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Codeine Addicition Experience

This is the first time I have opened up about my addiction to any living soul, so bare with me whilst I attempt to gather my thoughts into words whilst I type this (I get that this is targeted towards someone else’s addiction but it’s ridiculous to limit the forum when I know for a fact that my own experience could help someone else).

I have been addicted to codeine phosphate for three years. It started after completing my MSc course at a world renowned university. I felt like I was on top of my game. It came about through using it as a means to achieve a high as a direct treatment for my mental health debilitations of BPD, PPD, GAD and depression. I had started to experiment with drugs such as MDMA, cocaine and speed (solely when going out with friends to raves and clubs). I would never use them outside of these environments. But the feeling they gave me whilst I was high made me completely forget about my mental health issues. I have always been the most self deprecating, self destroying person. I hate myself. I still do. I hate the way I look. I hate my personality. I hate my overthinking mind. I hate my stupidity despite my intelligence. I hate my life. I hate EVERYTHING about myself. I will never ever say a good word about myself. Ever.

Now I am a very meticulous, logical oriented person despite my disgusting everything else. Being in the UK, I started off by just going to my local pharmacy and buying a pack of co-codamol. At this point, I had already tried co-codamol (quite recently for the first time back then) and had the most amazing euphoria following popping two 30/500mg tablets. But there is that thought in the back of your head of “what would a higher dose feel like? Would it be more intense or would it last longer?”. Now, I knew the risks of respiratory depression but I was smart about it. I would never go too high to the point that it would shock my body into gasping for breath like an athlete on Mount Everest. But not low enough that I wouldn’t get a substantial buzz out of it. But the issue was the paracetamol.

My method of extracting the codeine and separating it from the paracetamol was cold water extraction. I won’t go into the specifics of what I did and specific amounts because I do not want ANYONE going through what I have. This started off harmless enough. First it was one strip, equivalent to 64mg of codeine. Then 128mg. Then 128mg twice a day. 256 mg twice a day. With the most I’ve ever taken being 500mg five times a day. That’s 2500mg of codeine in one single day.

It consumed me. All aspects of my life revolved around the codeine. Whether I have enough to last me the day. Whether I had enough to last me tomorrow. Whether there were pharmacies in close proximity that I could go to (as most pharmacies will only sell you one per week). Whether I have been to them recently and would question me. Whether the pharmacies in close proximity were even open to start with. I had to plan everything around that. I would stop eating for the entire day so as to not line my stomach up with food, thus decreasing from my high and so I would only eat after my last daily dose wore off right before bed. I stopped speaking to anyone because my mental health deteriorated. I stopped caring about anything. I lost that motivation that made me such a driven person and instead, it was replaced with laziness as all I would want to do is lay in bed whilst high. Away from the stresses associated with other humans.

Three years this lasted. Three years of nothing more than this. The most important years of my life, whittled down to nothing more than driving to 4-12 pharmacies in a day, going through the process of extracting the codeine and numbing myself.

If I didn’t take codeine, I would start withdrawing. My time-span was 10-12 hours from my last dose. Any more than that without codeine, and the first thing I would feel are the hot flushes and sweating. Within an hour or two the diarrhoea ensues with the most intense cramping known to humanity. Not even loperamide can save you. Within six hours, the inscessant leg shaking happens where you feel as though your legs cannot sit still and you just have to shake them back and forth. This was my experience. No nausea. But trust me when I say that the cramps and the diarrhoea was enough. But the leg shaking puts you over the edge because you can’t sleep as a result. You want to continuously move your legs until they fall off, to the point where you’ll find yourself crying in the middle of the night because you’re so frustrated and sick of having legs.

No one knew. I hid my addiction well. It’s a functional high but the second I would do something, I would feel as though my high diminished. So I tried to do as little as possible.

I have spent so much money that I could have used for something better. I have wasted so much time that I could have used to better myself. I have neglected my friends and family. I have neglected myself.

I tried to stop multiple times to no avail. I couldn’t do this on my own. Cold turkey lasted two days. Then I tried tapering. I managed to get it down to 256mg twice a day. That’s two boxes of co-codamol a day. Once when I wake up and once in the evening. But I didn’t want to lose that high.

Losing the buzz that became so habitual for me was devastating in my mind. But I wanted to quit at the same time. It contradicted substantially and I didn’t know what to do. But then I had a thought. Maybe the quantity was just in my mind. I could achieve a high on lower doses before so why not now? I know that I could still achieve a high on 220mg so how far could I push it?

This is how I’ve started beating my codeine. The knowledge that the high still stays at lower doses. This is aimed at anyone who wants to quit but does not want to lose the high instantly.

I tapered my dose to three strips, twice a day from my two boxes a day. That’s 24 tablets of 8/500mg co-codamol. High is a little less intense but still there. Still very much noticeable and enjoyable. There was hope. This was the lowest I’ve ever been in three years. I kept this up for a week before tapering down to 128mg, twice a day. That’s two strips in a box. Still have the high. Still have the buzz. Doesn’t last AS long but hey, I’m happy if I’m not gasping for breath because the cramps get so intense.

