TBS Anonymous

Codeine ban has pushed me to illicit substances

As a sufferer of migraines, finding adequate pain relief after the codeine ban has been a headache. In fact, it’s pushed me into places I’d rather not be.



There I sat, bare legs sticking to a bludgeoned faux-leather recliner, situated in a mostly carpeted room, wallpapered by that rising smell, senses bludgeoned by the subtextually sexist anecdotes of my dealer, regaling me about that time he met Mother Gaia, and how totally hot she was. Not old, but young. But hot. I had what alcoholics call a moment of clarity, or as my DMT-huffing contemporary would call it, an out of body experience. Somehow, it had come to this. This is what I’ve been reduced to. I’m 35, and for the first time in my life, I have a dealer. It’s a victimless crime, yes, but it’s still a law I’m breaking. I’m buying illegal drugs because the man doesn’t trust criminals. Well, they’re sort of creating many to curtail a few. The new wave of drug criminals is probably like me, the most starch of white collars, the dweebs who never break the law and pay their taxes on time. A dude with a good job, an okay car in which to drive to and from it, and a periodic stabbing pain behind my eyes which makes life periodically unbearable.

As a long-suffering victim of migraines, let me be blunt: the world beyond the codeine ban has been a fucking headache.

As I’ve recently moved to a new area, the relationship with my GP is non-existent, as it was at my previous address, because as much as I’d like it to be, it’s not 1967. So, the appearance of a sweaty mysterious person attempting to force conversation through the prism of muted pain, begging for the sweet release of lady codeine tends to bring rejection on the basis of suspicion. Instead, I’m pointed toward the Bonnie and Clyde of the chemist: Panadol and ibuprofen. But let’s be honest here, it doesn’t do it for me. When those migraines hit, sans proper chemical dulling, being awake for 24 hours is a regular occurrence. As everyone who suffers from regular localised ouchies would attest, you tend to take much more than it says on the box in order to find a cliff of respite, one not battered by the waves of pain. Pardon the quick snippet of “too much information”, but I’m not sure my heroic intake of beta-painkillers is doing my health any good. Read: all is not well in stomach town.

And yes, doctor, I should only take two a day with food, but honestly, what you’ve given me isn’t doing what it should, hence my trip up the Hawkesbury River to meet my Kurtz. The horror. However, the true horror of the whole thing is that the particular product I may or may not have bought, and may or may not have passed into my lungs, actually helped far beyond what those in the know told me to do.

Which is frankly ludicrous.

Also on The Big Smoke

I felt compelled to write this because I’m discovering from friends, via comment boxes or whatever, that my story is not a unique one. Many people like me are forced to look to borders anew. As much as I recoil at the situation I find myself in, it seems that a steady regular intake of a prohibited substance is a perfectly suitable pain management plan. Again, the fuck? But, it works. Which is certainly more than I can say of what is offered to me post-codeine ban. It’s far easier to score illegal drugs than legal ones. And I know exactly zero people in the drug world.

The codeine ban might have stopped the meta-abuse, but it might just be creating more addiction and criminals. And yes, while being pinged with a drug possession charge will ruin my career, and one I now live in fear of, considering the options on the table, it’s a risk I’ll continue to have to take. Needs must.

Perhaps the final thought should go to my dealer, who, despite the fact that it’d cannibalise his business, is of the mind that the government should certainly stop being prudes and legalise that particular substance, tax it, and everybody wins, dude.

As evidence of that claim, it took the state of Colorado 10 months to pass $1 billion in legal cannabis sales in 2016. Per a Fortune article, “…through October, Colorado has collected more than $150 million in taxes from legal marijuana sales, including nearly $50 million from a specific excise tax that directs funds to school construction projects.”

Now, I might just be a burner, a hophead on a substance-fuelled tangent, but the benefits are obvious. Highways get built, individuals get respite. For my money, if you’re serious about the codeine ban, it’s best you meet the populace halfway on something else. Otherwise, we’ll make those connections ourselves. Even if we fear to do it.


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