Citation: Codeinated. "Far Too Much Codeine: An Experience with Codeine (exp91704)". Erowid.org. Feb 19, 2012. erowid.org/exp/91704
My younger brother got prescribed a bottle of Codeine Phosphate solution after he got his tonsils taken out, but my mother didn't give him any because she assumed he was too young to take it, being 6 at the time. I assumed, in my limited knowledge of painkillers at the time, that however much was contained in the large bottle, it must've been very diluted as it was for children.
I started taking 1 to 2 15ml tablespoons in the morning before going to college, the prescribed dose being 5ml 4 times a day - I had no awareness of how many milligrams I was taking. I found that it made me feel less cold in that particularly chilly December - everything in college bothered me less and I became less coordinated, in a fun way similarly to the effects of alcohol, but more pleasant with less sickness. I did this every other morning for around two weeks, by which point I'd had half the bottle. I since calculated that I had relatively safe ~100mg doses every morning.
It came around the time of asking for Christmas presents, and I asked my mother for the rest of the codeine bottle which my brother didn't need, nor her, along with some money for some other drugs I was more acquainted with. Until this point, codeine to me had been a totally harmless and solely pleasant drug. I guess I didn't put much time into research on this one, which isn't like me - It was a prescription for a 6 year old after all!
The next day in college, I had to watch a very close friend of mine cry after talking on the phone to her boyfriend who had very much upset her after a long line of turbulence in their relationship, and I could do nothing about it and just had to let her go home still in a bad mood(I know this is besides the point, but I feel I should give some background to the mood I was in that day). When I got home, I decided to take half of the remaining codeine - 1/4 of the prescribed bottle, still unaware of how much actual codeine that amount contained. I knew it would be a rather large dose either way and I hadn't had food nor drink that day, but in my saddened mood and with my own life not going so great at that point anyway, I simply took my quarter, drinking it out of a glass this time, not bothering with measurements.
An hour or so after I drank the quarter, I noticed no effects had kicked in at all. This was surprising to me, as the spoonfuls I had on all those previous days in college had kicked in within an hour at most, usually less than that. I decided in another stroke of carelessness to drink the rest of the bottle, putting my amount up to half of the bottle.
Another hour passed, and I felt the effects kick in quite strongly - a bit too strongly for my liking. I measured my heartrate, and it was racing (strange, since opioids are meant to decrease heartrate). I felt my breathing becoming heavier and heavier, and noticed that I couldn't feel my body any longer, and my breathing was getting frightfully dense. Nobody was in the house with me, my mother would come back within an hour at least, and until then, I knew I would have to handle this on my own. I stumbled up from my chair, noticing that lack of coordination from before quite drastically accentuated, and felt like a ghost, drifting slowly through my corridor to get the empty bottle I previously threw away.
When I got back to my computer and sat down with the bottle in my hand, I noticed something a bit strange - only an hour had gone by since I took the first 1/4 - not 2 as I'd thought. Time slowed down on the first go and it felt as if an hour had passed, whilst in reality most likely 30 minutes or so had. This was only a fleeting realisation at this point, as my mind was in quite a rushed panic at the thought that I may die at any time within the next hour. I read the bottle - it had the ml/mg ratio on it. I think it said something like every 5ml contains 35mg of codeine - I don't remember the exact figures, but instantly I could tell that I took a lot more than I intended to. I worked out on a calculator that I had, in fact, taken approximately 750mg of codeine in 1 hour, on an empty stomach, and with a very low tolerance. It was at this point that the most overpowering wave of adrenaline surged through my body, and I felt as if overtaken by an animal need to survive. The experience was not, as some others have described codeine overdoses, a calm realisation in one's mind that they may soon die - it was very much a panic - stronger than any panic I'd felt before.
My body handles most drugs very well, I've taken a bunch and have never thrown up or had any negative physical reactions, and my bodyweight isn't particularly low - however, at this point, I felt that the drug was quite quickly killing me. I considered walking quickly to the hospital 10 minutes away from my house, but realised this was pointless, as if I decided to take that 10 minute walk, I probably wouldn't survive it, and would end up passed out or dead on the street halfway to the hospital. I knew I had to try and throw up as much as I could as quickly as possible.
