If you have been taking morphine for pain for several months or more, you will likely need treatment for morphine withdrawal. Whether your morphine use was recommended by your doctor or you have been abusing morphine without a prescription, you will likely need treatment for dependence (and possibly addiction) in order to stop taking morphine safely and avoid the problematic effects of morphine withdrawal. The National Library of Medicine advises that you “do not stop taking morphine without talking to your doctor,” and you may need more intensive treatment for this issue as well. But how can you know if you need treatment for morphine withdrawal?
Are You Dependent On Morphine?
If you are dependent on morphine, you will need to receive treatment in order to safely stop taking the drug. Dependence is different from addiction; a person can become dependent on a drug like morphine without abusing it at all. When an individual becomes dependent on a substance, they feel that they need it in order to get through the day, and in the case of physical dependence, they will experience withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop taking the drug. These symptoms include:
- Back, joint, and muscle pain
- Teary eyes
- Runny nose
- Appetite loss
- Stomach cramps
- Fast heartbeat
- Fast breathing
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Different parts of the brain are responsible for the addiction and dependence to heroin and opiates.” While a person who becomes addicted to a drug by abusing it is in need of treatment for this issue, a person who does not abuse morphine while taking it is still likely to need treatment for dependence.
When a person stops taking a drug like morphine after they have been taking it for a long time, the body is used to the drug’s effects and often depends on them, causing them to experience problems when those effects suddenly aren’t there. This is why individuals who are physically dependent on opioids will require some sort of treatment for withdrawal, and if you have been taking morphine regularly for more than a few weeks or months for any reason, your body is likely already dependent on the drug.
Are You Addicted To Morphine?
Most people who become addicted to morphine are already dependent on the substance as well, as abuse of the drug will often lead to both issues. The individual who is addicted to the drug’s effects, based on consistent and/or long-term abuse, will require treatment for withdrawal, especially because the symptoms are likely to be more intense than for those who are merely dependent on the drug’s effects.
As the NIDA states, “It is possible to be dependent on morphine, without being addicted to morphine. (Although, if one is addicted, they are most likely dependent as well.)” Addiction can lead to a host of problems, especially when an incredibly strong narcotic is the subject of that addiction, and it is much safer for the individual to receive treatment for all issues associated with it, beginning with their withdrawal symptoms and moving toward addiction treatment when appropriate.
How Can You Know If You Are Dependent/Addicted?
Ask yourself the questions below. Be honest with your answers and consider whether or not you may have an issue when it comes to your morphine use, even if it was prescribed by a doctor.
- Was I prescribed morphine by a doctor?
- Have I been taking the drug every day for more than a month?
- Have I been taking it consistently for more than three months?
- When I have not been able to take morphine, do I not feel like myself?
- Do I become extremely anxious, depressed, or angry when I cannot take the drug?
- Do I feel that I cannot get out of bed without morphine?
- Do I feel that I need morphine to get me through the day?
- Have I noticed that my tolerance for the drug’s effects has increased (IE the same dosage no longer causes the same intensity of effects)?
- When I suddenly stop using morphine or I cannot get it, do I experience physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms?
- Have I been abusing morphine––either at a higher dosage than prescribed or without a prescription at all––for more than a month?
- Am I hiding my drug use from my family and friends?
- Have I noticed that my use of morphine has begun to affect my professional and/or personal life?
- Do I crave morphine or think about it constantly when I am unable to take it?
- Do I seek out it to the detriment of myself or others?
- Do I feel that the effects of morphine no longer satisfy me but continue to use the drug anyway?
- Am I considering abusing a more intense drug like heroin?
If you answered yes to most of the first section of questions, you are dependent on morphine and will require some type of treatment for withdrawal, whether it is being weaned off the medication with the help of your personal physician or treatment in a detox clinic. If you answered yes to most of the second section of questions, you are likely addicted to the drug––and dependent as well––and should attend addiction rehab, beginning with treatment for your withdrawal syndrome.
Morphine is a very intense medication with the possibility for causing severe withdrawal symptoms, even if you have not been abusing the drug. Therefore, anyone who has been taking it for a long period of time––one to three months or more––should not stop taking it without some type of treatment plan. You can receive help from your doctor and be weaned slowly off the medication, but this will not cure your addiction. If you are addicted, or if you are likely to experience severe withdrawal symptoms, you should attend a rehab center where you can receive detox treatment before addiction treatment as necessary.
Where Can You Find Morphine Withdrawal Treatment?
Call 800-584-3274 Who Answers? for help finding a treatment program where you can be slowly tapered off the drug or given other medications to treat your withdrawal symptoms, in addition to receiving addiction help if necessary. Whatever your needs are, we will help you find a program that meets them.