Morphine Withdrawal and Detox

Morphine, whether abused or taken as prescribed by the doctor, is highly addictive. It stimulates the user’s brain’s reward system, eventually leading to tolerance and dependence. Once morphine dependence has developed, the user must keep taking it to feel normal, and if the user quits morphine cold turkey rather than tapering off the drug, he or she experiences withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, sweating, insomnia, headache, and so on, as the brain struggles to relearn how to function without it. Withdrawal symptoms are a predictable emotional, physical and typical response of the body to absence of morphine. The symptoms are often so unpleasant that users often go back to abusing the drug in a bid to relieve them. Morphine detox in medical clinics leads to higher chances of successful withdrawal. Detox in healthcare settings involve application of medical, mental, and help of substance abuse healthcare providers to remove morphine from the body. The primary objective of morphine detox is to help the user become physically stable, and then treat the mental aspect of morphine abuse, dependence and addiction.
Dependence and/or physical tolerance to morphine can set in after just a few weeks of regular morphine use. Physical dependence on morphine is said to have occurred when the users’ central nervous system gets used to presence of morphine and uses it to substitute its natural chemicals. When the user quits morphine, the central nervous systems struggles to recalibrate its chemical balance, and this struggle is manifested inform of physical and psychological morphine withdrawal symptoms.

Since morphine is considered a fast-onset drug, it’s withdrawal symptoms begin 6 to 12 hours after the last dose. The symptoms vary in intensity depending on the user’s tolerance and overall health, metabolism, level of tolerance, how fast the individual tappers off the drug, dosage, frequency and duration of the drug use, as well as individual physiology and social support. Generally, those who have been taking high doses of morphine and have been using morphine for an extended period experience more severe symptoms compared to mild and fresh users.

Psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms begin as soon as the drug stops being active in the bloodstream. Morphine symptoms progress through three phases, with the early physical withdrawal symptoms such as extreme sweating, running nose, yawning and tearing up taking effect. The more severe physical symptoms peak in the later withdrawal stages, normally within two to three days. These symptoms include increased blood pressure, an elevated heart rate, chills, insomnia, irritability, drug cravings, appetite loss, seizures vomiting, diarrhoea as well as tremors. Physical withdrawal side effects of morphine are usually characterized by an extreme case of a flu attack.

The psychological withdrawal symptoms can also be really excruciating and they manifest in form of dysphoria, anxiety, memory problems, hallucinations, delusions, general inability to enjoy life, as well as irritability. Just to give a list, the following are some of the common morphine withdrawal symptoms:

  1. Chills
  2. Watery eyes.
  3. Fever
  4. Sweating
  5. Agitation
  6. Muscle aches
  7. Irritability
  8. Nausea
  9. Insomnia
  10. Depression
  11. Headaches
  12. Increased blood pressure

You will realize that the length of withdrawal process is different for every morphine user. The symptoms of withdrawal can begin as early as 6 hours after the last dose. Some symptoms such as flu-like symptoms normally last three to five days. The psychological symptoms can last longer and some do not fade for several weeks. But can you die from morphine withdrawal? Yes, if untreated morphine withdrawal symptoms can lead to death.

morphine withdrawal
Withdrawal is a painful and a dangerous process which the body undergoes during opiate detoxification. Simply put, as long as a physical addiction had developed, withdrawal symptoms as described above are inevitable.

Trying to quit cold turkey, in addition to these symptoms, can result in life-threatening seizures. As such, regardless of the dose you are taking, it is not a good idea to quit morphine without proper medical assistance. Other cold turkey withdrawal symptoms include adamant cravings for the drug, bone and muscle pain, extreme agitation, insomnia, seizures, hot flashes, and body shakes.

Currently, there is lots of conflicting information on the web regarding the types of narcotic drugs that can lead to life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. The truth, depending on the users’ circumstances, length of abuse, and the dosage taken, morphine withdrawal can be deadly. But with adequate, proper and professional medical treatment as well as other useful therapies, the risk of death can be significantly reduced. Research has proven that most patients are fearful of withdrawal and this keeps them buried in the cult of morphine abuse.
When you decide to go for a morphine withdrawal and detoxification program, you will experience certain withdrawal symptoms as your system tries to adjust to absence of morphine. Typically, withdrawal begins to appear within six to twelve hours after the last dose, but depending on the dosage and length of morphine abuse, one should start to feel a little better after five to six days. During this time, the brain will start normalizing to the absence of morphine, and most withdrawal symptoms will begin to subside bit by bit. You will starts feeling better, both psychologically and physically, and your motivation levels will rise. The withdrawal from morphine can be divided into three broad stages, and each phase has its unique characteristics.

