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Message Board > Recovery Diaries > Working While Tapering Off Codeine Addiction


Posted by: Knockoutnorma May 10, 2016, 11:48 AM
I started taking nurofen plus about 8 years ago. At first I just used it when I used to go out drinking as it would get me drunk quicker. And anything that saved me money while drinking was awesome in my book. Then I remember I had someone break up with me and it was the first time I turned to the pills to make the pain disappear. Suddenly I didn't feel so bad, actually I felt better and happier. I thought it was great that I could literally take some pills that would make my emotional pain disappear. So for the first two years I took them whenever I was down. Not all the time but just as a pick me up. Then my life went down the toilet. I tried to be positive about it but it didn't seem to help. It felt like all my friends had either turned their backs on me or were too far away to do anything. At this stage I worked in a pharmacy and it was so easy for me to buy myself a big packet (96) N+ and just use them over the next week. One box turned into lots of boxes. I started out taking 4 tab 3 times a day. Fast forward 7 years and I was taking 30 tabs a day (15 in the morning and 15 at night). By that stage it wasn't for the high- it was just to function as what I felt was my "normal". For years I knew I needed to come off them and that I needed to stop but I kept putting it off. I was scared of what would happen and how the withdrawal would affect me and about admitting my problem to a gp. Anyway at the start of March or April in aust they brought in a monitoring system into pharmacies called Medi Assist. It basically records your drivers licence number each time you get a codeine based otc and will show other pharmacies if you got them in the last few days. It meant I would start being refused boxes and other people would find out, pharmacies that I had been visiting for years would judge me. I was so ashamed. I made a decision that I had to change. So I dropped down from 30 a day to 15 a day straight up. It sucked, my body felt like it was crying out for more pills. But managed a week. Then I realised that I need to get off N+ and I needed to find out if my kidney etc was ok or not. So I made a decision to go admit to a gp that I was a codeine addict. I was so scared. How could I actually admit to a professional that I was an addict. I work in a health industry (not a pharmacy anymore) and I was just utterly ashamed. I was full of anxiety and knew the longer I left it the harder it would be so I went to the gp the next day. I could barely say the words to this woman I had never met before. I just cried so much and stuttered about eight times over the word addict. It was horrible. The Dr unfortunately was about as warm as an ice block. I don't know if that's just her way or because she was judging me. I dunno. I don't think she had ever dealt with a N+ addict before. I had to ask to come off N+ and to be put onto codeine phosphate 30mg with my own taper plan which I reduce 30mg a week. She did order a blood test for me to check out my kidneys- which came back fine. And I had to make an appointment with a psychiatrist. My first thought was 'but I'm not crazy', silly I know. I guess up to that point I'd never thought of addiction as a mental illness. I thought of it more as just a physical response to wanting something that made you feel good. Apparently it will cost me my first born child to see said psychiatrist but if they can help with my addiction and subsequent anxiety then I guess it will be worth it. I've stuck to the taper plan for 4 weeks now and I'm down to 90mg a day (which considering I was on 396mg a day for 7 years makes me happy). There is also a day or two adjustment period from reducing the tablets but I know it's the best way forward. I have another go now that I have to go see once a week for my script. He's lovely and really supportive. I take 2 magnesium tabs a day to help with leg cramps and 2 gingko biloba tabs to help with mental blankness while at work. I'm still terrified to come off the pills completely but I haven't deviated from the taper plan yet now have I felt the need to have more pills each day. I hear some people talk about how they buy another otc box of N+ for back up etc but the thought just hasn't crossed my mind. Once I made the decision to come off them I haven't thought about cheating on my plan. I guess I know I would only be cheating myself. Anyway I might be singing a different tune when I finally stop them all together though. That scares me. My dr doesn't seem to think there will be any physical effects once I finally reduce from 30mg a day to nothing. He said it would just be another step. I'm not sure if that's true, especially after what I've read on here. I guess time will tell though. I have a bit of sick leave saved up and I'm going to ask my go for mental Illness leave/sick certificate. I know the psychological withdrawal will be a lot to deal with and I don't think I will be able to manage working while going through it. At the moment work is ok, it takes my mind off the tapering symptoms. But some days are harder than others. Anyway I just thought I would try and keep a kinda diary of where I'm at and where I'm going. I want to get better. I want to manage my addiction - I don't think it's something I can ever beat, it's always going to be in my life. I want to change and I want to live.

Posted by: Knockoutnorma May 11, 2016, 11:49 AM
My addiction is all about rituals to me. When I take them. How I take them, what I'm doing at the time. I would sit there every night (and morning) just before I had a coffee and put 15 pills into my hand. I knew what they sounded like when I had all of them in my hand, the way they jangled in a dull way. I remember the feel and texture of them on my fingers. I even remember the slight chemical taste you get when you take them. One of the hardest things for me initially, when changing from N+ to codeine phosphate, was the size of the tablet. It seemed like such a small thing. When I first started taking them, I was on 3 in the morning and 3 at night. I expected the tablets to be the same size as N+. I don't know why I expected it to be, but I did. I remember saying to my boyfriend that it couldn't be right, that the level of codeine I needed wasn't contained in such a tiny tablet. Taking three tiny tablets that I could take all at once freaked me out. I had lost my ritual of taking the N+ tabs- that messed with my head. I now take a magnesium tablet and a gingko tab at the same time as the codeine to trick my brain into thinking that there are more "pills". It means when I stop with the codeine eventually that I haven't lost that ritual and maybe it will help with breaking a mental barrier (a placebo effect if you will). The codeine pills are so small that if you drop it, you're stuffed, it's gone, lost down some small crack in the floorboards or in between the fibres on the carpet. At the moment I'm going down 30mg a week it means that every second week I have to cut these little pills in half, which is a task in itself. But by being small it does make it easier to take if other people are around. No one is going to question 3 tiny tablets in your hand. However holding 15 N+ is bound to raise a few eyebrows! I guess I just never realise how much of a ritual it was. I would take them initially with coke cola as it seemed to break down the N+ quicker. Not that I felt a high from it. More that it gave me energy to get on with stuff. It made me feel my "version of normal". That is the one thing my initial gp (the block of ice woman) said to me that stuck with me- my version of normal. I realised that I don't know what normal is anymore and my version was all chemically induced. I tried to think back to 8 years ago and what normal was for me but I don't remember. I don't know if I will ever find normal again. I think normal for me in the future is going to mean something complete different to the normal I was before the addiction. I'll go more into the physical withdrawals I've had so far tomorrow since I think it will deserve it own post and why I experienced them while tapering

