Morphine is a neutral opioid that’s useful in alleviating pain, whether it is acute or chronic. The analgesic targets the central nervous system directly to hasten the pain relief process. While you may think that taking morphine under medical supervision is harmless, you’ll be surprised at the rate at which people begin an opioid addiction. There is even a danger of an overdose or death. According to CDC statistics, there were 450,000 deaths due to opioid overdoses between 1999 and 2019. While the statistics are alarming, we’re yet to see the end of the opioid overdose epidemic.
The Basics of Morphine and Addiction
Before diving into the details of morphine addiction, it’s critical to understand the drug’s history. Morphine came into existence in 1803 when a German pharmacist isolated it as an active ingredient from the poppy plant. After the invention of the syringe, morphine usage became more rampant due to the convenience of administration, and that’s why the substance falls on the Schedule II drug list in the U.S., following the high potential for abuse.
As a naturally derived drug, morphine is the pain reliever of choice for many. From after surgery to end-of-life care, doctors can prescribe the medication to nearly anyone for a range of uses. This looseness of application is where the danger of an overdose comes in. Your doctor may prescribe medication, but your drive toward living without dependence will determine your addiction status. One red flag that’ll show you’re dependence (or addiction) to the drug is your tolerance to its impacts and your continued usage even when it disrupts your daily life.
Worth noting is that you can develop morphine addiction after just a few hits, so don’t think that long-term usage is the only danger. Some people who abuse the drug chew the tablets or breathe the crushed form, and others choose to inject it. The injection form is three times as powerful as oral administration. That means you’re likely to develop a morphine addiction if you inject it rather than take it orally.
Risks of Morphine Abuse
Morphine dependence comes at a high cost, both literally and otherwise. First of all, those who inject the drug have a high chance of contracting hepatitis. Research shows that morphine accelerates hepatitis C virus replication. Those who depend on morphine could also be in danger of HIV. According to the CDC, people who share needles for injecting drugs are likely to transmit HIV and to cause an outbreak directly.
Drug overdoses are another risk affiliated with morphine abuse that we cannot afford to overlook. Opioid prescription numbers have been steadily growing since the 1990s. Consequently, the number of overdoses and deaths also grew. Over 232,000 Americans died from prescription opioid overdoses between 1999 and 2018, and the numbers reported in 2018 were four times more than those reported in 1999.
Did you know that you also suffer the risk of mental health problems if you abuse a prescription narcotic painkiller such as morphine? A report shows that people who depend on opioids for three to six months have a 25% risk of developing depression. The risk is likely to increase to 53% if you take the drugs for longer than six months.
Tell-Tale Signs of Morphine Addiction
You or your loved one can fall victim to morphine dependence even after a few uses and whether you obtained the drug legally or illegally. The first step toward drug addiction is abuse. It may be difficult to detect a substance use problem among those who get morphine via prescription, but note that using a drug in ways that the doctors didn’t authorize is abuse and can cause addiction. Below are some warning signs of morphine abuse:
- A lack of attention
- Frequent irritability
- Mumbled speech
- Shortness of breath
- Fluctuating moods
- Dilated pupils
Continuously using morphine in ways other than the doctor’s prescription may make you dependent on the drug. When it comes to morphine addiction, the following can occur:
- You might find that you need large doses of the drug to feel the same effects as before (increased tolerance).
- You’ve tried to quit morphine intake to no avail.
- You have used up too much of your time, money, and effort on obtaining, using, and even recovering from morphine.
- You prioritize morphine use such that you no longer have time for your friends and family.
- You know that the substance use disorder ruins your life, but you can’t find it in you to stop.
- Your body has a strong urge and craving for morphine.
- You experience withdrawal symptoms each time you try to quit or cut down your morphine intake.
- You put other people in dangerous or risky situations, all in the name of obtaining “pain medication.”
- Your morphine use comes first before your work at home or the office, causing you to be negligent professionally and personally.
Short-Term Effects of Morphine Addiction
Whenever you take morphine, there are some immediate symptoms you may exhibit. The effects can vary depending on the method of administration and the amount of drug taken. Usually, the side effects of morphine start showing between 15 and 60 minutes after use and can last four to six hours.
Here are some possible side effects that you may experience immediately after using morphine:
- Calm sensation
- Chest pain
- Itchy skin
Morphine acts directly on the central nervous system. Therefore, it will reduce brain and nervous system activity and will result in slow breathing. In extreme cases, the sedative effects may be so high that the person falls unconscious.
Long-Term Effects of Morphine Addiction
The prolonged use of morphine can cause multiple adverse effects in the long run. While it may be easy to mitigate the short-term impact, you cannot say the same if you take too long to stop morphine use. The effects that you may encounter include:
- Excessive constipation
- Collapsed veins
- A suppressed immune system
Morphine addiction can be detrimental. When you start exhibiting tolerance to the drug, there’s the tendency to use higher doses to feel its effects and to eliminate withdrawal. That can cause shallow breathing and even respiratory failure. In some cases, the person can lose consciousness and stop breathing or may fall into a coma due to high sedation.
