According to recent statistics, 6% of the American population over the age of 12 has misused opiate medications in the last year. More than 60% of these people admit to having gotten the drugs from relatives or friends. With these shocking statistics, it is evident that morphine abuse and addiction affect many families and communities. As such, it’s increasingly becoming a significant concern because, in the United States alone, the cost burden for morphine addiction stands at +$500 billion in criminal justice costs, health care expenses, lost productivity, and even accidents.
Like many prescription drugs, finding the proper dosage for morphine requires knowledge and often takes in-depth experimentation. Even if someone is under a doctor’s supervision, it takes high expertise to ensure a patient doesn’t cross the line from treatment to abuse. However, sometimes it can be challenging to detect morphine abuse, particularly when the person misusing it has a prescription.
Morphine is a potent, naturally occurring opiate painkiller used to relieve severe pain. Like other opiates, morphine is obtained from the Asian poppy plant. In most cases, this painkiller is used in hospitals to relieve severe, moderate, and chronic pain. It can also help relieve pain after surgeries, treat cancer-related pain, and in end-of-life care. Morphine is a prescription drug that should be used under a doctor’s prescription. However, some individuals abuse this medication by consuming it outside prescription limitations, leading to addiction.
The Global Information Network About Drugs classifies morphine under the most potent opioids that work by interacting with receptors across the central nervous system (CNS) to produce a euphoric effect and adjust how the body perceives pain. This drug has a high potential for abuse. Plus, its highly addictive nature often requires a professional and tailored treatment program. Morphine can be consumed in the form of syrup, tablets, or injections. It can even be smoked.
How Is Morphine Abused?
Morphine usually comes as tablets, liquid, or an injection, and most people abuse it orally or transdermally. Others crush the pill and snort it via nasal passages. The nose’s blood vessels send it directly to the bloodstream, which causes an instant and intense effect. It can also trigger a rush of euphoria, which alters the state of drowsiness and wakefulness. Injecting morphine is another way of abusing the drug. Although morphine injection is thought to be safe when used under a physician’s care, injecting higher amounts or using it frequently can increase the risk of overdose or even damage the veins.
Signs and Symptoms of Morphine Overdose
Morphine alters the user’s CNS function, which affects essential functions such as heart rate, temperature control, and breathing. Taking morphine too often or consuming higher amounts at once can be dangerous. If you or someone close to you seems to be abusing this drug, knowing the specific signs of overdose can save a life.
Some signs of morphine overdose may include:
- Limp muscles
- Cold, clammy skin
- Slow, difficult breathing
- Intense drowsiness
- Lack of sufficient oxygen, leading to bluish fingernails or lips
- Pinpoint pupils
Consequently, combining morphine with other CNS depressants like opioids, benzodiazepines, or alcohol increases the risk of overdosing. Mixing them amplifies the drugs’ effects, leading to coma, unconsciousness, and even death.
Signs of Morphine Abuse
While morphine is an excellent painkiller, using it frequently can lead to the development of dependence. Typically, morphine abuse occurs when an intense euphoric effect is caused within the central nervous system. Keep in mind that too much consumption of morphine can result in severe adverse side effects.
Using this drug without a doctor’s prescription is considered abuse. A person who abuses morphine often exhibits various physical and behavioral effects, including shallow breathing, unconsciousness, sleepiness, and muscle stiffness. In other cases, a person can experience involuntary eye movement, low sensitivity to pain, and slurred speech.
Morphine abuse can also lead to fluid retention, making users experience swelling joints and appear bloated. Ultimately, misuse of morphine can take a toll on a person’s emotions. People suffering from morphine addiction may experience irritability, anxiety, irrational fears, and depression.
Short-Term Side Effects of Morphine
Immediate effects of morphine will vary based on different factors, including the amount taken, method of administration, and a person’s general health. Depending on how the drug was administered, short-term effects will start to show within the first few minutes and last up to six hours. These effects include:
- Mood swings
- Lower body temperature
- Nausea and vomiting
- Changes in heart rate
- Dizziness upon standing
- Erectile dysfunction
- A false sense of well-being
Long-Term Side Effects of Morphine
Although it is commonly used in hospitals, morphine isn’t the first choice for any form of pain. This is because it has a high risk of overdose and dependence, which is a significant concern. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 1 out of 4 patients treated with opioids for a pronged period have a high risk of developing opioid-related disorders. Moreover, frequent use of morphine can cause long-term effects by altering your hormones, immune system, and GI tract. Some of these long-term effects include:
- Acid reflux
- Chronic constipation
- Weight loss
- Dry mouth
- Increased blood sugar
- Immune system problems
- Sexual dysfunction
- Osteoporosis and increased risk of fractures
- Issues with menstruation
When tolerance starts to build in the body, dependence on morphine is established. Worse, once your body develops physical dependence, it means you will not be able to function as you would without your regular dose of the drug in your system. Morphine and heroin interact similarly to the brain, and thus, their addictions are almost the same. Furthermore, due to these drugs’ nature, their addictions are powerful and the toughest to overcome.
