Morphine Detox Guide
Morphine is a prescription opioid medicine mainly used to treat moderate to severe pain. It is a natural compound that comes from the opium poppy plant. The illegal drug heroin comes from morphine. Like other opioid medicines, even though it has valid medical uses, regular use can lead to physical dependence and symptoms of withdrawal.1
Effects of Morphine and Opioid Misuse
Morphine not only offers pain relief (analgesia), but it also produces feelings of intense joy and happiness (euphoria), slows breathing and can induce vomiting and constipation.1,2 Wanting to feel euphoria, or “high,” may lead to heroin use or morphine and prescription opioid misuse.2,9
Even when used as your doctor tells you to, taking morphine or other prescription opioids can lead to an increased risk of opioid use disorder (OUD).2 Regular, long-term use of any opioid can lead to tolerance and dependence. Tolerance is when your body needs higher doses to feel the same effects.2 Dependence means that if you suddenly stop taking the drug or reduce your dose, you will go through withdrawal.2
Overdose is another risk of opioid use. Morphine and other opioids slow down your breathing rate.2 Large doses can be fatal, especially if taken with other drugs or alcohol.2,4 Opioid overdose can also lead to brain damage, coma, and even death.9
If you inject morphine, heroin, or other opioids, you are at a higher risk for other serious health problems, including:5
- HIV, hepatitis, or other blood-borne diseases.
- Heart infections.
- Serious skin infections.
- Abscesses (pockets of pus caused by infection).
- Hardening of the veins.
- Tuberculosis (TB).
Other long-term effects of opioid use can include:5
- Extremely dry nose and mouth.
- Menstrual problems.
- Sexual dysfunction.
- Serious constipation.
- Vision problems.
Morphine Withdrawal Symptoms
When you are dependent on morphine or another opioid, suddenly stopping or greatly reducing your dose will lead to feeling withdrawal symptoms. Which symptoms you have and how strong they’ll be depends on how much morphine and any other opioids you take and how often. Opioid withdrawal symptoms may include:5,6,8
- High blood pressure.
- Rapid heartbeat.
- Muscle aches and bone pain.
- Changes in body temperature.
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia).
- Depressed mood.
- Feeling restless or uneasy (agitation).
These symptoms can be very unpleasant and often also include drug cravings. This discomfort can sometimes lead a person to begin using again to ease symptoms.5
How Long Does Morphine Withdrawal Last?
In general, the timeline for morphine withdrawal lasts about 7 to 10 days.7 Symptoms first appear around 8 to 24 hours after the last use of morphine and peak (are at their strongest) about 1 to 3 days after your last use.7 But, no 2 people are alike, and what one person goes through may not be the same thing you’ll go through. How long withdrawal lasts and how strong symptoms are depends on: 6,8
- How long you have used morphine and other opioid drugs.
- How much you take.
- How often you use morphine or other opioid drugs.
- Your overall health.
- Other substances you use or medicines you take.
How to Cope with Symptoms of Morphine Withdrawal
Withdrawal from opioid drugs like morphine can be stressful and uncomfortable, and many who try to quit on their own begin using opioids again to ease these symptoms.5,8 But you don’t have to go through withdrawal alone. Inpatient or outpatient detox at a professional treatment center can help ease withdrawal symptoms while keeping you safe and keeping drug cravings at bay.8,10 Before trying to quit morphine on your own, talk to your doctor. They can help you assess your options for treatment that will help set you up for success on your road to recovery.
If you have underlying medical or mental health issues or need to detox from other substances, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines, you may benefit from the 24-hour support of inpatient detox. 8 Inpatient or residential detox may also be a good option for you if you have tried outpatient detox in the past.8
Detox is the first step in OUD treatment.10 On its own, detox doesn’t help you address the underlying thoughts and behaviors that led to OUD.10 Detox staff can help refer you to the next phase of treatment after detox.
Opioid Withdrawal Medicines
While in detox, your care team may give you medicines to help control withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings.8 Common medicines used during opioid detox are:7,8
- Buprenorphine or methadone, which help ease withdrawal symptoms and control drug cravings. Some patients stay on one of these medicines even after detox to help control drug cravings and prevent relapse (return to drug use after a period of not using).
- Lofexidine and clonidine, which help control some withdrawal symptoms, like anxiety.
- Sleep medicines.
- Medicines to relieve muscle aches and pains.
Finding Morphine Detox Treatment
American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading provider of morphine detox and ongoing treatment, with several locations nationwide. At AAC, we can create a personal treatment plan to help you safely detox from morphine. Our compassionate and caring staff members will be there to support you during your morphine detox, guide you through your treatment, and help you find your way to long-term recovery. Ready to heal? Call us today at our free and confidential 24/7 detox helpline at .
- National Center for Biotechnology Information (2021). PubChem compound summary for CID 5288826, morphine.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Prescription drugs misuse report: Opioids.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Prescription opioids and heroin research report.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2016). Opioid overdose.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
- Pergolizzi Jr, J. V., Raffa, R. B., & Rosenblatt, M. H. (2020). Opioid withdrawal symptoms, a consequence of chronic opioid use and opioid use disorder: Current understanding and approaches to management. Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, 45(5), 892–903.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2020). TIP 63: Medications for opioid use disorder.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). TIP 45: Detoxification and substance abuse treatment.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Prescription opioids drugfacts.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research-based guide (Third edition).