What I plan to do on this recovery diary is to write each day about something that effected me along the way. They may be small things like sneezing or tablet size or they may be big things like depression, anxiety or how codeine affects immune system. Just someway to get all my thoughts onto the page.

I want to get better, I want to live!

Posted by: Knockoutnorma May 13, 2016, 5:18 AM
Went down by one tablet today. So now I'm down to 30mg in the morning and 30mg at night. Sometimes I act like its a foreign currency and work out what it would be in N+ tabs. In this instance it would be the equivalent of 4 and a half N+ a day- which is pretty amazing for me. I couldn't even imagine I would get to this point 2 months ago. I guess this is the easy part of it though. The tapering I mean. Since I'm still getting the drug then my body and mind don't know what it's like not to have it. That will be the hard part- I can only hope my mind can handle it. I see my gp once a week to get my script and to talk about how I'm going. Today I asked about vitamins or stuff I will need once I go into withdrawal, I like to be prepared (hence why I write a list of questions and symptoms I'm experiencing each time I visit the Dr). He was really good and basically said to keep taking magnesium for restless legs but other than that to wait and see what happens. More treat the symptoms when they appear. He reiterated that addicts tend to replace one addiction with another and he didn't want that to happen, frankly I don't want to do that either. I told him I was trying to be upbeat, setting myself small goals and keeping this diary. However I did mention that my attitude may be completely different when I come off them. I went on to tell him that it's easy for me to say this now when I'm feeling ok and the drug is still in my system but my mental state is going to be completely different soon. He casually said that if it didn't work this time then we can take it back a step and start again. It shocked me. I don't know why but I assumed I got one go at this and then after they would only help me go through withdrawal. It's weird to think about having a 2nd chance. I wish I didn't know about it. I like the thought that there's no safety net- it pushes me to want to achieve it more. To have no choice but to succeed. So that's how I'm going to think about it. No safety net, no 2nd chance, do not pass go, do not collect $200. I'm an impulsive decision making person. When I make a decision I stick to it. Usually I won't tell people about my decisions until I've done it, in case I fail or it's something personal. When I decided to move overseas I did it within a month. I just made the decision and did it. Same thing with telling the Dr about being an addict. I made a decision and then went the next day. So for me this decision has already been set in stone in my head. I'm going to stop taking these stupid pills soon. I read somewhere that telling people your goals before achieving them tricks your brain into thinking you've achieved the goal- which then means you're less likely to achieve the goal since your brain has already got the positive result of telling someone about it. So only my dr and my boyfriend know what's happening. One day I may be able to tell people that I'm an addict without the ashes taste in my mouth. One day I hope to be able to say that being an addict and subsequent recovery defined who I am as a person. I want to come out of this stronger. I want to be able to talk openly and honestly about it with people and be someone's inspiration. I don't want to be a tragic tale, a statistic, another death caused by drugs. I don't want my partner to wake up and find me in kidney failure or rush me to the hospital with bleeding ulcers. I don't want to die. Living like this will send me to an early grave. It's taken 8 years of my life already.
I choose to get better, I want to live.

Posted by: Knockoutnorma May 14, 2016, 7:31 AM
My first cold in about 7 years and it sucks. I'm not sure if it's the same for anyone else but the codeine made sure I didn't get a full blown cold. Actually other than my addiction I haven't been sick in years. It so crazy to think that something that is harmful to me could keep me well. I know I have read other accounts of people who come off codeine only to get the flu, cold or chest infection. It's one of the things I wanted to avoid. Most cold medication here has codeine in it so I can't have it. I know there are others that don't but I feel like I deserve to be sick. As much as I want to avoid it, it's another way I know my body is slowly returning to normal even while tapering. I read something on this forum which stated that codeine in some ways boost immunity to things. I can't remember the exact words, it was a lot of technical terms but it implied it. It also implied that the damage does heal over time and you slowly start to build up your own immunity again. It's so weird to get sick though. My boyfriend would get sick with a cold and I wouldn't, and even though he knew I was an addict, he was always surprised that I never got sick. It took seven years of us being together before he even saw me sneeze. I never used to sneeze. Never been that type of person. Now, ever since I started the taper, I've begun to sneeze all the time. At work people were really surprised while I just knew it was due to tapering and reducing the codeine. I know codeine works as a cough suppressant- you'll find a version of it in older style cough syrups- but I didn't know it affected sneezing. I read another account on here where someone said they sneezed a lot when they were coming off it. So that's something new I've had to deal with.
I spent months on here reading through different threads trying to find someone similar to me that tapered with success. I never commented on their threads but I read their stories- highs and lows. I read them and absorbed their stories for reference. I was always too scared to admit to anyone, even anonymously, that I too had a codeine addiction until I was ready to come off of it. I didn't want to share my story until I had started my journey to get clean. I didn't feel I had the right to speak about it until I had made the decision to do something about it. All it would be is whinging about how scared I was to tell someone or change my life. I realise now that even though my hand was forced through government regulations that I'm happy I made the decision. That even though I didn't have the courage to do it prior to now doesn't discredit my journey to being clean and staying clean. I think initially I felt ashamed that I made the decision only due to fear of being refused service at many pharmacies. But I've learnt, for myself, that it doesn't matter what starts you on this path, what matters is making the first step. It's terrifying, utterly terrifying. But in the end I will be healthier and clean because of it. And this drug won't continue to control my life.
I choose to get better. I want to live. I want to succeed.

