Morphine withdrawal symptoms?

Hi everyone

Can anyone advise me?

I have been on 20mg butrans morphine patches for nearly 4 months and really need to come off them because of the side effects but they really help with the pain.

What are the side effects when you come off them. I use 7 day patches but when I started on the 10mg it wasn't enough so I had to take co-codamol as well as ibuprofen which kills my stomach.

Before I went on the patches I was taking 8x co-codamol 30/500mg and 8 ibuprofen & 50mg amitryptline a day but they weren't touching the pain so I was referred to a pain management clinic who put me on an intensive plan for 3 weeks at the hospital which involved loads of CBT AND EXERCISE. My specialist there took me of cocodamol and said I couldn't take ibuprofen anymore and put me on the patches because he didn't know what else to give me.

The plan didn't work for me but the patches do help with the pain but the side effects are horrendous so I need to get of them. I am worried about what I will be able to take instead and what the withdrawal symptoms will be like.

I don't want to ask my GP he will just fob me off, please can you help me? Thanks x

28 Replies

  • Hi dan thanks for your reply

    I have tried tramadol and they spaced me out and made me vomit. it was a pain specialist that prescribed the patches after seeing what medications I have tried before.

    The patches really help with the pain but they stop me eating so I think I need to come of them. I think other patches may be the same?

  • Hm.. after being on such a nice longer acting patch, I wonder if oxycodone can hold up to the relief. Morphine is better for short bursts that are very powerful I never saw it as a long term relief.. Others will clobber me over the head for saying so.

    In my humble opinion, tramadol will not even touch the pain,

    Opioid stopping should not be that hard to do because the doctor will take away a half pill, then a whole pill per day.. slowly.. the body needs adjustment. Again, It goes back to responsible prescribing and before that first pill goes into the body, ask about the weaning plan or even the dosage increase plan if necessary.. agree when it's going to be time to make the changes to the amounts ahead of time..

    That's putting you in control of your own pain.. The pain pill contract needs to work both ways.. the doctor needs to make some promises to you too.

  • You do need to talk to your GP and they shouldn't fob you off. You must do a tapered withdrawal or you will end up feeling awful. Potentially if you come off too fast it can really cause problems, some of which could be serious. Just tell your GP that you can't put up with the side effects any more. If your GP won't give you a withdrawal plan, then your next best bet is to contact a drug and alcohol service - explain why you want to come off and ask them for advice. They will understand withdrawal side effects better than anyone.

  • Hi earth witch thanks for your comments. When I last saw my GP he said I need to come off the patches but had no alternative. He asked what I was on before which was cocodamol and ibuprofen but they didn't touch the pain, I can take ibuprofen anymore cos of my stomach. I have tried so many different things but none suit me, I have never really been able to take pain killers and that's why I ended up on cocodamol for about 3 years before the patches. he's not happy that I am on the patches cos of my age, because you get used to them and have to keep upping the strength. I don't know what to do, I think he is at a loss with what to do with me, I feel that he can't wait to get rid of me, he has made me take sertraline antidepressants to encourage me to eat but that's not working I am going to see him on Tuesday and If I get no joy I will get in touch with my neurosurgeon to see if he can help? Xx

  • Hi Diane, I am not sure which patch you are currently on as Butrans is not Morphine it is buprenorphine?

  • Hi I was told it was the same as morphine, it is still an opiate that is also used to help addicts when they want to come of heroin. I am going to speak to my GP. And try to get something else instead and if can't help I am going to get in touch with my neurosurgeon, thanks for your comment x

  • Yes you need to do it under supervision. I changed from morphine to fentanyl patch, to oxycodone and back to morphinecwas a nightmare.I understand about tbhem stopping you eating .I didnt feel sick just felt full all the time .Its awful I used to live on a liquid diet at one point.I wish you the best of luck keep coming on here for support x

  • Hi, they are the best I have had for the pain, it's the itching, the night sweating the feeling of being a bit ' detached' and the not eating that is getting me down. I am living on mocha coffee and humbug sweets at the moment. I haven't actually had anything of 'substance' to eat since Monday yet I am not hungry. In fact just thinking about eating something makes me feel a bit nauseous and that's not good is it? the doc put me on sertraline to encourage me to eat and I have been on them about 8 weeks now but I am no better, I am seeing him on Tuesday so I think I need to sort something else out, I am just a bit worried that's all. I will be fine X

  • No you have to eat ! I have lost alot of weight since starting morphine, I was always on here at one point saying I cant eat .Would just look at food and think I cant do this.My doc said its

    because opiates slow down stomache emptying and cause constipation. Delayed gastric emptying they call it , almost like having a gastric band fitted.Over time I am doing a bit better but I dropped my tablets a little too.Then take strong stuff for the constipation! I was overweight to start with but am about ok weight now . Obviously if I start getting too thin will have to come off.I have complan drinks to make sure I get vitamins and minerals etc.

