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Morphine Addiction: The Side Effects, Withdrawal and Treatment Options

There is no denying the fact that morphine addiction is becoming a bigger problem in the U.S. than ever before. This drug is one of the most commonly prescribed medications in our hospitals. Some would even argue that it has been over-prescribed, contributing to the opioid epidemic we know of today.

If you have been taking morphine for a long time, you may already be addicted to it. It is possible to form an addiction to this medication without any intention of abusing it. Of course, there are also those who choose to abuse it, which can lead to quick dependence.

It’s important to get the facts about morphine regarding its side effects and possible withdrawal symptoms. We can also inform you about your options for getting treatment.

What is Morphine?

Morphine is a drug that works by acting on the central nervous system to decrease pain. It is most frequently offered to patients in hospitals after they have undergone surgery. However, it can also be prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain after serious injuries.

This medication is derived naturally from the opium poppy plant. It can be give as a tablet, an injection, or as an IV solution. It works very quickly, and its maximum effects can be felt in as quickly as twenty minutes by IV. It may take up to sixty minutes to begin working when taken by mouth. The effects of it may last between three and seven hours.

Morphine is used as a precursor for other, similar painkilling drugs. Some of these include hydromorphone, Vicodin, Oxycodone and Codeine. There are extended release formulations of it that work longer to help control pain.

This is a very helpful, informative video about morphine:

Because morphine is widely abused, it goes by several street names, and they include:

  • Mister Blue
  • Dreamer
  • God’s Drug
  • Morpho
  • Miss Emma
  • Aunt Emma

It is usually not difficult to find this medication on the street. People can buy it in both tablet and IV formulations. It can also be purchased illegally online.

Contrary to popular belief, opiates and opioids are not the same, although the two terms are often used interchangeably. Morphine is classified as an opiate medication because it is naturally derived from the poppy plant. It is not created in a lab like other painkillers. Codeine is another example of an opiate, as is heroin.

An opioid includes natural opiates as well as those that are formulated in laboratory settings. Many of the man-made medications use morphine as a base. They all work the same way, by attaching to the body’s opioid receptors to relieve pain.

This means that all opiate drugs are also opioids. However, there are many opioids that cannot be classified as opiates. Both types of substances have the potential to be highly addictive.

Morphine is used as a strong painkiller for a lot of different purposes. Most doctors will prescribe it when other medications are not working as well. For instance, a doctor may begin a patient on Vicodin for back pain, and then change to morphine if more relief is needed.

Some examples of when morphine might be used to treat pain include:

  • After cancer treatments
  • After broken bones
  • After a heart attack
  • After an invasive surgical procedure
  • After a car accident

The drug is also frequently given to patients who are undergoing surgery, along with their anesthesia. It helps by providing pain relief after the operation has been completed. It’s often given to women who are having cesarean sections.

Like other opioid drugs, this one can have some serious side effects. Many of them should go away after a period of using the medication. However, there are some that may persist.

Some of the common side effects of morphine include:

  • Drowsiness
  • A dry mouth
  • Headaches
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Significant mood swings
  • Small pupils
  • Stomach cramps
  • Problems with urination, including pain

Occasionally, there are those who will experience more severe side effects. These should be reported to your doctor as soon as possible, and they include:

  • Skin that turns a blue or purple color
  • Changes in heartbeat
  • Hallucinations
  • Agitation or irritability
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Irregular menstruation
  • A decrease in sexual desire
  • Seizures
  • Chest pain
  • A high or low-grade fever
  • Hives or a rash

Morphine Facts

Even if you have been taking morphine for a long time, there may be a lot you do not know about it. It is important to get all the facts when you are taking any kind of opioid medication.

The following are some facts about morphine you may not have known until now:

  • In addition to being an opiate and an opioid, this drug is also classified as a narcotic. That means it is a controlled substance that has the potential to lead to addiction.
  • People who abuse this substance may inject it, swallow it, or even smoke it.
  • Morphine works by attaching to your body’s opioid receptors. These re found in the brain, spinal cord and other areas of the body.
  • When it attaches to opioid receptors, it has the ability to alter the way that people experience pain.
  • People abuse the drug because of the way that it can induce feelings of euphoria.
  • There are a lot of risks involved with abusing morphine. Taking too much can even lead to severe respiratory depression and cause a coma or death.
  • When someone uses it long-term, this can lead to dependence, which then leads to addiction.
  • This medication should only be used for short periods of time. No one should ever use someone else’s medication, even if they have used it in the past.