Just an end note to anyone who is reading this and thinking of coming off of codeine- making the decision to do it is easy but actually doing something about it is hard. Don't be disheartened if you make the decision and there are weeks or months before making the first step. You know when you are ready and only you can decide to change. I know for all the people who write about it that there is 100 other people who will just read the stories- just like I used to be. I hope you can follow my story from drug addict to beyond, to see there is a light at the end and show that you just need the courage to take the first step.

Posted by: Knockoutnorma May 15, 2016, 9:53 AM
It's always about the 2nd or 3rd day after I taper down a tablet that my heart starts racing uncontrollably. I thought at first that it was my anxiety playing up. But it happened every time I reduced so I connected the dots. I didn't realise my heart would race so much. Like I was about to have a panic attack. I've never had a panic attack but I did nearly faint once and it felt like this. It means that anything I loved before is nearly too much to handle now. I like to have a few cigarettes at night. I like sitting out on the back porch and enjoy the outdoors with a cigarette. But I nearly can't handle it at the moment. I used to have maybe 6 cigarettes a night. If I try to go out for one at the moment my heart beats too fast. I get about half way through one and I just feel like my heart will explode. And worse these is nothing I can do to calm it. I have some sleep meditation that I use when it's really bad but the effect is only temporary. I cant do anything when it happens. I get so exhausted I can't even stand without a wave of tiredness. I hate it. This weekend I supposed to do all this stuff round the house and I just couldn't do it. Partly because of my cold but partly because of my racing heart and exhaustion. It sends my anxiety into overdrive. I worry about the smallest thing. Sometimes I feel like I'm locked in my own mind with no escape. Just an endless spinning wheel I can't get off. Like at a fair or show, those rides that just go round and round and round. And my heart keeps racing racing racing. Eventually sleeps wins out and I just zonk out. But it takes a while to get there. A lot of time for contemplation. I don't think about taking more pills though, of going back to my "normal", my stupid version of normal. I think even though I feel horrible that I deserve this. I deserve the racing heart and anxiety because I did this to myself. I deserve to feel every one of these horrible feelings. So I acknowledge and endure these feelings not with the allure of more pills on my mind but with the want to free myself from their clutches forever. That's my end game. The other thing that calms me when my heart is racing is spending time with my cats, as lame as it sounds. I read somewhere that cats help people with anxiety and kids with adhd. I have a two beautiful cats with completely different personalities. My boy will curl up on my chest and just purrs. Spending time with him calms my breathing and heart rate. I don't know why he's so calming but he is and I cherish those moments where I forget addiction and the ongoing effects it's now having on my life.
Before I started with the tapering I didn't know about the racing heart and how it would effect me. I hate it but it's apart of me and who I am at the moment. I own those feelings.
I choose to get better and I choose to live.

Posted by: Knockoutnorma May 16, 2016, 9:55 AM
My appointment with the psychiatrist is coming up this week I asked my gp what to expect and he said I will feel really drained afterward. Since psychiatrist only work 9-5 it means I have to go in work time to see him. I don't know how to feel about it. I think there is a stigmata attached to psychiatrists. That you need to be crazy to see them. I realise the only difference between them and a psychologist is that they can prescribe you medication if necessary. But still the stigmata is there. Am I crazy? That's a question I ask myself every day. Am I not right in the head? Do crazy people think they're crazy? Am I depressed? Shouldn't I know if I'm depressed? Is it hereditary? My mum was really depressed. For a lot of her life she was depressed but I was too young to understand. Depression drove her to kill herself when I was 13. I'm so scared to end up like her. It's my biggest fear to end up like my mother. She was a wonderful person but she had issues that she couldn't fix and it destroyed her. I've never felt like things can't get better, but is it because of my addiction? Am I holding off depression with fabricated dopamine? I wish I knew. I'm terrified by what I'll find when I'm done on this journey. Did my mother do the same thing? I know these are things I may need to bring up with the psychiatrist. I have dealt with my mothers death, I'm not holding onto why or how or why me about it. It's only recently I started thinking about myself in my mothers shoes and whether I am making the same mistakes. I dunno, it's all too much to think or worry about. I know addiction is a mental illness. I know that I'm sick at the moment and I need to get better. I know it's something that I will have to live with for the rest of my life. But does that make me crazy? Maybe it does. Normal people don't do this, but then again what's normal nowadays? I read about people from all walks of life having addictions and it makes me feel better knowing I'm not the only one. It can happened to anyone. It can creep up on you without knowing. I think that's the thing with N+ it's so easy to become addicted without realising it. I think of it as a white collar addiction. People take it for headaches, period pain, back pain, anything and it takes away your pain and makes you good. So you start taking for every sort of pain- small or large. You don't even know you have a problem to start with, you may not even realise they're addictive. You just think that they are wonder pills. Then you take them to feel the light feeling without having a reason. Oh you justify it by saying that you feel a headache coming on but you're only lying to yourself. It starts off a few tablets each day then before you know it you think 'maybe I should stop?' but you can't and that first flicker of shame lights within you. And the longer the addiction goes on, and by this stage you KNOW it's an addiction, the hotter that shame flame burns. Until the flame consumes you. You dig yourself into this big hole and there doesn't look like there's a way out. It's horrible. You feel trapped. Trapped by your own choices. Trapped by shame. Trapped by your addiction. That's how N+ sucks in unsuspecting people who might have never have touched a hard drug in their life.
I'm nervous about what questions the psychiatrist will ask and whether my initial answers will be truthful. Not because I want to lie to him, but because I'm discovering that some of the truths that I believed may have been just lies to myself. Or finding out that there can be many answers to one question but one answer will resonate with me more. I don't know how it will go and I can't even prepare for it. Maybe that's a good thing though. I guess I will find out soon enough. I'm sure it will be a long entry about the session this week. But I know I need to do it if I want to get better. And I do.
I want to get better, I choose to live and I choose to discover the truth about who I am, whether I like that person or not.