Signs of Morphine Addiction
As a strong opioid, morphine changes how pain is perceived in the brain, creating a sense of euphoria. As a morphine user, you may experience impaired mental function, sedation, and inability to pay attention. Prolonged use of morphine can exhibit the following signs:
– Feeling a strong urge for morphine to get through the day
– Irregular eating patterns or significant weight loss
– Visiting different doctors within a short time
– Withdrawal symptoms
– Secretive behavior
– Stealing items or selling anything to pay for drugs
Morphine Withdrawal Symptoms
People with a psychological and physical dependency on morphine will experience intense withdrawal symptoms when this substance leaves their bloodstream. This is because the drug often attaches to receptors across the nerve cells in a person’s spinal cord, brain, and other areas, preventing the proper transmission of pain signals. Early withdrawal symptoms occur within six to 14 hours after taking the last dosage. They include yawning, runny nose, and sweating. Within 48 to 72 hours of taking the last dose, other, sometimes more severe withdrawal symptoms may occur, including:
- Body aches
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Watery eyes
- Muscle pain
- Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting
Morphine withdrawal can be a painful and uncomfortable process, explaining why many individuals struggle due to their dependence on the drug. The biggest challenge is that they must continue using the medicine to avoid the withdrawal process. The good news is that several treatment facilities across the nation are ready to walk you through your recovery journey.
Getting Treatment for Morphine Addiction
If you or someone you know is struggling to break a morphine addiction, feel free to get in touch with Granite Recovery Centers so that we can start preparing for your recovery plan. Granite Recovery Centers are committed to transforming lives by providing comprehensive client-focused treatment.
We have provided superior-quality addiction and mental health treatments for over 10 years in New England and beyond. We offer a unique blend of evidence-based therapy coupled with a 12-step curriculum. Our clinical psychotherapies feature a full range of care offerings, including:
- Medical detox
- Primary residential treatment
- Extended care
- Intensive outpatient counseling
- Sober living
- Medication-assisted treatment
- Alumni community
At Granite Recovery Centers, we make it our responsibility to provide individualized treatment programs to help you manage cravings, identify harmful habits, pinpoint triggers, and start rebuilding your life the best way possible. Some of our comprehensive treatment programs include the following:
Detox program – Our drug detox process will last for several days up to a week, depending on the type of drug used, the amount taken, and for how long. While at our facility, you can expect 24-hour medical monitoring, an around-the-clock structured setting, and professional help if you have difficulty controlling cravings. We work tirelessly to relax your mind, help you understand the process, and offer the detox support you need. Granite Recovery Centers provides medical detoxification for people who do not need immediate medical intervention, are not a danger to themselves, and are capable of self-evacuation in the event of an emergency.
Drug rehab – At Granite Recovery Centers, we provide inpatient and outpatient drug rehab programs. Inpatient drug rehab requires that a person stays in our facility where he/she can participate in individual and group therapy, skill-building sessions, clinical psychotherapy, holistic therapy, community-based exercises, 12-step curricula, and focused recovery programs.
With our outpatient program, clients live at home or in an extended-care facility and attend therapy at a separate outpatient center. The program works well for people who need regular monitoring and guidance after undergoing primary care at an inpatient institution. Some of our outpatient programs include group therapy, case management, education resources, access to psychotherapy, holistic classes, and skill-building workshops.
Sober-living programs – These programs provide our clients with the supportive environment they need while re-entering society. Our sober living programs are safe, dependable, moderately structured, and monitored by a house manager. Sober living is a great stepping stone toward complete independence.
Female-specific rehab center – We understand that substance abuse affects each gender differently. Women are often reluctant to seek help due to legal and societal fears. Our women’s rehab center provides a safe and comfortable environment where women can feel free to discuss and share their experiences without fear or judgment. We focus on treating various forms of substance abuse, including alcohol addiction, prescription opiate addiction, benzo addiction, and heroin addiction.
Male-specific rehab center – This is a specialized treatment program designed to help men struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. This program allows men to overcome societal expectations and share male-specific experiences. Our rehab center provides yoga therapy, depression treatment, recreational therapy, group and individual therapy, and anger management treatment.
Alumni program – Our alumni program allows our graduates to connect and bond with their peers. This program helps former clients stay active and maintain valuable relationships while finding the support they need. The alumni program is a community of men and women who share values, experiences, respect, and a singular voice. Members get access to private groups, educational events and programs, and peer support. Participants also take part in recreational programs like cookouts, outings, and meditation and yoga sessions.
If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to morphine, it’s important to know that help is available. Contact our team today for more information about getting the treatment you need.