Wednesday January 17th 2018

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How to stop taking morphine?

Safe ways to quit morphine

Some people use morphine not only for managing their pain, but to feel better or to get high. When abused, morphine can be a very difficult habit to quit…yet not impossible.

Are you taking morphine continuously? Wondering how to stop? Here, we review some safe ways to quit using morphine. We also discuss the consequences of quitting morphine abruptly. Continue reading to learn more about help for morphine problems. At the end, we invite you to post your questions or your personal experiences about getting off morphine. We try to respond to all real life situations with a personal reply.

Can I just stop taking morphine?

NO. It is not recommended that anyone go cold turkey off of morphine. Morphine detox is most successful when performed under doctor’s care. Further, medically supervised morphine detox can prevent dangerous withdrawal effects.

People who usually stop taking morphine on their own experience intense and unpleasant symptoms, which can discourage them from staying off morphine for good. Individuals who quit using morphine without the help of a doctor have a higher risk of relapse and failure to reach long-term sobriety. Thus, it’s suggested that you seek help from a medical detox clinic when you decide to stop taking morphine… for safety AND efficacy.

What happens when you stop taking morphine?

When you stop taking morphine after a period of regular, daily dosing … expect to go through withdrawal. Withdrawal happens as a direct result of physical dependence on a drug. So, how did your body adapt to morphine so much that it rebels when you want to quit?

When you take a psychoactive drug like morphine over a period of weeks or months, your body seeks a way to live with it. It adapts chemically so that it can survive. This is why some functions of the brain and body “slow down” while others “speed up”. It’s the body’s way of seeking balance; it wants to compensate for the chemical reactions that are doping up the brain. Remove the drug…and those same processes (“slow down” and “speed up”) require time to balance out.

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Physical dependence on morphine manifests as a set of symptoms when you quit. They are actually the “sped up” functions that morphine had been balancing out. Most people face a range of cognitive and physical symptoms. Without morphine, you can expect to experience some commonly reported symptoms:

  • anxiety, insomnia, or restlessness
  • nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps
  • increased heart rate and breathing rate

Stages of coming off morphine

What are morphine withdrawal symptoms? Morphine withdrawal has several stages. Each stage is characterized by different symptoms, or various levels of intensity of the symptoms.

The FIRST STAGE – The first stage of morphine withdrawal occurs 6 – 14 hours after last dose. During this stage individuals usually experience:

  • anxiety
  • drug cravings
  • irritability
  • mild to moderate depression
  • sweating

The SECOND STAGE – Occurs 14 – 18 hours after last dose and is typically accompanied by:

  • crying
  • dissatisfaction
  • headaches
  • heavy perspiration
  • runny nose
  • yawning

The THIRD STAGE – It is expected within 16 – 24 hours after the last dose administration and is followed by:

  • aching bones and muscles
  • dilated pupils
  • hot and cold flashes
  • loss of appetite
  • muscle twitches

The FORTH STAGE – It occurs about 24 – 36 hours after the last taken dose of morphine and includes:

  • elevation of blood pressure
  • increase respiration and tidal volume
  • insomnia
  • loose stool
  • moderate elevation in body temperature
  • nausea
  • restlessness
  • severe cramping
  • tachycardia

The FIFTH STAGE – This stage lasts 36 – 72 hours since the last dose of morphine. The symptoms that you can expect during the fifth stage include:

  • frequent liquid diarrhea
  • increased white cell count and other blood changes
  • vomiting
  • weight loss of 2 to 5 kg per 24 hours

The SIXTH STAGE – This stage of withdrawal manifests after you have successfully completed the previous five stages. During this period, you’ll start to deal with psychological symptoms of his/her addiction. This stage also includes the following symptoms:

  • colitis or other GI afflictions related to motility
  • hypertension
  • increased sensitivity to pain
  • normalization of food appetite
  • problems with weight control
  • stabilization in bowel function

Side effects of stopping morphine

Withdrawal symptoms usually occur when a dependent user stops taking morphine completely or lower dose(s) significantly. Common morphine withdrawal symptoms include:

  • chills
  • headaches
  • insomnia
  • moodiness
  • nausea
  • restlessness
  • soreness
  • sweating
  • vomiting
  • watery eyes

Stop taking morphine suddenly

Due to the drug’s highly addictive properties, suddenly stopping morphine might cause severe withdrawal symptoms and provoke relapse. An alternative for sudden discontinuation is a slow morphine taper. Talk to a medical professional, or look for a morphine addiction treatment facility for supervision. This will increase your chances of successful recovery.