Posted by: Knockoutnorma May 17, 2016, 11:06 AM
My appointment with the psychiatrist is coming up this week I asked my gp what to expect and he said I will feel really drained afterward. Since psychiatrist only work 9-5 it means I have to go in work time to see him. I don't know how to feel about it. I think there is a stigmata attached to psychiatrists. That you need to be crazy to see them. I realise the only difference between them and a psychologist is that they can prescribe you medication if necessary. But still the stigmata is there. Am I crazy? That's a question I ask myself every day. Am I not right in the head? Do crazy people think they're crazy? Am I depressed? Shouldn't I know if I'm depressed? Is it hereditary? My mum was really depressed. For a lot of her life she was depressed but I was too young to understand. Depression drove her to kill herself when I was 13. I'm so scared to end up like her. It's my biggest fear to end up like my mother. She was a wonderful person but she had issues that she couldn't fix and it destroyed her. I've never felt like things can't get better, but is it because of my addiction? Am I holding off depression with fabricated dopamine? I wish I knew. I'm terrified by what I'll find when I'm done on this journey. Did my mother do the same thing? I know these are things I may need to bring up with the psychiatrist. I have dealt with my mothers death, I'm not holding onto why or how or why me about it. It's only recently I started thinking about myself in my mothers shoes and whether I am making the same mistakes. I dunno, it's all too much to think or worry about. I know addiction is a mental illness. I know that I'm sick at the moment and I need to get better. I know it's something that I will have to live with for the rest of my life. But does that make me crazy? Maybe it does. Normal people don't do this, but then again what's normal nowadays? I read about people from all walks of life having addictions and it makes me feel better knowing I'm not the only one. It can happened to anyone. It can creep up on you without knowing. I think that's the thing with N+ it's so easy to become addicted without realising it. I think of it as a white collar addiction. People take it for headaches, period pain, back pain, anything and it takes away your pain and makes you good. So you start taking for every sort of pain- small or large. You don't even know you have a problem to start with, you may not even realise they're addictive. You just think that they are wonder pills. Then you take them to feel the light feeling without having a reason. Oh you justify it by saying that you feel a headache coming on but you're only lying to yourself. It starts off a few tablets each day then before you know it you think 'maybe I should stop?' but you can't and that first flicker of shame lights within you. And the longer the addiction goes on, and by this stage you KNOW it's an addiction, the hotter that shame flame burns. Until the flame consumes you. You dig yourself into this big hole and there doesn't look like there's a way out. It's horrible. You feel trapped. Trapped by your own choices. Trapped by shame. Trapped by your addiction. That's how N+ sucks in unsuspecting people who might have never have touched a hard drug in their life.
I'm nervous about what questions the psychiatrist will ask and whether my initial answers will be truthful. Not because I want to lie to him, but because I'm discovering that some of the truths that I believed may have been just lies to myself. Or finding out that there can be many answers to one question but one answer will resonate with me more. I don't know how it will go and I can't even prepare for it. Maybe that's a good thing though. I guess I will find out soon enough. I'm sure it will be a long entry about the session this week. But I know I need to do it if I want to get better. And I do.
I want to get better, I choose to live and I choose to discover the truth about who I am, whether I like that person or not.

