Morphine Withdrawal Symptoms & Timeline Guide
Morphine is an opioid pain reliever used to treat severe and chronic pain. It is a controlled substance and requires a doctor’s prescription. It’s important to understand that being prescribed by a medical professional doesn’t make morphine safe. Many risk factors are associated with morphine use, including abuse, dependence, withdrawal, and addiction.
Morphine has a place in the opioid epidemic. The term “opioid epidemic” has been used frequently over the past several years, and for good reason. In 2018, the number of opioid deaths involving prescription opioids, including morphine, almost equaled the number of deaths involving heroin; there were 14,975 prescription-opioid related deaths compared to 14,996 heroin-related opioid deaths.1
Like many prescription medications and illegal opioids, morphine has the potential to be habit-forming. When the body becomes dependent on morphine, it experiences withdrawal symptoms with discontinued use.2
Withdrawal symptoms can occur within hours after the last dose of morphine and can last for days. The severity of symptoms can vary depending on factors such as how long it was used, dosage, other existing medical issues, and the use of other substances.
Common names for morphine include Arymo ER, Kadian, and MorphaBond ER. ER is a common abbreviation for medication that signifies extended-release. Extended-release simply means that the medication is slowly released over time. This can be beneficial for people who are struggling with persistent and chronic pain and require constant medication to reduce pain levels and increase comfort.
This page will offer information about the causes and dangers of morphine withdrawal and the available options for detox, withdrawal management, and substance rehabilitation help in Nevada and across the country. Help is available to people struggling with morphine addiction. Withdrawal can be managed, and an effective detox from morphine can be the essential first step in successful treatment and recovery.
Signs of Morphine Withdrawal
It is normal to wonder how long morphine withdrawal symptoms last and what the morphine withdrawal timeline is like. Withdrawal plays an important role in both addiction and recovery, but many people have a hard time tolerating withdrawal symptoms. Morphine is considered a long-acting opioid; symptoms of withdrawal usually present within 12 to 48 hours after the last use. These symptoms can last from 10 to 20 days.3 The duration of withdrawal varies from person to person.
Withdrawal symptoms can be both physical and mental/psychological. Physical symptoms of morphine withdrawal tend to mimic symptoms of the flu. Some are uncomfortable but not fatal: nausea, muscle aches, cramps, watery eyes, runny nose, hot and cold flashes, and difficulty falling and staying asleep.2 Other symptoms, however—including vomiting, sweating, and diarrhea—can lead to fatal complications such as dehydration, seizures, and heart failure.4 On a positive note, these symptoms can be successfully managed with proper medical interventions.
It is estimated that 90% of opioid users experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS.5 PAWS refers to a series of psychological withdrawal symptoms that imitate mental health and mood disorders. These symptoms can last for weeks or months after a person has stopped using their drug of choice. Like the physical symptoms of withdrawal, symptoms of PAWS can vary in severity and duration. PAWS in morphine withdrawal commonly includes difficulty performing cognitive tasks, depression, anxiety including panic, irritability, memory impairment, and difficulty problem-solving.5
Morphine Withdrawal Timeline
As mentioned earlier, a person’s withdrawal timeline depends on many variables. It is important to remember that although there are common symptoms of morphine withdrawal and dependence, everyone’s experience will be different. Weight, gender, existing medical conditions, and mental health diagnoses can affect the symptoms, severity, and duration of withdrawal. Additional factors that can influence a person’s withdrawal experience include polysubstance dependence (being dependent on more than one substance), duration of substance use, age of first use, and the intensity of substance use.
Can I Quit Morphine Cold Turkey at Home?
If you are thinking about quitting morphine, it is important that you consult with your doctor before making any decisions. Your doctor can help you determine your risks of withdrawal and provide recommendations and referrals for detoxification and rehabilitation services to maximize your safety and comfort. An appropriate treatment provider can help determine your recovery needs and help you receive the services necessary to ensure your success along your recovery journey.
Because withdrawal can have life-threatening consequences, anyone thinking about detoxing from morphine is strongly recommended to do so under the guidance of addiction specialists and medical professionals. Professionals can administer interventions to maximize comfort and reduce the severity of symptoms while monitoring your health throughout the detox process. Detoxing from morphine on your own, without medical oversight, can result in devastating outcomes including severe withdrawal symptoms and relapse.
Morphine Detox Process
The decision to enter a detox facility for morphine withdrawal is often the first step on the road to recovery and can be a key factor in a successful recovery. There are 3 primary settings for morphine detox: at home, at a substance abuse treatment facility under the supervision of addiction specialists and medical professionals, and at a hospital. Detoxing at home without the supervision of medical professionals poses the greatest risk, is the most uncomfortable, and takes the longest amount of time.2
In a detox facility, you get the benefit of medical professionals and addiction specialists who can help manage both the physical and psychological aspects of withdrawal. The length of detox depends largely on the duration of your withdrawal symptoms. Interventions will be administered according to the severity of your symptoms. For mild symptoms, you can expect to receive supplements, lots of fluids, and plenty of rest. Moderate to severe symptoms may also warrant medications such as methadone, clonidine, buprenorphine, or codeine phosphate.3 Known as medication-assisted treatment, this intervention can significantly reduce the experience of withdrawal symptoms and increase the likelihood of a successful detox.
Where to Find a Morphine Detox Center
The state of Nevada has 16 opioid treatment programs.6 American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading provider of morphine detox and treatment in Nevada and nationwide. AAC recognizes that treatment isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach; in order for treatment to be successful, it must be tailored to suit you, your needs, and your future recovery goals. Our trained, compassionate addiction specialists will work with you to create a treatment plan specific to your individual needs.
We are available to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 702-800-2682. Your call will remain 100% confidential. Since many of our admissions navigators have a personal experience with addiction, you can rest assured that you will be treated with respect and compassion. Your life doesn’t have to end with addiction, but you can put an end to your addiction and live the life you deserve.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Nevada: Opioid-involved deaths and related harms.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2021). Opiate and opioid withdrawal.
- World Health Organization. (2009). Clinical guidelines for withdrawal management and drug dependence in closed settings.
- National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre. (n.d.). Yes, people can die from opiate withdrawal.
- Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. (2021). Post-acute withdrawal syndrome.
- Office of Inspector General. (2019). Factsheet: Nevada’s oversight of opioid prescribing and monitoring of opioid use.
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