What to Do About Addiction
Once you’ve ascertained that you or someone you love has a morphine addiction problem, the next thing to do is to withdraw from the drug and seek treatment. Withdrawal symptoms may start to show within six to 12 hours after taking the last dose. Morphine withdrawal signs include:
- Fever and chills
- Sweating non-stop
- Muscle aches and cramps
- Uncontrolled irritability
- Nausea with the possibility of vomiting
- Insomnia along with mood swings or lack of energy
- Watery eyes
- Dilated pupils
The first step towards rehabilitating morphine addiction is managing the withdrawal symptoms. A medication-assisted treatment program (MAT) utilizes FDA-approved medications that help mitigate dependency. Treatment specialists provide the medicine needed to counteract the side effects that you encounter while trying to regain sobriety. With MAT, the risk for a relapse is minimal.
One drug that the treatment specialists use to make detox a little more manageable is methadone. The treatment therapy comprises taking a supervised dose of the drug daily. For a start, you may get a prescription of 5 or 10 milligrams. Methadone is otherwise referred to as an opioid agonist since it fills opioid receptors and tricks them into thinking that they’re still under morphine use while they aren’t.
Suboxone and Subutex work just as methadone does. Such medication dosage usually starts at 8 milligrams and reaches a maximum of 24 milligrams according to the abuse severity. The drugs contain buprenorphine that’s a partial opioid agonist that works just as methadone does. Suboxone also has naloxone that inhibits any chance of getting high if a person abuses either of the drugs.
Vivitrol is yet another valuable drug during medication-assisted treatment. Medical professionals administer it through injections so that they can control its use. The drug’s function is to fight opioid cravings during treatment. It also helps lessen the severe physical symptoms that may occur during treatment and inhibits the chances of overdosing. Vivitrol administration is only once a month.
While medication is a vital tool during recovery, treatment plans can also incorporate:
- A family counseling program – You are likely to win the war against drug addiction if you have a solid support system. Once you have family and friends by your side, the chances of overcoming addiction rise.
- Group meetings – The 12-step meetings bring together addicts who are trying to achieve the common goal of beating addiction. The sessions encompass breaking down the recovery program into smaller and more easily achieved goals.
Some people may be adamant about utilizing medication to treat addiction, thinking that it’s just trading in one drug for another. That’s a myth that couldn’t be further from the truth; the only reason drugs are used is to make sure that you have a safe withdrawal process and that you are in the least amount of pain.
The road toward gaining sobriety doesn’t come easily. It needs commitment, and sometimes that means checking into an inpatient drug rehab center. Residential stays include 24/7 monitoring and support as well as addressing underlying problems that trigger addiction. Residential treatment centers help addicts realize the impacts of morphine addiction on their lives and their loved ones’ lives while providing the tools necessary to lead drug-free lives. The program typically addresses both the physical and psychological effects of addiction.
Medical detox may be part of the inpatient drug treatment. The process can last between three and 10 days, depending on the level of addiction. Residential treatment also uses therapies such as yoga, recreation time, and cognitive-behavioral counseling.
If you’re done with a residential or inpatient rehab program, outpatient drug rehab would be ideal. That does not necessarily mean that you still have an addiction but that you need all the help possible to make sure that you stay sober. Granite Recovery Center has an intensive outpatient program that provides the support that people in early recovery need. With exemplary commitment, you’re more likely to have lasting sobriety. This program entails 12-step meetings, group and individual therapy, and meditation.
When it comes to outpatient care, the focus is to regain your life and standing in society. That’s why some skill-building sessions and workshops provide the skills necessary to thrive while sober. Outpatient care includes therapy options such as gestalt, depression treatment, and yoga.
The Necessity of Collaborative Treatment
When it comes to addiction, medical professionals combine medication, treatment therapies, counseling, and even workshops during treatment because you might be dealing with comorbid disorders. Comorbidity means that you are facing more than one addiction or an addiction and a mental disorder, so one approach might not effectively deal with the problem.
For instance, someone with a substance use disorder might be having an underlying mental illness. People with psychiatric disorders also tend to have an addiction to drugs. Other psychological disorders that people may struggle with when battling drug addiction include bipolar disorder, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and anxiety.
Granite Recovery Center utilizes a collaborative approach that helps clients recognize their cravings and develop strategies to cope with any negative energy towards recovery.
Life throws us in many situations that may be good or unpleasant. Drug addiction can fall in the latter category, costing you time, health, and relationships. However, you should know that there’s a drug rehab center out there that’s ready to take you in and to walk with you through the process of recovery.
Granite Recovery Center is one such facility. If you’re thinking about beginning your recovery journey, let us send you our brochure so that you learn more about our services. And whenever you’re ready to join us, contact us to discuss admission into one of our treatment centers.