Posted by: Knockoutnorma May 18, 2016, 11:06 AM
So I had my appointment with the psychiatrist today. I guess I had an idea about how I thought it was going to go. I thought I would go there lie on a couch and bare my soul. Well that's what happens in the movies at least. Firstly there was no couch, I was slightly disappointed by this. I expected a really tasteful calming office. But what I got was just like a gp's office. Obviously the $10 a minute money (I paid $484 for what ended up being a 45 min session) is going into somewhere that isn't his work space. In saying that he was a polite man who took notes and asked questions. He asked about my family life, my hobbies, history of depression in family, why I started, why I stopped, etc. My ice block gp put me on to him in case I should go on a replacement program ie subutex. I was horrified when she said that. However after speaking with the psychiatrist he didn't seem to think I would need to go on it. He said that if down the road I have trouble coming off of it then it's an option we can look at, but he felt like that would be an extreme measure. He stated that he thought I would be able to kick the addiction but worried about the long term effects it has on the mind. He brought up the drug and alcohol service, but suggested that the reason he thought that my ice block gp didn't suggest I go there first was due to the type of people who do go there- he thought that it might have put me off getting help. I took this to mean that maybe there are a lot of unsavoury people who go there- I'm not sure whether that's true or not though. I explained to him about my anxiety and he felt a non medicated approach would be better. He suggested I see a psychologist about getting coping techniques to deal with my anxiety and life tools that would enable me to choose to stay clean. As he said it's not the physical withdrawal that's the hard part, it's 6 months or 2 years from now when something horrible happens and you feel the need to medicate. It's a life time decision. The other thing he drilled into my head is that I need something to replace the addiction with. Not another drug, but rather an activity or hobby. He said the worse thing you can do is sit around in your own head. Which I already do now. He stated that it needed to be something, other than work, that you can focus on. Something to take you out of your own head. He did state that it would be better if it was something with other people as well. I don't know what I want to do though. I don't have hardly any friends here. Or they are "work associates", no one who I would see outside of the office. I have my boyfriend and that's about it. It's kinda lonely. I never used to be like this. I used to have heaps of friends- 'used to' being the operative words. But I don't have that any more. So I don't know what I'm going to do. There are lots of things I want to do- not sure if they are achievable though. Im an avid reader and I would love to write a book- fantasy or urban fantasy novel. But I don't know if I'm a creative enough writer for that to happen. I want to learn to play guitar, plus I can sing with it. I miss cooking. But none of these things involve other people. I don't want to go out drinking, since I think being in that atmosphere would set me back, plus since I can't really drink anymore it really puts a damper on things. Also with the place I live in being so small everyone knows everyone, and it's really hard to meet people- for an outsider like me it is anyway. The psychiatrist also stated that since I'm already doing a lot of steps to help my recovery (keeping this journal, reading about other people's recovery, tapering, seeing my gp) that I shouldn't have to see him again. He stated that if my anxiety gets worse or if anything changes then I could come back. So now I'm left with the decision of whether I want to go to a psychologist or not and whether I can find a hobby to fill in my time. I'm not sure on either things. It definitely wasn't how I thought it would be going to the psychiatrist though and has given me a lot to ponder about.
I want to find a hobby to replace my addiction, I choose to change, I choose to live.

Posted by: Knockoutnorma May 20, 2016, 9:46 AM
Well I wasn't able to write last night since I had a massive headache and went to sleep early. I think it was a stress headache. The restless legs are getting worse. Just all the time they pull slightly, I can barely sit at my desk all day. Sometimes I wish I had a little bike pedal under my desk just so I can keep them moving. My exhaustion level is really high lately and my ability to care about anything after I sit down on the couch just doesn't exist. I actually can't be bothered eating, but I know I have to at least have dinner. Everything is an effort which is only going to get harder in the next week while working. I went to see my gp yesterday, the nice one. I told him what the psychiatrist said since my report hadn't come through just yet. He seemed happy that there wasn't any underlying mental disorders for my addiction. He then asked how I wanted to reduce the next lot of tablets - if I wanted to reduce it down to one 30mg codeine tab a day for a week then reduce it down to 15 mg a day for a week then stop or just reduce it to 30mg then stop. Since each time I've reduces it by 30mg I told him that I want to reduce it down to 30mg a day then stop. So for the next week I shall be taking 15mg in the morning and 15mg at night. I have a 7 day supply and this time next week will be my first night without codeine in 7 years. It's crazy to think about. I basically took the equivalent of one N+ tab tonight- which astounds me. I haven't made an appointment for next Thursday since I won't need to get any more codeine from him. I have made an appointment for the thursday of the following week to see him, which will be 6 days into my withdrawal. Just to see how I am and if I'm coping or if I need anything medication wise. He writing me a sick certificate so I can have two weeks off work. I haven't decided when to tell work yet. He said I don't need to tell them and I can call up on the first day and say I'm not coming in for two weeks but I feel bad about doing that. At the same time if I tell them then they may ask as to why I'm not going to be there which I don't want to answer. I think I may tell my manager next Friday morning that I'm having time off. But then I still don't know if I should say it's for mental illness or just illness. It's such a hard one. A lot of people think that if you don't look sick then nothing's wrong, which is stupid. And I worry that if I tell my manager that it's mental illness and anyone else finds out at work I'll be labelled 'unstable'. Which I guess is kinda true however I'm not the type of person that you would pick to be unstable. I'm the "reliable one", the one who everyone calls to fix their issues, not the one who has issues. Anyway my manager is a registered nurse and I'm sure he would understand if I said I had mental illness and I'm sure he wouldn't say anything however i imagine I will have to tell my work colleagues something different like the flu. Plus I assume I may lose some weight and have physical symptoms which they may wonder about after I come back. I dunno what to do or what to tell them or when to tell them. I just have a week to make a decision.
My anxiety feeling is getting worst. I've realise that it's less actual anxiety and more just the feeling of anxiety. Like I get the racing heart and slight impending sense of doom but no reason why. It feels like I'm worrying about something but I just don't know what that something is. It's a horrible feeling but I know it fabricated anxiety. The psychiatrist said it's a common symptom of opiate withdrawal- since opiate repress anxiety. So my body is trying to trick me into to thinking I need more codeine to fight the fake anxiety however my brain knows there's nothing wrong. It's a weird place to be. I haven't craved more codeine once, I haven't veered from my taper plan, I haven't contemplated getting some nurofen plus just to "take the edge off". In fact the only thing I've felt with this taper plan is relief. Relief that I don't have to figure out which chemists to go to. Relief that I'm not worrying about if I will be refused service. Relief that the physical side of it is nearly over. Relief that my boyfriend doesn't have to watch me down 30 pills in a day to be "normal". Relief that I've stopped damaging my body. Relief in general. I don't know if everyone else feels this way but that's how I feel. I just want to get better.
I choose to acknowledge my body is telling me one thing but my mind is telling me another. I choose to improve not only my life, but my life I share with my amazing boyfriend and 2 cats. I choose to live.

