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Morphine is a powerful painkilling narcotic drug. Morphine is a habit-forming drug, and morphine addiction can develop fairly quickly even if the drug is taken as prescribed. It is a naturally occurring opiate extracted from the seed of the opium poppy plant, and is a main component of opium.
It is prescribed for moderate to severe pain. If you are prescribed to morphine it is important to follow the doctor’s orders completely, as taking too much of the drug, taking it too often, or in a different way than as prescribed is considered abuse and can lead to addiction. It is important to be sure that your prescription will not get into the hands of others, and to keep it in a safe and secure place.
How is Morphine Abused?
Morphine abuse is very dangerous, as it can lead to a number of side effects including a lifetime struggle with addiction. According to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration, morphine can be found as an injectable, oral solution, immediate and controlled release tablet, or as a suppository. It may be abused in any of these forms, and the tablets are sometimes crushed up and snorted or injected.
Other Names for Morphine
Morphine may be referred to both under street names and brand names. It is important to be aware of these in order to be able to detect if a loved one is wrongly taking the drug. According to the US Drug Enforcement Agency morphine street names include:
- First line
- God’s drug
Generic and brand names for morphine are the names it is marketed under. These include:
- Oramorph SR
What are the Effects of Morphine?
The effects of morphine vary depending on the dosage, route of administration, and the previous exposure a particular person has had to the drug. With exposure, people develop a tolerance which means that they need more of the drug to feel the same effects as previously.
Short-term effects of morphine include:
- Relief of physical pain
- Decrease in hunger
- Mental clouding
Onset of these effects is usually within 15 to 60 minutes, and they last for up to 6 hours. Morphine also has a number of side effects. According to the US National Library of Medicine, side effects of morphine may include:
- Drowsiness, dizziness
- Nausea, vomiting
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Loss of appetite, can lead to weight loss
- Dry mouth
- Agitation or mood changes
- Small pupils
- Flu symptoms
It is possible to overdose on morphine. Taking too much morphine can lead to coma or death, and it is extremely important to be able to recognize an overdose. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms as a result of taking morphine call 911.
- Cold, clammy skin
- Lowered blood pressure
- Slowed breathing
- Slowed pulse rate
- Blue or purple color to the skin
- Chest pain
- Hives, rash, or itching
- Difficulty swallowing
- Swelling of the arms, hands, feet, ankles or lower legs
Morphine Dependence and Withdrawal
Morphine withdrawal is a collection of symptoms that people feel when they are dependent on morphine and abruptly stop taking it. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, dependence develops when your body becomes used to a drug. This occurs at a neuronal level in the brain when the neurons adapt to repeated drug exposure. This means that they have come to depend on morphine in order to function.
Withdrawal occurs when a morphine-dependent person stops using it. The body reacts with symptoms similar to a terrible flu, symptoms which last for about a week according to MedlinePlus. Developing a morphine dependence and feeling withdrawal symptoms when you are not on morphine can be very dangerous, and is a sign of addiction.
Morphine withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Muscle aches
- Increased tearing
- Runny nose
- Abdominal cramping
- Dilated pupils
- Goose bumps
These symptoms are painful and uncomfortable, but they are not life-threatening. The worst of the physical withdrawal symptoms are sure to dissipate within about a week, though the psychological symptoms may last a few weeks longer. Medications such as methadone and buprenorphine are sometimes prescribed to help with withdrawal, though they can be habit-forming as well.
Staying hydrated, exercising, and eating a good and balanced diet are some recommended remedies for morphine withdrawal.
Signs of Morphine Abuse and Addiction
If you suspect that someone you love is using morphine and may be addicted, or are worried that you are developing an addiction yourself, you should look out for certain signs. One characteristic of morphine abuse and substance abuse in general is that people often try to hide it, so it may be hard to identify. However, morphine addiction signs may be seen at behavioral, physical, and psychological levels.
Signs of addiction include:
- ‘Doctor shopping’ or going to several different doctors in attempts to get more morphine
- Frequent trips to the ER with little to no explanation
- Abrupt changes in hangouts, friend groups
- Unexplained financial loss, always in need of money, possibly even stealing money from others
- Not paying attention to physical appearance
- Abrupt or unexplained weight loss
- Decline in performance in work or at school
- Compulsive drug-seeking behavior
Signs of morphine abuse which can also be signs of addiction include:
- Track marks, or needle marks from injection
- Small, pinpoint pupils
- Seeming withdrawn, anxious or irritable
- Frequent drowsiness, nodding off
- Loss of appetite, weight loss
Getting Help for Morphine Addiction
Morphine addiction treatment can help you overcome an addiction to morphine. Treatment usually involves a detox period followed by counseling and medication therapy. Treatment may take place in an inpatient or residential rehab center, outpatient facility, or with the help of support groups. Some people are able to overcome addiction without treatment, but it does not work for everyone and is not recommended.
- Inpatient rehab is recommended for people who have a long history of substance abuse, those with co-occurring medical or mental health conditions, and people who lack support in their home. Inpatient centers provide around the clock care and support, as well as housing in the facility.
- Outpatient treatment is most helpful for people who have support at home, those who have a relatively shorter history of morphine use, and who are not affected by other mental health or medical conditions.
- Support groups are helpful throughout the treatment process. Many people begin attending support group meetings, such as Narcotics Anonymous, while in treatment. It is recommended to continue attending these meetings long after treatment, as well, as they can be very helpful for maintaining recovery. Connecting and sharing experiences with others in recovery can be a great help along the way.
Counseling is an important part of treatment. Morphine addiction treatment may involve various types of counseling, and they may be on a one-on-one basis with a counselor, in a group, and may incorporate your family and loved ones as well. Counseling helps people cope with drug cravings, heal from any trauma associated with their drug abuse, and develop skills necessary to lead a drug-free life.
Medications are also a main component in many treatment programs for morphine addiction. Medications used in treatment are opiates themselves and work on the same brain receptors as morphine. These drugs, however, do not create the same high effect and allow people to go to work and participate in other aspects of life that their morphine addiction prevented. According to Harvard Health Publications methadone, buprenorphine, and Suboxone are some of the most common medications used for this purpose. They are normally administered once a day either in a specialized clinic (for methadone) or at a physician’s office (for Suboxone and buprenorphine).