Morphine Withdrawal Symptoms & Detox Timeline
Are you or someone you love thinking about getting help for morphine addiction? Are you concerned about morphine withdrawal? In this article, we will explore some details about morphine addiction, morphine detox, associated morphine withdrawal symptoms, and morphine withdrawal management.
Pharmaceutical morphine is an opioid analgesic manufactured from opiate alkaloids extracted from the opium poppy.1 Besides pain relief, in a dose-dependent manner, morphine can elicit a pleasurable sense of euphoria.2 Morphine is a DEA Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it has a high potential for psychological or physical dependence and abuse.3
When someone is dependent on morphine and stops consuming it, they can experience a range of opioid withdrawal symptoms.4 When significant opioid dependence has developed, the opioid withdrawal syndrome associated with relatively short-acting opioids such as morphine can begin as soon as 8 hours since the last time the drug was used. On such a short-acting opioid timeline, morphine withdrawal symptoms can then last for 4 to 10 days before they largely resolve.4
Because it can be painful and sometimes give rise to medical complications, opioid withdrawal is commonly managed with medical support and pharmaceutical intervention. Professional medical detox can provide monitoring for people during this time to ease opioid withdrawal as safely and comfortably as possible.
Find Out If Your Insurance Plan Covers Morphine Addiction Rehab
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Morphine Dependence and Addiction
Opioids attach to opioid receptors throughout the body, modifying pain signaling while also increasing the release of dopamine.2 Such a surge in dopamine activity is associated with a rewarding or reinforcing effect, which can compel people to use drugs like morphine again and again.2
When someone continuously uses a drug, physical dependence may develop, as the body adapts to the presence of the drug. When dependence develops, a person may be at risk of experiencing characteristic mental and physical symptoms of withdrawal once the drug use slows or stops.5 Though short-term use of a medication like morphine can safely manage pain, physiological dependence becomes more likely if morphine is used several times a day for more than a few weeks.6
Addiction is another risk with morphine use and is marked by a compulsive drive to use a substance, despite any harmful consequences that may come as a result.5 An addicted person may find themselves unable to stop using a drug, despite negative work, family, or social ramifications.5
What Happens During Morphine Withdrawal?
Opioid withdrawal symptoms can be intensely uncomfortable, with an onset within several hours after last use and withdrawal symptoms lasting several days.7 Withdrawal is different for everyone, and symptoms can range in intensity. Morphine withdrawal symptoms commonly include both physical and mental effects, but their precise character and severity may depend on a variety of factors, such as the magnitude of physical dependence, how long a person has been using morphine, general health, and any concurrent use of other substances.7
While everyone’s experience is unique, some common morphine withdrawal symptoms include:7
- Muscular aches or spasms/tension.
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure.
- Bone pain.
- Hyperalgesia, or enhanced pain sensitivity.
- Chills and goosebumps.
- Watery eyes.
- Stomach cramps.
Morphine withdrawal symptoms can be very uncomfortable but are not commonly life-threatening with appropriate medical management.7 However, the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms and the fear and stress they cause can discourage attempts at quitting opioids.7
How Long Do Morphine Withdrawal Symptoms Last?
If you or a loved one are struggling with a morphine use disorder and are considering quitting, you may be wondering how quickly the morphine withdrawal may start and how long it will last before symptoms resolve.
Relatively short-acting opioids may give rise to a withdrawal syndrome that begins 8–24 hours after the last use of a drug like morphine. Opioid withdrawal symptoms may peak in severity at around 72 hours and persist anywhere between 4–10 days.7,8
Even after significant resolution of many of these symptoms, some people may report relatively mild but more persistent symptoms such as depression/dysphoria, anxiety, irritability, and insomnia for weeks to months out from discontinuation of opioid use.7,9
How to Treat Morphine Withdrawal & Get Help
In an opioid detox program, you might be given medications like buprenorphine or methadone to assist with the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.8 As detox proceeds, medical providers may assess morphine withdrawal symptoms using assessment tools such as the Clinical Opioid Withdrawal Scale (COWS).8 Such a test can help healthcare providers decide when and how much medications are needed to best manage withdrawal symptoms.
The process and length of detoxing in a professional rehab setting varies for each person. After the completion of detox, further rehabilitation or treatment may be recommended. Detox is typically only the beginning of morphine addiction treatment. Additional treatment, including behavioral therapy, counseling, and maintenance medication may follow. Medications for addiction treatment (MAT) protocols can help provide safe initial detox but also a decreased risk of relapse.10
- Department of Justice/Drug Enforcement Administration. (2020). Drug fact sheet: morphine.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2021). Prescription opioids DrugFacts.
- National Center for Biotechnology Information. (2022). PubChem: morphine.
- World Health Organization. (2009). Withdrawal management.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition): Is there a difference between physical dependence and addiction?
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2021, July 16). Misuse of Prescription Drugs Research Report: What classes of prescription drugs are commonly misused?
- Pergolizzi, Jr., J.V., Raffa, R.B., & Rosenblatt, M.H. (2020).Opioid withdrawal symptoms, a consequence of chronic opioid use and opioid use disorder: Current understanding and approaches to management. Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, 45(5), 892-903.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Opioid withdrawal support.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2019, October). HHS guide for clinicians on the appropriate dosage reduction or discontinuation of long-term opioid analgesics.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2021). Medication-assisted treatment (MAT).