Posted by: Knockoutnorma May 22, 2016, 7:21 AM
I keep thinking about why I'm going to fill my life with when I finally stop the codeine. But I don't have an answer. I have a lot of things that I think "yeah, I'll do that" but my energy levels are so low at the moment that I just think it's never going to happen. I used to be a go getter. I used to be a person that threw myself into anything. I used to love cooking. I would buy all the magazines and try out different recipes but these last few years that's slowly stopped until I just cook what's easy. I found no joy in making food. That could be partly because my stomach can't handle so many thing nowadays and I can't eat much as it is. I'm sure a lot of other people have felt that way about food when on N+. The ibuprofen completely stuffs your stomach. It ruins the lining and means you get indigestion or worst, gastric ulcers. It also ruins a lot of meals. You can't eat tomato based food or rich food because the indigestion is so bad afterwards it literally takes your breath away. I only eat one meal a day as it is and it makes me so sad since I used to love food. I used to love eating out, but it's just not a possibility anymore.
I keep trying to think about how I want to fill my days/weekends when I come off it. It's constantly on my mind. I know I need to find something, but what if I don't. I get anxious thinking about it. What if I don't find anything and my life doesn't get better? It scares me. What if I never feel ok again? I know I need to change my thinking but it's a constant worry. My mind races constantly from one thing to another. At work it sucks because I feel like I can't sit still. I work at a desk for 7 hours a day and I feel like I'm jumping out of my skin. All day I think "I can't wait to get home" but then I get home and I don't get any relief. I can't relax or just unwind. My racing mind and racing heart follow me wherever I am. It's horrible to not be able to relax. But trying to do anything exhausts me. Sometimes you just gotta push through. I think about all these people that are trying to come off codeine that have kids and I can't imagine how hard it is. However at least they have something else to focus on.
I talk to my boyfriend a lot about how I'm feeling and he's so great. Always puts down what he's doing just to listen and give advice if needed. He's my rock and he tells me everyday how proud he is of me with my journey so far especially now I'm near the very end of my taper. I don't know what I'd do without him. There will be a 2 posts coming soon of how my addiction has affected him. I've asked him to write an honest entry about what's it's been like to live with me as an addict and how much it's affected his whole life. I've told him that I may not read it just because I know me being an addict has affected his life so much. I will also write an account of how I feel like my addiction has impacted on his life. I've been putting it off since I know how much it will upset me to write- looking back over the years and what I've put him through, just horrible. But that's for another day to think about when I'm in a better headspace (if I ever get in a better headspace). Someone else on these forums suggested writing a break up letter to your drug of choice. I think it's something I do will do- seems like it could be therapeutic- however sometimes it feels like this diary could be that letter anyway. Just a lengthy one. I still don't know when to tell my work about my time off. It's just something else that gets me anxious. When will this feeling leave? When will my heart stop racing? The closer Friday approaches ( my last day of codeine) the more anxious I get. I just feel like my head is all over the place. Not for more pills though. Those stupid things put me in this position and once I start getting better I hope never to be here again.
I want to never be in this position again, I choose to change and I endeavour to get better.

