Morphine is a prescription drug that is commonly prescribed for the management of pain. However, many people also abuse this drug - and often end up struggling with a substance use disorder or an addiction.
Morphine is among the strongest opioid prescription pain relief medications. The drug is a natural substance that is typically extracted from either concentrated poppy straw or the opium poppy plant. It also boasts a chemical structure that is very similar to that of heroin - since both of these drugs are extracted from this same plant.
Doctors prescribe and administer it for the relief of chronic and extreme pain. However, the drug also carries a high potential for abuse and addiction. Regardless of whether you become addicted to this medication after using it according to the legal prescription that your doctor wrote or because you took it for a non-medical or recreational purpose, you can be sure that the abuse of this drug can often lead to dangerous and sometimes fatal consequences.
That said, the drug was named after the god of dreams - Morpheus - from Greek mythology. When you take it, you will experience intense sensations of euphoria and pleasure that will resemble a dream.
Morphine is available in the form of a liquid for intravenous use, as well as a syrup and as a table that can be taken orally. However, those who abuse the drug often smoke and snort it.
Whether you abuse or use it correctly, the drug can be potentially habit forming. This is because it will cause tolerance to develop quite quickly. This is why the DEA - the Drug Enforcement Administration - classifies it as a schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act passed by the federal government.
This classification effectively means that the medication has some medical uses but it also carries a risk of abuse and addiction. Even so, doctors continue prescribing it for the management of cancer-related breakthrough pain, for pain relief in patients who have just undergone a surgical operation, as well as for the shortness of breath that can occur towards the end of human life.
The reason why the drug is so addictive and comes with a risk of abuse is due to the fact that it is relatively accessible and it causes pleasurable effects. This is why pills containing this drug have been altered in recent years to ensure that people cannot crush them into a powder for snorting or for dissolving into a liquid that can then be injected directly into the bloodstream.
Although this measure has effectively reduced the number of people who are able to abuse the drug, it is still important to keep in mind that there are some drug abusers who still manage to take morphine through other ways.
On the streets, the drug is known by a number of names by dealers and users to avoid detection by law enforcement officials and other figures in authority. Examples of these street names include but are not limited to white stuff, Roxanol, monkey, Miss Emma, and M.
There are many different reasons why you might develop an opioid use disorder or a morphine addiction. This is particular true if you have been abusing this drug on a consistent or regular basis.
Typically, addiction will start with the development of tolerance. When this happens, you will be compelled to the take the drug in increasingly larger doses or more frequently than you used to. Only by so doing will you be able to feel the effects of the medications.
After the tolerance has developed, you may soon find that you are struggling with physical and psychological dependence. At this point, you will be forced to use the medication - failure to which you may experience some negative effects related to its lack in your system. This is because your body would already have gotten accustomed to the presence of morphine in the system, and would be unable to function normally without it.
These negative effects are commonly referred to as withdrawal symptoms. They occur because your body, brain, and central nervous system will all be craving the presence of the drug. Since they are often painful, you will again have to seek out and abuse more of the medication.
At this stage, your life will quickly start spiraling out of control as you compulsively seek the drug out if only to manage your withdrawal symptoms - irrespective of the negative consequences that occur as a result.
Addiction to morphine is similar to an opioid use disorder related to heroin. As such, it can be quite difficult for you to fully overcome it. This is due to the fact that withdrawing suddenly from the medication can turn out to be quite unpleasant and uncomfortable. For this reason, you will need medically supervised detoxification to eliminate the substance from your body.
The drug is similar to other prescription medications in the sense that it might be difficult for you to tell whether someone who is close to you has been abusing it or if they are addicted to it. You may even wonder if they are taking it to manage their pain symptoms or to keep up with their growing drug habit.
That said, the following signs and symptoms can be a clear indication of an opioid use disorder involving morphine:
But what are the reasons why this drug is so habit forming? Essentially, when it gets into your body, it will travel quickly to the brain. While there, it will attach itself to the opioid receptors located in the pleasure and reward centers of the mind.
