Morphine Addiction and Abuse

Like other prescription opiates, morphine use can easily lead to abuse and addiction, even if you started taking it for legitimate medical reasons, and anytime morphine is used without a prescription, it is considered abuse. Abusing morphine by taking excess doses of it – or combining with alcohol, street drugs or other prescription drugs – can lead to dangerous, and sometimes fatal, consequences.

Addiction to morphine is similar to that of heroin, and is one of the most challenging addictions to quit. Abruptly stopping morphine usage can have some severe implications. Therefore, detoxification and withdrawal under the supervision of addiction experts is the best way to rid your body of the drug.

What is Morphine?

Morphine is an opioid analgesic drug that is regarded as the gold standard of pain relievers. It is used to treat severe pain and can create a high that gives you feelings of euphoria and reduced tension. The substance is named after Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams, because of the dreamlike state it induces after use. Slang or street terms that have been used to describe morphine include ‘Monkey’, ‘Miss Emma’, ‘White Stuff’, ‘M’ and ‘Roxanol’.

Morphine is an opiate and highly addictive, which means that your body develops a tolerance to it. As you continue usage, you may require more and more to achieve the desired effect. You may also begin to compulsively seek it because of your addiction and feelings of obsession towards the drug.

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Various Forms of Morphine

Morphine can be taken in a variety of forms. These include: injectable preparations, oral solutions, suppositories, immediate and sustained-released capsules and tablets. It is essential to only take the capsules and tablets as they are provided. Do not chew, crush or break the extended release tablets, as they will release too much morphine into your bloodstream at once.

Oral solutions of morphine come in the form of a liquid. This form is generally used for hospice patients, as it is easier to take when you are unable to swallow pills. Also, it is often concentrated, so that less liquid is needed to give the required dose. Liquid morphine begins working in less than 15 minutes and only lasts about four hours.

Morphine Addiction and Abuse – What is it?

Morphine is a very powerful and addictive opiate. Whether you abuse it or use it according to your doctor’s recommendations, it can easily become addictive. The problem is that it’s almost impossible to tell when you’ll become addicted to morphine. You may only begin using recreationally, but may soon realise you are incapable of quitting.

Generally, the body easily becomes accustomed to the presence of opiates like morphine in as little as two weeks of usage. At that point, the craving effects created by using or abusing the drug may drive you back to use more and more.

What Causes Morphine Addiction and Abuse

The main root causes of morphine addiction and abuse can be traced to several biological, psychological and environmental factors. Morphine addiction due to biological factors, include genetic influences, in addition to the changes in body chemistry and brain mechanisms that result from morphine use. Cases of underlying trauma, anxiety, abuse in the home, and feelings of depression are just some of the psychological factors causing morphine addiction and abuse.

Examples of social or environmental factors that can be linked to morphine addiction include: poverty, homelessness, poor housing, family substance use, pressure from peer groups to abuse drugs, as well as the availability and acceptability of drugs within the community.

How Addiction Develops

Although you may not develop a chemical dependency or addiction to morphine immediately after usage, regular drug use can directly increase your chances of becoming addicted. Consistent substance abuse increases this risk, as the main reason addiction develops involves how your brain changes over time; continuous substance abuse alters your brain’s reward system.

Over time, it leads to a tolerance and then to obsessive, drug-seeking behaviours. Therefore, addictions develop when you or a loved one obsessively abuses their drug of choice, even when it leads to unpleasant consequences in their physical health, emotional well-being or relationships.

How Morphine Addiction and Abuse Affect the Brain and Body

Morphine addiction and abuse can result in both reversible and irreversible changes to the brain and body. In fact, almost all the systems and organs in the human body can be affected by excessive or prolonged use of morphine. Some ways in which morphine addiction can affect the body include inability to feel pain (analgesia), vision problems, slowed reaction time, sedation, reduced gastrointestinal motility, and possibility of seizures.

In addition, morphine boosts your brain’s reward response. It causes the brain to produce substantial amounts of dopamine, which rewards you with positive feelings each time you take the drug. Repeated usage causes your brain and body to crave morphine to the extent that without the drug, you may experience extreme side effects.

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Who Becomes Addicted to Morphine?

Typically, you may become addicted if you’ve spent a long time in a hospital where you were administered morphine regularly, or if you’re experiencing chronic pains for which you have been prescribed morphine. In such cases, it is essential to be honest with your doctor about any risk factors or past addiction issues.

