Dihydrocodeine is an opioid painkiller. It is used to alleviate moderate to severe pain, for example after a serious injury or surgery.

It is significantly stronger than over-the-counter medicines such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, and in the UK it is only available on prescription. Like all opioid drugs, dihydrocodeine can induce pleasurable feelings of euphoria.

It can also be highly addictive and, potentially, highly dangerous if prescription drug addiction is formed.

What is Dihydrocodeine?

Dihydrocodeine works in much the same way as any other opioid. Opioids provide strong pain relief by acting on areas of the spinal cord and brain to block the transmission of pain signals.1

When opiates travel through the bloodstream to the brain, they attach themselves to receptors on the surface of certain opiate-sensitive neurons. The process of this attachment triggers a biochemical reaction very similar to those feelings of pleasure we get for engaging in basic life functions like eating food.

Over time, if the drug is used in the absence of significant pain, our brains can become dependent on those pleasurable feelings, which is why these kinds of drugs can be so dangerously addictive.2

Dihydrocodeine is not as potent as other prescription painkillers such as morphine, but it functions in much the same way and carries many of the same dangers.

A study published in the international journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence found that there were 2071 dihydrocodeine-related deaths in England between the years 2001 and 2020.

64.8% of these deaths were the result of overdose, and the overwhelming majority of cases (95.3%) dihydrocodeine was being abused in combination with other drugs that repress the functions of the nervous system such as morphine and heroin.3

Dihydrocodeine abuse is a growing problem in the UK. It may be a milder drug than other opioids, but it is a problem that cannot be ignored.

Symptoms of Dihydrocodeine Addiction

Generally, when prescribed and managed by medical professionals, dihydrocodeine is a safe and effective way of treating pain. If you are prescribed dihydrocodeine, your doctor should review your dose regularly to ensure that you are only taking the amount necessary to relieve your pain.

If you are worried that you are developing a dependency on dihydrocodeine, you should speak to your doctor immediately and consider drug rehab.

If you have been taking dihydrocodeine for a long time, or have been obtaining it illicitly, then it is possible that you will need professional help to overcome your addiction.

If you are addicted to dihydrocodeine, then you will likely experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking the drug.

Below are some of the common withdrawal symptoms to look out for, as listed by the NHS:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Increased anxiety, agitation, and nervousness
  • Panic attacks
  • Shaking and trembling
  • Pins and needles
  • Tinnitus (most commonly feels like a ringing in the ears)
  • Profuse sweating4

If you are taking dihydrocodeine, and you experience any of these symptoms when you don’t use the drug, it might be time to seek help – call us on 01475 303998 to learn more.

Can Addiction be Cured?

Drug addiction is a difficult thing to overcome, but it is not impossible. It is much harder to recover from addiction alone, mostly because withdrawal can often prove too much for addicts to cope with.

The cravings can be particularly strong when it comes to opioids, even milder ones like dihydrocodeine, and it can be incredibly difficult to resist the urge to start using again.

The safest, most effective way to recover from addiction is to undergo professional treatment at rehab. At private rehab, your chances of getting through the withdrawal period without relapse are significantly higher.

The therapies and counselling offered by rehab centres can help you to develop healthy coping mechanisms to ensure that you don’t fall back into the trap of substance abuse in the future, and comprehensive aftercare programmes ensure that you will never go without support.

Drug Detox Process

 The first and most important part of rehabilitation is detoxification. Drug detoxification might sound intense or scary, but it is actually a very simple process.

Detox is the name we give to the period and process where your body metabolises and flushes out the substances that are affecting your body.

This is the most crucial moment in your recovery – it is at this point that you will go through withdrawal, and it is at this point that you are most likely to relapse. At rehab, the chances of immediate relapse are essentially reduced to zero.

You will be in a safe, comfortable environment away from the stress and triggers that would normally be associated with your drug abuse.

Even more importantly, your access to dihydrocodeine will be strictly controlled by the clinic staff. This means that despite withdrawal symptoms, you will not be able to give in to those cravings.

This process, unfortunately, will never be completely comfortable. But at rehab, you can be sure that you are in the safest possible hands, and you will have ready access to dedicated, professional support and guidance to help you through the most difficult days.

Start Rehab Treatment Today

If you are in Scotland and you need treatment for dihydrocodeine addiction, contact Nova Recovery today. We are a private clinic located in Largs on the west coast, and we operate a rehabilitation service of the highest possible quality.

With comfortable rooms, warm and friendly staff, and easy access to the beautiful nature of Western Scotland, Nova Recovery offers the best possible environment for you to face and overcome your addiction.

If you are ready to confront your problem, the first step is to reach out for help. Contact our admissions team today by telephone on 01475 303998, email info@novarecovery.co.uk, or complete the contact form on our website.

Once you’ve gotten in touch, we can begin the admissions process and begin your journey to a full and lasting recovery.

John Gillen - Author - Last updated: December 20, 2023

John has travelled extensively around the world, culminating in 19 years’ experience looking at different models. He is the European pioneer of NAD+ (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide) treatment to Europe in 2010; and recently back from the USA bringing state of the art Virtual Reality Relapse Prevention and stress reduction therapy. His passion extends to other metabolic disturbances and neurodegenerative diseases. The journey continues. In recent times, John has travelled to Russia to study and research into a new therapy photobiomudulation or systemic laser therapy working with NAD+ scientists and the very best of the medical professionals in the UK and the USA, together with Nadcell, Bionad Hospitals own select Doctors, nurses, dieticians and therapists. Johns’ passion continues to endeavour to bring to the UK and Europe new developments with NAD+ Therapy in preventive and restorative medicine and Wellness. In 2017 John Gillen was made a visiting Professor at the John Naisbitt university in Belgrade Serbia.

Dr Stacey Vettraino

Dr Stacey Vettraino (General Practitioner) - Clinical Reviewer - Last reviewed: December 20, 2023

Dr Stacey Vettraino has been a GP for over 15 years and has been involved in GP management for 7 of these. Over the last few years, Dr Vettraino has worked towards a portfolio career, working as a GP in various parts of Scotland and within the private sector – including Bupa as a private GP, Health Assessments, and Menopause Clinics. She has had a longstanding interest in psychiatry and has previously held a post in Old Age Psychiatry post-GP training focusing on dementia. Her interest in addictions has steadily grown from work as a GP and Dr Vettraino is now excited and privileged to be part of addiction treatment.