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Hi My name is Katie and here is my story, I was diagnosed with Crohns disease 17 years ago and have had numerous parts of my bowel cut out and several bowel perforartions as the disease was unrelebting and kept coming back each time more severe than the last. I was on everthing from steroids, to immunosuppressents, salozopyrin. I suffered terrible side effects and was going to the toilet up to 15 times a day with this insideous disease. In 2006 I started on a new drug Infliximab which was the first drug ever to stabilise my Crohns it is a powerful drug which is infused into your blood every 8 weeks, but by then it was to late I had lost most of my large bowel and only had a few centirmeters left. This meant that I was still going to the toilet at least 5 to 7 times a day and it was often like liquid or toothpaste. My gastroenterologist decided to put me on codeine to "slow down" the bowel we had tried everything up to this point, imodium, bile salts everything but nothing worked. I had finally found a comfortable balance in my life after 15 years with the infliximab and codeine. The trouble is I have found myself needing more and more of the codeine just to function and have now the  knowledge that I am addicted. My gastroenterlogist has a special government authority for an increased amount of codeine per month for me due to my condition but I am finding thats not enough and am seeking out other doctors to give me scripts (nonpbs). I went to my GP the other day who is now suspicious and has asked for a letter from my gastroenterologist stating how much codeine I am on and since each of them don't know I get scripts form the other I am scared. I know I need help and I believe my doctors know there is an issue but I feel judged by them. If one of them asked if I needed help I would respond. The problem is because of my Crohns and bowel I do need this medication, maybe not as much as I take but I do need some. I need sme help and was wondering if anyone could offer some support or help. I have been through so much pain with this disease and don't know how I will cope with the withdraawal on top. I have a very demanding job and am resposible for 250 employees and I don't know how to proceed can anyone help? I live in Melbourne Australia.


Hello Katie,

I know you're more or less aware of this yourself, but you'll eventually have to admit to either your gastroenterologist or to your GP that you've become what sounds to me both tolerant and addicted to codeine. And they absolutely don't have the right to put the blame on you simply because any prolonged codeine use will lead to rise in tolerance and addiction. Depending on how long have you been prescribed codeine and how much it helped deal with Chron's symptoms, you still have justified medical reasons for using it. I can't predict how they'll react and maybe you should first face the doctor you trust more, but I doubt that either doctor familiar with your medical history would insist on cold turkey withdrawal with your bowels being in the conditions they are.

Wish you all the best,