Morphine is classified as one of the legally acquired, but highly regulated opiate narcotic by local drug enforcement agencies. Morphine is a very potent drug designed for moderate to severe pain management like for people with malignant neoplasm. Despite its efficacy, it can be habit-forming. This high potential for addiction and its severe withdrawal symptoms upon termination of its use make it a high priority regulated drug by government agencies, pharmacists and doctors in general.
Morphine withdrawal symptoms could be a very horrible and probably perilous experience for the pain-ridden patient or the hooked up addict. These symptoms can appear 12 hours after the last dose and will likely increase in intensity for a week or more. Early signs include excessive perspiration, runny nose, dilated pupils, muscle pain, fretfulness and insomnia. As the withdrawal continues, harsh symptoms like gastrointestinal upset, goose bumps on the skin and intense hankering for morphine appear.
Some medications have been used in treating morphine-drenched individuals to continue withdrawal. They are designed to relieve the symptoms but not necessarily the craving for morphine. Major drugs in withdrawal therapy include:
- Buprenorphine - A partial opiate agonist, it directly treats addiction by blocking the brain's opiate receptors but keeping them stimulated like morphine does. Eventually, addiction to morphine is relieved and this drug tapered off.
- Clonidine - This is an antihypertensive drug that can decrease levels of adrenaline in the blood. In effect, this lowers anxiety. It also works with the brain receptors for pain to handle perceived aches better.
- Methadone - A full opiate agonist which works like Buprenorphine. However, this offers more disadvantage than Buprenorphine.
Other drugs that can be included in the medication regimen are:
- Diphenhydramine - An antihistamine that acts as a safe alternative in combating insomnia.
- Ibuprofen - This is a non-narcotic pain reliever that can be safely taken during withdrawal.
- Loperamide - This is an anti-diarrheal medication used sparingly, especially during the first weeks of withdrawal.
- Tyrosine - An amino acid that acts as natural energy boosters for the body.
- Vitamin B6 - Important co-factor for the happiness-inducing serotonin, a neurotransmitter.
Although morphine withdrawal symptoms will not lead to death, it is a dreadful experience that a patient need not undergo. It would be helpful to keep in mind that each morphine addict has different motives for withdrawing and that their dosage and treatment period varies. Consulting a health professional is a must, as they will advise which medication listed above can help manage the irritating symptoms. Health issues can further personalize the drug regimen to fit the patient's need. Medications must be taken exactly as prescribed.
It is also advisable for the person undergoing withdrawal to join support groups like Narcotics Anonymous. The support group will provide the patient resources, affirmation, acceptance and rehabilitating activities to keep their minds off morphine use. Physical activities like exercise should be encouraged to allow natural endorphins to boost moods. Engaging in mentally stimulating activities that the patient used to enjoy prior to addiction can be introduced to hasten recovery.