Sunday Morning Confessional

So far I’ve been finding it very cathartic to be honest with you lovely people who are kind enough to read my blog. In the spirit of this honesty, I’m going to let you into a secret no-one else knows. Deep breath. Oof, this is strangely harder than admitting I was a drunk.

I’ve been addicted to painkillers as well as alcohol.

There. I’ve said it. I don’t suppose this is huge in some people’s world.  But it’s a biggie for me. True, it’s not heroin, but yep, it was codeine, which, as an opiate is a step or two down that nasty old path.

Dropping the drink has given me the clarity of mind to start turning the cold beady eye of truth on my life, which is probably why it occurred to me last weekend that I may just have another little demon to pulverise here.

So – the gory details. I’m a tall, gangly creature, and as such I’m naturally more prone to back problems. Which I’ve had on and off since the age of about 16. I’ve never got anywhere following the standard NHS process, which basically results in having anti-inflammatories thrown at you in vast quantity, and referrals to physios which just didn’t help. Over the years I’ve been to osteopaths, and more recently a really good chiropractor. But these options aren’t cheap, and let’s face it, there was wine and beer to find funds for.

I’ve never been a drug taker particularly, I’ve always chosen alcohol as my poison. (Well, apart from a brief phase in my early 30’s, when I had a destructive and idiotic rebound relationship with a drug addict and let’s just say I did a bit of f*cking stupid experimentation).

So I’ve been living with varying levels of chronic back pain for over 20 years. Self-medicating at the end of the day with a lovely, wholesome combination of anti-inflammatories, and a truckload of wine.

More recently, I’ve had access to some nice strong codeine. That was a revelation. A full dose of that swiftly resulted in a complete absence of pain, and a happy, floaty Red.

It was only in the absence of the pain that I realised how grindingly, exhaustingly awful its constant daily presence has been. In my mind, this easily justified taking more of the codeine. During the week, I would struggle through the day, and as soon as I was no longer required to drive or function at work, I’d take a dose. Or have a nice drink. Or sometimes, both. Then at weekends, well, I had free reign to constantly top up with the drug during the day, and then alcohol on top in the evenings.

Now, this combination is dangerous for all sorts of reasons, not least potentially fatal respiratory depression. But hey, I’m Marvel Comic-level invincible, right? Or at least I felt pretty invincible when the codeine kicked in. I started to look forward to the delicious rush and the flood of feel-good shit into my system when it started to work. It was seriously nice.

I began to take it more frequently, and found that the good feeling diminished slightly. But if I topped it up with booze, I’d feel good again. For a short while. And so the cycle of addiction began. I knew I had a problem with both alcohol and codeine, but while I could see and admit the alcohol problem, it was as if the drug problem slid out of view if I tried to focus too hard on it.

And then I stopped drinking. But I kept taking the pills. And they insidiously crept further and further in, as I needed something to replace the alcohol buzz.

This brings me to just over a week ago. I started having bad headaches, which would build in severity during the day to the point I could hardly see straight, and barely handle the cacophony that is my lively, lovely childen (and I would have days like the one here in Bad Mama..).

Last Sunday found me on the biggest dose of codeine I could take, and then counting the minutes between doses. And then when they stopped working, I found an old stash of diazepam, AND YEP, I TOOK ONE THOSE TOO!!!

The mental conversation went something like this:

Brain: “Hey there. Hey up there!! Yes you, doofus! ”

Me: “Yeah, whassamadder? I’m busy feeling all nice, and dreamy up here. Oh. Oh crap. I’m bloody addicted to drugs now aren’t I?”

Brain: “No Shit, Sherlock! STOP RIGHT NOW”.

So I stopped. I admitted to myself that I was addicted to these buggers too. I did a bit of reading. I tapered off the dose over two days, and since Wednesday I’ve been clear of them. All of them. Not even a lowly paracetamol has passed these lips.

