Morphine, an opioid medication used to treat moderate-to-severe pain, comes from the opium found in the poppy plant. It is available in pill, liquid, or suppository form. The short-acting formulation is taken as needed for pain while the extended-release form is used for around-the-clock pain treatments. Morphine is habit-forming, even when taken at regular doses, and misuse and abuse of it can lead to physical dependence, addiction, overdose, and death.
Morphine withdrawal occurs when long-term users suddenly stop taking the drug. The withdrawal process happens because the body is attempting to function without the drug in its system. Withdrawal from morphine can be uncomfortable and symptoms can affect a person’s mind, body, and emotional state.
In addition to cramps, flu-like symptoms, and a host of other physical changes, users may become more agitated and anxious as they battle depression and intense drug cravings. A medically supervised detox process is advised to help recovering users manage these symptoms. Forgoing detox and recovery treatment can be dangerous and lead to possible relapse or death.
Morphine Abuse, Addiction, and Withdrawal
People who take morphine over a few days or a few weeks can build up a tolerance and become dependent on the drug. Many do not realize they are addicted until they experience withdrawal symptoms. Abusers chew, crush, snort, or inject the medication when it is in a dissolved form to achieve feelings of calm and euphoria. Abuse can lead to overdose and death. Users who suddenly stop their regular use of morphine usually have flu-like symptoms and psychological changes.
There Are Risks in Quitting Morphine Cold Turkey
People with morphine addiction may decide to quit by stopping use of it altogether–known as going “cold turkey.” However, people who abruptly quit the drug after extended heavy use are likely to experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Drug withdrawal symptoms are rarely life-threatening, but they can be painful and difficult. These withdrawal symptoms–such as nausea and fever–are similar to ones experienced by people who abruptly stop using other opiates, such as heroin or oxycodone. The side effects can cause some to return to using morphine to end their withdrawal discomfort.
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Morphine Withdrawal Symptoms
Heavy morphine users who stop using the drug likely will go through withdrawal, an uncomfortable and taxing process. How long withdrawal lasts will vary. Factors that determine the length and intensity of withdrawal symptoms include:
The OxyContin withdrawal symptoms include:
- Age, health, and lifestyle
- Dose taken
- Drug tolerance
- How long morphine has been used
- Whether other substances, such as alcohol, were used along with morphine
Symptoms set in after a dependent user stops taking the drug. After usage is stopped, the body will react to not having the drug in its system. When this happens, people in morphine addiction can have the following:
- Appetite loss
- Cold flashes
- Goose bumps
- Excessive yawning
- Increased breathing rate
- Increased heartbeat
- Muscle and bone pain or cramps
- Runny nose
- Stomach cramps
- Teary eyes
- Brain fog
- Compulsive scratching
- Emotional instability
- Inability to concentrate
- Irrational thoughts
Danger in Pairing Morphine with Other Medications
Morphine by itself is a potent drug, and that potency only doubles when taken with other drugs, including antidepressants. Coupling these substances affects the central nervous system and can slow down breathing to the point where the person is having trouble taking in oxygen. This can result in the person passing out and falling into a coma, which can lead to death.
Morphine also should not be used as muscle relaxants, tranquilizers, and sedatives. Doing so can slow down breathing or lead to drowsiness and dizziness.
*If you are exhibiting serious withdrawal symptoms, such as rapid breathing, a shortness of breath, and/or a fast or irregular heartbeat, call 911 immediately and/or visit an emergency room or urgent care center immediately for medical attention. These symptoms are red flags that your situation is urgent, and you must seek help now.
Withdrawal Is Dangerous: Get Help, Support Now
Withdrawal symptoms will not look the same for everyone. If you have questions about drug withdrawals, we can help you figure out what to do next.
Drug Treatment Center Finder can help you or your loved one with understanding more about withdrawal and help you find a treatment center that fits your needs. Our services also can help you find a medically supervised detox that can start before your withdrawal symptoms get worse. The sooner you call us, the sooner you can start feeling better. Call us now at (855) 619-8070.
