Hi there. Well now, this is something new for me, I’ve never written anything like this before. There again, I’m not proud that I am about to share my experiences related to codeine addiction. To me it’s my shameful secret. Why? Because I never thought I’d allow myself to develop an addiction to anything, let along codeine. And now, I plan to give up cold turkey after building up a habit over 4 or so years. Giving up cold turkey is not for everyone but I feel it’s the only way for me. I’d read over and over the various blogs out there that describe the different experiences that people have experienced giving up codeine; going cold turkey or tapering off their addiction. I have to express my gratitude for this information and feel I must make note of how brave I think so many are in sharing their stories.
It’s factual, to the point and goes through the different ways that you can kick the beast.
All this information has helped me make my decision and arm me with what to expect. I know it’s not going to be pretty but my intention is to keep a note of my progress. The idea is that by doing so I’ll be able to keep my focus. But I’m also doing this to serve as a reminder to myself so that I never go back. I’ve shared my addiction with no one not even my partner. Strange that I’m sharing it with all now but I’m hoping this will help anyone else that wants to know. And again by doing so it will seal the deal for me - I will keep this up. Just know that I’m not going to hide anything either as I go through the detox process. I think it’s important that I face exactly how taking so much codeine over such a long period will affect my detox process. So I apologise in advance if what I write turns out to be too much information.
Ok, a bit of background. My addiction started when I was given a couple of Panafen Plus to help with a nasty migraine. They helped alright. And I kept on taking more and more, building the habit up over a period of 4 years. In the past I’d tried the taper method but my willpower proved to be my undoing. I just went back to what I was taking before. I did try to give up cold turkey once before also and I remember feeling pretty ordinary by Day 2. My muscles ached and my legs felt so heavy – people are right whey they say it feels like you’re catching the flu. I caved then too.
Now, I am in a cycle of taking tablets three times a day, numbering anywhere from 20 -30 at a time. Too many and for too long. I hate to think what my poor liver is going through. Not to mention my kidneys and stomach. I have been suffering from stomach pains and cramps lately plus I have THE worst constipation which cannot be right for my poor body. I have about 7 or 8 chemists that I rotate visits through. This has been working ok, until just recently when a couple of them started seeing me every 2nd day or so. I was looking for the next lot of pills and it didn’t seem to matter where I went even if it’s the same place I went to recently; but it’s even more humiliating when the chemist looks at me like a criminal and grills me over my purchase.
Ok, I’ve decided to start on Christmas Day. I know I know, strange day to do it but I will be at home alone, whilst my partner is working. I will have 10 days before I head back to work and I’m hoping that I will be through the worst of it by then. Well that’s the idea any way ;)
Day 1 A relatively easy day I guess. But I am plagued by hot and cold sweats all day. The high temperatures come in waves. They are manageable and I thank goodness for the air conditioner. I decide to lie about and be lazy, my heads hurt on and off but again - bearable. I am able to sleep.
Day 2 Aches and pains start during the day. Hot flushes continue. Kidneys feel like they are being punched – very painful…I make it through the day and head to bed.
It’s about 11pm and the Restless Legs Syndrome has hit. I am feeling really hot and I leave the air con on to try and help with the hot sweats. It does but the RLS is a real b***h to deal with. I can’t sleep from it.
Day 3 Ok, today is bad, really bad. Painful joints and kidneys, the sweats, RLS is really annoying me and I hate it. I decide to get out of the house even though I felt like utter sh*t. I end up at the supermarket today and find myself enjoying the sun. It helps warm my joints up and boy did I want to stay in my car to maintain that feeling of warmth. There was also an overwhelming feeling of depression and I had a few tears whilst I was sitting there. Overnight and going into day 4 is unbearable. Stomach cramps hit followed by bouts of diarrhea. I find Buscopan in the cupboard and manage to get some broken sleep thanks again to RLS – I cannot find a comfortable position and unintentionally kick the c**p out of my partner. Again with the hot sweats. I run to run to the toilets about 5 times - so painful. I manage to get some sleep in the form of a couple of naps. Will this be over soon? Find myself thinking about where I could go and buy some codeine –ready to give in. I force myself to fight through it and figure if I’m half way there I’ve got to keep going. The inner voice is always talking and one of the hardest things to conquer.
Day 4 Pain in the kidneys is back and I have a glorious headache. Still suffering from sweats. I’ve taken some more Buscopan and Panadol Extra which appears to help. I have to say that having a hot shower really helps and there are periods of normalcy so to speak, albeit few and far between. I can feel my sweaty back from being so hot; it irritates me. I cannot wait for this to be over and I keep saying to myself that I cannot go back. I also keep telling myself to remember how these last few days have felt as a reminder to never be in this place ever again. Diarrhea continues so I head to the supermarket again for Imodium. It definitely helps.
