Morphine Abuse: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Opiate-derivative drugs are some of the most addictive substances on earth. These drugs are also responsible for the sharp rise in overdose death rates in the U.S. Surveys on heroin users have uncovered that the vast majority of addicts get hooked on prescription opiates before using illegal heroin. Morphine is one of the oldest prescription opiate painkillers in the U.S. and is used to treat moderate to severe pain. New classes of prescription painkillers are routinely tested against the “morphine standard” because of how effective morphine is for pain relief. Unfortunately, morphine is a highly addictive substance.

Morphine Abuse: Signs, Symptoms and Treatment Options

What is morphine?

Morphine is a prescription medication that is derived from the opium poppy. Morphine is closely related to other prescription opioids like Vicodin and OxyContin. It can be given intravenously, but most people take morphine as an extended-release tablet or capsule. Morphine changes the way the brain and the central nervous system respond to pain.

Morphine is named after the Greek god of dreams, Morpheus, and was first isolated from the opium poppy in the mid-19th century. During the American Civil War, hypodermic needle kits became popular and were mass-produced. This made it much easier to administer treatment for pain on the battlefield and in military hospitals.

Unfortunately, many soldiers returned home addicted to morphine. Painkiller addiction wasn’t well understood at that time, and Bayer corporation created heroin as a response to the morphine addiction epidemic. But this only made things worse. Today, morphine is still used as an analgesic for both acute and chronic pain.

Why is morphine dangerous?

Morphine is dangerous when it is misused for many reasons. For one thing, abusing morphine can increase the chances of addiction. Opiate drugs significantly impact the way the brain works and responds to risk and reward. Also, the body builds a tolerance to opiate drugs like morphine very quickly. When a person first takes morphine, they will experience a euphoric high. But to get that same euphoric high each time they take morphine, they will need more and more of the drug to get the same effect.

Unfortunately, this is so dangerous because morphine depresses respiratory rate, making it harder for the user to get enough oxygen circulating through the bloodstream. A person can overdose on morphine, stop breathing, and die.

Who is at-risk of abusing morphine?

People with a history of mental illness, a close relative with addiction problems, or a personal history of addiction issues are at-risk of abusing morphine.

What are the signs of morphine abuse?

Morphine prescriptions come with strict instructions for how much a person should take and when they should take a dose of the medication. They are also not to mix morphine with other central nervous system depressants such as benzodiazepines or alcohol. Anytime a person misuses a drug or takes a prescription that isn’t theirs, it is drug abuse.

  • Taking more morphine than prescribed
  • Taking morphine more frequently than prescribed
  • Mixing morphine with other drugs or alcohol
  • Taking someone else’s morphine prescription

Drug abuse significantly increases the chances of addiction. Becoming addicted to morphine will adversely impact a person’s quality of life in numerous ways. Stopping the cycle of addiction as quickly as possible can prevent many consequences of morphine abuse, and also lower the chances of a person overdosing on the drug.

What are the symptoms of morphine addiction?

Addiction to any drug, including morphine, will drastically change the way a person thinks, feels, and behaves. One of the most apparent signs of morphine addiction and a sign that often precipitates addiction disorder is morphine abuse. People who are addicted to prescription drugs like morphine will also “lose” their prescription, or try to doctor shop. Doctor shopping is the process in which a patient will go to several doctors within a short period to try to get them to each prescribe morphine or another opiate drug. Lying to a doctor about losing a prescription is also a way in which addicts will try to increase their supply of morphine. Other signs that friends and family need to watch out for include:

  • Falling asleep at inappropriate times
  • Increased drowsiness
  • Pinprick pupils
  • Appearing high or otherwise impaired
  • Slurred speech
  • Poor coordination
  • Memory issues and trouble concentrating
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation

People who are addicted to drugs like morphine will become preoccupied with getting their next fix at the expense of everything else in their lives. They will miss work, school, and also have financial and legal troubles as a direct result of their morphine addiction. It’s also vital that loved ones know the signs of overdosing on morphine. Morphine will block a user’s ability to feel pain or distress, and they may insinuate to loved ones that they feel “fine,” and nothing is wrong. But if someone takes too much morphine, or mixes morphine with other drugs or alcohol, they can experience the following overdose symptoms:

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Blue-tinged lips and fingernails
  • Depressed breathing
  • Slowed pulse and lowered blood pressure

People overdosing on morphine can become comatose, stop breathing, and die. Witnesses should immediately call emergency services if they suspect a loved one is overdosing.

What is the treatment for morphine addiction and abuse?

Attending detox and either inpatient or intensive outpatient rehab is crucial for morphine addiction recovery. The body will become physically and psychologically dependent on morphine, and when someone quits taking the drug, they will experience painful and distressing withdrawal symptoms. Attending a medically-supervised detox program for this process will lessen the severity and duration of a person’s withdrawals. Rehab facilities have doctors and therapists available 24/7 to prescribe safe medications for withdrawal symptoms.

Drug addiction and abuse are chronic, lifelong illnesses that require ongoing treatment, maintenance, and care. Attending a professional treatment center for morphine abuse and addiction puts patients on the path to recovery, and trained professionals can create a customized treatment plan that fits an individual’s specific medical and therapeutic needs. If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to morphine, please contact Windward Way today. Representatives are standing by to answer your questions about detox and rehab.