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Avatar universal

codeine withdrawal hell - please help

I’m writing this 7 days into a pretty severe withdrawal from codeine which has consumed the best part of four years of my life. I guess I’m hoping the experience will be cathartic and, with help, enable me to begin moving on. My mum passed away from lung cancer 4 years ago. She was pretty much my best friend and entire world, she kept me mentally checked. All of my ambitions and dreams pretty much revolved around making her happy and proud of me, managing to provide for her when she was old and frail. When she passed away I was completely lost. This was also compounded by the fact I’d had minor notoriety as a ‘freaky’ element of a reality TV show and was still being stopped and, occasionally, harassed in the street. I remembered one time I’d had a panic attack whilst she was ill she gave my a couple of her “happy pills”, dihydrocodone, which made me feel completely relaxed and peaceful. A couple of weeks after she passed away I found those pills in her drawer upstairs. I began taking them, firstly, to relax and secondly, to feel an affinity again with my mum and what she’d been through. Thus began my relationship with such opiates and especially, codeine.

I began trawling pharmacies each day for Solpadine Max (30 tablets of 500mg paracetamol, 12.5mg codeine phosphate) which I’d crush and cold water extract the codeine. During the four year period, I’ve consumed at least one packet of Solpadine Max every single day (around 400mg codeine). This recently grew (past two months) to include an additional 15 tablets of Neurophen + each evening. I live and work in London which has made getting tablets and indulging my addiction incredibly easy (my phone’s GPS tracks 12 pharmacies within just a single mile of my flat). I have put my addiction before pretty much everything else in my life, family events, social events, dating. I enjoyed the sense of warmth, peacefulness and solidarity it brought. This was the little ‘legal’ drug I did in my room each night, my friend and companion - a minor, guilty little secret. I blocked out the rest and, of course, the pain. Ultimately, I’ve stopped living. I knew my problem was severe when I cold water extracted from 50 tabs of Solpadeine Max and my stomach felt though it was on fire. The NHS helpline told me to seek immediate hospital treatment, though I soldiered through.

So, enough was enough.

I’ve tried to wean myself off before with little success.  My tolerance is so high now that I don’t even experience a high from the codeine - I’m literally flushing my money down the drain. As others report, after a couple days withdrawal, I’ve had hot flushes, profuse sweating, awful headaches, disgusting gas, severe cravings - especially psychological, the extraction process used to consume most of my evenings - and the worst diarrhoea of my life. Earlier in the week, my stomach was so bad I was excreting pure black liquid which I’ve read could be from upper intestinal bleeding and, possibly, ulcers.

To get me through the withdrawal, I turned to a much worse demon, DXM - dextrometorphan. I found the main UK cough syrup with DXM as active ingredient, and discovered I’m one of the “lucky” few which is able to have a severe ‘body high’ whilst under influence of the drug. I took 450mg per day for 3 days. On the third day, I had the best high of my life, as though my body had turned to water but the comedown was *atrocious*. I felt completely dissociated from my body and believe I experienced a brief insight into true insanity. In the morning I couldn’t walk straight and underwent paranoia, believing someone was in the corridor, peering under my locked door and screaming for them to go away. I’ve since read that DXM is considered amongst the strongest hallucinogens alongside Ketamine and LSD, with cases of permanent brain damage and psychosis. I’m so annoyed at myself for having indulged in this way. Again, it seemed like a cheap, stronger alternative and replacement to what I was already taking. But if I’d continued to take DXM as a nightly alternative, I’d have been a vegetable within less than a few months - and trust me, you get asked much fewer questions purchasing a routine ‘cough syrup’ (at least here in the UK). Abuse is much lesser documented.

