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Morphine Withdrawal: Learn the Timeline, Symptoms, and Detox

Morphine, an opioid painkiller that is a derivative of the poppy plant, is used to aid in pain relief. The characteristics of morphine are highly addictive; it produces euphoria as it attaches to and activates the opioid receptors in the brain. Morphine is in pill form; however, the drug can be taken orally, insufflated (inhaled), or injected both intravenously and intramuscularly

Morphine is three times weaker than heroin, but it is the most potent of all the opioids because of its purity. Morphine is used on the streets as a substitute for heroin because the drugs produce similar effects, although it is much more difficult to find morphine on the street than heroin. 

Although morphine abuse is less common, individuals who are introduced to the drug can become addicted, risking mental and physical health. Morphine is also more commonly found prescribed by doctors or used for individuals who are undergoing surgery or medical procedures.

Morphine Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal typically occurs in users who have been on a large dose of morphine for a long period. However, it is possible for those who have used morphine in lower doses for a short time to become dependent, develop a tolerance, or become addicted to the drug. Morphine withdrawal symptoms appear hours after an individual stops taking the drug. The severity of the symptoms, like any other drug, depends on the amount used and how long the drug is used.

Morphine withdrawal symptoms are similar to those of any opioid. They consist of:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of concentration
  • Diarrhea
  • Restlessness
  • Depression
  • Influx of emotions
  • Cold sweats
  • Insomnia
  • Joint pain
  • Mood swings
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Itchiness
  • Pupil dilation

In many cases, people who abuse morphine will feel like they are dying. However, morphine withdrawal usually will not cause death. This sometimes makes it extremely difficult for people addicted to morphine and opioids to quit due to how intense withdrawals can be. 

What Are the Stages of the Morphine Withdrawal Timeline?

Morphine withdrawal can begin as early as several hours after the last dose. This depends on how the individual is administering the drug, how much they are using, and the duration of their usage. Morphine leaves the body rather quickly, and once this begins to happen, the individual will start to feel discomfort. 

They may begin to sweat and feel flu-like symptoms. When a person is in early morphine withdrawal, their pupils will dilate almost immediately. They may also be experiencing cravings at this time.

Within the first six to 12 hours after the last dose, acute withdrawal symptoms begin. These consist of:

  • Depression
  • Nausea
  • Cramps
  • Insomnia
  • Pupil dilation
  • Physical pain

Any of the symptoms listed above can also be felt in this duration. These symptoms peak around two to four days and usually subside within seven to 10 days.

After the individual overcomes this first stage of morphine withdrawal, next comes the stage where the body begins to remove the toxins (morphine) from the body. It is imperative at this time for the individual to feed the body with nutrients and properly hydrate it.

The addicted person will experience symptoms such as:

  • Chills
  • Goosebumps
  • Sweating
  • Leg cramps
  • Pupil dilation
  • Restless leg syndrome

The final stage of morphine withdrawal is often the most difficult for most people who are addicted to the substance. At this point, the physical aspect of withdrawal has almost entirely diminished. However, the mental obsession continues. At this point in the morphine withdrawal timeline, the individual will most likely experience intense cravings, anxiety, depression, restlessness, and insomnia.

These symptoms can last anywhere from two weeks to multiple months after the last dose of morphine. These symptoms are also known as post-acute withdrawal symptoms or PAWS. Almost every opioid withdrawal process is the same, depending on the toxicity level of the drug used. Due to the intensity of PAWS as well as the overwhelming physical symptoms of morphine withdrawal, detoxing in a medical facility will allow the individual to rid their body of the drug safely.

Why Should I Detox?

Detoxing from morphine and other opioids is a painful and highly unpleasant experience. Detox facilities allow for a safe and comfortable environment for those in morphine withdrawal. Quitting morphine “cold turkey” can result in low success rates as well as weeks of physical and psychological pain. When a person detoxes from morphine, medications can be prescribed to alleviate the discomfort of withdrawal.

Quitting cold turkey means detoxing at home or on one’s own. This can pose serious threats to an individual. When the body depends on a drug to function properly for a long time, it can lead to preventable health complications.

What Is the Next Treatment Step?

For most people with addictions, continuing treatment after detox will most likely result in success. The rate of success for those who enter a long-term facility after detox is much higher than those who go to a medical detox or detox themselves without further care. Usually, a type of inpatient or residential facility would follow detox. 

Though there are many variations of treatment across the country, they all serve the same purpose and strive to achieve the same goals. Morphine is not an easy drug to quit, and after the physical withdrawal is over, the individual is left with a mental obsession and possible psychological setbacks, especially early into sobriety.

Many people who need addiction treatment cannot maintain sobriety using willpower alone. When it comes to morphine and other opioids, the grip is so strong that they may use immediately after detox despite the destruction their addiction has caused and the severity of withdrawal. Providing a larger gap between re-entering society and the last dose helps recovering users put life into perspective and truly learn about their addictions and the drugs they have put into their bodies.

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Addiction, regardless of the substance, creates the same feelings and misfortune in the lives of those who struggle with it. The grip morphine has on its users is strong, which prevents many people from seeking help. Morphine withdrawal is one of the leading causes of a person’s fear to seek treatment. After extensive use, an individual will feel normal only after dosing. They will not feel sick, and they will not feel high; the body relies on the drug to function normally. 

No matter how deep into addiction an individual is, there is still hope. Ocean Breeze Recovery provides a safe and effective environment to those seeking help from morphine addiction as well as addiction to any other substance, including alcohol.

Call our trained medical professionals at (844) 554-9279 who are available to answer any questions you or a loved one might have about starting the road to recovery. Our staff is available 24/7 and eager to assist you. You can also reach out to us online.


verywellhealth. (2020, January 7) Morphine: Forms, Use, Side Effects, and How It's Given. Morrow, A. RN. Retrieved from

Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. (n,d). Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). Retrieved January, 2019 from

NIDA. 2020, June 2. Addiction Medications. Retrieved from

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (January, 2018). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition). Retrieved January, 2019 from

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