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Managing Morphine Withdrawal: Everything You Need To Know

By Zawn Villines
Morphine withdrawal usually lasts a few days, but it can be painful and difficult. These strategies can help you manage symptoms.

Morphine withdrawal happens when a person who has become dependent on morphine stops using the drug. Morphine is an opioid, like heroin and some prescription painkillers such as oxycodone. According to a 2020 article published in StatPearls, it begins when opioid receptors in the brain no longer have access to morphine. This triggers a number of symptoms that can last for several days. In rare cases, severe symptoms of opioid withdrawal can become life-threatening. Although morphine withdrawal symptoms may seem unpleasant and scary, quitting morphine and other opioids is the best option for your long-term health. 

Morphine Withdrawal Symptoms 

Aaron Sternlicht, LMHC, CASAC, of Lin & Aaron Coaching, tells WebMD Connect to Care that symptoms of morphine withdrawal vary from person to person. How long symptoms last, which symptoms are present, and how intense the symptoms are will be different for everyone.

On average, one begins withdrawing from morphine within six to 14 hours, and withdrawal symptoms can last up to 10 days, with peak withdrawal symptoms generally occurring 24 hours to five days after last use,” Sternlicht says.

According to a 2020 article published in StatPearls, morphine withdrawal symptoms may include the following: 

  • Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills or body aches 
  • Diarrhea and vomiting 
  • Dilated pupils 
  • Depression or anxiety 
  • A strong desire to use morphine 

People who inject morphine intravenously are more vulnerable to hepatitis, HIV, and life-threatening infections. These can intensify withdrawal and increase the risk of severe symptoms.

Managing Withdrawal 

While detoxing from morphine, you have multiple treatment options available. You may opt to detox at home or in a medical facility, also called medical detox. Wherever you detox, it’s a good idea to consult an addiction specialist.

“With a medical detox, a doctor can monitor vitals to ensure safety and prescribe medications to ease withdrawal symptoms, such as clonidine or buprenorphine (known by the brand name Subutex), or buprenorphine coupled with naloxone (known by the brand name Suboxone),” Sternlicht says.

If you opt to detox at home, Sternlicht says the following strategies may help you get through withdrawal: 

  • Tell at least one person you trust and ask them to check on you periodically. 
  • Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea. 
  • Use over-the-counter medications to manage severe symptoms. For example, loperamide can help with diarrhea, while acetaminophen can manage aches and pains, and dimenhydrinate can ease nausea.
  • Move your body to promote the release of endorphins that can help you feel better. Slow movement activities, such as yoga or tai chi, are great options. You can also go for a walk.
  • Practice good self-care. Eat nourishing meals, distract yourself with hobbies, or talk with someone you trust.

Don’t Wait. Get Help Now. 

Morphine addiction is a treatable medical condition. With the right help, withdrawal is manageable, and does not have to last long. WebMD Connect to Care experts are standing by to help. Don’t delay treatment, or continue risking your life with drug addiction. Get help today.