Morphine Abuse, Addiction, and Withdrawal
Morphine is a particularly powerful prescription opioid with a high potential for abuse and addiction. Doctors most commonly use it to relieve acute pain in patients.
In this article, we’ll cover the scope of morphine misuse in the United States, morphine withdrawal, and how to get help for a morphine addiction.
Specific data on morphine abuse is difficult to find, because national organizations, such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) or the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), publish figures on prescription medication and narcotic/opioid use as a whole.
Figures from these organizations and others indicate that:1,2
- The number one cause of accidental death in the United States is overdose of prescription medications such as opioid painkillers.
- In 2014, nearly 2 million individuals had a substance use disorder involving prescription pain medications such as morphine and other opioid drugs.
- Of this group, about 168,000 adolescents between the age of 12 and 17 years old had substance use disorders involving prescription pain medications.
Morphine Addiction and Withdrawal
When a person uses morphine for a prolonged period—even if taking it as prescribed—they may develop a dependence to the drug. If a person becomes physically dependent on a drug, they will experience withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to quit or reduce use.
While rarely life-threatening, morphine withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe and be very uncomfortable.
These symptoms include:3
- Muscle and joint pain.
- Diarrhea and nausea.
- Uncontrollable leg movements.
- Intense cravings.
How Long Does Morphine Withdrawal Last?
Morphine withdrawal typically lasts 7–10 days. A person may initially experience withdrawal symptoms 8–24 hours after the last use of morphine. Symptoms will usually peak in 1–3 days and eventually subside within 7–10 days.4
While there is a general timeline associated with withdrawal from morphine, specific cases will vary slightly in length and severity.
Factors that can affect morphine withdrawal include:
- The length of time someone used the drug.
- The amount of the drug someone was using.
- The method of administration (most individuals either inject or snort morphine, which results in more severe withdrawal symptoms than individuals who abuse an opioid drug in pill form).
- An individual’s physiological and psychological makeup.
- Addictions to other substances, in addition to morphine, such as alcohol or other prescription medications.
Treatment Options for Morphine Addiction
Rather than attempting to go “cold turkey,” experts strongly advise that people stop morphine use under the supervision of an addiction medicine physician or psychiatrist. Our medical detox facility near Tampa ensures the individual goes through withdrawal as safely and comfortably as possible, using medically assisted treatment options, such as opioid replacement medicines (e.g., methadone or Suboxone) in conjunction with a tapering process that minimizes symptoms.
In many cases, individuals trying to stop using highly addictive drugs like morphine will need to isolate themselves from potentially damaging environmental conditions in order to focus on the detox and recovery process. Individuals can also receive support and initial counseling during this time that can better prepare them for the road ahead.
The withdrawal process is only the first step in recovery from a morphine use disorder. The recovery journey involves changing one’s attitudes, outlook, coping strategies, peer relations, and overall approach to life to make them more advantageous to sobriety and overall wellness.
To accomplish this, many participants move from medical detox into an inpatient addiction treatment or outpatient rehab program, where they can engage in therapy, social and family support, and eventually long-term aftercare treatment focused on relapse prevention.
Addiction Treatment at River Oaks
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No matter how hopeless your situation currently feels, it’s important to remember that addiction is treatable.5 At River Oaks Treatment Center, we can help you turn your life around and begin the path to recovery today.
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