  1. The first stage: This is the period right after an individual comes off from morphine abuse, and it starts twelve to thirty hours after the last use. The body starts trying to adjust to the sudden and immediate absence of morphine. It is the stage when one experiences most of the physical pain. The common symptoms during this stage insomnia, cramps, nausea, diarrhoea and depression. This stage lasts for five to seven days.
  2. The second stage: At this point, the body fights to drive out most of the toxins which have accumulated over the period of morphine abuse. The shorter the user has been on morphine and the lesser the quantity he or she consumed, the easier it is to walk through this phase. Perhaps, this is because the body finds it easier to eliminate smaller amounts of chemicals, allowing it to reset to its normal operation quickly. During this period, you should start supplementing with vitamins to help your body maintain optimal levels of endorphins (which gets depleted by presence of morphine). During addiction, Endorphins often get depleted because as dosage and tolerance increases, your body stops producing its natural endorphins and relies on morphine stimulation. The most notable morphine withdrawal symptoms at this phase include goose bumps, leg cramps, sweating, dilated pupils as well as restless leg syndrome.
  3. The Third Phase: First and foremost, it is worth mentioning that this is morphine withdrawal peak – toughest stage where a lot of individual relapse. Withdrawal symptoms during this stage are more emotional than physical. However, you’ll still experience some physical discomfort and pain. They may include restlessness, anxiety, hallucinations, insomnia, agitation as well as irritation. During this stage, you will need to be extremely careful since having gone through the second phase; the craving for morphine becomes overwhelmingly strong. The user must keep in mind that if he or she gives in to the urge, he or she will lose all the progress made so far. It is a crucial stage and determines whether you are going to withdraw completely from morphine or not.
Morphine withdrawal is often difficult to endure, and this is the reason morphine withdrawal medications are used to suppress and possibly prevent symptoms of withdrawal during detox. The most common morphine withdrawal remedies include:

  1. Methadone: Methadone has long been used as an opioid drug. It functions by activating the same opioid receptors as any other narcotic, effectively eliminating the symptoms of withdrawal. When administered in the right doses, it eases the symptoms and prevents the patient from morphine cravings. It’s easy to taper off from methadone, and it is the most efficient known treatment for narcotic addiction.
  2. Buprenorphine: Just like methadone, this drug activates the same opiod receptors that morphine activates, effectively preventing withdrawal symptoms and reducing morphine craving. This medication works faster and it can help in detoxification at rates faster than methadone.
  3. Naltrexone: For patients who fail their detox process at the third stage, this drug will prove to be very useful to them. Typically, it is meant to help people from relapsing and giving in to the morphine’s attraction.
  4. Clonidine: Instead of preventing cravings for morphine, this drug helps reduce the physical manifestations of morphine withdrawal. This is important because the withdrawal symptoms are what make morphine withdrawal difficult. However, it does not fight craving, and as such, it’s best combined with other morphine withdrawal medications.
  5. Methocarbamol: This drug is used to help relieve joint pain and muscle cramps.

It’s important to note that here are other alternative procedures such as yoga, joining support groups, and even exercise that goes a long way in helping one fight morphine withdrawal symptoms. Most importantly, they can help boost your morale, making you stay focused and not falter from your objective of kicking out morphine addiction once and for all.

Detoxification is the removal of morphine from the body. Once morphine dependence has developed, morphine withdrawal is best managed through a medical detox offered in a specialized facility. This process takes place under the watchful eye of qualified and professional substance abuse treatment providers. The primary objective of detoxification is to help the affected individuals become psychologically and physically stable and then put him or her on a treatment which focuses on eradicating the dependence, addiction, and the emotional aspect of morphine abuse.

Medical Detoxification: The sheer number of people affected by morphine abuse, dependence, and addiction has driven a lot of researchers to work tirelessly toward finding the best ways to manage detox from morphine abuse. Currently, the United States Food and Drug Administration FDA, as indicated by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), approves three drugs for the treatment of opioid addiction. These medications include methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. Of course, there are other medications which are still being studied for their effectiveness. All these drugs work by relieving detoxification withdrawal symptoms and reducing morphine craving.

Home Detox: There is a possibility that patients can successfully detox from morphine at the comfort of their homes. However, you must have the support and help of family members as well as close friends. Of course, the first step is to start reducing the dosages that you usually take, gradually. This is crucial as it limits the intensity and the severity of quitting. To be honest, this is a very tricky adventure, especially with the devastating withdrawal effects, and one can quickly fall back into the drug, and might even increase the dose due to intense cravings.

morphine detox
Trying to detox from a particular drug cold turkey can cause severe withdrawal symptoms and raise the probability of relapse. This means that you should start slowly, reducing the dosage preferably over a period of about a week or two. This can be very effective. Remember, you should never lower your dosage by more than fifty percent at a time. Furthermore, what works best for every individual might vary.
Morphine stays in the body for a couple of days. Usually, morphine detoxification symptoms can start within hours of taking the last dose. However, the duration and the severity of morphine detox varies from one person to another. Many of the worst symptoms are always experienced about two to four days after stopping the drug. Symptoms tend to peak after about seventy-two hours of detox.
Even through a controlled approach, detoxification is not the only constituent of a successful morphine addiction treatment. This is because the aim is not only to reach a drug-free state but also to help the patient regain full functionality and be welcomed back into the society. This implies that it is critical to try and detect the underlying emotional problems which might be fuelling morphine abuse. So, a psychological approach involving one vs. one, or group, family therapy as well as addiction support groups could be very useful not just during the detox period but even later on. In short, one should take a more holistic approach to fully and successfully overcome the addiction.
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Morphine Withdrawal & Detox
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Morphine Withdrawal & Detox was last modified: July 8th, 2017 by The Recovery Village