An article published by The Sydney Morning Herald has highlighted the dangers of physical drug dependency, as withdrawal symptoms are expected to increase among the general population. This comes as a result of new laws restricting codeine supply coming into effect on February 1, 2018.

A hidden group of Australians are about to discover they have a serious drug dependency as the national ban on over-the-counter codeine takes effect on Thursday.


Experts supportive of low-dose codeine becoming prescription-only have warned a small proportion of people who regularly use the painkillers could experience withdrawals.”[i]


The article also shares the story of Mary-Lyn Cochrane, a Sydney-based nun who developed a codeine dependency after misusing using the pharmaceutical painkiller to treat arthritis.

Addiction Specialist at The Banyans, Dr Christian Rowan, that many people who become addicted to codeine have very little history of previous medication misuse. Most often, dependency on such medication develops after proper use of the painkiller following an experience like surgery or a fall.

“It is important that people have regular discussions with a health professional about their use of opiate-based medications such as codeine. These discussions will become more frequent now that people cannot manage the acquisition of these medications themselves, but require a script from a prescribing health professional,” Dr Rowan said.

Some symptoms of withdrawal may include:

  • Physical pain in muscles, bones or joints
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea and/or stomach pains
  • Sweating
  • Depression or low mood

If you experience any of the above features as a response to decreased codeine intake, you may be experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, and The Banyans recommends seeking advice from your health professional if you notice any changes to your health.

The Banyans is a health and wellness residence available for discerning individuals experiencing conditions such as prescription drug dependency or addiction, as well co-occurring conditions such as chronic pain, depression, anxiety, stress and burnout and alcohol misuse. If a personalized, comprehensive program like the one at The Banyans may be beneficial for you or someone you love, please call +61 1300 BANYAN (1300 226 926) for a private, confidential discussion. You can also fill out an online enquiry.

To view the full article from the Sydney Morning Herald, click here.

[i] Aubusson, K. and Dow, A. (2018). Withdrawal warning as pharmacy codeine ban takes effect. [online] The Sydney Morning Herald. Available at: [Accessed 31 Jan. 2018].