"A confident, warm, fuzzy feeling. The ability to be able to cope with everyday life, because I was severely depressed and anxious."
Vicki explains what she got from the tablets she was taking
In America, it's an epidemic. Now new evidence from Public Health England raises concern about the UK's use of prescription opioids. More than five-million people are prescribed opioids in the UK every year, and there have been 400 deaths in the last year.
"It’s taken me a good four or five years to actually get off them, because you go through a slippery slope of going up and down. You’re happy - you think you can continue with your life and then it all goes terribly wrong."
Vicki on quitting prescription drugs
As Dr Michael Moseley investigates the growing crisis, he joins us alongside case study Vicki Chadwick, whose addiction previously saw her take up to 70 co-codamol tablets a day.
What are opioids?
Opioids are a broad group of pain-relieving drugs that work by interacting with opioid receptors in your cells.
Dr Mosley says: “They are derivatives from the poppy. The poppy sap is used to create artificial equivalents (drugs) known as opioids. Some opioids are created to be extremely powerful and bracketed as class A drugs like Heroin.”
What are the different types of opioid?
There are over 40 different types of opioid drugs at doctors disposal, some needing a prescription and others available over the counter. Below are the four most common with varying degrees. They all come with wide-ranging side effects.
- Co-codamol can be bought over the counter - but even at this strength can be addictive. Co-codamol is a mixture of 2 different painkillers - paracetamol and codeine.
- Codeine is prescription only, and the strength is equivalent to 4 co-codamol tablets
- Morphine is prescription only and the strength is equivalent to 14 co-codamol tablets
- Oxycodone is the equivalent to 75 co-codamol tablets (this is one of the most-abused prescription opioids)
- Fentanyl is the equivalent to 338 co-codamol which comes as a slow-release skin patch