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Solpadeine Addiction | An Overview, Addiction Signs, and Addiction Treatment

“What pain is troubling you today?” This is the very first sentence you read on Solpadeine’s official UK site. It’s big, bold, and visually enhanced to grab your attention. Up next is an ‘interactive pain tool’ to help you find a product that could fit your needs. The pain tool goes on to explore different types of pain, including, but not limited to, muscle pain, toothache, sinus pain, earache, headache, migraine, period pain, calf and thigh pain, wrist pain, hand pain, shoulder pain, ankle pain, knee pain, neck pain,  arthritis, and more. At the end of each of these articles, you’ll find – perhaps not unsurprisingly – that Solpadeine is the answer, along with a call to action to explore their range and an image of three different Solpadeine products: Max, Plus, and Headache.

At the very bottom of the page, in plain text and as the last sentence of the paragraph explaining the active ingredients of their products you’ll find this sentence: “Products containing Codeine can be addictive and should be used for a maximum of three days.” Using the search function reveals that this is the only use of the word ‘addictive’ on any of these pages.

Look, we’re not against a company marketing their products. For many, Solpadeine brings much-needed pain relief when other over-the-counter medications like paracetamol, aspirin, or ibuprofen have failed. That being said, we can’t help but feel that there’s something insidious about a drug company marketing prescription-free, opioid-based analgesics as the answer to so many ailments – with very little in the way of warning consumers about its risks – at a time when the NHS is actively trying to curb excessive opioid use in the UK (NHS England).

What is Solpadeine?

Solpadeine is a range of codeine phosphate hemihydrate-containing analgesics (painkillers) that is available without a prescription from pharmacies and online retailers, including Morrison’s, Tesco, and Boots. They also contain varying amounts of paracetamol and caffeine and are used to treat mild to moderate acute pain in the short term. The codeine element of Solpadeine is an opiate-derivative, making it exceptionally good at alleviating pain; however, it’s also associated with a high risk of addiction.

While the existence of Solpadeine isn’t necessarily a problem, many healthcare workers and researchers agree that opioid-based analgesics (including co-codamol and co-codaprin) are overprescribed, overly available, and excessively abused in the UK. Being so easily available, one might innocently take Solpadeine to treat pain only to find themselves craving the drug long after their symptoms are gone. These cravings, also referred to as withdrawal symptoms, can be uncomfortable and completely preoccupy the mind to the point where all that matters is getting more codeine. In the worst-case scenario, these individuals might progress to other, harder opioids such as morphine or heroin.

Solpadeine addiction signs

Before looking at the signs of Solpadeine addiction, it’s important to differentiate between addiction and dependence. Dependence refers to the long-term physical effects that a drug has on the body, including the painful and uncomfortable symptoms one could experience when ceasing use. Addiction stems from dependence and encompasses the psychological compulsion to take more of the substance, even when the physical, social, and psychological harms are known to the individual (Perez).

Understanding when an addiction is forming is the first line of defence and can allow an individual to seek help before a full-blown addiction develops and control is lost. Some of the early warning signs that one might be on the road to becoming addicted to Solpadeine or other opiate analgesics include:

  • A mental preoccupation with the drug, including anxiety about when you’ll be able to take the next dose or running out.
  • Taking the drug even if the pain has stopped or is at a very low level, or taking the drug just in case the pain returns.
  • Feeling agitated or anxious for no apparent reason when you haven’t taken the drug for 8 to 48 hours.
  • Feeling shame about taking the drug or visiting different pharmacies to avoid the pharmacist becoming suspicious.
  • Hiding Solpadeine (or others) from your family, friends, or colleagues.
  • Taking the drug when you’re having a challenging day, need to unwind, in large doses, or with alcohol to get high.

If any of the above statements or behaviours apply to you or a loved one, seeking professional help for the treatment of Solpadeine addiction sooner rather than later can help you or them avoid years of misery, poor health, a generally deteriorating life, and early death.