Morphine Withdrawal Timeline
Below is a general timeline of the process, which can last anywhere from two days to a week. The duration and intensity of withdrawal are determined by individual factors that are unique to each person. Not everyone will experience the same withdrawal signs, symptoms, or recovery rate, so consult your physician with specific questions about any side effects you or your loved one are having or anticipate you will have.
Morphine Detox and Treatment
Recovering users can choose either an inpatient or outpatient setting in which to complete their morphine withdrawal treatment. Health professionals recommend a three- to five-day medically assisted detox setting at a residential treatment facility or hospital for the most severe cases. Clients at a detox or drug rehab facility typically receive intravenous (IV) therapy that gradually lowers the dosage of the drug to ease them off it. This method is known as a taper and is the best approach for treating withdrawal.
In milder cases, a client with a lower level of morphine addiction can receive outpatient treatment. During this process, doctors will reduce the dosage over time as a client attends treatment sessions and goes about their daily life. An outpatient program may also include therapy and counseling to help the client through their post-morphine use and checkups with their physician.
Users who have withdrawal symptoms can initiate their detox at a medical center before the symptoms of withdrawal start or worsen. The length of withdrawal from will vary according to the user.
Common Morphine Detox Medications
- Buprenorphine: Recovering users in detox treatment may receive this opioid medication, also known as Subutex, at a medical facility or doctor’s office. It also can be used at home under a doctor’s prescription. Buprenorphine affects the same receptors as heroin and morphine do, but without the same intense high or harmful side effects, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
- Methadone: Some opiate detox programs use methadone to help reduce opioid cravings and ease withdrawal symptoms. The drug affects the parts of the brain and spinal cord to block the euphoric “high” users get with opioids. Users in withdrawal may feel effects ease up for 24 hours to 36 hours, which reduces the chances of relapse. As with other medications, methadone should be used under medical supervision, as it is habit-forming and potentially addictive.
- Clonidine: This medication used to treat blood pressure is also prescribed to help alleviate the physical symptoms of drug withdrawal, such as muscle pain, cramping and excessive sweating, and psychological ones, including anxiety and agitation or restlessness.
- Naltrexone: This medication blocks opioids from acting on the brain’s receptors, which strips away the reward of achieving a high off morphine. It comes in pill form or as an extended-release injection. As with all drugs, naltrexone should be used with care. The initial dosage as well as any adjustments to it will be prescribed by the doctor.
Treatment Options after Detox
After detox, clients can also start a recovery program where they can relearn coping skills and strategies to manage the issues that started them to use drugs. Recovery programs include the following options:
- Residential Rehabilitation Programs: This option requires clients to live at a secure center for a period while they undergo treatment, typically for about 30 days. The facility offers a structured environment that promotes health and wellness for the client in recovery.
- Outpatient Treatment Programs: These programs allow more flexibility for clients who need a less-structured schedule because they have responsibilities to their family, a job or their education. This program also allows people to maintain more control over their schedule as well as their privacy.
- Mental Health Dual-Diagnosis Treatment: Dual-diagnosis addresses and offers mental health care as well as substance abuse treatment for the client. If the client meets the criteria for a mental health disorder, such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, among others, they might want to consider dual-diagnosis treatment.
Morphine Detox Is Over: What Happens Next?
The detoxification for withdrawal symptoms is an important process, but it’s only one part of the process. After recovering users go through the medically supervised detox to end the physical part of active addiction, the next step is to put together a plan of action that helps clients address underlying issues that weren’t identified or faced when the person was in addiction. This plan also teaches clients how to change thought and behavioral patterns that can keep them be free of morphine addiction and relapse.
When the body starts the process of returning to its normal state after the drug has left its system, the mental, emotional, and psychological parts of the puzzle will have to be addressed.
This may include identifying triggers and other factors that could lead a person back to abusing morphine and making key changes. This process can take several months, and for some people, it may take several years. Sobriety is the ultimate goal, but achieving clarity to reach the sobriety stage takes some time, so be mindful to take recovery one step at a time.
A post-detox recovery program that offers clients guidance and support can help clients who need ongoing recovery support. Healthy coping skills and strategies taught in individual or group therapy sessions can help recovering users manage the issues that influenced them to use drugs. They also can involve connecting people to therapy or alumni groups, in which they will find people in recovery who share or relate to similar experiences.