Stop taking morphine cold turkey

Going cold turkey off morphine might be very dangerous for people who have lung and heart problems. Another danger of stopping morphine abruptly is the intense experience of acute withdrawal symptoms.

Instead, doctors suggest following a tapering schedule and taking other medications to assist in the process. Your tapering schedule should be created along with your doctor, and with based on your health state, duration of morphine use, and your dose of morphine. Usually individuals require about 2 to 3 weeks to successfully taper doses down. Some general guidelines are:

  • 10% reduction in doses a day
  • 20% reduction in doses every 3-5 days
  • 25% reduction in doses per week
  • Avoiding more than 50% reduction off the daily dose at any given interval

How do I stop taking morphine?

Stopping morphine does not include drug detox only. It also means that you will have to go through physical, psychological and emotional rehabilitation. A 100% devotion to treatment can help you to successfully treat and recover from morphine addiction.

Structured morphine addiction rehabs provide doctors, counselors and therapists who assist the recovery process. During treatment, people have the chance to work on different aspects of your morphine addiction, which can be physical, mental, and even spiritual in nature. Individuals who go through a structured rehab program are invited to discover personal root causes for addictive behavior, work to resolve them, and reach sobriety over the long-term.

How to stop taking morphine safely

The safest way to stop morphine is to seek morphine detox under medical supervision. A medical detox clinic can offer 24-7 medical supervision. Detox clinic staff help you by advising you, prescribing medications, assist your detox and withdrawal, and work with you resolving your psychological and behavioral issues. There is also an element of emotional support you can get at a detox center that may not be available at home.

If possible, round up the motivation and support coming from your family and friends. Long term recovery from a morphine problem requires help from multiple sources. And, stay committed to your recovery after leaving rehab by joining a support group, such as 12-step support groups. Some people stay in psychotherapy for a year or two after they quit using.

Stopping morphine questions

Still have questions about how you can quit morphine successfully and in a safe manner? We invite you to post them in the designated section below. We try to reply personally and promptly to all legitimate inquiries. In case we don’t know the answer to your question, we will refer you to someone who can help.

Reference sources: CPSO: When and how to taper opioids
NCBI: Neurotransmitter mechanisms of morphine withdrawal syndrome
NCBI: Immune cell activity during the initial stages of withdrawal from chronic exposure to cocaine or morphine

Photo credit: TheGabeC

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4 Responses to “How to stop taking morphine?
8:23 pm May 25th, 2017

My mum has been dependent on morphine tablets to control back pain for years they no longer help with the pain and is looking for an alternative…her doctor has given no guidance in how to come off them, only to say stop taking them and take. Paracetamol….. Can anyone give guidance please. Thanks

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
2:06 pm May 29th, 2017

Hi Sandra. Professional claim that the best and safest way to quit opioid painkillers is by slowly tapering the daily dosage. The doctor should have made your mother an individualized tapering schedule. I suggest that she consults with another doctor. Moreover, download our free e-book ‘How To Quit Opioid Painkillers’ to learn more about the whole process of ending painkillers, here:

11:10 pm September 22nd, 2017

I have been on mst continus 30mg for pain control.for the past 6 years, and Ive been tapering it down over the past 6 weeks as I’m on another drug called tapentadol. I’m down now to 5mg twice .a day but I’m scared of giving up this last 5mg as I don’t know how bad the withdrawal will be or for how long. I’ve suffered withdrawal all the way through the cutting down, but I know if I go an hour over due my dose I’m feeling faint. I’m in a lot of pain, My Dr says he can put up the tapentadol to the maximum dose when I stopped the 5mg .but I have a job as well and I don’t know how I will cope.please can you give me any advice or let me know what to expect?


Lydia @ Addiction Blog
6:36 pm November 21st, 2017

Hi Joyce. You may consider entering a rehab program. I suggest that you call the helpline you see on the website to get in touch our trusted treatment consultant who can help you find the best program for you. Also, you may download our free e-book ‘The Definitive Guide To Withdrawal’ to get a better understanding about the whole process:

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