder. Group therapy will be especially difficult for me but if I have to do it I will.
I will try to keep posting - and thank you all again.
Wow Ruth, you have a great support system.
I am not familiar with Nurofen Plus but I remember several people coming here with an addiction to it. Is it the same as the Tylenol with codeine that you can buy OTC in Canada. Each pills has 8mg of Codeine and Caffeine?
Be proud of how you told your secret and have had enough of the lifestyle of an addict. All the lying and deceiving is over for you.
You are on your way girl.
Nurofen Plus is an OTC painkiller. Each tablet contains 200mg of ibuprofen and 12.8mg codeine. It's terrifyingly easy to buy in large quantities and incredibly addictive - it's designed to get into your system as quick as possible which is it's attraction as a commercial painkiller. Unfortunately, it's the ibuprofen that will have done the damage, if anything. You can also get the same strength of codeine with paracetamol (acetaminophen) but I was always terrified of paracetamol overdose and couldn't bring myself to extract the codeine by the methods I read about online - that would have been a step too close to admitting I had a problem at that point and it probably saved my life, and at least my liver - the methods are not very effective and you still get too much paracetamol.
Had my first appointment with the addiction service this morning. Got to go to a group therapy induction meeting on Monday which I am NOT looking forward to. It's 'not compulsory' but they say that in such a way that you kind of know it is.
I took my husband and parents with me and revealed the extent of my habit and it took even my breath away. I'm exhausted right now but I am going to stick to the taper programme the worker suggested today. I am sort of bummed that I have to keep taking the damn things for now but they don't recommend cold turkey either, particularly not in my circumstances, and I won't be seen by a doctor until next week. So I am allowed 3x8 tablets a day for now, then that will taper down. Depending on what my bloods show, they may give me straight codeine to cut out the ibuprofen but I realised today that I want to stop so much I don't even really care how we do it. I just want off the codeine.
I went to the meeting clear, last dose was 8 tabs last night. They told me to wait as long as I could before taking my first lot today and I'm about there but I really don't want to take them. I will though because I can't risk withdrawals. It's hard enough for my husband as it is, he doesn't need to see me in full Trainspotting mode.
And I was wrong about the rock bottom moment. I get the feeling the next few weeks are going to be a procession of them. I found a lower point this morning - I walked into the bathroom and found my husband racked with sobs in the shower, and that's my fault. I did that with my stupid, devious, selfish addiction. I can't even tell you how much I love that man - and if I can't do this for myself, I will do it for him.
Oh girl, you really remind me of myself! Listen, you are doing amazing, you came clean to your hubby and your parents and you are seeking help, all of this is the first step for success!!!! STOP beating yourself up, you cant turn back the clock, stay focused on the here and now and move forward. keep talking your hubby, own up to all your behaviors, tell him how sorry you are, educate him on addiction so he can understand what you are going through.
I do not want to scare you but this is a lifetime battle you are in for. You will have good and bad days and as more time passes you will be on the road to recovery. Once you get passed all the detox crap then the mental battle begins and the cravings will come and go. You will have to dive into aftercare of some sort to find out "WHY" you abused the codeine.
YOU WILL GET YOUR LIFE BACK!!!!!! You are doing everything GREAT thus far. Keep being HONEST.
Also, i understand that you want OFF and NOW, but listen and taper down, don't do it your way. What happens is the withdrawals can get so bad that you will want to take more codeine and so on, so just take this taper they way you were instructed have hubby in charge and you will do great.
Awwww give your hubby a big hug. He sounds so amazing and while you're at it hug yourself. You are doing amazing and again I think you have such a great support system in place.
I agree with Dana. Stick with the taper and listen to the advice that they are giving you.
Be patient and keep posting.
You've already come a LONG way...and your recovery journey has just begun. Your HONESTY is simply GRAND!! Your journey and experiences are much like mine and many others. Thank you for your in depth sharing.
Sounds like you have good plan, your "secret" is out now, and you are already taking action! Many addicts KNOW what they should do to get help and get well, but yet continue to resist with everything in them. We must do "what we don't wanna do"....at first.....and then after we do.....the relief and rewards abound! Freedom is an awesome thing!!
