Morphine was developed from synthesizing opium, to alleviate moderate to severe pain. Although it is rarely prescribed, it is still used in some instances. It is a powerful narcotic medication that can lead to addiction and abuse.
When a person struggles with an addiction to morphine, they may attempt to quit on their own. This can lead to withdrawal symptoms, which can be uncomfortable and, in some cases, physically dangerous. It is important to get medical oversight and assistance during detox, and then enroll in a complete rehabilitation program to overcome substance abuse problems. The worst symptoms of withdrawal will begin between two and three days (48-72 hours) after the last dose; side effects from withdrawal will end after about 10 days.
The Side Effects of Morphine Withdrawal
- Stomach problems
- Sensitivity to pain
- Rapid heartbeat and breathing
- Confusion and grogginess
- Depression, anxiety, and irritability
- Post-acute withdrawal syndrome
Side effects associated with morphine withdrawal are outlined in detail below.
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- Stomach problems: These may include nausea and vomiting, stomach upset, and changes in appetite. The person may feel hungrier than normal or not hungry, due to gastrointestinal discomfort.
- Cold and flu-like symptoms: These include runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, goosebumps, sweating, and body aches.
- Insomnia: Because opioid drugs like morphine are CNS depressants, which relax the body and often lead to drowsiness or sleepiness, the person will feel more awake and on edge when morphine use stops. One of the side effects of this brain state change can be rebound insomnia.
- Tremors and muscle weakness: Many people experience uncontrollable shaking, either due to muscle weakness, fatigue, or physical tremors.
- Diarrhea: Because narcotics like morphine slow down bowel movements, one of the side effects of abusing these drugs is constipation. Once the person stops taking morphine, the bowels will regain their original movements within a few days. This could lead to diarrhea.
- Sensitivity to pain: Morphine is used as a prescription painkiller, because it very effectively blocks or dulls sensations of pain from the body. However, if a person has taken this medication for a long time or struggled with addiction to morphine, when they stop taking the drug, they may feel an increased sensitivity to anything painful. They may also fuel muscle aches and skin sensitivity.
- Rapid heartbeat and breathing: Morphine and other narcotics depress breathing and slow heart rate. When the body is overcoming a dependence on these drugs, the person may experience rapid heartbeat and increased breathing rates.
- Confusion and grogginess: The individual may experience a lack of mental clarity or a sense of fogginess around thinking, as their brain attempts to stabilize neurotransmitters while they are not taking morphine.
- Depression, anxiety, and irritability: Mood changes are common in people attempting to overcome addiction to or abuse of many types of drugs. Since narcotics like morphine are CNS depressants, they create a relaxed, calming high. When that level of calm is gone, the person may feel anxious, angry, irritated, depressed, or restless.
- Cravings: Without maintenance therapy, detox, and a rehabilitation program, the person attempting to overcome their addiction to morphine may experience intense cravings for the drug, including intrusive or compulsive thoughts about morphine and the sensations of using it. Without help during withdrawal, the individual is likely to give in to these feelings, often to overcome the physical discomfort induced by other withdrawal symptoms. Cravings are symptoms of psychological addiction.
- Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS): Although it is rare, some people who have struggled for years with morphine addiction and repeatedly taken large doses of the drug may develop PAWS, or post-acute withdrawal syndrome. This syndrome involves withdrawal symptoms at a greater intensity that occur for a longer period of time.
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People who wish to overcome their addiction to morphine must seek help, first and foremost. Ending narcotics addiction is possible with the help of medical professionals and a rehabilitation program. A doctor can prescribe medications like Suboxone to ease the body off dependence on the drug and mitigate withdrawal symptoms. Then, a rehabilitation program, either inpatient or outpatient, can provide therapy and social support to help clients overcome addiction to these substances.