In Colorado, many people have been affected by the opioid epidemic. The state has been working to help reduce the problem on a medical, legal and personal level.

One opioid available by prescription and is unfortunately often misused is morphine. Throughout Colorado, whether in Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs or anywhere else in the state, people live with morphine addiction.

This opioid pain reliever is sold under various brand names, and it’s intended to help treat pain following surgery and in other similar situations. Common morphine brand names include Avinza, Kadian, Arymo ER, Morphabond, MS Contin, Oramorph SR and Roxanol.

Morphine is a Schedule II substance, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). This type of drug has accepted medical usage, but it also has a high potential for abuse and addiction. As a controlled substance, it is only legal to take this drug with a valid prescription.

As with other opioids, physical dependence is possible with morphine when it is misused recreationally, and even when the drug is taken as prescribed. When someone is physically dependent on a drug like morphine, uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous withdrawal symptoms occur when the person stops taking the drug. Withdrawal occurs during detox, and this is the body’s adjustment to the absence of the drug after the brain and central nervous system have become used to its presence.

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Stopping Morphine

Morphine and other opioid medications should not be stopped suddenly unless directed by a doctor due to the possibility of extreme withdrawal symptoms. The more uncomfortable the withdrawal symptoms, the more likely they are to relapse and keep using the drug.

Morphine can be stopped at home “cold turkey,” a person can ask their regular doctor for detox treatment or they can enter an addiction treatment program. Stopping cold turkey carries significant risk and can present the most severe withdrawal symptoms. Seeking treatment can make stopping more successful because a taper or medical detox can address the severity of these symptoms.

A taper refers to the dose of morphine being gradually reduced over time. Tapers may last anywhere from days to weeks to months. Because the drug is slowly removed from the body, the withdrawal symptoms are lessened. Whether or not a taper should be used can be determined by an addiction professional.

Morphine Withdrawal Symptoms

In general, morphine withdrawal symptoms can seem similar to cold or flu symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms tend to vary based on individual characteristics like metabolism, health and the level of drug use.

For example, a long-term morphine user who takes the drug in high doses is likely to have withdrawal symptoms that are more severe and last longer than someone who used morphine as prescribed for a short period of time.

Common physical morphine withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Fast heartbeat
  • High blood pressure

Psychological symptoms of opioid withdrawal may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Insomnia

In most cases, morphine withdrawal symptoms aren’t deadly, but they can be highly uncomfortable. There’s also the potential for dangerous complications such as dehydration and suicidal thoughts.

Severe side effects may occur during an opioid overdose and can include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Blue or gray fingernails
  • Inability to speak
  • Limpness
  • Pale or clammy skin
  • Slowed breathing
  • Coma
  • Death

Morphine Withdrawal Factors

The morphine withdrawal timeline and morphine withdrawal side effects depend on the following factors:

  • How much morphine was used: The higher dosage someone uses, the longer their withdrawal symptoms will last and the more severe they are likely to be.
  • How long the person used morphine: Longer usage means there are more changes to the central nervous system, and it’ll take longer for the body to heal once morphine is stopped.
  • Whether the person was misusing any other drugs: Misusing multiple substances will cause multiple withdrawal symptoms, making the overall detox much more complicated and potentially more dangerous.
  • Overall physical health: Those with kidney or liver problems are likely to have a longer period of withdrawal symptoms. 
  • Age: Older adults will detox from morphine more slowly since drug metabolism slows with age.

Morphine Withdrawal Timeline

While the morphine withdrawal symptoms timeline can vary, it generally follows the same pattern:

  • 8–24 hours: Morphine withdrawal side effects usually begin 8–24 hours after the last dose. Initial side effects include muscle aches and pains, yawning, runny nose and teary eyes. People may also feel increased pain. Some early psychological side effects of morphine withdrawal are anxiety, restlessness, irritability and insomnia.
  • 4–10 days: After the first day, symptoms continue for at least four days and sometimes as long as 10. In addition to a continuation of the symptoms of the first stage, other symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, chills, goosebumps, fever and stomach cramps. Dehydration from excessive diarrhea can occur.
  • 10+ days: After the acute withdrawal stage, symptoms generally subside. However, some people may experience “protracted withdrawal,” which is when symptoms last longer than expected.

Protracted withdrawal is also called post-acute withdrawal syndrome. This can happen with all opioids, but symptoms of morphine withdrawal can occur for weeks or months. Symptoms of post-acute withdrawal are usually psychological and can include depression, anxiety, irritability, fatigue and insomnia.