Its been, well, tricky, is a nice word for it. It was a bit like going back to square one. I was fed up, irritable, couldn’t sleep properly and had the headache from hell. I’ve basically been The Queen from Aliens. But as of Friday, I gently started to feel better. And today I feel pretty good, well, apart from tonsils like golf-balls, courtesy of my germ-ridden sprogs. I’m not sleeping brilliantly, and I had a bad case of restless legs in the middle of last night but I’m clean baby. Squeaky. And it’s getting better and better.

Happy Sunday everyone. I hope that if there’s just one other person out there who reads this and who’s taking an itsy bit too much pain medication, and perhaps doubting just why they take it, this confession might strike a chord.

Love, Squeaky Clean Red xx



13 thoughts on “Sunday Morning Confessional”

  1. Yay, you just said no! I’m kidding, I like a codeine m’self. I took them (vicodin, actually) when I had pain from a neuroma in my foot, for about a month or two. It’s weird how they stop getting you high after a few weeks, or maybe you stop feeling it. So I came down the stairs one day, I was taking them but not noticing the effects, and my husband says, “You look wasted.” But I wasn’t! Or maybe I was? Anyway, I quit taking them (they made me itch and kept me awake at night anyway) and got surgery.
    HOWEVER, I did have to quit smoking concurrent with the drinking which totally sucked. Smoking got me through my first 3 months of sobriety and I DID NOT WANT TO QUIT. I still think about it. I’m thinking about it now. But there ya go, sometimes you have to suck it up.
    Regarding your back pain, have you thought about acupuncture? I tried it once for foot pain after my my surgery and it seemed to help.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha yep, I must have been ambling around looking wasted too…. it’s scary just how quickly the effects lessen, it’s so much faster than building a tolerance to alcohol. I was making myself stop for a day or two every week just so I coukd get the real buzz back. Oops. Didn’t work out so well…
      Acupuncture – never tried it but I’ve been recommended a good one locally and been meaning to give it a go. And now I’m not drinking I’m actually getting round to doing all that shit!

      Quitting smoking must be a biatch. Can’t belive you managed that so soon after stopping drinking.
      I hope your surgery worked and your foot is ok these days? Red xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well I was already quitting shit, so what the hell.
        Hahah! Yes, it’s amazing how we can just DO STUFF NOW. Sometimes, I’m like, I could just get up right this minute and do the thing I’ve been thinking about. haha! I can’t promise results but it can’t hurt/might help.
        I’m happy I did the surgery, it took a really long time to heal but a neuroma (it’s a damaged nerve, usually in the ball of your foot, very painful) never actually heals, once you get it you just have to manage it unless you have the surgery.


      2. Oof that sounds painful. Glad it worked!
        Yeah, I’m still lying on the sofa a lot in the 2 hours of time I get in the evening. I’m more effective, shall we say, the rest of the time though so SHIT is GETTING DONE. I’m still awaiting a burst of AF energy though 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Red, I take codeine/paracetamol tablets for long standing pain and have often wondered if I should stop taking it. But thought of living with pain is scary. How is your pain now that you have stopped taking them? A x


    1. Hey Angie. Sorry to hear you have pain. Now I’ve stopped, the pain’s not good, must admit. For me it builds during the day, so by the evening I’m in a bad way and immensely pissed off with it. But a trip to chiropractor last friday has helped a bit and I know it’ll improve if I keep looking after myself more and going to chiro. I think it’s all about how you use the co-codamol though, if it’s just for pain relief, and you’ve been prescribed it, then surely that’s fine. I had started using it more as I liked the buzz and feeling of wellbeing, as well as the pain relief if I’m honest! For me, I need to explore other, less addictive options. For example Naproxen works pretty well on me, and isn’t addictive, but I was taking the codeine by preference as I liked the feeling. But everyone’s situation is different obviously!! It’s definitely worth having a read around about it all though. Red xx


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