Morphine Addiction—Abuse And Treatment Options

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D on May 11, 2020

Morphine addiction can occur when an individual abuses the prescription opioid and may lead to adverse side effects, including overdose. Morphine addiction treatment can aid individuals in stopping use, managing withdrawal, and altering behavior for a sober lifestyle.

Morphine Addiction And Treatment Options

While millions of individuals seek pain-relief from opioids like morphine every year, millions also struggle with opioid abuse, with many people dying each day as a result of an opioid overdose.

Morphine can be used to effectively treat severe pain for a short time. However, addiction can result very quickly from morphine abuse, so anyone struggling with the use of this medication should seek treatment right away.

Morphine addiction treatment programs work to reverse health damage caused by abuse, teach individuals skills to enter recovery and alleviate withdrawal symptoms for lasting results.

What Is Morphine And How Is It Abused?

Morphine is a prescription opioid used to treat moderate to severe pain, such as within hospital patients or for those who struggle with chronic pain.

It is available in extended-release capsules and tablets or as a liquid and typically only prescribed for short-term use.

Morphine is marketed under the following brand names:

  • Arymo ER
  • Kadian
  • Morphabond
  • MS Contin

Because the drug is designed to release effects slowly over time, individuals abusing morphine may crush and snort the powder of pills or capsules to seek immediate effects.

They may also dissolve the powder in water, creating a solution to inject, as injection produces instant results.

Abuse of any prescription is also described as any use that is not directed, such as altering method of administration, changing size or frequency of dose, or using someone else’s prescription.

How Does Morphine Abuse Lead To Addiction?

Morphine abuse may lead to addiction after only a short time, as the medication is highly addictive. Unfortunately, even directed use can lead to addiction or physical dependence, so it’s important to stop the use of morphine when directed.

Morphine addiction is caused by the way the drug works within a person’s brain. The drug attaches to opioid receptors and increases the production of chemical messengers responsible for feelings of happiness and hormone regulation.

With time and repeated abuse, the brain becomes used to the intervention of morphine in order to produce these chemicals and may stop production when morphine is not present.

This leads to a mental reliance, in which a person becomes preoccupied with finding and using morphine to experience these feelings, also known as addiction.

Signs And Symptoms Of Morphine Addiction

Individuals may become addicted to morphine without meaning to. If they are seeking relief from pain and increase their dosage, they may not realize the dangers associated with abuse.

A person may also have a hard time recognizing when use turns into abuse.

The following signs and symptoms may point to a morphine addiction:

  • obsession with getting and using morphine
  • tolerance to the effects of morphine
  • using more to feel the effects of the drug
  • increasing dosage or frequency of use
  • changing method of administration
  • experiencing withdrawal symptoms

Why Do People Abuse Morphine?

People may abuse morphine for a number of reasons. First, individuals may not intend to abuse their medication, believing taking more of it or increasing how often they take it to be harmless.

Individuals may also intentionally abuse morphine if they become tolerant to it. Once a person develops tolerance, they no longer feel the desired effects with the same dose.

A person may continue abusing morphine once addiction develops, as this results in mental cravings and urges to use the drug, regardless of consequences.

It is especially hard for individuals to stop abusing morphine if chemical dependence occurs, as this causes highly uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

Side Effects Of Morphine Abuse

Morphine creates immediate side effects that calm a person, make them feel relaxed, and reduce their perception of pain. Abuse of morphine also produces a rapid high that results in feelings of euphoria (extreme happiness).

Each of these feelings are drastically increased when morphine is abused, especially in high doses. However, morphine, like all opioids, also works to slow certain functions of the central nervous system, including breathing rates.

Even when used as directed, this means morphine may lead to stopped or extremely slowed breathing, which can have serious consequences.

Other side effects of morphine abuse can include:

  • chest pain
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • dry mouth
  • headache
  • mood changes
  • fainting
  • nausea or vomiting
  • weakness

Risks Of Long-Term Morphine Abuse

Individuals who abuse morphine long-term risk overdose the more they abuse the drug. Overdose results from too much morphine in the system at once or over time.

If an individual never experiences an overdose, there are still many risks which can come with ongoing opioid abuse, which can affect mental, physical, behavioral, and emotional health.

The following are risks associated with long-term morphine abuse:

  • chronic constipation or other digestive issues
  • sleep troubles, such as insomnia or sleep apnea
  • lowered immune system
  • collapsed veins (in those who inject morphine)
  • reduced sex drive
  • hallucinations
  • inability to get or keep an erection in men
  • menstrual problems in women
  • inattention to hygiene
  • neglecting nutrition
  • developing addiction or physical dependence
  • withdrawal symptoms, which prompt continued use
  • lack of concentration
  • tolerance, which prompts continued use and increases the risk of overdose
  • shunning friends or family due to drug abuse
  • lack of performance at work or in school

Signs And Symptoms Of A Morphine Overdose

A morphine overdose can occur if a person takes too much morphine at one time or over a period of time. Overdose with morphine is also more likely if a person abuses the opioid with another drug, such as heroin or alcohol.

Morphine overdose is considered a medical emergency, and if someone is suspected of overdose, help should be sought right away.

Signs and symptoms of a morphine overdose may include:

  • bluish fingernails and/or lips
  • constipation
  • difficulty breathing, shallow breathing, or stopped breathing
  • drowsiness
  • pinpoint pupils
  • muscle damage from being in a coma
  • nausea or vomiting
  • seizures
  • stomach or intestinal tract spasms

Treatment Programs For Morphine Abuse And Addiction

There are many rehab programs with multiple approaches for treating addiction to opioids like morphine. Opioids cause addiction largely by affecting the brain and impacting thoughts and behaviors.

Because of this, many morphine addiction treatment programs include a behavioral therapy component.

One highly effective treatment for morphine addiction is dialectical behavior therapy, which helps individuals by enhancing their capabilities, boosting motivation, and providing a structured environment.

Although behavioral therapy can be found in many program formats, one of the most successful at fostering lasting recovery is residential rehab programs, also called inpatient programs.

Within inpatient treatment, opioid-addicted individuals can attend therapy by day, receive medication if needed, and access ongoing, daily care to ensure they withdraw safely and remain dedicated to recovery.

If you or someone you know struggles with morphine abuse, contact a treatment specialist today. They can connect you with information about the best rehab programs to fit your needs and provide support and resources.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D on May 11, 2020
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