Medications Used in Morphine Rehab
While morphine is a necessary medication for those with severe pain issues, it may cause “serious or life-threatening breathing problems” when abused and can also lead to tolerance, dependence, and addiction (NLM). Morphine addicts must attend rehab where patients can be treated by a caring medical staff and given regular therapy sessions as well as pharmacological treatment.
No one treatment type suits every patient, and this is especially true when it comes to medications. Luckily, there are several types of medications that are used in morphine rehab.
What are the Medications Used in Morphine Rehab?
There are actually several medications that can be used during a patient’s rehab for morphine addiction. While some medications may be used for one type of treatment like detox, others can be used as both a withdrawal and addiction treatment. The main medications you might be prescribed during morphine rehab are listed below.
- Clonidine (detox)
- Methadone (detox, long-term addiction treatment)
- Burprenorphine (detox, addiction treatment)
- Naloxone (addiction treatment)
What is beneficial for patients is that they can start out being treated with one type of drug and then switch to a different medication if the previous one is not working for them. Staying in touch with your doctor and making sure that they understand how you are feeling during your recovery process is essential.
Morphine is an incredibly potent opioid, and it is available by prescription only. According to the NLM, “The solution with the highest concentration… should only be taken by people who are tolerant (used to the effects of the medication) to opioid medications.” This is because the drug is so intense and can cause overdose in individuals who are not tolerant to its effects. When someone is being treated for morphine addiction, they will need a strong medication that is capable of helping them through recovery.
The NLM states that clonidine “works by decreasing your heart rate and relaxing the blood vessels so that blood can flow more easily through the body.” While it is also used as a high blood pressure medication, clonidine can treat opioid withdrawal and is often used during the early stages of withdrawal to help a patient through their symptoms.
Clonidine is the “most commonly used medication” to treat opioid withdrawal and “primarily reduces anxiety, agitation, muscle aches, sweating, runny nose, and cramping” (NLM). Clonidine is also not an opioid so there is no chance of abuse. While this drug can be very helpful in treating withdrawal from morphine, it is not an addiction treatment medication.
If someone starts out being treated with clonidine in morphine rehab, it will likely just be in the beginning, especially if they are dealing with severe withdrawal symptoms. Clonidine can help with these issues, but then another medication will need to be used altogether to treat the person’s morphine addiction. Clonidine is very beneficial, however, and many doctors start with it in the treatment of opioid dependence, sometimes even in the case of abuse.
Methadone is one of the first medications that can treat morphine addiction. It can also treat morphine withdrawal symptoms and minimize their intensity. According to the NIDA, “Methadone is a synthetic opioid agonist that eliminates withdrawal symptoms and relieves drug cravings by acting on the same brain targets as other opioids like heroin, morphine, and opioid pain medications.”
Aside from these actions, methadone can also:
- Block the effects of other opioid drugs (including morphine)
- Allow someone to function normally in society while still being treated for morphine addiction
- This is because methadone does not cause euphoria as long as it is dosed correctly. An individual can attend an outpatient clinic, receive their methadone treatment, and be able to continue throughout their day.
- Be taken once a day from a methadone clinic
- Help patients stop the use of injection drugs, minimize drug-seeking habits, and have a much lower risk of relapse and overdose than those who do not take medication during morphine rehab
Methadone is extremely beneficial as well as a long-term treatment. A patient can stay maintained on methadone for months, years, or longer in order to avoid the abuse of morphine.
In the way that methadone is a better treatment for those who need long-term maintenance, buprenorphine is better at treating patients with lower levels of morphine dependence. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, meaning that it does not cause effects that are as intense as a full opioid agonist (which methadone and morphine both are).
Buprenorphine can also be prescribed with naloxone (brand name Suboxone) which discourages patients from abusing the drug by causing withdrawal to come about in an individual who crushes and injects the pill, which some morphine addicts may attempt to do. Buprenorphine also
- Can be prescribed by certain doctors in their offices as well as in a clinic
- Is effective at minimizing withdrawal symptoms as well as cravings making it a solid treatment for both detox and further addiction recovery
- Is much safer than some other medications in preventing overdose because of its built-in ability to precipitate withdrawal, its “ceiling effect,” and its “poor bioavailability” (SAMHSA)
- Can be continued as long as the individual patient needs and slowly tapered off whenever necessary
Burprenorphine also has many positive aspects and is even a great treatment for those who are getting off methadone and need a less-intense medication to treat their lingering symptoms of morphine addiction.
Naloxone is not a withdrawal medication; a patient needs to no longer be dependent on morphine before they begin taking it. Naloxone is an addiction treatment but it is an opioid antagonist. If a person is at all dependent on morphine or any other opioids when they take naloxone, they will experience withdrawal symptoms.
Naloxone is a great treatment for individuals who are very serious about never taking morphine again, perhaps a doctor or nurse. But while naloxone is powerful, many patients have a low tolerance for it.
There are several medications which can be used to treat a patient in morphine rehab. At certain stages of their recovery, a patient may need one type more and can be switched to another later on.