Morphine is one of the most widely used opioid pain-relievers in the world. It was among the first opiates to be isolated from opium poppy plants. The drug is chemically similar to the body’s endorphins, which are responsible for regulating pain. Morphine readily binds to the same chemical receptors in the brain that endorphins do, which make it an effective pain medication. Though it’s an effective analgesic, it can also cause chemical dependency and addiction.
Morphine addiction is most common after a period of abuse. However, long term prescription use can also lead to chemical dependency. Still, abuse and high doses significantly increase your risk for dependence. Active addiction to morphine may also lead to the use of cheaper and more readily available opioids like heroin. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, studies show a strong link between prescription opioid abuse and later heroin addiction.
Learn more about morphine addiction and how it can be treated.
What Are the Signs of Morphine Addiction?
Morphine addiction will come with physical and behavioral signs and symptoms. The acute effects of morphine abuse may include drowsiness, loss of motor control, loss of consciousness, itchiness, and constipation. As abuse grows into morphine addiction, it can start to affect multiple areas of your life, like your health, relationships, and finances. Addiction is characterized by compulsive drug use despite serious consequences. If you try and fail to stop or cut back after experiencing health issues or financial problems as a result of morphine use, you may be addicted. Other signs include:
- Hiding morphine use
- Doctor shopping
- Lying about drug use
- Loss of interest in regular activities
- Strange sleep patterns
- Financial instability
- Medical issues
- Frequent scratching
- Struggling at work or school
- Legal issues
What Is Involved in Morphine Addiction Treatment?
Addiction is a complex disease, and effective addiction treatment will involve treatment that’s personalized to each individual. If you have high-level medical needs, you might start with medical detox, which is a 24-7 medically managed process. Detox is designed to help people go through withdrawal and other medical conditions safely. After detox, other levels of care include inpatient treatment, intensive outpatient, and outpatient treatment. Through each level of care, you will go through therapy options that depend on your personalized treatment plan. Individual, group, and family therapy options are common.
How Dangerous is Morphine?
Morphine is relatively safe when it’s used in a medical context. When it’s used as directed, it may cause some uncomfortable side effects like constipation and itchiness, but it’s unlikely to cause a dangerous overdose or addiction. If it’s used for too long, you may start to develop a chemical dependency. Morphine is more dangerous when it’s abused in high doses or mixed with depressant drugs or alcohol.
It can cause overdose symptoms that lead to coma or death without medical treatment. Morphine can cause respiratory depression, loss of consciousness, and a slowed heart rate. A morphine overdose can be stopped and reversed with the opioid antagonist naloxone (Narcan). Even if you have the medication, an opioid overdose constitutes a medical emergency, and it’s vital to call emergency services immediately.