Therefore, it is important you use the morphine as prescribed according to the exact specification advised, especially where dosage is concerned. Sometimes – though not often – morphine can be illegally sold as a recreational drug. If you’ve not been prescribed morphine for pain relief, you should keep away from the drug at all costs.

Signs, Symptoms and Effects of Morphine Abuse and Addiction

If you are addicted to morphine or constantly abusing the drug, you may experience severe and even deadly withdrawal symptoms, which is why morphine withdrawal should only take place in a controlled environment, under the care of medical professionals. One of the major symptoms of morphine abuse is constipation. Like other opiates, morphine slows the regular movement of the digestive tract.

Depressed respiratory function is also a serious effect of morphine abuse, which could lead to asphyxia and death in some situations. When trying to assess whether you or someone you know is abusing morphine or has an addiction, it is essential to be aware of the short and long-term effects of the drug. This could include health, personality and lifestyle changes often associated with morphine addiction.

Short-Term Effects of Morphine on the Body

Morphine is often abused in order to experience the euphoria the drug provides. Frequent and prolonged usage leads to tolerance and addiction. This means you may begin to take higher morphine doses to achieve the desired effects, and your body may become accustomed to it. In addition to the quick ‘high’, morphine produces certain effects with short-term usage, including:

  • Pain relief
  • Anxiety relief
  • Cough suppression
  • Drowsiness
  • Unusual unpleasant feelings (dysphoria) or unusual pleasant feelings (euphoria)
  • Slowing of the digestive tract
  • Certain changes in the circulatory system
  • Release of histamine (which often causes itching)
  • Decreased breathing (slow or shallow breathing)

Long-Term Effects of Using Morphine

Morphine addiction is the biggest risk associated with using morphine for a long period of time. Being addicted to morphine can devastate your life and that of your loved ones, by causing you to place the finding and using of morphine above everything else. You may also begin to lose interest in your family, friends and work responsibilities, and could even lead to you becoming involved in criminal activities, such as stealing, in order to get the drug. Financial problems from overspending on morphine may also occur.

As you continue to use morphine and worsen your addiction, you may also suffer severe withdrawal symptoms during periods when you are unable to use the drug. You may also ignore your health, especially if the problems you have are related to morphine use. In addition, taking morphine by injecting it can cause you to develop infections like Hepatitis-C and HIV/Aids from using dirty needles.

Physical Signs and symptoms of Morphine Abuse and Addiction

Dilated pupils and impaired coordination are the most unmistakable physical signs of morphine abuse and addiction. You may also experience an overwhelming feeling of temporary bliss or even notice signs of restlessness. Some other physical signs of morphine addiction and abuse include drastic changes in body weight, low blood pressure, heavy or forced breathing, stomach cramps and constipation (which commonly occurs with morphine usage).

Nausea and/or vomiting also occur with morphine abuse, and result from the slow peristaltic activity in the small intestines. Respiratory difficulties may also occur, because the drug slows down your respiratory system. In cases of morphine overdose, it is even possible to suffocate.

Psychological signs and symptoms of Morphine Abuse and Addiction

It may be difficult to identify the psychological signs of morphine abuse and addiction, because they are very similar to other conditions or mental disorders. For example, depression may already be present before you became addicted to morphine. It would be difficult to determine in some cases if the depression is a result of an addiction to morphine, or of another existing condition.

Some of the most common psychological/emotional signs of morphine addiction include: anxiety, increased paranoia, depression, feelings of emotional instability and sudden mood changes, which means you could be happy one minute and inexplicably sad the next.

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Signs of Morphine Withdrawal and Overdose

Morphine withdrawal can be quite uncomfortable, and the severe symptoms can even discourage your resolve to quit in the first place. Some of the signs of morphine withdrawal include: joint or muscle pain, chills, runny nose, anxiety, fast heartbeat and breathing rate, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, insomnia, gastrointestinal problems (including cramps and diarrhoea).

As morphine tolerance occurs quickly, you may begin to take harmful doses earlier than people abusing other, somewhat milder, drugs. This puts you at a higher risk of overdose. The most common signs of morphine overdose are: noticeably slowed breathing, slurred speech, constricted pupils, hallucinations, delusions, extreme lethargy or drowsiness and lips and fingernails turning blue or purple.

