Morphine is a strong opioid that produces sensations of euphoria and relieves moderate to severe pain. It is commonly abused for these desirable effects and, due to morphine’s chemically-addictive nature, many who have the drug initially prescribed for medical reasons, end up hooked.
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What is Morphine?
Morphine is an opioid that belongs to the drug class narcotic analgesics, which are typically used to provide relief for moderate-to-severe acute or chronic pain. They are sometimes called opioids or narcotics for short.
Morphine works by blocking pain signals from traveling through the nervous system to the brain. It is available in more short-acting formulations for as-needed pain relief and extended-release form for around-the-clock treatment for pain, especially for large procedures like surgery.
When morphine is prescribed, it is generally intended for only short-time use either in pill form or through injection done in a medical setting. Morphine users with substance abuse issues or opioid addiction prefer to inject the drug so it enters the bloodstream more quickly.
Morphine can do great good for many who need it, but it is still very addictive. Building a tolerance to morphine, like many other opiates, is dangerously easy.
As a Schedule II narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act, morphine must be prescribed by a physician and is typically done so for moderate to severe pain. It is often prescribed following a surgery or injury, for health conditions such as cancer, or for end-of-life palliative care.
- Oramorph SR
- MS Contin
- Kadian/Kadian ER
- Arymo ER
- Morphine sulfate (generic)
Side Effects of Morphine
Morphine users often report a decrease in pain, a decrease in hunger, and inhibition of the cough reflex. However, morphine can also have far more serious effects, especially when used long-term.
Short-Term Effects of Morphine
- Spinning sensation
- Feelings of extreme happiness or sadness
- Sleep problems
- Nausea and vomiting
- Serotonin syndrome—agitation, hallucinations, fever, fast heart rate, muscle stiffness, twitching, loss of coordination, nausea, and diarrhea
- Low cortisol levels—nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, dizziness, worsening tiredness, or weakness
Long-Term Effects of Morphine
- Amblyopia (partial or complete loss of vision in one eye)
- Urination problems
- Circulatory depression
- Ileus (obstruction of the intestine due to being paralyzed)
- Worsened mental health
- Mental and physical dependence
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Fungal or bacterial superinfection
- Cardiac arrest
Morphine Abuse and Addiction
Morphine addiction is part of the larger opioid crisis we’re currently facing in the United States. It is not uncommon for those who become addicted to morphine to move on to other opioids and even other substances.
While morphine can provide much-needed pain relief, it doesn’t take long for your body to grow accustomed to these feelings of euphoria. Many times what starts as aid after surgery or an injury can quickly become a drug addiction.
Signs of Morphine Addiction
A person can develop a dependence on morphine very quickly, so it’s important to know what signs to look for in a loved one or even yourself. The sooner these signs are caught, the faster you can get help and avoid a long road of suffering from opioid abuse or substance use disorder.
Signs of addiction include:
- Ignoring important social activities
- Requiring a higher dose of morphine to achieve the same effect
- Irritation and aggression
- Dramatic weight loss
- Extreme drowsiness
- Intense cravings for the drug
- Spending excessive time obtaining, using, or recovering from the drug
- Neglecting duties due to drug use
Signs of a morphine overdose include:
- Cold and clammy skin
- Lowered blood pressure
- Slowed breathing
- Slowed heart rate
It is common for those abusing opioids to experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop using them immediately. Some of these withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous so, if possible, it’s recommended you wean yourself off the drug under the care of a physician.
Symptoms of morphine withdrawal may include:
- Muscle aches
- Increased tearing
- Runny nose
- Abdominal cramping
- Dilated pupils
Morphine Addiction Treatment
Addiction to morphine can be devastating, both to the abuser and those around them. Luckily, there are many treatment centers and treatment options available. With the help of trained professionals and the support of loved ones, becoming sober is possible.
Getting off morphine is not easy, but is certainly doable with the right methods. Long-term use of morphine can have lasting damage, so it’s imperative you are carefully taken off the drug as soon as possible. Doing so with medical professionals can help mitigate the worst of the withdrawal symptoms.
Morphine Treatment Programs
Morphine treatment programs are typically inpatient, outpatient, or a hybrid of the two. When it comes to treatment for morphine addiction, an assessment can help you determine what type of treatment is going to be best for your individual situation. A healthcare provider can work with you to determine the best treatment program for you based on factors such as length of addiction, the amount used, and so on.
Most treatment centers can help you get off the drug and provide various types of counseling, whether it be cognitive behavioral therapy or group therapy. The goal of therapy is to identify what led to the addictive behavior and how to avoid triggers in the future for a drug-free life.
More than 191 million opioid prescriptions were dispensed to American patients in 2017—with wide variation across states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The CDC also reported that, in 2019, an average of 38 people died each day from overdoses involving prescription opioids, totaling more than 14,000 deaths.
Support for Friends and Family Members
Watching a loved one struggle with addiction to morphine can be heart-wrenching and trying to get them help can feel like an uphill battle. It’s important to remember that it’s not all on you and that your own well-being is just as important.
While you may be working to get your loved one help, many treatment centers offer counseling for those affected by addiction as well.
Frequently Asked Questions About Morphine Addiction
What are common street name for morphine?
Common slang names for morphine include: Dreamer, Emsel, First Line, God’s Drug, Hows, M.S., Mister Blue, Morf, Morpho, and Unkie.
Will other drugs interact with morphine?
Morphine can interact with many drugs including other opioids, benzos (like Valium, Klonopin, or Xanax), sleep medicine, muscle relaxers, and drugs that affect serotonin-like antidepressants, stimulants, and medication for migraines and Parkinson’s disease.
Is it okay to drink while taking morphine?
No. It is incredibly dangerous to mix morphine or any other opioid with alcohol. Both substances lower your heart rate and blood pressure, and can potentially lead to death.