Morphine Addiction and its Effect on the Body

morphine addiction is something that takes time to progress. It is not going to happen by taking this drug short-term, and it will not happen to everyone who takes it.

Morphine Addiction Information

Usually, a person will find themselves in a situation that requires the use of a strong pain-relieving drug. They may get into an accident or suffer from a serious injury. At that point, they’re prescribed morphine in an attempt to treat their pain.

Once they have been taking the drug for a while, they may begin to notice that it does not work as well. They may find that their pain returns before the next dose is due. This might cause them to take it earlier than they normally would. Or, they may also take a larger dose to compensate. This is called forming a drug tolerance. At that point, the individual is dependent on morphine.

Dependence is different than an addiction. It may be difficult to stop taking morphine if you are dependent on it, but it can be done. If the individual does not stop taking the drug, they will eventually form an addiction to it.

An addiction to morphine can take quite a toll on the body. People who become addicted to morphine begin to believe that they need it to survive. They do not feel right when they stop taking it, and without it, they go through withdrawal.

This is a useful video that describes one woman’s experience, and the difference between tolerance and addiction:

Any type of opioid addiction can wreak havoc on someone’s life and on their physical body. Morphine is a very powerful medication, and continuing to use it for a long time is going to have consequences.

Some of the long-term effects of morphine include:

  • Losing interest in family and friends.
  • Struggling to be productive at work.
  • Ignoring any health problems that are related to the drug use.
  • Developing financial problems.
  • Stealing from others or becoming involved in other criminal activities.

Once someone is addicted, missing even one dose is likely to result in withdrawal symptoms. They can be both physically and emotionally painful. We will discuss this in more detail in just a moment.

Our country is currently experiencing a serious opioid crisis. So many lives have been lost because of these drugs, and morphine is a key player in the problem.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine has shared the following statistics about morphine and similar opioids:

  • In 2015, there were 20.5 million people in the U.S. suffering from a substance abuse disorder.
  • Of that number, 2 million of their conditions involved either morphine or a similar drug.
  • Drug overdose is currently the leading cause of accidental death in our country.
  • There were more than 52,000 lethal drug overdoses in 2015.
  • Of that number, 20,101 of them were related to either morphine or other prescription opioid painkillers.
  • In 2008, the overdose rate was four times what it was in 1999.
  • In 2010, the sales of morphine and other opioid drugs was four times what it was in 1999.
  • In 2009, the drug addiction treatment rate was six times what it was in 1999.
  • In 2012, there were almost 260 million prescriptions written for morphine and other painkillers.
  • That is enough medication to give every adult in America their own bottle of pills.
  • Research shows that four out of five new heroin users begin by misusing prescription opioids.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Stopping the use of morphine is no easy feat, but it can be done. Keep in mind that it should never be attempted without medical supervision. This is an opioid drug, and it typically causes the usual withdrawal symptoms.

In the beginning, withdrawal can seem pretty manageable. It is common for people to experience the following opioid withdrawal symptoms:

  • Agitation and anger
  • Excessive yawning
  • Excessive sweating
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Increased tearing of the eyes
  • A runny nose
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety symptoms

As it progresses, withdrawal symptoms usually get worse. The individual may also notice some new symptoms, like:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dilated pupils
  • Intense cravings
  • Diarrhea
  • Goosebumps

It is very hard to cope with these symptoms. Here, one man discusses his personal experience with opioid withdrawal:

It is helpful to understand how morphine withdrawal progresses. You may notice the following:

  • Your symptoms should begin within the first six to twelve hours. But if you have been taking an extended release formulation of morphine, it may take longer for withdrawal to begin.
  • Your early physical symptoms will most likely be aches and pains, a runny nose and cravings. You may find that you’re more irritable and anxious.
  • Between the first 24 and 72 hours, you will probably notice an increase in the severity of your early symptoms. You may also begin vomiting and having diarrhea. Some people will get a fever.
  • After the third day, you should notice some improvement in the severity of your symptoms. As you get closer to the seventh day, you should feel better.
  • After the first week, you may be feeling more like yourself. However, it is not uncommon for symptoms to return without much warning. This is called PAWS, which stands for Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome.

What is the Best Way to Stop Taking Morphine?

It is never a good idea to stop taking morphine on your own. If you attempt to go cold turkey, you may throw yourself into withdrawal quickly. It will be very difficult to maintain your quit, which could result in a relapse, which could lead to an overdose.

