Morphine is known as one of the oldest and most common pain relievers throughout the world. It has been used recreationally, and to treat pain for thousands of years. Unfortunately, despite the effectiveness of opioid drugs, they have been at the epicenter of the current crisis we are facing. The opioid crisis continues to claim more lives each year, even with increased regulations. Opioids are strictly regulated controlled substances that are only available through prescription.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the illicit market hasn’t been filled with drugs by those who abuse the system. Morphine isn’t as potent as other opioids like heroin or fentanyl, but it’s strong enough to relieve pain and cause euphoria.
Morphine is commonly used to treat acute pain or pain that stems from injuries, surgery, and other chronic conditions. As you’d expect, morphine, like other opioids, carries a significant risk of addiction. High doses, prolonged use, or using the drug recreationally will eventually lead to chemical dependency or addiction. While less common, a small percentage of those who use the medication as prescribed can develop dependence, which can lead to an addiction. A severe substance use disorder is unlikely to occur through prescribed usage.
Once a morphine addiction has been developed, it will be challenging to overcome alone. While addiction is considered a chronic disease, morphine addiction can be treated with adequate care tailored to your needs. If you or someone you love has developed a substance use disorder that involves morphine, you must learn more about addiction and how it’s treated.
Morphine is an opioid that can only be accessed with a prescription. It is a natural derivative of the opium poppy plant, which is a chemical found in plants and even animals. Drugs like benzodiazepines or cocaine affect the central nervous system (CNS) directly by linking to and activating opioid receptors. Humans have natural receptors that are designed to bind to opioids because of endorphins, which is a combination of the words endogenous and morphine.
The endorphins purpose is to manage the pain response in our bodies at the site of pain. It stretches from the brain, and then to the spine. Opioid receptors are located around the body in our soft tissue, bones, and organs. Pain signals are typically sent through the nervous system and alert you of a problem. Nerve cells will carry the message to the body fast until endorphins are released and ease the pain. They work by binding to nerve cells that send and receive signals and block the signal from moving forward. You will often experience this after engaging in a heavy workout.
It requires high doses of morphine to become a severe substance use disorder, but morphine addiction can occur in those who use the substance for long periods. Let’s take a more in-depth look at morphine addiction.
Addiction is challenging to pinpoint in its earliest stages. Many of those developing an addiction are still present in society and are able to fulfill their obligations. As they continue using the drug, however, it will be more difficult to mask their addiction. If you are worried that you or a loved one is developing a substance use disorder, there are some signs that can determine what is going on.
The first indicator of a substance use disorder is a growing tolerance. As your body adjusts to morphine, it will start to have a weaker effect than it did when you started using. The nervous system is beginning to counteract the drug to balance brain chemistry. As time moves forward, tolerance will lead to physical dependence. It means your body is starting to rely on the drug to maintain daily functions. If you cut down or quit, you will feel uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, which can mimic flu-like symptoms.
Addiction goes further than a chemical imbalance in the brain. It will affect the limbic system in a significant fashion. Addiction is considered to be compulsive use of a drug despite consequences. If you are worried about a friend or family member that could be struggling with morphine addiction, look for these signs, which include:
Morphine withdrawal is uncomfortable, but it is rarely life-threatening, but that doesn’t mean it can’t occur. In some cases, vomiting, diarrhea, and sweating can lead to dehydration, which will cause severe problems. The safest way to combat morphine withdrawal is with medical supervision. The biggest problem with morphine addiction, however, is not the withdrawal but the addiction itself. Prescription opioid addiction can lead to a life of illicit opioid use. The longer these drugs are used, it will increase the odds of having a deadly overdose.
Morphine addiction will be treated through the continuum of care that starts in medical detoxification. While opioid withdrawal is not medically dangerous, it is uncomfortable enough to push someone into relapsing. Having medical professionals surrounding you and attending to your needs can avoid medical complications down the line. Medical detox is also the right option to treat co-occurring medical issues, such as chronic disease or infections.
Once you complete detox, there are several options best suited for your needs. You may go through a residential program, intensive outpatient, or outpatient treatment. Through your time treating your addiction, you will create a plan with the help of a therapist that addresses your particular needs. Treat may include family therapy, individual therapy, group therapy, or other options.
The goal of addiction treatment is to address your substance use disorder along with any other problems that are prohibiting you from long-lasting recovery.
American Society of Addiction Medicine. (n.d.). from https://www.asam.org/resources/definition-of-addiction
Substance use disorder: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. (n.d.). from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001522.htm
Waldhoer, M., Bartlett, S. E., & Whistler, J. L. (2004). Opioid receptors. from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15189164
Morphine: MedlinePlus Drug Information. (n.d.). from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682133.html
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). 10: Addiction vs dependence. from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/neurobiology-drug-addiction/section-iii-action-heroin-morphine/10-addiction-vs-dependence