My downwards spiral of codeine addiction and self-harm


In the third year of uni I broke up with my girlfriend. It wasn’t your typical breakup, more a gradual separation. There were a multitude of reasons for why I did it but I regretted it almost immediately. We were more than best friends and then we were nothing.

I became a bit of a recluse and would be overjoyed whenever I would see her around uni. I never truly got over her… I guess I had some weird fairy tail ending in my mind where we would just magically end up together. I was so naive.

I think that’s when the depression kicked in. It was early days of fourth year and I could see she was close to a new boy. I could tell they were probably going out but I didn’t want to believe it. The thought of her with someone else was soul shattering. I longed to tell her how I still felt but wasn’t sure how she would react.

On the surface, I seemed to be doing okay but my mind was a mess and stopped me from working, which was having a detrimental effect on my studies. Thoughts about her would consume my mind and the regret was unbearable. I just wanted to stop thinking so I could get on with final year. That’s when I decided to try codeine.

Recently, the doctor told me I was self-medicating depression with codeine. At the time, I just wanted to try anything to stop thinking and codeine was just so easy to get a hold of. I would walk around central London stopping off at every pharmacy I came across- They’re everywhere. I would buy packs and packs of Nurofen plus and was stocked up for months. At one point, I would take anything form 20-40+ pills a day depending on how a felt. On top of all that, I realised you could mix and match other codeine containing pills and be less likely to overdose and screw up my kidneys and liver. I was jacked on codeine all the time. I have quite an addictive personality and soon I became dependant and craved it all the time.

Surprisingly, it was an expensive addiction, especially since I was a student, but it didn’t really cloud my judgement and I was still able to function well. Every time I would think about my ex I would just take some pills. It seemed to work like a charm.

But soon the codeine stopped working and my thoughts began to haunt me again. I didn’t want to try other drugs because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to study or they’d be a bigger distraction.

So then came the cutting.

I’ve always had an unhealthy obsession with knives and blades, my room is filled with them. So when decided I’ll try cutting, I had collection of objects to choose from. I went for a scalpel, sharp, precise and clean. I thought long and hard about where to cut so that it wouldn’t be obvious. I settled on my upper legs so that they could be covered by my boxers. Straight away I was cutting almost every day, multiple times a day. It was almost effortless to cut with a scalpel and I was averaging 20 cuts a day. My legs were sore all the time and it was getting hard to walk.

Cutting wasn’t as helpful as codeine. The sensation didn’t last as long, but I did feel better. It’s like my thoughts would drain away with blood. I knew it was dumb and irrational but I felt like I didn’t have any other choice, my degree hung in the balance.

Around that time, I told my ex how I felt and she’d said she’d moved on. Hearing it from her mouth was something else. I lost it. I was cutting even more and having way more codeine to conceal the pain.

I had a friend who I confided in about the cutting and codeine and she helped me through the end of the year. It was nice to have someone to talk to and we got closer. Eventually I stopped telling her about my issues out of fear of how she would perceive me. Looking back, that was a bad idea. I no longer had anyone to talk to.

The year had come to an end and neither the codeine or cutting stopped. Then came graduation day. I remember seeing my ex with her boyfriend as she ran and hugged him when he entered the room. My heart sunk. I wanted to end it. Graduation was supposed to be a happy day.

I went home and consumed packs of Nurofen plus. I don’t remember how many pills I had in one go, I’ve blocked that out. I cried and went to sleep, not caring what would happen to me. I woke up feeling sick soon after. For the next few days I couldn’t hold any food in. I was in an abyss of my own making.

From then on I told myself that I was fortunate to wake up and vowed to never get that low again. Over the next few months I gradually stopped codeine, which was an enormous struggle. I still constantly fight the urge to cut and I’ve relapsed many times over the years. The scars are still a constant reminder of her…

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