  • I Have lost about a stone since the end of July but I am slim anyway, my clothes are beginning to hang off me and they are size 8 and I'm fast approaching a size 6, not good is it? I ve tried the drinks couldn't even drink those. I drink dolce gusto mocha which isn't too bad for protein and stuff, I am weighing myself everyday again not good is it? The pain relief I'm getting is good though so in my head I'm saying ' Wight or pain, weight or pain!!!!! Xx

  • No its sounds as though you are getting underweight now which in itself can be dangerous. What a shame when helps with pain.I kept trying different ones but all the opiates had the same effect.What we need is a side effect free opiate, if only x

  • The withdrawal symptoms are awful... cold sweats, muscle pain, diaorrhea, stomach cramps, shivers, shakes... not nice at all. You should never just withdraw either, the dosage needs to be reduced slowly, which with patches is harder than tablets (which I'm on). I'm lucky in that I don't have any side effects other than drowsiness about half an hour after I've taken the tablet.

    You do need to see your GP I'm afraid. Stick to your guns, it's your body. Ask to be referred to a pain specialist, not management clinic, there's a difference. I was referred to the PMC and came away feeling like I was putting my symptoms on! She was awful and had me in tears at one point, her comments to my GP were that she felt I was "A should be able to..." person! Of course I should be able to do what I want, I'm 54! Anyway, pain clinics have all kinds of help, I was referred and my pain specialist is wonderful. I have a nerve block (in my neck) every 6 months and where is doesn't take away all the pain, it makes life a little more bearable.

  • Hi Jayne

    I was sent on a 3 week pain management plan at Salford hospital which was ok while I was there, it was exercise, CBT and relaxation with other people with similar conditions. It was like being in a 'little bubble' while I was there, no work or life stressors every thing was calm and relaxed but as soon as I finished and went back to work the stress and tension was back. They talked about making a plan and setting goals for the day, resting at the onset of pain and avoiding conditions that cause the onset of pain. That is fine if you can do that but not everyone is able to do that and life isn't ideal all the time. When I got my feedback through the post I was so upset because they virtually said the same to me, that I need to address my problems in other words I do it to myself!!!!! They kept saying rest, pace yourself but I need to work and don't want to rest all the time, I want a life and at the moment I don't feel as if I can have that. I am going to see my GP and talk to him before I do anything :-) x

  • That's what my GP sent me to in Bradford. It's completely different to a Pain Clinic where they offer proper treatments, you're meant to go to that before the PM place I was told! I felt so belittled, the silly b***h told me that "People with spinal problems work in the NHS every day" and all the c**p you were told. It isn't my head that needs sorting out, no amount of CBT and relaxation techniques are going to mend the discs that are out or the nerves that are damaged! Sheer stupidity.

    As for the Morphine, please do see a different GP if you can and ask to see someone else. Look up pain clinics in your area, mine's at the Yorkshire Clinic Dr Kahanna, he's wonderful. The nerve block is fantastic, not pleasant to go through, but once it's done the effects last for 6 months. Unfortunately I can't work, but I understand the need to.

  • I am also on Butrans patches. 20mcg. You think about the side effects. If it is just loss of appetite then you could see a dietitian. That's what I did and they gave me fortasip drinks. For sickness I am on ondansatron.

    The last thing you want to do is stop a painkiller with nothing to replace it. The patches will be dropped to 15 for 6 weeks then 10 for 8 weeks and so on.

    If you stop them, cold turkey, you could end up having seizures and other life threatening side effects. You should still be on the pain specialist's books so try phoning their secretarys and asking for a new appointment. If they say see your gp explains they are fobbing you off.

    I really hope you get the help you need. And please don't do this by your self.

    All the best.


  • Hi Jonny thank you, it was a doctor on a pain management plan that put me on the patches and I have finished the plan and I won't see him again now. I won't go cold turkey, after reading the symptoms I am not brave enough. I need to put something else in place first hopefully to run alongside the patches as I am dropping down the strength of them. If I have no pain relief I won't be able to get out of bed in the morning and I will be fit for nothing!