This is where I am now. I’m three days away from one strip. A measly 64mg. Basically equivalent to the very first dose of 60mg that I ever had, three years ago. I have so many plans after I beat this. Things I want to do. I’ve started cooking more instead of eating ridiculous processed foods. God, I love making asian food. I want to work out again. I miss the feelings of weights in my hands and the buzz after a 5 mile run. I want to see my friends again. I haven’t spoken to or seen my friends in three years. I’m in my mid twenties and I don’t see my friends. I don’t even know if they want to see me again but I will try. I want to spend time with my family. I miss sitting with them and cracking jokes and bombarding mum with my silly humour. I want to work. Three years without work in the most amazing field in science has taken its toll on me. I’ve tried applying for jobs for two years and no one wants me. I don’t know why. I’ve tried but scientists are better preferred with PhDs. God, I would love to do a PhD.

This is a message of hope. From the most pessimistic, human hating, mental health debilitated individual. But the only thing keeping me going is what I can start doing again. That all of this is temporary. I’m still in the midst of my tapering (without diarrhoea thankfully) and its going. I don’t want to jinx it. I’m not superstitious but I just don’t want to jinx it. I hope that I can be better. I hope that I can work out and finally feel comfortable in my own skin. I hope that my confidence can radiate and make people like me more. I hope that I can finally feel free from the grasp of this pathetic drug.

I don’t know if anyone will read this. It’s pretty long and tedious. I don’t know if anyone will care. It’s hard to find forums online about codeine tapering how-to’s. It’s not like Wikihow does a step by step in addiction. But if it even reaches one person who is addicted or one parent of an addict, I hope it helps. We’re not bad people. We’re just severely severely in pain. Sometimes it’s the environment we’re in. Sometimes it’s genetic. But don’t hate us for doing what we do. Don’t hate us for rejecting your support and help. Don’t take it personally. We want to do things ourselves is all. But we’re the same people on the inside. No matter what you think or hear.

All I ask is that if this reaches you and you read it, please say something. Let me know that everything will be okay. Let me know that what I’ve said could be taken in and used to help someone. I guess it’s more for self gratification than anything. That I’ve done something right by opening up. It’s so hard to open up. I haven’t had anyone there for me for three years so I hope this does something positive for someone else and for myself. Maybe it’s just for my ego. I don’t know. But say something. Anything. Tell me I’m an idiot for all I care. It would be nice to talk to someone.

TL;DR: How I got off codeine without any help despite not wanting to lose my high. I tapered whilst managing to maintain my high. Just read it, it’s helpful. It’s long. But it’s helpful. I’m sorry it’s long. I’m not good at opening up. God I love asian cuisine.

replying to CodeinePhosphaddict

Thankyou for this. I have just discovered that my son has a long standing addiction to the kind of thing you describe. Unfortunately his addiction also lead him to take opiates. After a month long withdrawal from these, he was two days clear before succumbing to filtering codeine /paracetamol. He has told me of the leg shaking and diarrhoea when trying to withdraw. Thankyou for your courage in sharing your story, I hope you beat this horrible addiction.

replying to CodeinePhosphaddict

Thanks for being so brave and sharing your story which I'm sure will help lots of people.

I really wish you luck completing your tapering and hope that you can start to do all those things that you want to do next.

All the very best. Good luck.

1 reply

replying to CodeinePhosphaddict

Hi. Im a 28 year old female addicted to codeine and have been for about 4 years. Coming off the codeine isn't a problem for me I manage it with a week of painful symptoms but then 2 weeks later I go back on it. I just can't find a way to stop craving it :( I'm the same as you I drive around different chemists trying to get nurofen plus. I do get a prescription from my doctors but they dont last me long. And I take the nurofen plus in the form they are which I know is dangerous and is damaging my stomach bad. Im no where near your high doses but alot higher than I should be and I'm so scared I'm going to die one day from it and I have 2 children that I don't want to live without. Nobody knows about my addiction it's easier enough to hide which is worse because I then don't have the support. I desperately need a way to once and for all stay of them :(

replying to CodeinePhosphaddict

Great thread, great read thank you, I’m currently going cold turkey which I can deal with I’ve done it s few times it’s relapsing that’s hard. Reading your words will make me and others feel better by just simply knowing there is people in just the same situation. Good luck with the taper and keep us updated.

Amelia, me and you sound exactly the same, the cold turkey is hard but manageable it’s the staying clean that’s hard, I also have 2 kids and a wife who cries worrying she is going to wake up and find me dead !