Solpadeine addiction treatment

Treating Solpadeine addiction involves the same set of steps and procedures as treating codeine addiction, but before any action can be taken, the soon-to-be patient must agree to treatment. This critically important first step might be more difficult to achieve than one might expect, as even just a few hours of abstinence could lead to the onset of withdrawal symptoms. It’s a well-known fact that opiate withdrawal symptoms are typically uncomfortable, anxiety-inducing, and in many cases, physically painful to the point of being unbearable.

While many Solpadeine users eventually come to realise the harm they’re causing themselves and their loved ones and seek help in overcoming their addiction, many don’t or are unwilling to put themselves through withdrawal. Although they might disagree in the moment, an intervention executed by caring family and friends is, in all likelihood, the best chance of an eventual recovery. If an intervention is successful, treatment can commence.

The very first step involves a choice: go through detox and rehab under medical supervision in a specialised rehabilitation facility, or opt for a home detox and join a support network of individuals who have gone through the same experience. The first option can dramatically improve the odds of successful, long-term rehab; however, it might not be an option for everyone due to a number of reasons, often financial. In either case, once the decision has been made, one can move on to the next step.

A consultation with a healthcare provider is highly recommended. Addiction specialists are the best source of information on what to expect during detox and can advise on treatments and strategies for both home and rehab facility treatment.

Detoxification, also referred to as detox, is arguably the most intense of the steps and typically lasts for around 8 days. Read our article on codeine addiction signs, withdrawal symptoms, and timelines for more detailed information on this subject. It’s during detox that the benefits of rehab facility treatment are most obvious. Licenced physicians might prescribe agonists (a class of medication) to help the patient deal with the pain and discomfort of withdrawal; however, these are rarely prescribed for home use as they are addictive themselves, and there is a thriving black market for these medications. These drugs include methadone, buprenorphine, clonidine, and lofexidine (Srivastava et al.). For those detoxing at home, a physician will most likely recommend that the patient taper down their dosage over a period of time to mitigate the withdrawal symptoms.

After going through withdrawal, the next step is primary care. In a facility, this typically includes a series of steps aimed at helping the patient understand their addiction and develop coping strategies and could include treatments such as mental health therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), group counselling, education on preventing relapse, and, if necessary, family counselling. Long-term aftercare in the form of follow-ups and support groups can help the patient stay clean during difficult times and provides a safety net if they feel vulnerable or at risk of relapse.

Solpadeine addiction rehab treatment at Gladstones Clinic

After being in the business of helping people overcome their addictions for more than two decades, Gladstones Clinic has seen a measurable increase in the number of patients we treat for pharmaceutical addiction in recent years. We’ve seen firsthand how prescription drugs, especially opiates, have all but destroyed individuals and families.

Our addiction specialists and therapists employ modern and evidence-based techniques and therapies to ensure the best possible chances of a full and long-term recovery. We take a holistic and integrative approach that ensures that each patient is treated according to their own unique set of circumstances and provide life-long access to our aftercare services that are second to none.

If you or a loved one are in the grip of Solpadeine addiction, please reach out to us for an obligation-free consultation at the earliest opportunity. Solpadeine addiction can easily overcome anyone, leading to a rapid decline in quality of life, outlook, and health. You can reach us at 0808 258 2350 or through our online portal.

Use these links to learn more about our residential addiction rehab facilities in the Cotswolds and London.

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Works Cited

“NHS England » Opioid prescriptions cut by almost half a million in four years as NHS continues crackdown.” NHS England, NHS England, 2 March 2023, Accessed 6 September 2023.

Perez, Alexandra. “Codeine Withdrawal: Symptoms, Treatment, and More.” Healthline, Healthline, 5 May 2022, Accessed 6 September 2023.

Srivastava, A. B., et al. “New directions in the treatment of opioid withdrawal.” Lancet, vol. 395, no. 10241, 2020, pp. 1938-1948. National Library of Medicine, Accessed 07 09 2023.

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