When asked to think of a drug addiction, many people will automatically link this with illegal substances such as heroin, ecstasy or cocaine. However, drug addictions are much more than this and can include prescription drugs as well. A codeine addiction is often experienced by those who have been prescribed this medication by a medical professional to ease pain. This type of addiction can be just as severe as any illegal drug addiction, and because codeine is so easy to obtain, it can make the thought of stopping seem totally unachievable.
Twenty-eight-year-old Troy Garrod from Norwich was first prescribed codeine in 2009 as a pain relief for a toothache. Troy was not informed that if taken for an extended period codeine could be highly addictive. He soon found himself taking up to fifty pills a day, and thus started his codeine addiction.
“I was going from chemist to chemist to get my fix of codeine. What began as a painkiller for a small tooth problem became a serious addiction which I wouldn’t wish on anyone. It spiralled out of control, and I was taking up to 50 per day, which nearly killed me because of the ibuprofen intake,” Troy explained.
His addiction reached an all-time low when he lost his job at a book wholesaler. The pills were costing him around £7 per packet, and it is estimated that he took up 51,000 pills over the course of his seven-year battle with addiction.
Things took a turn for the worst this year when Troy woke up one night with unimaginable stomach pains and was rushed to hospital. He was then told that he had stomach ulcers that could have burst at any moment and killed him. Fortunately, the hospital staff managed to help him recover, and after five intensive days of treatment, he is delighted to say that he is codeine-free and expected to make a full recovery.
Thinking back to that night, Troy said, “I woke up in the worst agony that I have ever experienced in my life. I have broken my arm, leg and my wrist before, but nothing compares to the pain that this caused me. I had loads of internal ulcers, and I had to have a couple of blood transfusion procedures for my ruptured stomach walls.
“It was terrifying, and I was constantly shaking, sweaty, and I found out I was anaemic. I’ve been suffering from unbelievable pain, and I feel so passionately about codeine being available so easily, it’s highly addictive and should be banned.”
Troy had a legitimate reason to take codeine initially, but soon it spiralled out of control, and he found that he was reliant on the drug. As he was fit and healthy because of the amount of time he spent at the gym, no one suspected anything. “It was an easy addiction to hide because, on the outside, until my stomach ulcers, I looked well and I went to the gym every day. I was a gym fanatic and loved nothing more than seeing my body improve; I can’t wait until I’m strong enough to get back into it again.”
Speaking of the harmful substance, Troy added, “Codeine is so strong, and it’s banned in so many countries, I know that there are loads of people around the UK who have suffered from the same experience that I have, and I need to raise awareness for this issue.”
Many risks come with excessive codeine consumption. There is a much higher risk of death by overdose if you mix codeine with other drugs that can suppress breathing, such as diazepam, alcohol or other opiate drugs. While codeine is harmless in small doses, once the individual begins to take it they start developing a tolerance and, consequently, could find themselves battling a codeine addiction before they know it.
If taken in large enough doses, codeine can cause an array of serious health complications including liver and kidney failure or stomach bleeding, which can all be life-threatening to the individual.
If you think that you could be suffering from a codeine addiction, it is important that you speak to someone about it. This could be a friend or family member, therapist or counsellor. Here at UKAT, we offer a range of treatments at our clinics to combat a codeine addiction. We will work alongside you to make sure you feel comfortable and that the support put in place is most beneficial to your needs.
If you require any further information on any of our clinics or treatments, contact us today or request a free call back.
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