You also should not attempt to taper down your medication on your own. This method is often used during detox, but it could cause problems if you go too slowly or too fast. A taper is best left to professionals who understand how these drugs work in the body.

Your best option is to recover from your morphine addiction in a professional setting. This will involve a combination of detox and rehab, which will give you the best chance of being successful.

The Role of Detoxification

Detoxing is a vital part of the recovery process when you are addicted to a drug like morphine. An opioid detox will adequately address all of your withdrawal symptoms, making it easier for you to stop. The goal will be to keep you comfortable and to avoid any complications that can often accompany withdrawal in the process.

Going to drug detox is very important because it will help with the physical part of your addiction. You will also be able to prepare yourself mentally for what you’ll experience once you go to rehab.

Most addiction treatment professionals agree that there are a lot of benefits to attending an inpatient medicated detox. This is especially important when you are addicted to an opioid drug. There are several reasons for this.

First and foremost, your safety is a major priority. So many people suffer from serious withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking morphine. If you are in an inpatient setting, you will be monitored carefully, 24 hours a day.

It will also benefit you to remove yourself from the environment you were using in. Triggers are very real, and you do not always know what might make you want to use again. Going to an inpatient facility will erase that worry completely.

This is an excellent video that cover triggers in more detail:

Your Options for Withdrawal Treatments

Most experts agree that when it comes to opioid drugs, a medicated approach is best. This is called medication assisted treatment, or MAT, and it works very well in treating morphine addiction.

Your doctor will talk with you about the different options available to you for medications. Together, you’ll choose the one that you feel will work the best. Here are some examples of the different drugs used during opioid replacement therapy.

You may find that you experience severe anxiety when you stop taking morphine. Clonidine is a drug that can help with that. It works well at stabilizing blood pressure and reducing the symptoms of anxiety.

Many patients are started on either buprenorphine (Subutex) or Suboxone. These medications work by attaching to the opioid receptors in the body. They can effectively treat withdrawal symptoms and bring much-needed relief. Even so, they should be used with caution because they are opioid drugs, themselves.

Methadone is another opioid medication that has been FDA approved to treat opioid addiction. This drug must be given at an approved methadone clinic. Patients usually take it daily, and there is some risk of secondary addiction. It is not used as much today as it once was.

Vivitrol has been compared to Suboxone in several studies. Many experts believe that it is the superior medication because of its many benefits. It is non-addictive, and it is not an opioid drug. Patients only need to take it once every month, and it is given by injection. Many people appreciate the convenience, and Vivitrol has shown promising results as a long-term recovery solution.

Along with medications, you may be prescribed various holistic treatments during detox. This will involve a combination of dietary changes and exercise to improve your overall health. As a result, your liver and kidneys will be better equipped to process toxins.

Morphine Addiction Treatment and Your Options

After completing detox, patients are ready to move on to drug rehab. This is a very important step because it will address the psychological side of the addiction. Sometimes people think they do not need further treatment after detoxing. However, it is very important to treat the cause of the addiction.

There are several different options available to you for morphine rehab.

An inpatient treatment center is a very popular option, and many believe that it is the most effective. This involves staying in a facility for a period of about 28 days. During that time, patients receive many different types of therapy.

Outpatient treatment usually only involves counseling; although there are some therapists who also offer support groups. This is a good option for people who have been through an inpatient or more intensive program. But it is usually not enough support for someone who is new to treatment.

An intensive outpatient treatment program may be a great option for someone who cannot commit to an inpatient facility. This type of care will allow people to live at home, but they are required to attend several appointments every week. During that time, they will work with a therapist one-on-one and participate in group therapy sessions.

For those who are not ready to commit to any type of professional treatment, Narcotics Anonymous is another option. NA has been around for several decades, and it is an organization that offers support group meetings for addicts. The meetings are held once a week, and there is no charge to join.

Get Treatment for Your Morphine Addiction Right Away

No matter what you decide to do, it is our hope that you are ready to get help for your morphine addiction. This is a problem that is not going to go away on its own. Most people find that they need professional help if they want to recover. At Northpoint Washington, we are here to help you.

Morphine is a very difficult drug to stop; there is no doubt about that. You may even be afraid to admit that you need help. Our staff members understand the fear you have because many of them are recovering addicts themselves. You will be in very good hands, and they will walk you through every step of the recovery process.

Did we answer all of your questions about morphine addiction? If you are ready to take the next step to change your life and begin your recovery, please contact us.

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Northpoint Washington: Opening April 2019

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