Morphine is an opioid drug falling into the same classification as codeine, oxycodone, and heroin. Typically prescribed as a pain treatment in pill form, it is highly addictive and users can become physically dependent. Morphine abusers may snort or inject the drug, as these methods of delivery provide a more intense and rapid high to the person. However, these methods are more dangerous than taking oral medication. Also, people who become addicted develop a higher tolerance to the drug, meaning more of the substance is required in order to produce the same effect. Morphine addiction is more common than the average person knows, and seeking treatment is is a huge first step toward recovery.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms begin when a person who has been regularly taking a drug for some time suddenly stops using. The symptoms typically begin within days of stopping usage. However, they can present as soon as hours after the person’s last use. Withdrawal symptoms can be both physical and mental in nature and range from mild to severe. People commonly report anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and feeling short-fused during the onset of morphine withdrawal. Physically, sweating, tremors, goose bumps, chills, shaking, sneezing, nausea, muscle and bone pain, couching, vomiting, and diarrhea are all possibilities when experiencing withdrawal. Some users also report developing visual and auditory hallucinations after stopping morphine. The severity of cravings and withdrawal symptoms depends largely on how often and how long a person has been using the drug. Weaning off of morphine gradually also produces less intense withdrawal symptoms than quitting suddenly and cold-turkey.


Morphine withdrawal treatment is a challenging but necessary step in recovery. The process begins with detoxification. Though users who have been taking low doses of the drug may be able to complete this step of morphine withdrawal treatment in an outpatient program, heavy users should always seek detoxification assistance in a medically supervised environment due to the potential severity of the symptoms. Patients should check in to a residential inpatient program at a clinic or hospital, where trained, on-call medical staff can safely and appropriately offer the recovering person options for managing their withdrawal symptoms.

The process is not instantaneous. In order to be long-lasting, effective, and safe, treatment and recovery are worked on and accomplished gradually. A supervising doctor oversees the administration of reduced doses of the drug untiled the patient is fully weaned off of it. Some doctors may incorporate other medications into the morphine withdrawal treatment plan in order to reduce symptoms. One such medication is methadone, which works to reduce symptoms experienced during withdrawal from opiates such as morphine. Buprenorphine is another option that a doctor may prescribe in order to soften the intensity of withdrawal symptoms.

Post-Detoxification Treatment

After completing the detoxification phase, further treatment is necessary to ensure full recovery from the addiction, including how to cope with emotional and physical triggers as well as physical symptoms. Sometimes, depending on the circumstances and the individual, the treating physician may prescribe naltrexone, a medication used in attempt to prevent a relapse. In some cases, doctors may also treat the recovering addict for pain, especially if morphine was originally prescribed to treat some type of pain. Psychological treatment for patients living in a residential center will begin on an inpatient basis and transition to outpatient when the counselor deems the individual ready to cope independently in his/her own environment. Teaching the individual to manage his/her environment is crucial for successful outcomes. Most follow-up treatment processes will include behavior therapy and individual counseling to identify and address the underlying factors that led to the addiction in the first place.

During counseling, individuals learn how to avoid temptation and situations in which relapse is likely, controlling his/her environment and leading a drug-free lifestyle. Whenever possible, family members are encouraged to be part of the recovery process by participating in family counseling sessions. During these sessions, doctors will educate those close to the recovering addict on how to respond to and deal with the person once they leave the center and return to normal life.

Holistic Alternatives

Holistic treatment options also exists as alternatives to traditional medicine and therapies. These approaches can be used in both the detoxification and recovery periods of treatment. Many drug treatment and rehabilitation facilities use holistic diets, beverages, and methods such as meditation, acupuncture, massage, yoga, and nutritional therapy to fill the void that morphine leaves once the person stops using. Withdrawal symptoms can be treated with these activities, but that does not negate the necessity of having a health care professional observing for signs of physical distress and danger throughout the process.

Finally, it’s important for those interested in seeking help to remember that withdrawal, treatment, and recovery are possible for everyone, even those who have relapsed in the past. The procedure must of course start from the beginning, giving attention to each step along with way. Overcoming withdrawals and making a plan for coping in everyday life will not be easy, but with the right approach and support, it is achievable for anyone.