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Morphine Withdrawal

An Intense Withdrawal

Morphine is generally known as an effective – yet highly potent – opioid pain reliever. Doctors refer it to as a “narcotic”. In fact, morphine is used for treatment of moderate to severe pain.

However, morphine use comes with several risks.

Use can easily get out of control and is very dangerous. Addiction can develop in 2 weeks after regular dosing. Plus risk of overdose is high. Over half of drug-related deaths in the U.S. are caused by morphine or heroin overdose.

Furthermore, withdrawal symptoms are severe and must be treated with care. In such circumstances a medical detox is highly recommended where addiction professionals can safely track the progress while making withdraw more comfortable.

Here, we introduce you to the phases of morphine withdrawal and what you can expect during detox. Then, we provide you with a timeline of events and give you some tips in the end about how to manage these symptoms effectively. Keep reading to find out more. Then, please use the comments section for your questions and comments. We try to respond to all of our readers personally and promptly.

Why Morphine Triggers Withdrawal

Opiates, including morphine change the way your central nervous system functions. After only a couple of weeks of using morphine, the body develops dependence. Morphine dependence happens when the central nervous system adopts the presence of morphine in the brain. When you cut down your morphine dose or stop taking it at all, your body requires time to re-balance its chemistry. Because of this, withdrawal symptoms occur when you lower your dose or quit taking it.

Timeline

The first symptoms of withdrawal typically occur after 24 hours after the last morphine intake and last for up to 8-12 days. Early symptoms may start as anxiety or muscle pain, and then progress to cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea. Still, the process of withdrawal is different for each person. Depending on individual use (how much you take, how frequently, and for how long), symptoms of withdrawal differ in severity, intensity, and duration.

Plus, morphine develops psychological as well as physical dependence. So, a user can experiences both kinds of symptoms. This does not mean that every user will experience all symptoms. Some people may experience totally different ones.

The most common psychological symptoms of morphine withdrawal include:

  • anxiety
  • agitation
  • carvings
  • depression
  • dizziness
  • malaise
  • panic attack
  • sleep disorders
  • suicidal thoughts

The usual physical symptoms of withdrawal are:

  • cramps
  • diarrhea
  • dilated pupils
  • flu symptoms (chills, weakness, sneezing, body ache, and runny nose)
  • goose bumps
  • heightened pain sensitivity
  • high blood pressure
  • irregular heart rate
  • itching
  • muscle pain
  • nausea
  • sweating
  • tremors
  • unwilling leg movement
  • vomiting

NOTE HERE: Bear in mind that morphine withdrawal symptoms are totally different from morphine addiction symptoms. Not all cases of dependence are also cases of addiction.

Duration and Peak

Generally, the period of time is take for someone to go through withdrawal from morphine depends upon several issues such as:

  • Dosage
  • Duration of use
  • Reasons for morphine use
  • The user’s unique metabolism

Additionally, withdrawal symptoms depend on the type of morphine detox people go through: cold turkey vs. a gradual reduction called tapering.

Some of the worst symptoms may occur about 2-4 days after quitting, and reach their peak about 72 hours. Morphine withdrawal ends about 8-12 days after cessation. Thus, it is usually recommended that a tapered detox should last over 10 days to ease symptoms. But, PAWS or post-acute withdrawal symptoms may persist for weeks or months until they totally subside.

How To Ease Discomfort?

Experiencing withdrawal can be really hard. This is why we recommend that you always seek help from addiction professionals to help address symptoms and make the process more humane. Sweating, flu symptoms, diarrhea, and vomiting can be treated with medications. Also, withdrawal cause you to lose a great amount of water, so it is important to drink lots of fluids or to have an IV solution.

Secondly, going through morphine withdrawal alone can easily trigger relapse. Your risk of overdose is also increased. Medications like methadone, naltrexone, clonidine, and buprenorphine can help in easing physical withdrawal symptoms. They can also cut cravings.

Finally, medical detox clinics can offer you emotional support. Sometimes, talking through a craving or hearing about the medical causes of dependence can help you pass through a difficult time. Why suffer alone when you can benefit from a professional clinic setting?

The bottom line is this: Nothing is safer than medical help during an opioid detox.

Alternative Treatments

Further, treatments like Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), massage oils and creams, hot pads, and over-the-counter medications can be of great help. Another tip is trying alternative therapies which are good in helping you focus your energies on recovery. Meditation or mindfulness can get you through a tight spot. So can a hot shower or bath. Some other general tips include:

TIP #1. Seek emotional support. Talk with a religious/spiritual professional for support and further direction of your recovery.

TIP #2. Consult before taking herbal medications. Advise your physician before using any herbal medications for easing morphine withdrawal symptoms. Also, bear in mind that a formulation may not be safe because ‘herbal’ or ‘all natural’ stands on the package. It may come to some drug interactions, so always consult your doctor first.

TIP #3. Look into mind and body treatments. First of all, meditations are good in focusing your mind on your goals, and are excellent in reaching relaxation, while massages from licensed chiropractor/therapist help in easing body ache and muscle pain. Second, therapies like aromatherapy and acupuncture, and mind-body disciplines including tai chi and yoga help in reducing mental as well as physical stress.

TIP #4. Support withdrawal via nutrition. It is normal to have eating problems because of the nausea, thus consider taking some nutritional supplements. Consult your physician about multivitamins and proper diet to improve your health during drug detox.

Your Questions

In this article, we’ve discussed morphine withdrawal symptoms and ways to minimize their intensity. However, we’d like to remind you that it is recommended that anyone going through the process ask for medical help when quitting a strong opiate like morphine. You increase your chance of success…and minimize the risk of complications.

If you’re still concerned about what to expect, feel free to leave your comments or questions below. We’ll do our best to address your concerns and point you in the right direction for treatment.

Reference sources: Sa Health: Opioid withdrawal managementth
Drug Abuse: Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale

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