With the codeine ban now in effect, panic has set in among those who will from now on have to rely on prescriptions in order to get their hands on the drug they need.
One such woman who relies on codeine drugs is Teena Hantke, 41, from Adelaide – who has battled with endometriosis for 20 years, and has had more than 40 surgeries to help with the condition.
Teena spoke to FEMAIL about what the ban – which was enforced on February 1 – means for endometriosis sufferers like herself.
She also explained why, in the past, she been made to ‘feel like a drug addict’ when she’s looking for pain relief from people who don’t understand her ‘invisible illness’.
Teena Hantke (pictured), 41, from Adelaide, has battled endometriosis for the past 20 years – she spoke to FEMAIL about what the codeine ban means for people like herself
Since February 1, products including Panadeine, Nurofen Plus and Mersyndol, as well as cough medications like Codral and Demazin, require a prescription (stock image)
The move is an attempt to curb the small percentage of Australia’s one million codeine users who abuse the drug (stock image)
Teena told FEMAIL that while she has struggled with pain attacks in the past, she is currently at the minor end of the pain spectrum ‘rather than being bedridden for days’, thanks to certain treatment she’s had through her private health plan:
‘I am lucky that I have private health and can access a private pain management specialist,’ Teena said.
‘So while I don’t rely heavily on codeine-based products to get by, I do take it in times of increased pain such as post surgery and for additional issues as they arise, such as migraines or viral infections.’
The 41-year-old added that the hardest part, since February 1, has been that ‘I can no longer send my husband to pick up codeine to assist me when I am that bad I am unable to travel to a GP’.
‘It just adds a layer of stress and anxiety,’ she continued.
Teena (pictured previously) told FEMAIL that because her illness is invisible, there have been times when people haven’t believed she’s needed a codeine-based drug
Since February 1, products including Panadeine, Nurofen Plus and Mersyndol, as well as cough medications like Codral and Demazin, have required a prescription for patients to get their hands on them.
The move, which has been recommended by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, is an attempt to curb the small percentage of Australia’s one million codeine users who abuse the drug.
Codeine – the facts
* The new regulation has been issued to halt the rise in codeine-related deaths, which have more than doubled in Australia since 2000.
* Since February 1, products including Panadeine, Nurofen Plus and Mersyndol, as well as cough medications like Codral and Demazin, now require a prescription for patients.
* Codeine can cause hospitalisation, organ damage and death if misused.
* Australia will join at least 26 other countries that currently require a prescription for codeine-containing products.
* There are more than five million over-the-counter sales of Nurofen Plus, Panadeine, Mersyndol and Codral in Australia each year.
As a highly addictive drug, codeine can cause hospitalisation, organ damage and death if misused.
At present, nearly 100 deaths a year in Australia are directly related to codeine.
Speaking about the difficulties surrounding endometriosis and medicine use, Teena explained that ‘when you suffer from chronic illness, and in particular an invisible illness, people, doctors and pharmacists often can’t see the signs of your illness externally and judge you whether they mean to or not’.
‘Thousands of endometriosis sufferers fight this battle daily when they are in agony and need care and are turned away from emergency rooms or their GP and told the pain is all in their head,’ Teena continued.
‘I’ve experienced this first hand and been made to feel like a drug addict or a hypochondriac.
‘It gets to the point where you no longer go to emergency because you don’t want to be treated this way.’
‘I’ve experienced this first hand and been made to feel like a drug addict or a hypochondriac,’ Teena said (stock image)
Doctors’ opinions on what the codeine ban will mean
* Melbourne GP, Dr Airfric Boylan, said ‘it will certainly lead to more patients attending their doctors for codeine prescriptions. It’s likely that we’ll discover patients who have been struggling with pain, or even addiction, unbeknownst to us.’
* Dr Boylan continued: ‘It’s hard to say if it will lead to a significant increase in illegal drug use – I suspect there may be a small minority who will resort to sourcing medication on the street, particularly if they’ve been heavy users, or have a codeine addiction, and feel uncomfortable speaking to a doctor.’
* Dr Ken Cameron from Queensland said: ‘One in five people suffer from persistent pain. There will most definitely be an increase in illegal drug use following the ban but codeine is a poor way of managing persistent pain. It is not uncommon for some people to use up to 40 painkillers a day and this creates huge risks with people’s health.
* ‘Scientific evidence says persistent pain needs multi-disciplinary involvement and opium medication is only a very small section of that.’
* Australian-born global business PainPod has developed drug-free, pain relief technologies that can harness the body’s bioelectrical system to moderate and manage pain levels, accelerate recovery and increase performance
Some think that the codeine ban will lead to people seeking out the drugs they so need on the black market (stock image)
Lastly, Teena spoke about whether she thinks the codeine ban will lead to people seeking out their drugs on the black market:
‘I think those who abuse codeine or other pain medications will always find a way to access it, including through illegal channels – these bans will not change that,’ she said.
‘For myself and all those I know who truly suffer from genuine medical conditions, they will continue to keep fighting for their rights and go through their medical professionals in the hope things will get easier.’
Have you been affected by the codeine ban? Email FemailAU@mailonline.com. For more information about PainPod, please click here.
As a highly addictive drug, codeine can cause hospitalisation, organ damage and death if misused (stock image)
Australia’s codeine ban
- The ban came into force from February 1, 2018.
- People who use the codeine medications need to visit a doctor before they can get the drug.
- Low doses of codeine is found in some painkillers, cough syrups and cold and flu tablets.
- Medications with codeine are no longer going to be available over-the-counter without a prescription from a doctor.
Panadeine, Nurofen Plus and Mersyndol will require prescriptions.
Cough medications including Codral and Demazin will also require prescriptions.
WHAT’S NOT BANNED:
Paracetamol and ibuprofen will still be available over-the-counter.
WHY OVER-THE-COUNTER CODEINE HAS BEEN BANNED:
Codeine is an opioid and is related to heroin and morphine.
This means the medication can be highly addictive and can give consumers a high if taken in large doses.
The nation-wide ban is an attempt to reduce drug addiction and overdoses.