My plan is beat the first few days until the physical symptoms have just about gone. Regular walks to keep me and my mind busy. My wife now has sole control of our money and cards (if you haven’t told a sole I’d strongly advise you do, honestly that helps massively) set daily goals and complete them so you’re kinda winning at something so you’re happy. Find a new or old hobby so you have something enjoyable and rewarding to do so you can teach your brain to release the endorphins naturally rather than making codeine do it. Think about my health and future, my kids, my wife, my job even the bloody dog ! And simply just take each day one at a time. I hope this help, get back to me and best of luck !

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replying to Amelia28

Amelia, sweetheart. You seem to bear similarities to my issue in which I continuously crave the codeine. Not just in a physical sense whereby withdrawals will absolutely ravage my rectum, but also the mental sense in which I just enjoy being high. It’s a functional high, which doesn’t make it easier to not crave. Taking the Nurofen in the way you are isn’t good because the ibuprofen could potentially give you a stomach ulcer. I don’t want you to use ANYTHING, but think about switching to paracetamol instead because it’s easier. Just do not EVER go beyond 1000mg as it will ruin your liver. Trust me on that. You need to find something else to occupy your mind in regards to the time you would be spending high. I wouldn’t ever advise switching it for another hard drug though. Your love for your children will motivate you. It’s good that you have that. I hope that everything works out for you. Genuinely, not just in an ‘empty word’ sense.

replying to CodeinePhosphaddict

Thankyou for your reply it really helps. And your absolutely right the problem alot of the time is I like the way it feels when I take it. Sometimes It makes me feel sick and I think why do I keep taking it, it doesn't make sense. I hide it from everyone. I have never told another person about this apart from on here, and to everyone else around me I have always been the "strong one" who had ever thing worked out for herself. Iv had a bad couple of years and although that's not to blame for this addiction I think it's contributed to it as the codeine makes me forget and puts me in my own little world. But my kids honestly are my whole world and staying alive and healthy needs to be a priority. Tomorrow is my day I'm going to half my dose and then come off completely. I can do it quickly i just need to stay off and not go back. Thanks for your time though honestly it makes it easier knowing I'm alone out here going through this. I wish you luck in your journey :)

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replying to CodeinePhosphaddict

Hey Amelia !

Just reading that you’re gunna half your dose immediately worries me, I myself tried a taper and I thought the same as you and cut my dosage in half, the withdrawal kicked in within hours full on withdrawal symptoms and I carried on like this for a few days but my body didn’t adjust to the lower dose so this just made me quit cold turkey because I was already getting the withdrawal symptoms anyway. They say a 10% reduction a week is manageable. I was taking roughly 400mg a day which seems minuscule to the amounts you’ve been taking. If you can find the courage I would recommend that you tell someone close, I told my wife and mother and the problem was halved instantly and I had support which is essential. If you can’t do this then atkeast visit your dr and maybe they can get you in a substitute to ease your withdrawal but you do need to put an end to this for your kids, the amounts your taking you will just simply not wake up one day !! You know this. I have the most addictive personality or anyone I know, in my adult life I’ve taken and been addicted to Codeine, Cannabis, Sleeping pills, Valium, “herbal” or “m-kat”, gambling and smoking. All of these I have beaten apart from codeine but I’m now on day 7 cold turkey which is about day 10 or 11 since I started my taper so if I can do it then anyone can, trust me ! You can and you will do it ! Do it for yourself and your kids. My body has almost adjusted to not needing codeine now, little bit of fidgeting still but that’s about it, so just think a week from now you can be OST the physical part, it is hell but atleast you have this forum to speak with other addicts, I’ve used it religiously and it has helped massively.

Good luck and keep us posted

You will do this !

replying to Dadict

I'm taking around 400mg a day too at the minute and iv never gone higher than that. My plan is to lower it to a normal 240mg a day dose which is what I'm prescribed with 2x60mg 4 times a day. It's the paracetamol and ibuprofen that is gonna kill me I know that. I can cope with withdrawal symptoms it's when it's all eased off its my mind that craves it not my body ???? I know I need to tell someone, I know I should but I honestly find it too difficult to talk about. But I am trying my hardest and in my head tomorrow Is already a new day and I feel content in beating this and hopeful. Its took me a while to admit what I'm doing to myself and honestly thought for a long time it's fine to take them loads of people of do, until so many health problems lately I know are caused by this. It's awake up call and I will beat this. Thanks for your reply Dadict

replying to CodeinePhosphaddict

No problem Amelia this forum has been my go to over the last week it really has !

I’m the same as you I’ve done this in the last but the “depression” after is what gets me back to them but this time is different this time I’ve got a drugs counsellor I’ve got some therapy booked, I’m going to visit my dr for either anti depressants or sleeping tablets or both, I’ve dine a bit of research and there is anti depressants that get you brain firing and still lets your brain figure out how to work in its own so basically you can take these to help with the mental side then when you come off them fingers crossed your brain should be healed or just about there. 100% go to your dr, it’s confidential no1 else has to know.

Well done in reducing your dosage by the way, awesome job !!

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