Posted by: Knockoutnorma May 24, 2016, 11:03 AM
I got another headache last night and went to bed early. I hardly ever had headaches before and now two in one week- is this what I have to expect? I hope not. So I built up the courage and told my manager on Monday about next week. I spoke to him privately and just said that I would be having two weeks sick leave but that I didn't want to tell anyone else at work about it. He was really good. Just asked me if there was anything work could do to help (which there's not) but still it was nice. So at least work now knows I won't be in even if the people I work with everyday aren't aware. It's hard because its not an illness you can see. This week while on my last bit of my taper (15mg of codeine in the morning and 15mg of codeine at night) I'm still doing my work fine and laughing. No one at work would guess there is anything wrong. So I'm sure me having two weeks sick leave will come as a shock. I just now have to think of something to tell everyone when I get back. The flu maybe? Stomach bug? Then I worry what I have to go to the shops and see work people there? Will they talk about me behind my back like "how sick can she be if she's grocery shopping?". So it's something I need to be prepared for. I just wish I knew what to expect when I come off of them. Like what withdrawal symptoms will I have and what will they be like? Does tapering down to so little then stopping reduce the withdrawal effects much? How will I be mentally? I never thought I would even get to this point so I'm happy about where I am but the future is so uncertain at the moment. I need to work on the issues that make me reach for the pills. Some of those situations are things that I've had to admit to my boyf that I don't handle well. We've had some frank conversations about my triggers and steps we can both do to avoid them or work through them. But it's hard admitting to the things that trigger you. Especially for me because some of them just seem so stupid, turns out I'm pretty insecure and lonely. Like something simple as my boyf going out and saying he's going to be home at a certain time then him coming home a lot later. Seems so silly when I write it, and there are other issues involved, but that is the base trigger. However we are working on a plan to work through these things for me and he's happy to do whatever I need so I feel secure. As long as that doesn't end up with him resenting me and my triggers. But again it's something we both need an input in. He's really great though. He's preparing to look after me, the house and the cats for the next two weeks- cooking, cleaning, everything so I can have two weeks to go through the withdrawal and just have me time. Plus every night he makes me laugh- so much so tonight that I was laughing with tears running down my face- it's important to remember to laugh openly and loudly. I think even at my darkest times I've been able to laugh, this is just another one of those times. Doesn't mean I don't feel messed up inside, mainly just to remind myself that I can find simple joys in things.
I thought I might talk about how hard going to the gp to tell them you are an addict is. I remember standing in the kitchen making dinner and I had tears streaming down my face. I had just dropped down from 384mg codeine a day to 192mg a day. I was emotional, sweaty, anxious and had the realisation that I couldn't keep going to pharmacies if they all now had access to one central database, that I couldn't try and wean off them myself and that I needed to go see the Dr for help. My boyf saw me standing in the kitchen, an emotional wreck, bawling my eyes out and asked me what he could do. There was nothing. I needed to go to the Dr and I needed to admit I had a problem. I made a decision and went online to book an appointment. The earliest I could get in was 2 days later. I thought and cried about it all night. How could I admit it to someone that I was an addict? How could I let a complete stranger find out? Would they help me? Would they make me come off of it straight away? I decided to write down what I wanted to happen: I wanted to go on codeine phosphate, I wanted to reduce it by the equivalent of 2 N+ a week and I wanted to support. I woke up the next day and realised that I couldn't wait a whole other day. There was a clinic at the Dr's after 6pm. I decided to go straight after work. I was a nervous wreck. I finally get called into the Dr's office and the gp couldn't have been more of an unemotional person if she tried. I could barely get the words out and she just sat there and stared at me. Like if she stared at me long enough that I would disappear. She was quick to suggest a blood test and then continued to tell me that I could get off the tabs by reducing them each week. I asked if she thought that continuing to take N+ would be a good idea and that I had wanted to go on codeine phosphate. She then proceeded to tell me that I could be lying just to get the codeine phosphate and she didn't want to be one of those Dr's that gave out drugs of dependence willy nilly. I had to say that I was admitting I was an addict and thought going into to something that's healthier for me would be a better option. She went to talk to another Dr about it. She finally came back and stated that it wouldn't be good if I went into kidney failure by while using N+ to taper down. Not once did she smile at me or say that I was making a good first step. It felt like she was writing me off the minute I said I was an addict. I left that initial appointment feeling sad and angry- I remember getting in the car with my boyf and saying that it was horrible and that I had finally got up the courage to tell a gp and wished I hadn't. She made me feel like a terrible person who wasn't worthy of help. It really impacted how I started my journey. I felt dejected. The next time I saw her to get my codeine prescription, which was a week later, she made a snide comment about how I could be buying more N+ on the side and not telling her. I couldn't believe she would say something like that. Thankfully she left the practice after the next time I saw her. She was horrible and cold and really made me doubt if I was making the right decision which is definitely not what you want to be feeling right after deciding to quit. My new Dr is great. Very encouraging and supportive. I think having the right Dr is critical. Otherwise you may end up regretting it, or worse, relapsing.
I choose my life, I choose my destiny. I want to getter better.

Posted by: Knockoutnorma May 30, 2016, 2:08 AM
So I'm 3 days clean. It hasn't been too bad physically- some aches in my legs, a bit of sleeplessness, an upset stomach and a general feeling of weakness. But other than that the only thing that is effecting me is the anxiety. It's constant. It's feels like I've had 4 weeks off in the space of 4 days. Just my mind constantly running, never stopping, always worrying. I was so anxious about stopping that I started my sick leave a day early. It wasn't so much that it was the stopping though, it's more that I didn't know what would happen. I didn't know how the withdrawal would effect me. For me tapering has been the best thing. I remember the Dr saying that it would be another step coming off and he was right. Today is supposed to be one of the hardest days in withdrawal (day 3 and 4) yet it hasn't been as bad as I thought. I mean I need to be near a toilet since I can't trust a fart at the moment but other than that I'm ok. It's only the start of the journey though. I feel like I've lost my life to this addiction. I hadn't realised how badly though. I don't have anything substantial in my life. I find myself missing my friends from 6 years ago. I know where I went wrong. I pushed everyone and everything away. And now I'm getting clean I have no one apart from my boyfriend there. It's a scary thought. I want to make amends with my old friends but I don't have their numbers and they are all so busy with their lives and I don't factor into them anymore. It's a hard reality to face. So that's where I'm at mentally. Dwelling on the past and how much I screwed up. I wish I had friends who wondered why I'm sick who still want me in their life. I want to be a better person. I want to make amends but it's hard when no one will listen anymore. I want to get better but I don't know how to fix my life. Stopping the pills was the easy part- living after them is the hard bit

