The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration classifies morphine as a Schedule II drug, meaning that even though it has a high potential for abuse and can cause physical and psychological dependence, it is of considerable medical value. Indeed, notwithstanding the risks of addiction and withdrawal, many doctors argue that the benefits of using morphine outweigh the dangers.
How Does Morphine Affect The Brain?
Morphine is an opioid analgesic, meaning that it is a painkiller derived from opium. It is, in fact, the main chemical ingredient found in opium, making it particularly potent and addictive. Like other opioids, both medicinal and illicit, morphine treats how the body reacts to pain by directly working on receptors in the brain and central nervous system. As an opioid, it reduces the release of neurotransmitters carrying signals of pain, dulling the effects and responses to pain for about 3 to 6 hours. Morphine’s potency makes it a very popular choice for pain management; in fact, morphine is considered the standard opiate and the drug of first choice in the treatment of moderate to severe cancer pain.
Morphine Withdrawal Timeline
Because of how easily morphine binds to opioid receptors in the brain, a constant flow of the drug will prime the user to fall quickly into morphine dependency. The habit will go from simply taking the morphine to control pain, to taking the morphine when the user is bored, upset, angry, or otherwise discontent.
Like most drugs, morphine builds up a tolerance in the body. Morphine withdrawal follows the pattern of other forms of opioid withdrawal:
- 6 hours after last use: drug craving, depression, anxiety, and mood swings
- 14 hours after last use: sweating, runny sinuses, and depression
- 16 hours after last use: muscle cramping and twitches; loss of appetite
- 24 hours after last use: involuntary limb movements, diarrhea, insomnia, high blood pressure, and high breathing rate
- 36 hours after last use: vomiting
- 72 hours to 5 days after last use: gradual abatement of symptoms, although some may experience lingering effects
While morphine withdrawal usually balances out around the 5th or 6th day after the last intake, it is not unheard of for symptoms to linger for 7 to 10 days, especially in cases of long-term or serious morphine misuse. Despite the severity of these symptoms, morphine withdrawal is not fatal. Overdosing on morphine, on the other hand, can cause death from asphyxiation.
Even though morphine withdrawal isn’t fatal, withdrawal symptoms can be extremely distressing and difficult to endure, so much so that individuals may be tempted to abandon detox and take morphine again. While even this will likely not prove life-threatening, compared to someone going through alcohol withdrawal, which is much more dangerous, it does raise the possibility of someone going through morphine withdrawal to develop a deepening a dependence on morphine, undoing any work and good intentions that may have been done by the attempted withdrawal.
Morphine Addiction Treatment
Withdrawing from morphine on your own is always inadvisable. Going through structured and supervised withdrawal at a treatment center, offers many more advantages:
- Withdrawal is a complex chemical process, and you will be in the hands of trained medical staff members
- The facility’s doctors can prescribe careful doses of anti-anxiety and anti-nausea medication to ease the withdrawal process
- Other medical needs will be properly addressed
- There is no danger of relapsing when your withdrawal symptoms are at their worst, as you won’t have access to morphine
- When the withdrawal stage is complete, the treatment center can immediately start you on a course of psychotherapy
As important as it is to get over the physical craving to use morphine, whether or not it was prescribed by a doctor for pain management, controlling the mental compulsion to misuse morphine plays an even bigger role. A psychotherapist’s job is to work with you to understand the thought processes that led to an unhealthy desire for morphine. Once those processes are brought to light, they can help you learn new ways of dealing with the temptation to misuse morphine. This can cover anything from changing habits to keeping certain perspectives in mind when the pain threatens to become unbearable or when the frustrations and annoyances of daily life start piling up again.
At Futures, we want you to know that you do not have to go through morphine withdrawal on your own. Call today to start the path to recovery.