Originally I wanted to write a blog about settling into my new house, but something else popped up that I wanted to talk about.
If you’re in Australia you might have heard about rise in codeine addiction, leading to overdoses, and deaths, which has in turn lead to these painkillers – that were over-the-counter  – to now being prescription only.

The higher dose ones were always prescription only. I recall my Dad getting told off for having my Padadine Forte in the ER one trip – because it wasn’t under lock and key.

I am VERY sensitive to medication. If there is a side effect to a medication, chances are, I’m going to end up with it. This has made me extremely wary of taking drugs. I don’t like them, they make me feel weird, and I’ve just had way to many bad experiences. I can tell you some stories.

But codeine is something I found that I could take in really small quantities to just take the edge of my pain. I can’t tolerate more than two tablets of strong pain relief a day – and even then – I have to go on detox weeks to make it become effective again, as, after awhile, my body just grows used to it. So instead of upping the dose, I stop taking it. This method has allowed me to remain on a really low dose.

I’ve talked to my doctor about it often, he was surprised the first time I discussed it with him that I wasn’t taking more painkillers (because I was expressing how worried I was at my use of painkillers, I think he was expecting me to using heaps!) He told me I could be taking three times as much as still not be in a danger zone, and I told him I couldn’t imagine how anyone could take more than two without throwing up!

This all leads to February the 2nd and the ban on selling codeine products over-the-counter. I understand why they’ve implemented it, but I am still annoyed. When I went to the pharmacy to get my script for my Strong Pain filled, I felt shame when I was drilled by the pharmacist about my ‘drug use’ – the same shame I’ve felt every single time I’ve been drilled about my ‘drug use’ since this whole shebang started up and I had to start handing over my drivers license to be recorded into the system.

Don’t get me wrong. I know and understand why the government has done this, but I’m annoyed that the media hasn’t talked about those of us who try to manage our pain well, who do our best to maintain our use of medication. There are those of us who go to our doctors, talk to them, diligently discuss plans and processes, but end up just coming back to plodding our way through day-to-day life one-step-at-a-time.

I also understand people who cannot maintain equilibrium. In some way, it’s a blessing that I react so badly to medication, otherwise I could so easily see myself wanting to take more painkillers because I just want the pain to go away so, so, so badly.
There are mornings when I just sit in a chair, unable to move, wondering ‘Why on earth did I get up this morning?’ which is then followed by ‘Because you’ll still be in pain while in bed, you idiot.’

Pain has taught me many things, two of them being: How to live in tolerance and regulation.

Though I am really, really annoyed at the pharmaceutical companies that are not making the drugs anymore, or “re-branding the drugs” – making them paracetamol and ibuprofen. No. No. I don’t want paracetamol and ibuprofen!! You don’t think I haven’t tried that already!


It’s going to be an inconvenience, but I’ll take the inconvenience if it means saving lives and I guess, in the end, that’s what it comes down to.

One thought on “Painkillers

  1. karen j carlisle says:

    I hear you, Kylie.
    I have prescriptions for the stronger codeine medications (for migraines, back pain) but rarely take them. I try to limit myself to the over the counter (and 4x less) codeine if I can handle it. I’m concerned about developing an addiction to pain killers and the need to increase dosage as the body gets ‘used to it’.
    When my pain is bad, I limit my use to 1-2 (lowest dose) codeine per day – for no more than three days at a time, then have a self-imposed time without codeine. The longest I went was two weeks after surgery. I felt like %@#!
    Like you, I am sensitive to most medications (including antibiotics) and am allergic to non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. So the recommended Neurofen substitutes are a big no no for me. And, yes, they are no substitute for those who need stronger pain relief).
    My GP and neurologist have often commented they expected me to take higher levels of painkillers and I have expressed my extreme concern about them no longer working one day if I became addicted. So, with consultation with a neurologist, I have a regime of caffeine and aspirin to dull migraine pain on a daily basis, and only use stronger meds when necessary (much more than I like – but sometimes we don’t get a choice, do we? Ugh!).
    Did you know that you can only buy two packets of standard aspirin at a time at the chemist as well? There has been a restriction there on all pain killers for a while.
    However, I have not issue with the new law. If I need a prescription, I’ll go to the GP. Codeine is a opioid, and long-term, over-use does nasty things to the human body. Unfortunately not everyone is as mindful (or aware) of addiction or side-effects as we are.
    I suppose it comes down to convenience/inconvenience of seeing the doctor, whether they bulk-bill. Though I do have a concern the GP’s will get flooded with more appointments and clog up the system even more.
    So, I agree. Inconvenience is worth the price of potentially saving lives.


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