The Morphine Detox Process

Once someone decides to stop using morphine, the detox process begins. As the drug is removed from the body, the body begins healing itself and withdrawal symptoms occur as the body becomes accustomed to a lack of the drug. A person can either detox “cold turkey” at home or with the help of trained addiction professionals. For most people, seeking professionally monitored treatment is the best option.


During the intake process, an addiction professional will evaluate the extent of the morphine use disorder. More severe morphine addiction means that a higher level of treatment will be necessary. The highest level of treatment is an inpatient stay where the person lives onsite at the facility. 


Detox lasts 4–10 days for most people. In a treatment facility, the medical team manages the onset of symptoms like tremor, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Doing so helps make the person more comfortable and lowers the risk of life-threatening conditions like dehydration.

Further Treatment

The best time to begin the rest of addiction treatment is immediately after detox. Addiction treatment targets the harmful behaviors that contribute to the disease, helping people cope healthily. Treatment may involve cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, exercise, and other healthy activities.

Can You Detox from Morphine at Home?

Yes, a person can detox at home, but there are risks. Detoxing at home comes with a much higher risk of relapse than detoxing in a medical setting. If a person chooses to detox at home, they may be tempted to relapse to alleviate withdrawal symptoms.

Morphine withdrawal also causes diarrhea and vomiting for many people. Severe diarrhea and vomiting can lead to dehydration, which may be life-threatening. It is important to stay hydrated while detoxing at home, consuming as much as 2–3 L of water per day.

Morphine Withdrawal Treatment

While morphine withdrawal isn’t usually deadly, the symptoms can be incredibly uncomfortable and difficult. Dangerous complications are also possible, such as dehydration. For people who misuse more than one substance, withdrawal can become severe and even deadly.

The best option for morphine withdrawal treatment is an accredited, professional detox center, such as The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake in Colorado. At a medical detox facility, a medical team provides constant monitoring to ensure patients are safe and that their symptoms are mitigated.

Attending a professional detox as the first step of addiction treatment is beneficial not only because of the interventions that can be provided for withdrawal symptoms, but also because patients can then go directly into treatment, which can help reduce the risk of relapse and increase the chances of successfully overcoming an addiction to morphine.

Withdrawal from morphine can be just as psychological symptoms as it is physical, and both aspects can be addressed simultaneously at a professional treatment center.

Morphine Detox in Colorado

If you or someone you know has a morphine use disorder, consider seeking treatment. Morphine addiction is a debilitating and destructive condition that significantly impacts people’s lives. 

For people in Colorado, including Denver, Colorado Springs, Boulder, and statewide, The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake is available to help. This professionally accredited facility offers morphine detox treatment and addiction treatment services. We are also open to national patients, and we operate out-of-state facilities as well for people seeking morphine detox treatment and treatment for addiction.

If you do not live in the Colorado area, The Recovery Village has additional locations all across the United States.

After morphine detox treatment, there are inpatient and outpatient programs available that can help people overcome addiction and discover root causes for their condition, including any underlying mental health issues that could exist. Reach out to our skilled intake team today to learn more about your future recovery journey.

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Erica Weiman graduated from Pace University in 2014 with a master's in Publishing and has been writing and editing ever since. Read more
Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Conor Sheehy, PharmD, BCPS, CACP
Dr. Sheehy completed his BS in Molecular Biology at the University of Idaho and went on to complete his Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) at the University of Washington in Seattle. Read more

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “Morphine Sulfate Tablets Package Insert.” Roxane Laboratories, January 2012. Accessed February 20, 2022.

National Library of Medicine. “Morphine.” MedlinePlus, February 15, 2021. Accessed February 20, 2022.

National Library of Medicine. “Opiate and opioid withdrawal.” MedlinePlus, February 18, 2022. Accessed February 20, 2022.

National Library of Medicine. “Opioid Overdose.” MedlinePlus, August 27, 2018. Accessed February 20, 2022.

Shah, M; Huecker, M. “Opioid Withdrawal.” StatPearls, October 11, 2021. Accessed February 20, 2022.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). “Protracted Withdrawal.” Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory: News for the Treatment Field, July 2010. Accessed February 20, 2022.

World Health Organization (WHO). “Withdrawal Management.” Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings, 2009. Accessed February 20, 2022.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.