Identifying Morphine Abuse in the Elderly

As people get older, their physical health, mental health and physical relationships may start to decline. Stress significantly increases the risk of morphine drug abuse, and for the elderly, their risk factors include: stress from chronic pains, aging and retirement, as well as depression and loneliness associated with the death of friends and loved ones.

It is therefore essential to pay close attention to certain signs of morphine abuse in your elderly loved ones, including: changes in eating and sleeping habits, unexplained bruises, lack of interest in usual activities, irritability, memory problems, wanting to be alone often and losing touch with loved ones. Once you can identify an addiction, it is crucial to seek out a treatment centre with proven experience of working with seniors dealing with opiate addiction.

Dangerous Effects of Morphine Abuse and Addiction

Morphine abuse and addiction is not without its costs. Just like other opioids, there are serious drawbacks to excessive and prolonged morphine usage. In spite of the relief from pain provided by the drug, it also holds some potentially dangerous effects to the body and mind, such as: low self-esteem, impaired mental and physical performance, reduced level of consciousness, confusion, and risk of contracting Hepatitis C.

In addition, morphine can also be a financially draining addiction. You may find your financial priorities shifting in order to continue to fund your addiction. You may not even notice your addiction until your finances are considerably affected and you begin to receive hefty legal bills, increased insurance rates, all the while experiencing loss of productivity and high costs from treating illnesses.

Physical, Psychological, Emotional, Behavioural and Mental Effects of Morphine Abuse and Addiction

Over time, morphine abuse and addiction results in certain physical, psychological and mental issues. Therefore, you may begin to exhibit sudden changes – some of which may be unexplainable to your close friends and family. Some of the common effects that have been linked to morphine abuse and addiction include: withdrawing from friends and family, unexplained absences and being unnecessarily secretive.

Consuming high amounts of morphine can even result in unconsciousness, cardiac arrest, suffocation, coma and death. The mental and psychological effect of cravings is also caused by morphine addiction when the substance is absent from your system. Your cravings may even override your ability to make well-thought-out decisions.

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The Social Impacts of Morphine

Drug addiction comes with significant consequences that affect your family, friends, colleagues, employers and other members of your social circle. If you are addicted to morphine, it can also negatively impact your marriage and relationships, home and family life, education, work, employment and more. In the grip of a morphine addiction, you can become selfish, self-centred and blind to other people’s concerns.

What can happen is that other members of your social group may close ranks and exclude you, because of the physical and behavioural changes caused by your addiction. This is mainly done to protect themselves and the more vulnerable members of your group, like children, from the consequences of your actions.

Coping with Withdrawal

It’s important to ensure you are well prepared for the symptoms of morphine withdrawal. Severe muscle and joint pain is one of the symptoms you may experience during withdrawal. Having ibuprofen on hand to take when needed, can help you to cope. There are also other medications that you can buy to deal with fatigue, nausea and diarrhoea symptoms.

To cope with the mental withdrawal symptoms of morphine, it is best to have a friend or family member close by. This is especially important if you are considering withdrawal at home, instead of under medical supervision. Ensure your loved one understands what to expect during the process, so that they can provide the appropriate help to get you through this challenging time.

How to Treat Morphine Withdrawal

Withdrawal and detox from morphine should always be medically supervised, because of the severe symptoms that you can experience. The easiest way to treat withdrawal is to check into a residential rehab programme at a hospital or inpatient clinic. Such programmes provide you with a safe environment and professional medical staff who can help you deal with withdrawal symptoms. You can also treat withdrawal on an outpatient basis in less serious cases of morphine abuse.

Morphine withdrawal can be handled by gradually reducing your dose over time, until you have been completely weaned off the drug. Other treatment methods involve the use of drugs like methadone and buprenorphine, to curb or reduce withdrawal symptoms.

Therapy, Treatment and Rehab for Morphine Abuse and Addiction

As soon as withdrawal and detoxification from morphine is complete, you’ll need further treatment to ensure you completely recover from addiction. You can also complete your follow-up treatment on an inpatient or outpatient basis. Treatment programmes in rehab facilities typically focus on behavioural therapy and counselling to treat abuse and addiction issues.

During this treatment, you will learn how to live a normal life, free of drugs, as well as how to cope with triggers and the types of situations which may lead to relapse. Doctors may prescribe Naltrexone in some cases – a drug that helps to prevent relapse. You may also be encouraged to join a 12-step programme during your therapy and treatment process.