I knew that inside my stomach, there was only a small amount remaining of the dense, sticky pink liquid I drank, and that this would be very hard to throw up, even if I wanted to. I drank as much water as I possibly could, having about 6 (standard sized?) glasses in about 2 minutes, and proceeded to induce vomiting using my fingers. I noticed this was particularly difficult, as the codeine seemed to have suppressed my gag reflex almost fully. My fingers felt like they were just gently stroking the back of my tongue - almost as it does under MDMA - even though I was pressing and pulling quite hard. I got my toothbrush, and inserted the handle end as far down my throat as I could, and tried purposely to tickle and irritate any area I could until I got results. It worked to an extent. My gag reflex was activated, but not quite enough to throw anything significant up. I did it a few times until I threw just enough up to feel a bit safer, then looked for people to talk to on MSN.
By this point, my heartrate slowed down to almost normal levels (a falsely promising development) but I was still finding it very difficult to breathe. The panic, however, had subsided. There was only one person online at the time who I could talk to, and it was a new friend I recently made in college. I explained the situation to her and said I might die within the next hour or so, and if so, it was nice to have known her! She said that she had severe food poisoning once and had to throw up a lot, and suggested that I use the brush end of a toothbrush to throw up more. She pressed on for me to try it, and, not particularly wanting to lose my life, I got up and tried it, still heavy and light-headed at the same time. I put the brush end as far down my throat as I could, and eventually, ended up throwing up a lot more than before. I repeated and repeated until no more could be thrown up, and I knew I'd done all I could. I came back to the computer and told her, and within a few minutes, I started to feel a bit better than before. Breathing became easier, only slightly but noticeably, and my heart had slowed down moreso than before.
At this point I noticed my heart was beating at less than 1bps, and that this may have been a point of concern, but I felt content with having thrown up quite a fair amount of the remaining codeine - I no longer felt like I was dying. My mother got home and I told her about it, and she gave me all kinds of talk about how stupid I was and I told her that this really wasn't the time to argue with me and that she could do it tomorrow.
I thanked my friend for the help and said I'd talk to her later that night. I had a smoke and noticed every drag made me feel like I would faint, so I stopped and laid down on my bed and closed my eyes. At this point, any danger was pretty much unavoidable, and all that could be done about it was, so I spent 3 hours laying with my eyes closed, enjoying the rest of my experience as much as I could.
I noticed two quite amazing things during these 3 hours - my heartbeat had slowed down at one point to 1 beat per 3 seconds - 0.33bps. I didn't panic at this point, as I was quite well rested and not engaging in any physical activity of any sort - I just decided to keep track of it until it subsided, and my mother checked in on me every half hour to make sure I was alive. The second thing I noticed was that, when I closed my eyes and laid there feeling absolutely nothing physically, my mind would imagine scenarios (like dreams almost) where I would be totally immersed in the setting, walking, touching things, feeling things, thinking I was there, forgetting I was in a bed, and then I would snap out of it, open my eyes and notice that my hands and legs had stayed totally still the entire time! This was by far the most interesting part of the experience, and the funnest.
By 8 hours after I took my half bottle, the effects of the codeine were almost gone, though smoking was still difficult without feeling extremely lightheaded. I went to sleep and for once, felt lucky to be alive - something that had never happened before.
From this experience I've learned to always research and measure what I'm taking, no matter how harmless it may look or seem, and not to let my bad moods affect my judgement with drugs. And of course, to use the brush end of the toothbrush.
*My personal conclusion, don't read if you don't want to*
My friend who recommended me the method of inducing vomiting probably saved my life that day, and yet knew nothing at all about drugs, being quite against them at the time. We're now in a long-term relationship, which is a bit surprising given this strange and worrying first week of friendship we had. I have since changed her attitudes on drugs, and I think she can learn from my example not to do anything stupid when messing with your mind or body.
One last thing I learned from my first overdose was that I did value life. I spent my whole life before then thinking I hated it and wanted to live out only as much as I had to before something eventually killed me, being the depressed, lonely teenager I was back then. However, this experience, and that sheer terror that took over when I realised how much I'd taken, and that I actually realistically could be dead within 1 hour, has proven to me that as much as one can talk about wanting to end his life, until you're faced with the chance to allow or prevent it, you cannot know whether you truly value life or not. In the majority of cases, I think, no matter how alone we feel, we still believe it can get better if we just keep going. Maybe that's just me.
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