Hope you'll keep posting and sharing....it's great having you aboard the recovery train~
Well, it's a bit harder this morning. I actually slept really well last night (compared to what I was expecting) and I had less than my maximum allowance of 24 tabs a day yesterday - I had one lot of 8, one lot of 4 and another 8 at bedtime, so 20 total and I had a revelation. I was never really chasing the high - I just wanted to feel normal. This morning, I've been up for an hour and a half, not had any yet and have already been through a set of crippling mood swings which reminded me EXACTLY why I started in on the codeine in the first place. I've restarted my sertraline and am hoping that when it kicks in my moods will stabilise, they did before.
I've also developed a weird contrariness - has anyone else had this? Now I am committed to detoxing, I HATE taking the tablets. I HATE needing them. I HATE them. What keeps me taking them is to avoid withdrawals. My hubby is amazing, he says if I need all three lots of 8 today, it's no problem - but I am DETERMINED not to. I've gone from complete focus on my next dose to trying to push my boundaries. It may be part of the mood instability but I kind of hope it lasts. It was my idea to only have the 4 in the middle yesterday and to be honest, I am probably paying for that today, but if I can do it again today, I will. But it makes me realise that all I ever really needed to help my inadequate willpower was the love, support and BELIEF of the people I care about.
Hub gets this totally. He reminded me how when I decide to do something I just go ahead and do it and get it done. So this softly softly kicky codeine thing is not really natural to me.
Yesterday I reminded him that you can buy this stuff online. From now on, he opens all parcels that come to the house, even if they are addressed to me. I know he's also emptied the place we keep a bit of cash handy - not because I've looked, but because he told me. It's gone and everyone in the house knows how much money they have in their wallets. I don't blame them, I'm glad.
I was ready half an hour ago but I made myself wait. I'm going to go and take what I must right now and then try to have a normal day.
I am glad you found this forum. These people are like angels, cyber angels. I can't tell you how much they've helped me through my "journey".
I myself am a long long long time drug user (abuser). I've tried to quit
so many times that I lost count. This is the first time I've had real success,
thanks to these peeps. I love them.
Anyway, I wanted to give my support to you as well. I can relate very
much to your story. I live in Canada and here we are able to get "codeine" "over the counter" at the pharmacy. I didn't start abusing
drugs for physical pain, my story is a mental one. I've been self medicating
since I was a kid. In my later years when I had children and my exposure to the drug world was considerably limited, I found a little white pill called
tylenol 1. I'm still embarrassed about this and think I would be less
embarrassed if I had of been taking heroin instead.....because........
for me to get high on those f*cking little devil pills, I had to take at least
13 of them at a time and I did that every 4 hours......there is 350mg of acetominephin in ea. of those pills so how f*cking stupid was I????......
.......and I did that for years.
I could literally walk out my door and walk to 7 different drugstores and
get a bottle of 200 at a time.......ridiculous!!!!!.....there's not even a word
for how messed up that is. Sad thing is that there are sooooo many people doing what I did, and nobody is saying anything about it or doing
anything about it. I tried to research..."problem with T1's being abused in Canada" and I couldn't get a lot. Can't tell you how many times I've gone
to drugstore and they've been sold out. I know of people and have known of people in the past doing this to themselves and I don't even know what to say!
Anyway, in the last couple of yrs. I have moved to a secluded area (farm) and I don't drive. I have also come clean to everyone I know about this so there is no way for me to falter. Big difference this time too is that I'm scared sh*tless for the first time EVER.
I am 96 days clean today. I suffer from depression, bi-polar 2 , anxiety and panic attacks and ADHD(this one is not diagnosed, I just am convinced I've had this since a small child)
Congrats on everything you are doing.....I really think you are going to make it!!!!
You know, I don't feel there's really any difference between physical and mental/emotional pain. The WHO defines pain as 'whatever the experiencing person says it is, occurring whenever the experiencing person says it does.' There is no distinction in that definition between different types of pain, it's just whatever you perceive it to be and each person's perception is equally valid so each experience can be equally as unbearable.