It’s been two days now since then. I woke up this morning and cried for two hours solid - the first time I’ve sobbed for years. Possibly an after effect of the DXM, but I’m assuming my pain receptors are beginning to function again? I’ve been living in a haze for four years and this is probably exactly what I needed to happen - rock, rock bottom. I miss my mum so much, I’m not convinced I’ve fully come to terms with her death. Codeine has destroyed my sense of ambition and drive. Is this the void I was trying to fill? I don’t want to buy anymore codeine tablets but I’m terrified mentally of what I’m gonna do to fill the emptiness of my life? The evenings. My little process. Can anyone else comment on withdrawal? When will I feel normal again? I am just one week in. I want to make it two weeks. Three. I want to move forwards. :( Help.
6 Responses
271792 tn?1334983257
Hi & Welcome to the community,

I can feel your pain as I read your story. I can hear how much you miss your mum but taking drugs to mask the that pain is not the answer and I think you know that now. The sooner you begin the grief process, the sooner you will heal. that does not mean you won't miss her, you always will but you will be able to "feel" and not have to hide it or run from it. I have to suggest that you see a counselor and work through the process with them. As the saying goes: "Let the healing begin".

Now to the drugs. that has got to end. I know some day you will be with your mum again but I would like to see that later rather than sooner and if you keep at this pace it may be sooner.

Just so I have this right, you are 7 days off of the codeine? Are you still taking the cough syrup?
Avatar universal
Thank you so much for listening to my story. I don't think I've ever managed to get it all out to anyone. I think counselling is a serious consideration at this stage. I've broken down several times today, just managed to contain myself in the supermarket. Would it be fair to assume this has some relation to the codeine withdrawal? (I can't stop thinking about my mum). I don't really have 'listening' friends, they're mostly of the partying/drinking variety, so it's difficult for me. I've been off the codeine for 7 days now, a small landmark. I'm not taking the cough syrup. The high was so potent I'm afraid I'll be drawn back at some stage - I don't want to fry my brain.
271792 tn?1334983257
7 days is huge and I give you a heck of a lot of credit for that. Stay away from the cough syrup, okay?

And listen, crying is a good thing. that tells me that you are "feeling" and that is part of the healing. It's okay to cry. It's okay to feel.

Please consider the counseling so you can get the tools to go forward.

I am glad you are not talking to your partying friends. they are not going to be able to help you through this since they are wrapped up in some stuff of their own right now.

You have a good shot of getting through this but you can't do it alone. You took a big step coming here and admitting that you have a problem. Next step? Getting help for it.

And keep talking. It does help.
617347 tn?1331296681
HI, welcome to the forum !

It is really good having a place to find support and finally being able to open about our story, we need it, we need a lot of help and we need to start taking care of ourselves ....

you have already taken the best decision, now keep walking and taking the right steps, it can be done and you can do it. There is a healthier way to handle life than hiding behind some substance and it is never too late. You should really  go to therapy/counselor, you will learn tools to keep you going... having our emotions all around the place is completely normal now... you will have to battle shame, feeling guilty, fear, anxiety, some depression too and with someone guiding you is easier :) and again, do not feel discouraged....with time you will feel better and you will enjoy life, commit yourself to your new life, work hard on your recovery..... lead a healthy life, healthy eating, exercise, rest, get rid of your toxic relationships and adress your personal problems ( with therapy, counselling or going to Na meetings...)... be proactive now and most of all, remember that this is mostly a mental battle so keep positive that you can do it !!!! :)


and stay here.... having the support from people like you is so good! and read as many posts as you can...knowledge is power, Good luck :)
617347 tn?1331296681
oooops, and read the amino acid protocol on the health pages...( bottom right side of the screen )
1351082 tn?1479843732
Hi and welcome, as I read your story I got a kinda flip flop feeling in my heart, I to suffered from addiction for ten long years and it got real bad after I lost my mom in 2003, she was my best friend, my rock, my everything and the best grandma to my children, she was born in Ireland and had a heart of gold, I feel your pain and I can tell you that you are making the best decision of your life by wanting off these horrible drugs.  I am on Aug 4th one year clean and it was the hardest thing I ever went through in my life aside of losing my mom, but the best thing I ever did for me and my family..listen to these good people on here we have all been through this and we will help you along. Please stay away from the cough meds, yes they will make you hallucinate big time, if your clean for 7 days then good for you, you will feel normal again its gonna take time, you didnt get addicted overnight so it will take time, you can do this One Day at a Time my friend....And cry all you want its good for you, I cried like a baby once I stopped using all my emotions came back, I masked them so long with the drugs I had no feelings, try and get some counseling you have been through alot and it will help to talk with a professional...Your not alone as you can see and like I said these people here have great advice...Take Care of yourself..shine
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