I have been taking co-codamol for around 12 years, probably longer. I started taking a single tablet, with 500mg of paracetamol and 30mg of codeine, last thing at night to stop my aches from keeping me awake. Occasionally I needed to take two and, for some bizarre reason, that made me feel guilty. I mentioned this in passing to one of my carers and she literally laughed in my face; she told me not to be so stupid and to do whatever I needed to be comfortable.
As the years went on and my aches increased, so did the number of tablets I took in a day until, around five years ago, I ended up on the maximum dose: two tablets, four times a day. This continued quite merrily until last Sunday when, at around 5:30pm, the nurse came and told me that they had run out. We have a pharmacist here at the neurological centre I live in so I was surprised to say the least; I was also very anxious as it meant that I was guaranteed to be in pain within an hour or two. And sure enough, my hip and back started to ache sometime later and it only got worse as the night went on. I didn't get much sleep that night or the next and had to resort to taking Oramorph several times to ease some of my discomfort.
After around 24 hours I also started to suffer withdrawal; after having taken the drug for so long and then suddenly going cold turkey, my body was protesting loudly. My legs got very restless and I had to keep tensing and relaxing the muscles every few minutes to ease the discomfort. I didn't get the shakes, but my hands did feel like they were about to start at any minute. And during the night I kept waking up in a state of disorientation, being not quite awake and confused as to where I was.
Unbelievably, they didn't manage to get replacement co-codamol for 48 hours. The issue apparently was that my prescription was for “Zapain,” which is a brand name, and this is what the pharmacy ran out of; they had hoped to get some by the next day but this didn't happen, so my GP was asked to change the prescription. On Tuesday evening the drugs were delivered and I was given the option of taking some immediately or waiting until my nighttime meds were due; I didn't wait.