This action will trigger the production of dopamine - a neurotransmitter that the brain releases to produce sensations of pleasure and happiness. Naturally, this neurotransmitter is released when you engage in activities like spending time with loved ones, having an invigorating conversation, eating a nice meal, or engaging in sexual intercourse.
The presence of morphine in the brain will produce dopamine, which will in turn cause you to experience euphoria and other pleasurable effects. This will all occur in the regions of the brain that are linked with pain and reward pathways.
The attachment of the drug to the pathways of pain will cause you to experience a powerful reduction in any sensations of pain that you may be feeling. However, the drug also binds itself to the reward pathways - and it is this mode of action that is responsible for morphine's highly addictive potential. This is because it will produce intensely pleasurable and happy feelings.
The euphoria that will result from the release of dopamine, on the other hand, will create a positive reinforcement cycle that could lead you to continue abusing the drug. After this cycle has turned out into a compulsive habit, you will soon find yourself struggling with an opioid use disorder.
Morphine is a narcotic drug. As such, people often abuse it for the pleasurable effects that it causes. If you have been struggling with pain and you get a prescription for this medication, you may only use it correctly for a short period of time before you end up abusing it. This will increase your risk of developing an addiction to it.
Among the dangers of abusing the medication is that you will experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking it altogether or significantly reduce the dose that you have become accustomed to using.
These symptoms of withdrawal will make it comparatively difficult for you to stop taking the drug. Eventually, however, it will only cause you to struggle with a substance use disorder.
Another danger associated with the drug is overdose. This is because it depresses the CNS - or the central nervous system. As such, taking the medication in excessive amounts could cause you to suffer a drug overdose that will be accompanied with your breathing slowing down to such a low point that you may even go into a coma. The slowed breathing may also cause respiratory failure and even cause you to lose your life.
The other dangers that are linked to this drug include but are not limited to:
Any time that you take this drug in any way other than your doctor recommended or without a valid prescription, you would be abusing it. Since possessing the drug without a valid prescription is considered to be a criminal offense, you might even end up getting in trouble with the law if you are apprehended with a batch of morphine.
In the same way, you should realize that morphine is a drug that depresses the central nervous system. For this reason, it can be dangerous to use it alongside other similar depressant drugs, such as benzodiazepines and alcohol. In case you do, you may experience respiratory failure, extreme sedation, and/or go into a coma.
Morphine is among the drugs that has been contributing to the rising numbers of deaths associated with an opioid overdose. If you take it in high doses, you will increase your risk of suffering such an overdose. When this happens, you may display the following signs and symptoms of a drug overdose:
In case you suspect that you or someone is overdosing morphine as a result of the appearance of any combination of the symptoms listed above, it is recommended that you call 911 as soon as possible. You can also call your local poisons control center and ask that they send emergency first responders immediately. This is because this type of drug overdose can turn out to be fatal.
When you enroll in an inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment and rehabilitation center while struggling with an opioid use disorder involving morphine, you will first have to go through a medically supervised detoxification process. The goal of this process would be to manage your cravings for the drug as well as any of the following withdrawal symptoms that will inevitable arise when you give up the medication or significantly reduce the dose that you have become accustomed to taking:
After that, the recovery facility will provide you with a highly customized and individualized treatment plan that might involve the use of evidence-based rehabilitation approaches or alternative or complementary treatment options - or even a combination of the two.
This might involve the use of therapy and counseling options as well as medications, including but not limited to case management, relapse prevention, aftercare programing and planning, behavioral therapies, counseling options, medication management, and many others.
The important thing to keep in mind is that addiction to this medication can not only prove to be painful and dangerous, it might also end up costing you your life, loved ones, and regular lifestyle. This is why it is essential to seek professional morphine addiction treatment as soon as you notice that you have been abusing the drug in excess.