Gransnet forums


Codeine withdrawal

(53 Posts)
pompa Mon 24-Nov-14 08:15:06

I have reported on other threads that I had no side effects from long term co codamol use. I have been taking small doses 2-4 /day for about a year and large doses 8 /day for the last 10 weeks. On medical advice I tried reducing the dose, and as I found it made no difference to the pain, I tailed them off over 2 days and stopped on Friday.
Big mistake.
I have been suffering horrid withdrawal symptoms, flu like symptoms and awful stomach cramps.
I didn't expect this. When I first started to get the cramps on Saturday, Mrs. P suggested it could be because U had stopped taking the tablets, rubbish I said. However I had to eat humble pie when I googled the symptoms of withdrawal.

Now I don't know whether to re-start taking them or just work through it. Got an appointment with Doc to discuss it this morning.

If you are taking co codamol, get medical advice on how to withdraw.

Iam64 Mon 24-Nov-14 08:17:06

pompa, co codamol was one of the (many) prescription drugs used by the heroin addicts I worked with.

I hope your GP can help you get through this period, which I'm sure, will be brief

Brendawymms Mon 24-Nov-14 08:24:12

Poor Pompa. The best way to look at withdrawing is one month for every year. So first week three quarters, second half, third quarter and then 1/8 before you move to stopping them.
Some people need a lot of support to come off drugs and some drugs are very difficult. When I was ward based we treated some terrible withdrawal symptoms and the poor person needed endless support.
The medic who advised you to reduce your medication should have given you advice on how to do it but in my experience rarely do.
Good luck Pompa I'm sure with determination you will succeed.

pompa Mon 24-Nov-14 08:34:42

What I now need to know is, if I stay on the cold turkey regime how long are the symptoms likely to last, if is weeks, I may be better to start a run down regime.

I don't have any desire to take them, other than stopping the cramps. I took paracetamol during the night, which helped and I got some sleep.

POGS Mon 24-Nov-14 09:44:13


Don't know but [hugs]

Jane10 Mon 24-Nov-14 09:47:52

Hope your GP is helpful today. If not, could you discuss with your pharmacist? The one in our local Boots was very helpful to me once. Fingers crossed for you anyway.

thatbags Mon 24-Nov-14 09:58:29

I'm sorry you've been having unpleasant side effects, pompa, and I hope your GP sorts things out for you. May I gently suggest you should have gone back to the GP when the Co-cod didn't seem to be working. There are other, and additional painkillers that might have helped.

I have been taking several doses of full strength co-codamol daily for about twenty years. For about twenty years before that I took similar amounts of co-proxamol. This has been for chronic pain so that I could get on with my life, which I have done.

I am not addicted to codeine. If my pain eases for some reason, I don't take the painkillers until it bothers me again, so the daily dose varies a bit. I also take a low daily dose of another drug for chronic pain in addition to the co-codamol (this for the last year, roughly), which only works effectively if it is taken continuously.

I have been fortunate not to have had any noticeable side effects. Pain, of course, could be called a side effect, of arthritis or surgery or whatever. I always felt I could put up with milder side effects if that one was dealt with wink

Mishap Mon 24-Nov-14 10:39:59

I hope your GP is able to help - you really don't need this on top of everything else. He may suggest going back on a smaller dose and tailing it off. It is, I believe, metabolised as morphine, so it is no wonder that you feel a bit weird. Let us know how you get on.

Agus Mon 24-Nov-14 10:59:01

Yes, that was too soon Pompa but your GP will advise you on a weaning off method today.

Sorry to hear you had to go through that and as Brenda says, advice should be given to gradually coming off certain drugs.

I am still on 8 a day since March, hate having to take them but needs must. I have however managed to wean myself off morphine now so, hopefully I can make a start on codeine in the not too distant future.

pompa Mon 24-Nov-14 13:04:52

Thanks for the encouragement.

Seen Doc this morning. Still going Cold Turkey now I've started. he has given me something to ease the cramps and having taken one, they are helping.
He thinks I should be OK within two weeks tops. Provided the cramps ease the other symptoms are quite mild.
Doc was right about co-codamol not having any effect on pain after a short period, I have had no increase in pain whatsoever in my knee since stopping.

Agus Mon 24-Nov-14 13:20:55

Good to hear you have a solution Pompa

bags. I am truly sorry to hear that constant painkillers are a necessary part of your life flowers

Anne58 Mon 24-Nov-14 16:45:00

pompa hope it goes ok, 2 weeks can feel like a long time when you aren't feeling too good.

I am having trouble adjusting to my new tablets, the dry mouth I can deal with by sipping water but the frequent headaches are rather wearing and the sleep disturbance plus vivid dreams are something I could do without too!

