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Morphine Withdrawal and Detoxification

Morphine Withdrawal and Detoxification

Just like other opiates, morphine is a highly addictive drug. Even its medical use is not free from side effects. Morphine activates the user’s brain’s reward system that results into the production of feelings of happiness and euphoria. Because of these desirable effects, the user keeps consuming the drug which eventually leads to the development of tolerance and dependence. Once the dependence develops, it becomes very hard to quit the drug. Whether the drug has been used recreationally or for medicinal purposes, appearance of withdrawal symptoms is inevitable after quitting it. However, enduring these symptoms is important for a successful recovery. Withdrawal and detox can be highly uncomfortable but opting for a specialized detox program in a rehab center can help ease the process.

Morphine withdrawal symptoms:

Withdrawal is a term used to refer to a set of symptoms appearing after quitting a drug. Just like other drugs, a number of withdrawal symptoms appear after quitting morphine that can be highly uncomfortable. These symptoms are the reason why most of the patients relapse midway through the treatment. Addiction can develop even after a few weeks of regular morphine use. It occurs when the brain of the user becomes dependent on morphine to function normally and uses it as a substitute for natural chemicals.

Morphine is a fast acting drug with a short half life. It means it produces its effects quickly and leaves the body shortly after. As a result, withdrawal symptoms begin to appear within 6 to 12 hours of quitting the drug. These symptoms can be psychological as well as physical in nature. These symptoms progress in three stages:

  • The early symptoms of morphine withdrawal include excessive sweating, lethargy, yawing and runny nose.
  • More severe withdrawal symptoms appear in the later two stages, usually after 2-3 days of quitting the drug. These symptoms may include elevated blood pressure, increases heart rate, restlessness, irritability, insomnia, chills, excessive drug cravings, seizures, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea and loss of appetite.

Psychological withdrawal symptoms can be even more dangerous. Some common psychological symptoms experienced by morphine abusers and addicts include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Loss of memory
  • Dysphoria
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Apathy

The severity of these symptoms may vary from user to user depending upon the duration of abuse and the amount drug was abused in. the duration of withdrawal also greatly varies from one person to the other.

Is it possible to die from morphine withdrawal?

Yes, it is pretty much possible to die from morphine withdrawal if the symptoms of withdrawal are left untreated. So, it is not actually the absence of drug that causes death but the symptoms appearing upon quitting it. To reduce the dangers of withdrawal symptoms, it is important to quit the drug by gradually tapering off doses over a period of weeks rather than quitting it all at once. It is highly recommended to go through withdrawal and detox under expert supervision. Proper medical assistance throughout the process can not only increase the chances for recovery but also make the process less painful. Upon quitting the drug cold turkey, withdrawal symptoms can be even more intense and painful. Excessive drug carvings, muscle aches, extreme agitation, seizures, hot flashes, insomnia and tremors are frequently experienced by people who quit the drug cold turkey.

Morphine withdrawal timeline:

The duration of withdrawal and intensity of withdrawal symptoms can be different for every patient. However, in most cases, the symptoms can start to appear as early as after 6 hours after the last drug dose.

  • First 6-14 hours:Mild first stage withdrawal symptoms begin to kick in. they user may experience anxiety, mood swings and excessive drug cravings.
  • 15-48 hours:The next stage withdrawal symptoms start to appear. The user experiences flu like symptoms such as chills, body aches, sweating, fever and runny nose. Some user may also experience insomnia. Rapid heart rate, elevated blood pressure, irritability and disorientation are also common. Nausea and vomiting begin to appear after the 2nd day of quitting the drug.
  • 3rdto 5th day: By this time, most of physical withdrawal symptoms start to fade away. Symptoms like muscle aches and nausea diminish. However, psychological symptoms may still persist.
  • 6thday and onwards: most of physical withdrawal symptoms subside by this time but psychological symptoms like anxiety, irritability, depression and drug cravings may persist. In some cases, these symptoms last for months and do not disappear without proper treatment.

Remedies to ease morphine withdrawal:

Morphine withdrawal can be highly painful. It is important to opt for a medically assisted and supervised treatment program in a rehab center. Some medications given during morphine addiction treatment include:

  • Loperamide – For the treatment of diarrhea.
  • Clonidine – For treating anxiety, muscle aches, cramps, and agitation.
  • Diazepam – For the treatment of insomnia and muscle cramps.
  • Methadone – Methadone helps to settle down drug cravings.
  • Buprenorphine – This drug activates same opioid receptors as morphine does thus, it helps to effectively prevent certain withdrawal symptoms and reduce morphine cravings.
  • Clonidine – It also eases the withdrawal symptoms.
  • Naltrexone – This is given to reduce the possibility of a relapse.

Detoxification process for morphine:

Detoxification is the first step towards recovery from morphine addiction. It is highly recommended to carry out detoxification process at a specialized rehabilitation center or detox center to ensure a speedy and successful recovery. During a supervised and medically assisted treatment program, medications for the management of withdrawal symptoms are provided to make the process less agonizing for the patient. Duration of the detoxification process varies among the individuals depending on the duration of abuse and doses of the drug abused. Proper treatment in a rehabilitation center minimizes the relapse rates. Moreover, many other psychological therapies are also employed to achieve the higher recovery rates for the patients.