One of the strangest things I’ve developed is a heightened sense of smell and taste – a very odd sensation. Hard to describe but I can smell right down to the base level of a person’s perfume, deodorant; almost like I’m tasting it. Just going out and to the supermarket is overwhelming with all the smells. Man, I can smell my body odour also-Strangely metallic. I associate this with the detox because I recognize it from the first time I tried to go cold turkey. Gross I know but I cannot get over this whole smell thing. I try to take a bite of pizza but the taste was so intense I give up eating. Now I feel desperate as I’m really hungry! I try toast – managed one piece of toast with vegemite. I think I am starting to feel better. Watched lots of movies to help take my mind off things; I’m so grateful for the distractions. I decide to rub lavender oil into my legs which helps immensely with RLS. You can buy this from the supermarket as a watered down solution. A small bottle is around $5 and is so worth it. I also rub some on my back which helps with the pain in my kidneys. I wish for a good night’s sleep but I somehow don’t think I’ll get it !
Day 5 I actually managed some sleep. Woke up a couple of times during the night from hot flushes and RLS annoyed me but not as much as last night. I still managed to go back to sleep afterward or more so napped in between periods of waking up. Hit with a couple of bouts of diarrhea when I wake up and dose up on Imodium. Have a hot shower and manage to chow down on some pancakes. Admittedly I feel a bit better after eating something although there is another round of diarrhea right in the middle of eating. The whole smell and taste thing is happening again. I am going crazy from it – believe it or not, I smell the metal of the frypan that I use to cook the pancakes. Cordial tastes amazing though. I am beginning to think I’m through the worst of it – although today is more so about gurgly tummy and pops in the intestine. The ache in the kidneys is still there but bearable.
Day 6 Ok, another bad night..not much sleep at all. I couldn’t get over hot flushes and the dreaded RLS. Plus I really need to change the bed sheets due to the smell. I recognize this smell now and I’m obviously still detoxing. I take Panadol and eat something. I know I’m weak from not eating so I have some cereal and some toast. I feel better after eating. This will sound weird but I feel really heavy today, like gravity is really pulling me into the ground. Still have the headache. Sigh and here I was thinking I was getting better. RLS doesn’t bug me too much today which I’m thankful for. Thank goodness for movies and distractions again although I find myself napping and waking up a few times. Pain in my kidneys really hurts and I feel very heavy all over, all my joints ache.
Days 7 – 10 Each morning I wake up with headaches and joints ache but I accept this and tell myself that my body is finally being allowed to feel what it hasn’t for so long. At night times RLS has been driving me crazy still. I try and find a comfortable position to sleep in. Lavender oil after a hot shower helps but even this takes time to kick in. I know I need to put up with it and I still think of the pain I felt during the first few days of the detox. I use this as the incentive to never return to what I once was. I went back to work on Day 10 but had to leave early and took the next day off also. Very low in energy and my head ached constantly.
Update: Into week 3 now and gradually over time, I do feel myself getting stronger. Well, my appetite has definitely returned. I’d lost about 5 kilos during the first few weeks but it is all back on npw. b****r. Work keeps me busy. There are still the aches and pains when I wake up and I suffer from occasional headaches. Another strange thing I’ve started to do is sneeze all over the place. Sneezing fits hit out of the blue and I can’t tell if this is a symptom from the detox or whether I have an allergy to something. Hayfever crosses my mind but I don’t know. I have never had hayfever.
Update: Week 4 has passed by and the worst thing I’m dealing with right now is insomnia. This is a real problem and I am trying to find ways to deal with it from natural solutions at the chemist to over the counter sleeping aids. It’s not going too well. I still have the sneezes. They really piss me off. I remember when I read other peoples’ blogs that there was a lot of advice about exercising and the benefits of doing so. I really wanted to during those first few week but I tell you; the way I was feeling, I just didn’t want to do much. It has crossed my mind that I might have felt better sooner had I picked myself up and got myself moving, but I guess there’s no point in wondering what was. Anyway, a couple of nights ago I decided to go to a Zumba master class – not a good idea when I hadn’t exercised for a while. But, I slept like a log afterward. Pretty sure I’m not in the right shape for an hour and half of straight Zumba dancing every night, but I realize now that exercise plays an important role. I’ve now started a vitamin regime and am making a real effort to eat good food, lots of vegetables and protein, fruit etc. OH and I finally did myself a favour and increased my water intake. I wasn’t drinking anywhere near enough after the first few weeks. This would have been the cause of my headaches all the time. I have to say, I am feeling almost my old self again all but for the lack of sleep. Once I can get on top of that, all will be even better :)
Great intell. You should be very proud of yourself! How is the second month going?
I know you wrote this over a year ago but I just wanted to say thank you as I created an account on here specifically for this reason, I too have decided to go cold turkey on taking codeine. I'm going to start tomorrow and I am looking for as much motivation as possible. I hope you are still doing well and I hope I can do as well as you have done!!