Nelliemoser Mon 24-Nov-14 17:52:19

I was on Tramadol and went down to codeine after my shoulder surgery last year. It did not take me too long to drop the codeine or tramadol. I found the constipating effects really uncomfortable.

Gel Ice packs were very effective but I seem to have mislaid them since.
How do you lose two ice packs in your home?

dustyangel Mon 24-Nov-14 18:22:49

In the freezerNellie?

Nelliemoser Mon 24-Nov-14 18:33:13

Dusty Nope I tried that one. It seemed to go AWOL when I last defrosted the freezer in the summer. I piled the frozen stuff in the garage under insulating bubble wrap as it was the coolest place.

Maybe I need to dig about in the garage. I have got to get the bubble wrap down for the plants as soon as I can.

Ariadne Mon 24-Nov-14 19:27:19

I will be so very glad to get rid of codeine in various shores and forms. I take co codamol when and as I need it, and occasionally codeine phosphate and paracetamol when the pain is too bad, but don't have any problems in not taking it, if you see what I mean.

But, if I take the codeine phosphate, it acts as a real downer, and I am sure it affects my reactions to things. I hate it for that.

Half a dozen dried apricots a day, and lots of water solve the constipation, I find.

December 17th, for the hip, folks!! No more codeine once I am through that.

Iam64 Mon 24-Nov-14 19:29:18

pompa, I hope my first post about heroin users and co coda mol didn't seem trite or unsympathetic.
I have osteo and rheumatoid arthritis along with a collection of auto immune stuff, so I've also used co coda mol at times. None of these pain killers or anti inflammatories are risk free and it's good to see this thread with so many experiences
Good luck with the search Nelliemoser

pompa Mon 24-Nov-14 20:10:39

Iam64, I took your post as an interesting fact - indicates just how additive it could be.
So far today, cramps are nowhere as bad as Sunday, probably the tablet from Doc, just hope another one at bedtime does its job.

pompa Tue 25-Nov-14 13:50:28

Improvement this morning. Haven't taken anything for cramps, still got them, but tolerable. Felling headachy and confused (some may say that's normal). Hopefully I am on the way to normality.
From what I read it seems that, dependent on length of time on meds, that it takes 7-10 days to get over worst of symptoms.

Ana Tue 25-Nov-14 14:57:21

Good news, pompa!

Your're obviously made of stern

POGS Tue 25-Nov-14 15:52:35


Pleased to hear you are feeling a little better.

pompa Tue 25-Nov-14 16:30:10

Thanks all for your support, much appreciated, today has been better, cramps not so bad, still feeling a little off colour, but nothing that stops me doing stuff (except cooking, chores, housework of course.)
It amazes me how many people I have spoken to over the last few days that have been on large doses of co codamol for months and years, why do Dr's not intervene. I think I have a good Dr. but he did not pick up on prescribing 100/month for over a year. With the computerised systems, one would expect that sort of thing to be flagged automatically.
I Just need to wean myself of of caffeine now, but that could be much harder.

Mishap Tue 25-Nov-14 17:25:47

Glad it is going well for you pompa. I took a small dose of codeine for a few weeks after the op, but stopped it asap as I was worried about getting hooked on it. It is a very effective painkiller and I am sure it has served you well - but now it has to go!

Coolgran65 Tue 25-Nov-14 20:54:48

I've followed this thread with interest as I take both tramadol slow release and cocodamol to deal with my various symptoms. As mentioned by Pompa, mine have been prescribed every 4 weeks without negative question for several years. Every 12 months it is flagged and I have to have an appointment specifically to discuss and have them approved for another 12 months.
Yes, dependancy occurs and coming off them would cause dreadful withdrawal symptoms. However, at present they continue to provide as much pain relief as I can expect and the alternative of coping without pain relief doesn't bear contemplation.

pompa Sat 29-Nov-14 10:22:53

I am over the cramps now, stomach is OK, not quite normal yet, but ok. Thought I was through the withdrawal, but now I am suffering from sleep problems.
Didn't want to discuss the problem with Mrs.P as I thought she would poo poo the idea as internet rubbish. When i did say what was wrong, she said,"I've heard of that and know someone who suffers from it. I had never heard of the problem. The problem - RLS (restless leg syndrome).

I settle comfortably in bed and within a few minutes i am uncomfortable and have to move my legs, this just keeps repeating. With the pain in my knee, moving my legs in bed is painful, so getting to sleep has proved impossible. I find that sleeping in a chair better, with my legs slightly drooped. I read a book or watch TV and the distraction enables me to drop off.
From what I read it is due to a hormone imbalance caused by the opiate and takes 8-12 weeks to clear. Glad I have a comfy chair.