Morphine is an opioid painkiller that is derived from the opium poppy. Morphine has been used for centuries to relieve pain. While there are much stronger synthetic opioids available (such as fentanyl), morphine is still a very potent, and equally addictive, opioid.
Morphine depresses the central nervous system (CNS) and changes the way the body experiences pain. Morphine also activates the area of the brain that causes euphoria, which can trigger abuse and addiction.
Over 191 million prescriptions were distributed for painkillers, including morphine, across America in 2017. While this number is lower than previous years, the opioid epidemic in the country is still problematic.
Rates of morphine abuse remain consistent with the rate of prescriptions distributed. Statistics have shown that the more available a substance of abuse is, the higher the rate of abuse of that substance. More than sixty percent of people addicted to morphine obtained the drug from friends or family.
Taking morphine in a way that has not been prescribed is considered morphine abuse. Some of the ways that people abuse morphine may be taking higher than prescribed doses, taking extra pills throughout the day, or crushing, chewing, snorting, or injecting morphine.
When a person experiences the euphoria associated with morphine abuse, they may also feel extreme relaxation and decreased stress. These experiences often lead to continued morphine abuse, and can easily develop into a morphine addiction.
Morphine Abuse Effects
As with other prescription drugs, morphine has a number of side effects. When a person is abusing morphine, the severity and likelihood of these side effects increases.
Some side effects of morphine include:
- dry mouth
- decreased libido
- mood swings
- extreme tiredness
- slowed heart rate
- decreased respiration
In some cases, people who abuse morphine may experience more intense, even life-threatening, effects of the drug. These side effects include hallucinations, chest pain, seizures, passing out, and swelling (edema).
Abusing morphine by injection puts a person at risk for transmittable diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C, as well as infections at the injection site. Snorting morphine can permanently damage nasal passages, and cause breathing problems.
Morphine abuse can lead to a person developing a morphine dependence, where the body needs morphine in order to function, and withdrawal symptoms emerge without it. Withdrawal and dependence are just two of the several criteria when diagnosing morphine addiction.
A person who has become addicted to morphine may exhibit several of the following symptoms:
- change in appearance (disheveled)
- avoid people or places that morphine use is not accepted
- morphine use negatively affecting responsibilities
- continuing to use morphine, despite the negative impact
- morphine taking precedence over other areas of life
- stealing to get morphine or money for morphine
- becoming increasingly secretive
- unable to function without morphine
- going to multiple doctors to get several prescriptions for morphine
- taking other opioids when morphine is not available
A person who is struggling with morphine addiction is at increased risk for overdose, and the additional health risks associated with morphine abuse.
Morphine Overdose Symptoms
When a person is abusing morphine, there is a significant risk of overdose. High doses of morphine depress all organ systems in the body, including respiratory, cardiovascular, and other vital functions.
If a person who is suspected of abusing morphine or morphine addiction displays the following overdose symptoms, seek emergency medical assistance immediately:
- nodding off
- unable to speak
- barely breathing
- delay in response
- bluish tint to skin, lips, and fingernails
- impairment to overall function
A lifesaving drug, called naloxone (Narcan) is used to reverse the effects of a morphine overdose. Emergency medical personnel typically carry naloxone and use it to save the lives of individuals experiencing an opioid overdose.
Morphine Withdrawal And Detox
The extreme flu-like symptoms that accompany morphine withdrawal have been reported as unbearable by those who have experienced them. The pain and discomfort associated with opioid withdrawal often keeps individuals using morphine, to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Additionally, the psychological cravings of morphine withdrawal can result in anxiety, depression, memory impairment, insomnia, mood swings, and aggression. Officially known as post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS), these symptoms can last several months.
Opioid withdrawal is uncomfortable, and one way to relieve some of the discomfort is to attend a medically supervised detox program. The medical professionals at these locations are trained to administer alternative medications to ease the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms, introduce medication-assisted treatment (MAT) options, and address other areas of opioid addiction.
Morphine Addiction Treatment Options
Detox is only the first step in treating morphine addiction. It is strongly recommended that anyone struggling with addiction should continue from detox directly into a substance abuse treatment program.
Because morphine is an opioid, using an opioid treatment program (OTP) is generally the standard protocol. These programs utilize a detox program, MAT options, substance abuse treatment, and additional comprehensive treatment options to help a person achieve sobriety.
OTPs are federally regulated and follow guidelines for treatment that have shown to be effective in treating morphine and other opioid addictions. They have certain protocols in place, and use interventions that are individualized and focused on long term sobriety.
Finding a substance abuse treatment program for morphine addiction can seem overwhelming, which is why we have specialists available to help you find the right substance about treatment solution for you or your loved one. Contact us today so we can assist you in taking the first step toward recovery.Sources
Substance Use And Addiction - Trends and Patterns of Geographic Variation in Opioid Prescribing Practices by State, United States, 2006-2017
Food and Drug Administration - Morphine
National Institute of Drug Abuse - Opioid Overdose Crisis
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - Certification of Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs)