Morphine is an addictive prescription painkiller that can be habit-forming. Taking morphine for more than a few weeks can result in physical dependence and withdrawal.
Detoxing from morphine may be necessary if you have become physically dependent on morphine through chronic use of morphine or morphine abuse.
What Is Morphine Detox?
Morphine detoxification, or detox, is the process of removing morphine from your system. This can occur through either weaning off morphine slowly or stopping it completely.
Morphine detox may be recommended if you:
- have been taking morphine for more than a few weeks
- take high doses of morphine regularly
- have been misusing morphine alone or in combination with other drugs
- are physically reliant on morphine (drug dependency)
- are psychologically addicted to morphine
Morphine detox also refers to a type of drug treatment program. Detox offers treatment for morphine withdrawal, or the side effects of detox, which can last several days.
How Morphine Detox Works
Detoxing from prescription opioids like morphine is a multi-step process. Within a detox center, there are three primary steps in this detox and withdrawal process.
Steps in the detox process include:
- intake assessment: You’ll first be assessed physically and psychologically. You may be asked questions about your medication history and substance use.
- detoxification: Morphine withdrawal can begin within 24 hours of your last morphine use. This can last for anywhere from four days to two weeks.
- drug rehab: After detox, a transition into a drug rehab program for morphine abuse may be recommended to help you maintain abstinence from morphine.
Morphine detox services are offered by detox facilities, outpatient detox centers, and some inpatient addiction treatment centers.
What Are The Side Effects Of Morphine Detox?
Detoxing from morphine can cause side effects. These are known as symptoms of withdrawal. Morphine withdrawal symptoms are typically flu-like and can be physically uncomfortable.
Early signs of morphine withdrawal include:
- muscle aches
- excessive yawning
- runny nose
Late withdrawal symptoms may include:
- stomach cramping
- cold and hot flashes
- drug cravings
- dilated pupils
- uncontrollable leg movements
- fast heart rate
- loss of appetite
- fast breathing
Late withdrawal symptoms typically develop within the first 72 to 96 hours of morphine detox, and may last for one to two weeks after beginning the detox process.
What Factors Can Affect How Long Morphine Detox Lasts?
The timeline for morphine detox can be influenced by a number of factors.
Factors that can affect the length of morphine detox include:
- drug formulation (i.e. taking immediate-release vs. extended-release)
- dose taken
- frequency and duration of morphine use
- morphine abuse and addiction
- abuse of multiple drugs (including alcohol)
- certain mental conditions
- treatment received during detox
Personal factors such as older age and body composition can also play a role in how long it takes for the body to fully eliminate morphine from your system.
Safety Tips For Morphine Detox
Morphine detox can be physically uncomfortable and emotionally distressing.
Although withdrawal symptoms are not often life-threatening, severe cases of withdrawal can result in negative outcomes without a proper support system.
Here are tips for how to safely detox from morphine:
Seek Professional Help
Do not stop taking morphine without first seeking medical advice. If you are taking prescription morphine, talk to your doctor before adjusting your medication use.
Severe symptoms of morphine withdrawal, including excessive vomiting, diarrhea, and pain can occur if you stop taking morphine too quickly, skip a dose, or quit the drug all at once.
Do Not Stop Cold-Turkey
Stopping morphine cold-turkey, or all at once, can result in significant discomfort. To prevent this, your doctor may recommend gradually weaning off morphine through a taper.
Risk factors for severe withdrawal include:
- taking high doses of morphine
- morphine abuse
- abusing multiple drugs
- having chronic illness
- having a long history of morphine use
Detox programs for morphine abuse and addiction can also offer evidence-based treatment for withdrawal, including the use of certain medications.
Consider Opioid Addiction Medication
Addiction treatment medications, such as methadone and buprenorphine, can help relieve morphine withdrawal symptoms and help you maintain abstinence after detox.
Medication-assisted treatment during detox can help by:
- relieving drug cravings
- preventing severe withdrawal
- reducing the intensity of withdrawal symptoms
- increasing the likelihood that a person will stay off morphine
- reducing the risk of an overdose-related death
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is one of the most effective treatments for opioid addiction, including addiction to morphine and other opiates.
Medical Detox Programs For Morphine Addiction
Medical detox is the safest option for detoxing from morphine. This involves entering a detox facility or treatment center for overnight care and medical supervision.
Medical detox programs can offer:
- 24-hour supervision
- treatment for withdrawal
- nutritional support
- fluid support (i.e. IV therapy)
- referral for substance abuse treatment
Medical detox typically lasts the duration of acute withdrawal. After this, beginning substance abuse treatment through a drug treatment facility or other treatment provider is recommended.
Outpatient Detox For Morphine Dependence
Medical detox typically requires staying in a detox facility overnight for around-the-clock care and support. This offers the highest level of safety during the detox process.
Outpatient detox, which is less intensive, does not involve staying in a facility overnight.
Outpatient detox is not generally recommended for people who:
- have an opioid use disorder (i.e. morphine addiction)
- have a history of substance abuse
- have co-occurring mental health or medical conditions
- are at risk for severe drug withdrawal
What’s most important for the detox process is getting in touch with a medical professional.
From there, you can receive guidance about which type of detox program may be most suitable to meet the needs of yourself or a loved one.
Morphine Detox FAQs
Find answers to frequently asked questions about morphine detox, withdrawal, and treatment options for morphine abuse and addiction.
❓ What Is The Withdrawal Timeline For Morphine Detox?
✔️ Withdrawal typically begins within six to 12 hours after taking your last dose of morphine. Most physical symptoms usually last no more than 10 days.
Emotional and psychological symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, may persist for some time. Weeks, months, or potentially years.
❓ Is Morphine A Prescription Drug?
✔️ Morphine is a prescription opioid that is prescribed under the following brand names:
- MS Contin
- Arymo ER
- generic morphine
Morphine is a prescription painkiller. Like codeine, it is a natural opiate. It works by binding to the opioid receptors in the brain, which play a role in regulating your perception of pain.
❓ Is Morphine Detox Dangerous?
✔️ Detoxing from morphine may cause changes in blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and cause dehydration without proper nourishment and sufficient fluid intake.
Without the support of medical professionals, attempts to detox can also risk relapse and accidental overdose after detox, which can occur as a result of reduced drug tolerance.
Find A Morphine Detox Program Today
Overcoming an addiction to morphine is possible. Let us help you get started.
Call our helpline today to learn more about morphine detox and to find a morphine detox program that’s right for you.
Published on August 18, 2021
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — Prescription Opioids DrugFacts
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Morphine
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Opiate and opioid withdrawal
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: NCBI Bookshelf — Withdrawal Management - Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings