Morphine Withdrawal

Morphine withdrawal symptoms include muscle ache, insomnia, sweating and nausea. Symptoms usually begin within 12 hours of last use and last up to 10 days. Supervised detox and approved medications can ease the morphine withdrawal process.
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Morphine withdrawal is a natural part of overcoming morphine dependence and addiction, which can occur with repeated morphine use.

Everyone who regularly uses morphine will be become physically dependent on the drug. They’ll feel physical cravings for morphine, and they’ll experience some form of withdrawal when they stop taking it.

Some people who use the drug develop morphine addiction. Addiction is a disease characterized by uncontrollable drug use despite negative consequences. Medicinal use of morphine is less likely to cause addiction than misusing the drug to get high. However, both medicinal and recreational use can cause addiction.

Overcoming withdrawal is the first step toward recovering from dependence and addiction. Morphine withdrawal isn’t life-threatening, but it can be so uncomfortable that it drives continued drug use.

Morphine Withdrawal Timeline

The length of morphine withdrawal depends on several factors. The amount used and the frequency of use affect the severity of withdrawal symptoms and the duration of withdrawal symptoms, respectively.

The method of use also affects withdrawal. People who inject morphine feel a more intense and rapid high than people who swallow the drug. They’re also more likely to experience a more swift and severe withdrawal than someone who swallows the drug.

Morphine Withdrawal Timeline:

  • Short-term side effects of morphine wear off after four to five hours.
  • Early withdrawal symptoms begin within eight to 12 hours.
  • Symptoms peak 36 to 72 hours after last use.
  • Symptoms fade after seven to 10 days.

The length of withdrawal also depends on how you quit using the drug. If you slowly reduce or taper your dosage, you’ll feel less severe symptoms. The time spent in withdrawal will also be greater.

If you quit cold turkey, you’ll experience intense symptoms that don’t last as long. Opioid replacement therapy involving methadone or buprenorphine can help individuals cease morphine use without experiencing withdrawal, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Morphine Withdrawal Symptoms

All opiates and opioids cause similar withdrawal symptoms. Morphine is an opiate — a type of drug derived from the opium plant. Opioids are a class of drugs that include naturally occurring opiates and man-made opioids.

The type of opioid affects the severity and length of withdrawal symptoms. For example, morphine is a short-acting drug. It’s usually associated with short, intense symptoms. Methadone is a long-acting drug associated with longer, milder withdrawal symptoms.

Symptoms of morphine withdrawal include:

Most of the time, morphine withdrawal is too painful or uncomfortable to undergo without help. Some people do “power through” morphine withdrawal on their own. They usually experience days of misery until the symptoms subside.

Suffering through morphine withdrawal is unnecessary. Rehab facilities can reduce the amount of discomfort caused by withdrawal.

Detoxing from Morphine

Detoxification allows the body to remove morphine from its system and recover from the drug’s effects. In general, medical detox treats symptoms of withdrawal and physical dependence. It doesn’t treat opioid addiction to the extent of full recovery. Detox is the first stage of a full continuum of care.

Doctors who have prescribed the medication as part of a pain relief regimen help patients who become dependent quit taking the drug by reducing the dose of morphine over time. This prevents severe withdrawal symptoms.

Morphine detox can occur in outpatient or inpatient settings. People addicted to morphine are more likely to benefit from inpatient rehab. During rehab, patients detox in a safe environment. They’re protected from triggers that may cause relapse. After detox, they transition to therapy to receive treatment for psychological causes of addiction.

Some people receive opioid replacement therapy in lieu of detox. During opioid replacement therapy, methadone or buprenorphine are prescribed to replace morphine. This therapy can last several months or years.

Once a person and their doctor agree the medications are no longer necessary to prevent relapse, they create a plan to gradually stop taking the drug.

Morphine withdrawal can be an unpleasant experience. It’s painful enough to prevent some people from quitting the drug. Health providers can ease morphine withdrawal, and rehab facilities can address mental health issues driving morphine use.

Medical Disclaimer: aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

Chris Elkins, MA
Senior Content Writer,
Chris Elkins worked as a journalist for three years and was published by multiple newspapers and online publications. Since 2015, he’s written about health-related topics, interviewed addiction experts and authored stories of recovery. Chris has a master’s degree in strategic communication and a graduate certificate in health communication.
Kim Borwick, MA

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