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Morphine Withdrawal

Morphine is a narcotic analgesic. Morphine was first isolated from opium in 1805 by a German pharmacist, Wilhelm Sertürner. Sertürner described it as the Principium Somniferum. He named it morphium - after Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams. Today morphine is isolated from opium in substantially larger quantities - over 1000 tons per year - although most commercial opium is converted into codeine by methylation. On the illicit market, opium gum is filtered into morphine base and then synthesized into heroin.

Morphine addiction develops very rapidly when an individual continues to abuse morphine. Morphine's addictive nature activates the brain’s reward systems. The promise of reward is very intense, causing the individual to continually crave Morphine and to focus his or her activities around taking Morphine. The ability of Morphine to strongly activate the brain's reward mechanisms and its ability to chemically alter the normal functioning of these systems is what produces morphine addiction. Morphine also reduces a person’s level of consciousness, harming the ability to think or be fully aware of present surroundings.

Morphine Withdrawal symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • restlessness
  • lacrimation
  • rhinorrhea
  • yawning
  • perspiration
  • goose flesh
  • restless sleep
  • mydriasis
  • twitching and spasms of muscles
  • kicking movements
  • severe aches in the back, abdomen, and legs
  • abdominal and muscle cramps
  • hot and cold flashes
  • insomnia
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • coryza
  • severe sneezing
  • increases in body temperature, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and heart rate

Morphine withdrawal symptoms reach peak intensity in 36 to 72 hours. Without treatment, withdrawal symptoms runs their course in 5 to 7 days, even though craving for Opium may continue for months.

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