What Are the Side Effects of Morphine Withdrawal?

Morphine was developed by extracting 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 misuse and addiction.

This article will discuss the many side effects of morphine withdrawal and what treatments can help mitigate morphine withdrawal symptoms.

Quitting Morphine

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 the substance use disorder. 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

When withdrawing from morphine, a person may experience any number of the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • Stomach problems
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Sensitivity to pain
  • Rapid heartbeat and breathing
  • Confusion and grogginess
  • Depression, anxiety, and irritability
  • Cravings
  • Post-acute withdrawal syndrome

Some of these withdrawal symptoms are described in greater detail below.

1. 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.

2. Cold and Flu-Like Symptoms

These include runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, goosebumps, sweating, and body aches.

3. 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.

4. Tremors and Muscle Weakness

Many people experience uncontrollable shaking, either due to muscle weakness, fatigue, or physical tremors.

5. Diarrhea

Because narcotics like morphine slow down bowel movements, one of the side effects of misusing 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. Depression, Anxiety, and Irritability

Mood changes are common in people attempting to overcome addiction to or misuse 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.

10. 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 a psychological addiction.

11. 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.

Finding Treatment for Morphine Addiction

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 of dependence on the drug and to 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.

At Sunrise House—an inpatient rehab facility in New Jersey—the highly trained clinical team creates a personalized treatment plan for each patient. We provide life-changing care and offer several levels of addiction treatment.

Call to speak with an admissions navigator and start the admissions process. You can also start by online.

Learn More About Other Misused Prescription Drugs

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