Posted by: Knockoutnorma May 31, 2016, 5:32 AM
Day 4. Today started out so well. Except the not sleeping part. I tend to sleep for 4 or 5 hours then I'm awake for an hour or so and then I can go back to sleep for a bit. Not really fun waking up with your mind racing and restless legs. So I woke up and one of my friends from the uk rang and it was so nice to talk to him. And for a while he made me laugh and forget about all the stuff I'm dealing with. I've known him for nearly 10 years and he's always been there for me even if we don't talk for months on end. Well I told him about being an addict. He was so wonderful about it. More than that he was concerned. I don't know what I expected but it wasn't concern. I think I expected judgement. Judgement of what I've done and how I've dealt with things. He understood my reasons for taking them, he's in a similar situation but definitely not dealing with it like I did. So I'm thankful I got to chat to him and that for a time I could get lost in his life, his girl drama and his humour. I started to write to a few people I felt like I had lost touch with over the past few years yesterday. Some wrote back, some didn't. It was nice to get emails back about people wanting to know how I was and how they missed me. Although I was sad that one didn't want to know me anymore. But I guess that's my fault. So anyway my day started off great and then crushing anxiety struck. No reason for it. And my legs are the worst they have been in the 4 days. It's a constant ache. I went outside for a cigarette and I could barely make me back inside. I got back in and laid on the couch barely able to move. I felt so weak. Sometimes I think I'm getting better and then other times I feel like I'll never get there. I feel like I need to fill my days in doing something but I still don't know what. I know I need to change my thinking but I feel so lost. I just don't know how to find my way back to me

Posted by: Knockoutnorma June 1, 2016, 8:23 AM
Day 5 clean. Today was a bad day. So the restless legs are still a problem but magnesium helps a huge amount. Other than that I have a crushing sense of loneliness. I could be surrounded by people and I would still feel lonely. I've cried on and off all day. There's no rhyme or reason for it- just feel never ending. I had another friend block me from speaking to them- I don't know the reason. It's really affected me. I would speak with them sporadically every 6 months and everything was fine last time we talked. So I can't figure out what's caused this drastic action. What did I do? It's really messed with my mind. I wish I hadn't tried to contact them, then at least I would still be ignorant of the fact. But I didn't realise how it would make me feel, probably not the best time to find out someone doesn't want to talk to you so bad that would stop any chance of you connecting with them. I realised I needed to let the feelings of hurt and sadness go. Easier said than done. I get to see the Dr tomorrow to chat about how my withdrawal is going. So that will be good. Not that there is anything he can give me to help. Plus I don't want to take more drugs. I just wish I had something to fill this hole inside me. I just don't know how- this saddens me further. It's a perpetual loop. My boyf is being amazing. He's my shoulder to cry on and listens to my fears each day. He holds me and for a few moments I'm ok. Is there any way to cope with these feelings? Will I ever feel ok?

Posted by: Knockoutnorma June 8, 2016, 3:38 AM
So day 11 is here and halfway done. My anxiety is still an issue and I still feel weak if I exert myself. However I think I'm doing better. My mental state of mind is ok. I won't say it's great but that's to be expected. I pushed everyone away in the throes of my addiction and now I feel lonely. I see my friends living their lives having a great time meanwhile I'm wallowing away trying not to let myself drown. This has been the hardest thing I've had to deal with. This feeling that I don't know who I am anymore. I'm not the happy go lucky constantly surrounded by friends. I have literally have my boyf who is my best friend and that's it. I mean I have other friends but I'm not involved in their lives. They tell me all the crazy stuff they've been doing and how they're buying houses, getting married etc and me, I've got nothing like that. Not that I want to get married but still having a different goal to work towards would be nice. I've learnt I've had to stop letting toxic people get to me. The ones that only want to be your friend when there is something wrong or the ones that don't care anymore. I've made a decision that I don't want those people in my life. I may have made some bad choices but I know I'm not pulling in old friends in the hope that they will show me some sympathy. I want to get better and a year down the track if I see them then I will tell them how I was an addict and how I overcame it. I know this will all become part of my story and I want to be able to stand proud and say 'I changed and I got better'. I want to be able to inspire people. My story is similar to so many people and it's so prevalent in today's society. We feel ashamed to tell people for fear of judgement. I hope that by writing this account of my struggle with addiction that one person can be helped and not feel ashamed of their own struggle.

Posted by: Knockoutnorma June 13, 2016, 7:37 AM
I can't believe I made it to day 16! I'm so proud of myself. I never ever thought I would get this far. I know it may not seem like much but it is a huge achievement to me. I still get overly anxious about things though. The main thing on my mind at the moment is going back to work tomorrow. I'm so nervous about it. I think it's the not knowing what to say when they ask why I've been away. I mean I'm not going to tell them but I still feel the need to tell them something. I think I'll just stick with that I was sick and now I'm getting better. The fact that it was for addiction isn't something they need to know. I'm also hesitant to say it was mental illness since I'm sure rumours would then start about me, which I definitely don't want. Although the mental illness is more excepted these days there are still connotations attached to it where people which assume you are crazy or "can't deal with life". Neither of which is true, hence my reluctance to tell them even that. So I'm really nervous and anxious.

My stomach is still quite upset- which is going to make going back to work more difficult. I can't help that though. My legs have stopped cramping so that's awesome. My energy is still low but I'm pushing myself to do more each day. I still feel weak but not so much that I have to sit down after walking to the kitchen. I still have to force myself to do every little thing. It's hard sometimes to find the motivation but I know it's all apart of the process. I feel like I'm getting back to normal, which is nice. Not waking up with a racing heart or sore legs. But then again I haven't faced any real challenge or trigger yet. When that comes then I'll know if I can truly say that I'm doing better.

I just keeping focusing on the next small goal I have set myself. If I can achieve that then it will be on to the next small goal and the one after that. That's my focus to keep moving forward. To keep achieving my goals. To be a better person and learn from my mistakes. That's all I can do really. I'm always going to make mistakes but it's how I get back up after them that matters. Everything is a learning experience. I will learn from this and I will do better. I want to be proud of the person I am and the things I've overcome. I want to be an inspiration for someone in a similar position. Only time will tell.

Today I am proud of myself and how far I've come and my journey so far.

I am getting better and I will win this