    I am seeing my GP on Tuesday so will talk to him then. If I get no help from him I will contact my neurosurgeon to see if he can help me :-) x

  • Sadly there are no easy answers, I was on Morphine, Had to come off like yourself, was given mst a Morphine derivative,again bad side effects, I came off the Morphine very slowly with support from the GP, took over a year, but I eventually came off it,I tried other meds but they were no good currently taking nothing,due for pain mgt but that is not till Feb 2015, in excruciating pain 24/7 the thought of my kids is what is keeping me going to be honest.I hope you somehow find a way to manage your pain and get a better outcome.

  • Have you tried Tramadol modified release they don't give you the big hit the normal 4 times a day Tramadol gives you, it also means you are covered 24 hrs a day, you may find it difficult to convince your Dr that the MR ones are better, my Dr tried to say they are just the same but they are not, I don't know if it is a cost issue but I did win the battle, I have been on these 20+ years, I also found taking an antidepressants to stop the the pain=stress=pain cycle helped plus anti inflammatories but unfortunately I have had to stop these because they are affecting my stomach. I am now looking for something to replace the anti inflammatories any suggestions anyone?

  • Hi l used patches for over 2 yrs and because these patches are slow release it's impossible to become addicted therefore coming off them you need to cut down the different strength each week till your on the lowest patch 5 is the lowest then it's done

    If you don't mind what were your side effects that your having .?

    For me it was the itching around and under the skin of the patch,but doc took me off them so lm back to taking lots of pills every few hours

  • Hi Ithe side effects I get are like you itching around and under the patch when I change it the skin is red and inflamed I sweat like mad when I'm asleep waking up physically wet and it has taken all my appetite away to the extinct that I not eating and losing weight very fast i will seek gp before I do anything x

  • My Dr gave me Novosone cream to use the night before applying the patch and it stopped all the itching

  • If I were you I would ask to be referred back to pain management. Please do not try to bring yourself off the morphine as the withdrawal will be worse than the side effects. Morphine is an opiate and you need to be weaned off it slowly. You must go to your GP love, it's to dangerous to bring yourself off this medication without help.

  • If I were you I would ask to be referred back to pain management. Please do not try to bring yourself off the morphine as the withdrawal will be worse than the side effects. Morphine is an opiate and you need to be weaned off it slowly. You must go to your GP love, it's to dangerous to bring yourself off this medication without help.

  • I use Butrans and did believe I had no side effects, I started off slowly with 5mcg, then 10, then 15 and they won't let me go higher so I take codeine as needed with nortriptiline - much better than amitriptiline for side effects. Thanks to reading your post I now realise why I have felt nauseous for months now, luckily it's not too bad and I'm eating ok mostly. It's like a low level morning sickness, not fun when it was pregnancy that caused my chronic back pain. I also find hormonal contraceptives cause nausea.

    As for coming off, I have stopped the patches twice now and haven't had a withdrawal. I presume this is because I still take codeine so I am not really withdrawing off opiates, just replacing one with another. I found it helped to leave the patch on after the seven days. It's only the pain that causes me to restart on them. Plus we are all different in how we react so you may be less susceptible than others to withdrawal from opiates.

  • Hi there I came off oral morphin summer before last and gabapenton at the same time because my gP thought that if I still had pai. When on the meds then what was the point of me being on them. I was supposed to have the help of the pain clinic but could never get into see him so I took it on myself.. I went down the dosage every other day until it was every two days then three right up to a week and then after two weeks I would go down another dose and do the same again. The lowest dose was the hardest for me . The side effects were horrible, tremors , sweting like crazy, hot and cold. It was like having the flu really bad. When I went back to see the pain Dr he was livid with me for coming off any of the meds and straight back on them. Slowly up just like coming down. Hope this helps

  • Thank you I will speak to my gp before I do anything the pain relief I am getting from the patches is the best I have had its just the side effects that come with them that I am worried about x

  • i was on patches for a lot of years for artritis in spine and ankle. but the doctor in the hospice i was in for a rest put me on morphine oral solution said the patches were out of date,it helps my pain,and breathing. hope that helps. artpats

  • I have been on 20 mg 8 months, sudden got arash from them so been told to stop using. nothing to replace them. I stopped 3 days ago and feeling like S**t. nauseous , cant stay off the loo, and generally feel like rubbish. any advice

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