Morphine Withdrawal | Symptoms, Timeline, & Detox
Morphine is a powerful and addictive opiate analgesic used to treat chronic pain. It is sold under several brand names, including MS Contin and MSIR.
Morphine is a highly regulated drug because of its potential for dependence, abuse, and addiction. If you are prescribed morphine, you may be concerned with experiencing withdrawal if you have to stop taking it.
How Morphine Works
Morphine is usually prescribed as either immediate or extended-release tablets. As an opioid agonist, morphine binds to opioid receptors in your central nervous system when it reaches your bloodstream.
Activation of these receptors blocks pain and releases dopamine. Dopamine is what gives you the euphoric rush associated with opioids.
Along with pain relief, you may experience some of these other side effects:
Morphine Withdrawal Timeline
If you take morphine anywhere from several days to weeks, you can develop physical dependence. Your body will need the drug to function normally and if you stop taking it, you will experience withdrawal syndrome.
Factors that affect the intensity and duration of withdrawal:
- dose strength
- frequency of use
- form of morphine (withdrawal symptoms last longer with long-acting morphine)
If you’re experiencing morphine dependence and are prepared for detoxification, the physical symptoms should last about a week.
Early Stage Withdrawal
Depending on the type of morphine you are taking, you may start to feel withdrawal symptoms anywhere from 8-24 hours after your last dose.
These symptoms of opioid withdrawal may include:
- teary eyes
- runny nose
These symptoms may continue into the next several days of withdrawal but should subside over time. Detoxification in a medical facility is important at this stage because you can become extremely uncomfortable.
Late Stage Withdrawal
The next set of symptoms usually appears 48-72 hours after your last dose of morphine. Even though most people conclude detox within a week, you may continue to feel some of these symptoms longer.
These symptoms of opioid withdrawal may include:
- muscle aches
Some people experience trouble concentrating, changes in mental health, and drug cravings for months after leaving detox. These symptoms can be addressed with behavioral therapy, which is an important part of relapse prevention.
Opiate Withdrawal Treatment Options
Substance abuse and opiate addiction is an ongoing epidemic in the United States. Morphine is one of the more potent prescription opioids and has a high rate of dependence. Even if you take your recommended dose, you can become dependent.
It’s dangerous to stop taking morphine or even to lower your dose without the supervision of a doctor. If you want to safely come off of opioids and lower your risk of severe withdrawal symptoms, you may choose an inpatient treatment option.
Detoxification centers provide constant supervision and care for opioid withdrawal. These treatment programs will provide you with medication to ease withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
These medications may include:
- clonidine: a blood pressure medication that helps lower anxiety
- melatonin: all natural sleep-aid
- methadone: decreases withdrawal symptoms and cravings and can be taken long-term
- buprenorphine: similar to methadone, safe to take long-term
When you leave treatment or enter a long-term inpatient program, you may be given the option of choosing one of these alternative long-term treatment medications. These cannot be given during withdrawal because they contain opioid antagonists that cause instant withdrawal.
Other addiction treatment medications may include:
- Suboxone: A combination of buprenorphine and naloxone that diminishes cravings and blocks other opioids
- naltrexone: Also known by its brand name, Vivitrol, it is given as a monthly injection to curb drug and alcohol cravings
Outpatient programs provide group counseling and behavioral therapy to treat substance use disorders. They are convenient because you can travel from home but they are not the best fit for everyone.
If you have a long history of drug abuse and opioid dependence, you may prefer to seek a long-term inpatient program.
If you think you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please contact Ark Behavioral Health to speak with one of our addiction treatment specialists.
Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
©2023 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
This page does not provide medical advice.
DailyMed - Morphine Sulfate tablet
National Center for Biotechnology Information - Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings
National Center for Biotechnology Information - Opioid Withdrawal
National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Opiate and Opioid Withdrawal
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