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Morphine Addiction: Treatment Prices

The price for morphine addiction treatment will vary depending on the level and type you require, your insurance plan and your location. Inpatient and outpatient programmes are two different treatment methods. In an inpatient programme, you’ll be expected to live at the treatment centre. They take care of your food, housing, counselling and treatment, so it’s generally more expensive.

With outpatient programmes, the cost of treatment is reduced, because your housing and other costs are not included. Also, they are commonly less intensive and may not include daily counselling sessions, which also reduces the price.

Staying off Morphine

After you’ve completed your treatment, including detox and rehabilitation, your focus should be on maintaining abstinence. It’s essential to have your needs evaluated by addiction treatment professionals, and for them to guide you through the healing process. Also, you may find that having your loved ones and new, drug-free friends close by is invaluable at this stage.

It takes time and patience to settle into a lifestyle without morphine addiction, as it can be extremely easy to fall back into old habits. Sound advice, motivation and positive encouragement from others – including people who have successfully recovered – are all helpful as you recover from a substance abuse disorder.

Individual counselling

Individual counseling refers to one-on-one conversations with a trained therapist, aimed at providing treatment. Even though it is distinctly different from the group variation, both individual and group counseling can complement each other.

For example, you may feel comfortable working with a therapist in a private setting, but also stand to gain by processing your feelings with other addiction survivors in a group therapy setting.

Support groups

It is worthwhile for you to regularly attend support groups when recovering from addiction. Such groups provide a platform for you to become integrated into a community with other people who have dealt with the same struggles. The key is for you not to stay isolated, but to benefit from the inspiration and encouragement from others in the group who have remained drug-free.

Family therapy

The goal of family therapy is to show you that you are not alone. It’s easy to feel isolated in rehab and think that your family members do not understand what you’re going through in addiction recovery. Your family can offer you a strong support network, and involving them in therapy can be an active way to help you feel secure and limit relapse. Family therapy also goes a long way in bringing loved ones together and helping you maintain sobriety.

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Facts / Statistics

  • Morphine addicts have the highest relapse rates amongst drug abusers.
  • Morphine addiction is a treatable illness. You can recover with suitable medical support and supervision.
  • According to a recent poll, the average age of first-time users of morphine was 21.3 years.
  • Opioid abuse is rarely seen before the late teens or early 20’s, but it can develop at any age.


What Is Morphine?

Morphine is a powerful opiate pain medication which is found naturally in the opium poppy plant.

What is morphine used for?

It is mostly prescribed by doctors to treat acute and chronic pain.

What is the annual fatalities rate?

In 2015, deaths from drug overdose amongst adults aged 55-64 rose to 21.8 per 100,000 (previously 4.2 in 1999).

Who becomes addicted to morphine?

Anyone taking morphine for any reason can become addicted, whether you have been prescribed it under medical supervision, or are using it illegally.

What are morphine withdrawal symptoms?

Some of the most common symptoms include anxiety, depression, sweating, restless legs syndrome, dizziness and nausea.

What are the effects of morphine abuse and addiction?

When you use too much morphine, the effects might include slow pulse rate, low blood pressure, as well as cold, clammy skin.

Is there normal morphine usage?

Normal morphine usage includes using it per your doctor’s prescription to treat moderate to severe pain.

What are the various forms of morphine?

Morphine is available in different forms, such as capsules, stick-on patches, liquids, injections, tablets, or suppositories.

Can morphine be abused?

Using morphine in ways other than directed is classified as abuse and could lead to addiction.

Morphine addiction symptoms: Can they be treated?

There are both outpatient and inpatient facilities for morphine addiction. It is advisable to be in a hospital or accredited medical facility for the first few days of treatment.

How much amount of morphine does it take to overdose?

Over 200 mg of morphine can be regarded as fatal to the average person. Even 60 mg morphine doses can cause coma, permanent damage, or even death in cases of hypersensitivity.

Do Suboxone and Morphine really work to treat addiction?

Combining Suboxone and Morphine could weaken the development of tolerance and addiction. It may also enhance the pain-numbing effect of morphine in the body.

Do you get ‘high’ on Morphine?

Yes. Morphine produces a strong ‘high’. The risk of addiction increases with the duration of use.

What Makes Morphine Addictive?

The pleasant effects created by morphine – such as euphoria and alleviating feelings of fear and anxiety – contribute to the addictive properties of morphine.

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