How to withdraw from morphine

The best way to withdraw from morphine is under medical supervision. More on tapering protocol, as well as what to expect during morphine withdrawal here.

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Morphine is the gold standard among opioid analgesics for relieving chronic, excruciating pain. Unfortunately, morphine is also highly addictive. So how do you approach physical and morphine dependence during withdrawal?

Here, we review the basics of withdrawal from morphine: how long will morphine withdrawal take, what can you expect to feel , and how you can deal with the discomfort. Find out how you can withdraw safely from morphine here. Then, we invite your questions about morphine withdrawal, symptoms of morphine addiction or how to help morphine addiction at the end.

When do you withdraw from morphine?

Morphine withdrawal occurs any time you drastically reduce doses of morphine after you develop a period of dependence. Morphine is as potentially addictive a substance as heroin. It isn’t weakness of will or character that a person feels a craving for the drug; morphine is highly addictive – the brain as well as the body develops a dependence upon it.

How long it takes for a person to become physically dependent on morphine and how quickly they may start experiencing the withdrawal symptoms can vary from person to person. Anyone who has been taking morphine regularly and over a long period of time could develop morphine dependence so that when they stop taking the drug, the body experiences withdrawal symptoms literally within hours.

How long to withdraw from morphine?

How long does morphine stay in the body? For about a couple of days. Typically, morphine withdrawal symptoms can start within hours of taking the last dose, though the severity and duration of withdrawal from morphine differs in each individual. Symptoms may show up at or a little before the time that the next dose would have been due.

Some of the worst symptoms may be experienced about 2 – 4 days after stopping the drug. And symptoms tedn to peak about 72 hours into detox. So it is recommended that a tapering of the dosage over 10 days may help to ease the process of withdrawal.

Can I withdraw from morphine at home?

It is possible to withdraw from morphine at home, particularly if you have the support and help of close friends and family. However it could be difficult because the withdrawal symptoms can be quite troublesome – severe flu like symptoms, sweating, chills, tremors, anxiety, depression, loose stools, vomiting, stomach cramps, various aches and pains. During the withdrawal stage it may be very appealing to start using again.

It may help to take the advice medical experts who can draft a plan for safe tapering of morphine doses over a week or ten days. A physician or a specialist may also prescribe certain medications to ease the withdrawal symptoms and help with detox.

Withdraw from morphine symptoms

Withdrawal from morphine can feel like a bad bout of flu. Those who have been prescribed morphine for pain management frequently experience flu like symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing, chills, coughing, body ache, loss of appetite, nausea etc when they finish their prescribed course of morphine doses. There could also be hot flashes, muscle twitching, dizziness and general feeling of being unwell. Panic attacks, feelings of anxiety and depression, insomnia and changes in appetite are also commonly seen.

How to ease withdrawal symptoms from morphine

Prescriptions such as buprenorphine, methadone, naltrexone, clonidine can help ease the physical symptoms of morphine withdrawal. It is important to drink plenty of fluids to replenish water lost by way of sweating, diarrhea, vomiting and the flu symptoms. Over-the-counter medications or treatments like NSAIDs, hot pads, hot creams, or massage oill can also help. In addition, you could try some alternative therapies; principally to help center and focus your energies on recovery from morphine addiction. Here are some general guidelines in how to ease morphine withdrawal.

Emotional support

Speak to a spiritual or religious leader in your community for guidance and support.

Herbal medications

If you’re thinking of using any herbal medications for the detox or withdrawal phases, clear them with your attending physician first. This is to rule out the possibility of drug interactions. Also do not presume that a formulation is safe simply because they use words such as ‘herbal’, or ‘all natural’ on the package.

Mind-body treatments

  • Meditation can help center the mind and is also seen to be an effective relaxation aid.
  • Mind-body disciplines such as yoga or tai chi can also help a person as they undergo physical and mental stresses.
  • Therapies such as acupuncture and aromatherapy can also help reduce stress.
  • Massage from a licensed therapist can help to ease body ache and promote feelings of wellbeing.

Nutritional supplements

If you are unable to eat normal food because of the nausea or appetite changes consider taking nutritional supplements. Take your doctor’s advice about multivitamins and also consider diet modifications not only to combat the withdrawal symptoms but also to improve overall health and wellbeing.

How to withdraw from morphine safely

Tapering off morphine use is usually preferable to going off it cold turkey. Going off a drug suddenly can cause severe withdrawal symptoms and increase chances of relapse. So reduce the dose as well as the frequency of dosage gradually. What works best for each individual may vary, but phasing the tapering off period over about a week or two weeks can be quite effective. Remember never to lower dosage more than 50% at a time.

The best way to withdraw from morphine

Detoxification, even in a phased manner is not the only constituent of treatment for morphine addiction. Relapse after the detox phase is distressingly common. The ultimate aim is not only to achieve a drug free state, but also to help a person regain full functionality and reintegration into the community.

It is important to detect and treat underlying psychological problems that may be fueling the harmful addictive behaviors. So a psychosocial approach that involves one or one, group or family therapy and addiction support groups may be very useful not just during the withdrawal but also later on, to remain drug free. So it is best to take a holistic approach to overcoming morphine addiction.

How to deal with withdrawal from morphine questions

If you have any questions with regard to morphine addiction, the withdrawal symptoms of morphine, about morphine detox and about remaining drug free, do not hesitate to write in to us. We will respond personally to any questions or comments that you have – feel free to share using the comment form below.

Reference Sources: Medline Plus: Opiate Withdrawal
NIH: Opioid Dependence Treatment Guidelines
NIH: Drugs for Opioid Detox
WHO: Treatment for Opioid Dependence 
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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