Morphine is a non-synthetic opiate drug that clinically, is indicated for pain management. It is sold in both oral and injectable form.
Morphine has a high potential for addiction, however, and is commonly the product of drug diversion and abuse. A morphine detox is a medical process in which the drug and other substances are efficiently removed from the patient’s body.
Morphine is marketed under several brand names, including Kadian, RMS, MSIR, Oramorph SR, Roxanol, and MS-Contin. It is also sold in a generic form. Street names for morphine products include MS, Mr. Blue, and China White, among others.
The Drug Enforcement Administration categorizes morphine as a Schedule II drug, a classification that acknowledges the drug’s abuse potential and the possibility of dependence and tolerance as a result.
The method of use (oral, smoking, snorting, injecting) influences how soon the drug’s effects begin to manifest. Oral use is the slowest, and other methods such as injection are more rapid. Morphine’s effects usually begin somewhere between 15 minutes to an hour and can last up to six hours.
Morphine Dependence occurs because the brain has been altered by the drug’s interactions with opioid receptors. When morphine enters the bloodstream, it bombards these receptors and results in a massive release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that contributes to pleasant feelings and a sense of well-being.
Use also reduces heart and breathing rates, blood pressure, and body temperature. Over time, however, the brain adjusts to these effects, and some pathways are physically changed. Thus, the brain begins to rely on morphine to feel good and begins to bypass the natural pathway that would normally do this job effectively. The user then wants more of the drug to continue feeling its pleasurable effects.
Once dependence occurs, cravings for the drug and withdrawal symptoms are common when morphine is not active in the user’s system, and the brain attempts to restore balance in its absence.
A morphine detox is best managed through the use of a specialized facility under the care of medical, mental health, and addiction recovery providers. Around-the-clock supervision by professionals ensures that the client is as safe and comfortable as possible, and medications can be rendered to reduce many of the unpleasant withdrawal effects.
The objective of the initial detox is to help patients regain physical and mental stability, then transfer them to intensive outpatient or inpatient treatment to gain insight into the reasons for drug abuse.
Symptoms Of Morphine Withdrawal
Morphine withdrawal symptoms often begin within 6-12 hours of the dose. The early withdrawal stage may include effects such as yawning, sweating, tearing up, and runny nose. Withdrawal symptoms peak between 48-72 hours and are very flu-like and more severe. They may include:
- increased blood pressure and heart rate
- sleep disturbances
- difficulty feeling pleasure
- anxiety and restlessness
- muscle aches and pain
- stomach pain
- nausea and vomiting
- loss of appetite
- drug cravings
Most withdrawal symptoms will subside between 5-7 days, but the severity and duration of symptoms are often impacted by individual contributing factors, such as:
Amount/Duration Of Drug Use
Increasing amounts of drug use combined with an extended duration of use results in a more severe dependency, and thus, withdrawal symptoms may be more intense.
Both a personal and family history of addiction to any substance, as well as other biological factors, may contribute to the user’s level of dependence.
Comorbid medical or mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety may influence drug dependence and withdrawal symptoms.
Use and abuse of multiple drugs or alcohol in addition to morphine can impact a person’s level of dependence and must be addressed during morphine detox.
Stress, peer pressure, and a patient’s environment can also influence drug abuse and addiction.
Easing Morphine Detox with Medication
The Food & Drug Administration currently approves the use of three drugs for the treatment of opioid addiction: buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone. These medications are useful during morphine detox to mitigate withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Quitting an opioid cold turkey is not recommended, and these drugs can serve as very effective substitutes.
Who Becomes Addicted To Morphine?
Anyone, regardless of age, gender, or race can develop an addiction to morphine, due to its innate properties that can invoke dependence. However, some people are a greater risk than others. These include those with a history of personal addiction to any substance, childhood trauma, neglect, or abuse, and co-occurring mental conditions such as depression.