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Edited & medically reviewed by THE BALANCE Team
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Morphine is a prescription opioid that is extracted naturally from opium and used to treat moderate to severe pain. Morphine was once only available as an injection, but it is now available in a variety of forms. It’s most typically found in hospitals, where clinicians use it to treat people who have had surgery, sustained a significant accident, or are suffering from various sorts of acute pain.

Morphine is a highly addictive substance. Anyone who uses it for a long time, whether for recreational or prescription purposes, will build a resistance or tolerance to its pain-relieving benefits. Tolerance quickly turns into physical dependency. When your body becomes reliant on morphine, it loses the ability to function normally without it. That means that removing it will cause your body to react.

Withdrawing off morphine can be a painful and unpleasant experience. You’ll probably feel like you’ve caught a nasty flu while going through morphine withdrawal.

Morphine is also available in pharmacies as generic or under trade names such as MS-Contin, MSIR, Oramorph SR, Kadian, Roxanol, and RMS.

Morphine withdrawal can be excruciatingly painful, especially for long-term users. The severity of the symptoms varies based on the user’s tolerance, general health and metabolism, and the frequency and length of drug usage. Morphine abusers who take excessive doses and abuse the substance for an extended duration will often have more severe symptoms.

The following are some of the most common Morphine withdrawal symptoms:

  • A runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Chills
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Muscle pain
  • Loose stools or diarrhea
  • High blood pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Sleeplessness

Symptoms that are more severe and stay for a longer duration include:

  • Tachycardia (rapid heartbeat)
  • Paranoia
  • Dilated pupils
  • Hyperactivity
  • Fatigue

Most of those symptoms listed above can lead to dehydration, notably severe dehydration, which can be fatal. Even taking drugs can make withdrawal more tolerable, discomfort associated with big changes in body temperature may be a barrier to getting treatment.

While Morphine withdrawal symptoms are rarely potentially lethal, they can be quite distressing.

The pain of withdrawal can be too great for some people, and they relapse. Users can benefit from a Morphine treatment program that includes medical detox, which can help them get through the withdrawal period and reduce the chance of relapse.

For each Morphine user, the withdrawal process takes a varied amount of time. Withdrawal symptoms might appear as soon as 6 hours following the last dose. The physical, flu-like symptoms persist for 3 to 5 days on average. Psychological withdrawal effects, termed as Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS), might linger for weeks. Anxiety, inability to enjoy pleasure, despair, impatience, mood fluctuations, decreased energy, poor focus, and insomnia are just a few examples.

Anticipatory, early acute, fully developed acute, and Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome is the four stages of opiate withdrawal (PAWS).

Acute withdrawal usually develops within a few hours of a person’s final dose, based on the type of addiction. The flu-like symptoms that are linked with painkiller withdrawal are present during the acute withdrawal period. After the acute withdrawal period has passed, the prolonged abstinence period begins, which can continue for up to six months. Patients in recovery are most susceptible to stimuli that can result in relapse at this time.

First 6-14 hours: Symptoms commonly appear within the first six to fourteen hours after stopping the medicine. Anxiety, mood changes, and drug cravings are frequently among the first symptoms to appear.

15 hours to 48 hours: Soon after the first round of symptoms, flu-like symptoms including chills, sweating, muscle aches, runny nose, and fever appear. Former users may have difficulty sleeping, have a racing heart, and be irritated. As the other physical symptoms reach their climax, vomiting and nausea may begin.

Days 3–10: Symptoms normally spike on day 4 and then gradually decrease. By day 5, the majority of physical symptoms have subsided. Muscle aches begin to fade, as do nauseating emotions. Psychological symptoms usually last for a long time.

Days 10 and beyond: While the majority of physical symptoms have passed, PAWS like anxiety, depression, irritability, and drug cravings can last for weeks or months, occasionally even up to 24 months.

Many factors can influence the severity and duration of withdrawal, including:

The quantity, frequency, and duration of morphine use: The longer and more morphine a person consumes on a routine basis, the more likely they are to become addicted to it.

Genetic or biological influences: A person’s level of drug dependence can be influenced by a family history of addiction, as well as other biological variables.

Co-occurring disorders: Drug dependency, treatment, and withdrawal may be impacted by underlying medical or mental health concerns.

Polydrug abuse: People who abuse more than one drug, such as morphine, while also abusing alcohol increase their risk of acquiring a more serious dependence more quickly, which must be managed during detox.

Environmental factors: Peer pressure, stress, and a person’s surroundings can all play a role in drug abuse and dependency.

Detox is a unique experience for each person. As a consequence, withdrawal symptoms and the length of time it takes to detox may differ slightly from person to person.

When you’re addicted to morphine, your body is accustomed to having them in it. Many of the drug’s negative effects, such as skin dryness and constipation, may also develop tolerance in your body. Pulling yourself off from morphine all of a sudden can trigger a significant reaction.

You will need to be prepared if you want to go through withdrawal on your own. Before you entirely stop taking morphine, try to taper it off. This may help to lessen the severity of your withdrawal symptoms. Most individuals, however, find self-regulated tapering impossible due to the obsessive nature of addiction. It frequently results in a complete relapse into addiction.

Dehydration from diarrhea and vomiting is common, and it can cause major health problems. Many people who are going through withdrawal end up in the hospital due to dehydration. It is critical to drink enough hydrating fluids during withdrawal. Pedialyte and other electrolyte solutions might help you stay hydrated.

Over-the-counter help

Taking over-the-counter (OTC) drugs in the recommended doses can help. If you have diarrhea, you can take loperamide (Imodium) with prior advice from a medical professional to prevent drug allergies. If you’re suffering from nausea, consider taking dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) or meclizine (Bonine or Antivert). Antihistamines, such as Benadryl, are another option. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or Acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be used to relieve pains and aches that seem to appear out of nowhere. Never take a drug for longer than it’s supposed to be taken or in higher quantities than it’s supposed to be taken.

Preparation is often essential. Withdrawal symptoms might last anywhere from a few days to many weeks. You can skip going out for extra medication if you have enough for a couple of weeks. However, be sure you don’t take more than the suggested dose of these medications. If your usual dose isn’t working, arrange an appointment with your doctor.

Alternative support

Though there isn’t much proof that vitamins and supplements will help with morphine withdrawal symptoms, several researchers have looked into complementary therapy like Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture.

When acupuncture is paired with specific drugs, multiple studies have shown that withdrawal symptoms are decreased. According to a report on studies of Chinese herbal remedies, the herbs were significantly more efficient than clonidine at treating withdrawal symptoms.

The following are some examples of Chinese herbal remedies used to treat morphine addiction:

  • Tai-Kang-Ning is a Chinese herb that is considered to help with mild to severe heroin withdrawal.
  • Ginseng
  • U’finer is a Chinese herbal blend that is claimed to help the brain recover from the effects of morphine.

Maintain a comfortable and secure environment.

People who have experienced withdrawal advise staying as comfortable as possible. Keep your mind busy by watching movies, reading books, or doing other things. Make sure you have additional blankets, sheets, and a fan at hand. Due to heavy perspiration, you may have to change your bedding.

Make sure that a family member or a friend is aware that you intend to use the withdrawal method. You will also need someone to keep an eye on you. Recipes and anecdotal experiences presented in online forums should be avoided. None of them have undergone extensive efficacy or safety testing.

It’s critical to keep your mind active and occupied. Boost your body’s endorphins by doing things you enjoy. This could help you achieve long-term success.

Give yourself a chocolate treat. Get outside and move around, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Be optimistic and think that you can overcome your morphine addiction, whether you are in a therapy program or going through withdrawal on your own.

Look for additional help

Going through withdrawal on your own can be perilous. Check with your doctor or other medical specialists for assistance. They may even prescribe drugs to assist you to cope with the withdrawal symptoms and make the process go more smoothly.

Detox centers can keep track of your health and make the detox procedure safer and more efficient. A treatment plan tailored to the individual can be provided by a care facility. Medical specialists keep track of your progress and can help you if you have severe side effects or serious problems. In addition, a facility will endeavor to ensure that your recuperation is long-lasting.

Medication might be provided by a detox clinic to help with the withdrawal process. Some drugs, such as clonidine, may be able to alleviate some of your symptoms. When there is a lot of agitation, Librium is often used to calm things down. To aid sleep, chloral hydrate or Trazadone may be taken. You won’t have access to these vital resources if you go through withdrawal without medical care.

During a period of severe withdrawal, drinks and snacks may feel unpleasant. Dehydration and other difficulties may result as a result of this. If you’re vomiting or can’t eat, you should see a doctor. You might not be able to go through withdrawal at home.

Finding support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous might assist you in becoming and remaining sober. Most people who were once addicted to morphine find it difficult to stay away from them in the future. These organizations can assist in preventing this.



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