I feel so sorry for the people led down the path of addiction because they started using the drugs for legitimate physical pain reasons, feeling they were safe because the doctor gave the drugs to them, and just as sorry for people like us who just couldn't or didn't know how to ask for the help we needed with the anguish we felt so tried to solve the problem our own way. Yes, it turned out to be a really ****** way, but to err is human...and we're only human, after all. The difference is we've recognised that we made a rubbish choice and are trying to address it and some people are luckier than others in their 'team'. I know I'm one of the fortunate ones and I have ultimate respect for those who battle this out on their own. I couldn't do it; I tried, but the beast had its claws in deep, aided and abetted by my anxiety issues which, of course, got worse as I tried to stop.
The beast is making me feel pretty crappy just now, it's punishing me for putting it on a starvation diet. But actually, I know that it's feeling worse than me right about now because my body is relearning how to live, function and FIGHT without it and will eventually kick it's arse right out of my skin. I know it will always be there, following me around, but it won't get back in unless I invite it and I'll tell you something (apologies to the mods, delete as appropriate) - I LOATHE THAT ******. I loathe it and if I have my way (and I usually do, one way or another, if it's something I really want and I really, REALLY want this) it will never get within spitting distance of me again and if it does, well, I will rip its **** off.
Did I mention I was getting mood swings?
But I know what you mean about the guys on here. You're all awesome. You're part of my team and I only hope that one day I can be part of someone else's.
We can all do this, if we want it enough ;-)
Wow..I read your posts and was absolutely inspired to relog in with a new login code cause I forgot my old one.I have not been here for almost 4 years because I have been a good girl.I gave up codeine about 4 yrs ago and have not touched any since and do not want to.I am also a health professional but made up my mind that opiates would no longer be a part of my life.You can do the same if your mind is made up that you want to be opiate free more than you want the fleeting buzz that they give you.
You can probably go cold turkey because people do not die from opiate withdrawl unlike alcohol or barbiturate withdrawl.It can be uncomfortable but with supportive measures can be tolerated and usually the worst is over in 7 to 10 days.
Check out the Thomas recipe and take whey protein to help rebuild the brain chemicals and melatonin to help sleep .
If you feel like you have a need to take pills take some vitamin c for it helps you.
The physical part of withdrawl is over in 1 or 2 weeks but the psychological lasts much longer.
I still maintain that your mind has to be made up and you have to want one thing more than the other to succeed.
I think with your support system you can and will be successful and possibly by Christmas you will have a drug free holiday.
I also live in a country where we can buy Tylenol #1 over the counter and have not been tempted because my mind is made up and so can yours.
Thanks for posting - I know if you can do it, so can I. I love my job and I want it back but I will be surrounded by temptation (although, hand on heart, I never took any drugs from work or patients - my work was ring-fenced from the addiction. I can't pretend I know it would have stayed that way, but I'm taking comfort that I got help before that became an issue). But well done you - you've given me one more bit of inspiration to really do this ;-)
Cold turkey would have been my preferred (preferred - LOL!!!) option but because of the mental health issues it was deemed to place me at too much risk of suicide and I didn't want to be admitted for inpatient psychiatric treatment and not just because I am the world's rubbishest patient. I restarted my sertraline the day before I fessed up and started to taper because I knew a crisis was coming of one sort or another so hopefully that will help, it has done in the past. Actually, although it's only been a few days, I think it's already starting to kick in. My body must have been SCREAMING for it - it made itself heard over the codeine anyhow - I had a really surreal 'sertraline dream' last night, like I had before, so I know it's starting to chemically affect me already. Quite a fun dream actually, right up to the point where someone called me a junkie (Brit slang for a user, although usually for IV users) and I woke up in sweat, had a panic attack, had to restrain myself from going outside because I had convinced myself someone had spray painted it on my wall, gave up on any more sleep, woke my husband with all this, then promptly dropped right off for around another three hours. LOVING the rollercoaster...SOOO much fun ;-)
But thanks again, hope to see you back here for the right reasons ;-)
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