In 2016, my husband Paul had surgery on his knee after he was injured playing rugby. He was prescribed codeine to help him with the pain. He quickly became addicted and it was a problem for a long time, about three and a half years.
He was hooked on his prescription tablets and when he couldn’t get them from the hospital or his GP, he was going to the chemist and buying Nurofen Plus instead.
His addiction had a real negative effect on us as a family. He became a totally different person, he’s had to go to recovery groups, he had to admit he was an addict. We had a savings account together and he spent all of the money on tablets, just to get him through the day – he couldn’t survive without them.
We’ve been married nearly seven years and I sometimes look at him and think ‘you’re not my husband anymore.’
We have a son who has mental health issues, so we’ve gone through a pretty hard time with that, then trying to deal with my husband as well and then I have two younger children. Some days it’s like I’m battling all the elements, the wind, the rain, the sun, all flying at me at the same time and I don’t know which one to deal with first. He was grumpy, he was miserable; he was shouting at the kids for no reason. He was just totally different.
The effect that it had, the lies – I kept asking him “are you sure you’re not taking anything?”. He’d say no but something just wasn’t right with him. He ran out of money and I went to the savings account and he didn’t have any choice but to tell me he’d taken it.
After that, he told me he had stopped taking them, but then we went on holiday and he ended up having to go cold turkey because we were in a foreign country and he couldn’t get them from anywhere. He spent the week rattling because he couldn’t handle it. By the end of the holiday, he said he wouldn’t go back on them – but then he did.
In the end it was our daughter’s birthday and he said he couldn’t get through the day without them.
“WE’VE BEEN MARRIED NEARLY 7 YEARS AND I SOMETIMES LOOK AT HIM AND THINK ‘YOU’RE NOT MY HUSBAND ANYMORE’.”
I gave him the money and said, “you do what you have to do but tomorrow we’re going to the doctors.” He was talking a lot of Nurofen Plus, which worked out at about 400mg of codeine. In the end he said he wasn’t taking them for pain, it was that he couldn’t function without them. He was literally overdosing every day.
His GP gave him the number for a drug and alcohol service, but he was told that his addiction wasn’t severe enough and he didn’t want to go to a group session. He didn’t want to sit in a group and say “Hi my name is… and I have an addiction”– he wasn’t comfortable with that.
He eventually did try a group and there were cocaine addicts and alcoholics there and he said he didn’t feel as though he was on their wavelength. He didn’t think he was as bad as them and he felt that it could have pushed him into trying something else.
Three and a half years on he says he no longer takes pain medication, but I’m not 100% sure that’s true to be honest. He isn’t experiencing pain anymore, so now the issue is managing the addiction.
*Names have been changed for anonymity.