Morphine Addiction, Abuse and Treatment

Many people are introduced to morphine while seeking treatment for chronic pain and health conditions. People have turned to morphine for pain relief for hundreds of years, but it remains one of the most highly addictive prescription drugs.

Morphine abuse does not always look like people would expect. Morphine addiction affects people of all ages and races. Knowing the signs and symptoms of morphine addiction and available treatment options can be essential to preventing an overdose and overcoming dependence.

What Is Morphine?

Morphine is a prescription pain medication used to treat moderate to severe pain and chronic pain in terminally ill patients. It comes in extended-release capsules, oral tablets, liquid form, and adhesive patches.

As an opioid pain killer, morphine interacts with the central nervous system to reduce pain signals to the brain and produces feelings of sedation and euphoria. The exact effects of morphine that make it an effective pain killer make it highly addictive.

Signs of Morphine Addiction

Addiction to morphine and morphine abuse can be challenging to detect at first, especially in people with a valid prescription for it. However, for terminally ill patients, most healthcare professionals will only prescribe narcotic pain medications for a short time.

One of the main warning signs someone is addicted to morphine is seeking it out from friends and family, buying it illegally, or doctor shopping to get refills.

Taking morphine without a prescription or deviating from the prescribed dose amount or schedule is considered abuse.

Signs of morphine addiction can be physical, but changes in behavioral health can be telling too.

Common signs of morphine addiction include:

  • Hiding or lying about using morphine
  • Taking morphine before the next scheduled dose or in anticipation of pain
  • Taking increased doses
  • Inability to stop taking morphine
  • Stocking up on morphine
  • Inability to focus
  • Neglecting responsibilities and obligations
  • Declining personal hygiene
  • Mood swings
  • Isolating or being withdrawn
  • Inconsistent sleep patterns
  • Abusing other substances or prescription drugs when morphine isn’t available
  • Weight loss
  • Tolerance
  • Withdrawal symptoms

Fear of withdrawal symptoms or failed attempts at quitting morphine cold turkey is a significant reason many continue to abuse morphine, despite wanting to stop. In these cases, substance abuse treatment may be needed. Some people may be able to attend outpatient treatment in an addiction center. While at the same time, others may require more intense care, such as inpatient treatment or a residential treatment facility.

morphine effects

Morphine Side Effects

Everyone processes medication differently, and even when taken following medical advice exactly, morphine will still have side effects.

When you fill a prescription for morphine, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about what side effects you can expect and ones to keep an eye on or when to seek medical attention.

Possible side effects of morphine include:

  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Drowsiness
  • Relaxation
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Stomach and abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Small pupils
  • Itching
  • Rash
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sweating
  • Slowed breathing
  • Low blood pressure

Most side effects will resolve on their own once you stop taking morphine.

If you have a medical emergency or reaction to morphine, call 911 or contact poison control as soon as possible. Never hesitate to call your doctor to ask questions about any concerns or side effects you are experiencing.

It is important to tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking any herbal products or other medications because these will increase the risk of dangerous side effects.

Short-Term Effects

The effects of morphine addiction, both short-term and long-term, are different from the side effects of the medication itself. Addiction wears down the body and brain, leading to physical and mental health consequences.

The short-term effects of morphine abuse sometimes mimic the side effects but will become more evident over time and lead to long-term complications if the addiction is not addressed.

Short-term side effects of morphine abuse include:

  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Frequent vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Slurred or slow speech
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Breathing problems
  • Muscle weakness
  • Changes in heart rate
  • Mood swings
  • Dehydration
  • False sense of well being
  • Disorientation
  • Dizziness
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Chills

Long-Term Effects

Tolerance builds up when drug addictions are untreated; higher doses are needed to feel the effects. And while the immediate high will temporarily mask discomfort, the body continues to wear down and experience mental and physical repercussions.

Common long-term side effects of morphine addiction include:

  • Circulation problems
  • Bloating
  • Edema, or fluid retention, causing swelling in the hands, feet, and limbs
  • Bruising and skin discoloration
  • Chronic constipation
  • Lowered immune system
  • Depression
  • Loss of coordination
  • Muscle spasms
  • Coughing and wheezing
  • Breathing problems
  • Erectile disfunction
  • Irregular periods
  • Constant fatigue
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Seizures
  • Severe withdrawal symptoms

Quitting morphine can have dangerous and life-threatening side effects. If you plan to stop morphine, talk to your doctor about treatment options that are safe and effective.

morphine long term effects

Signs and Symptoms of Morphine Overdose

Morphine overdoses are not limited to people who have a morphine addiction.

Taking the wrong dose by accident, taking a large amount after abstaining, mixing morphine with different drugs or herbal supplements, or drinking alcohol and taking morphine can increase the risk of an overdose.

Because morphine is a central nervous system depressant that lowers the breathing rate, some overdoses might appear like someone is just sleeping. Do not hesitate to try to wake someone up or check their vitals if you suspect an overdose.

Signs of a morphine overdose include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of bowel and bladder control
  • Blueish fingernails and lips
  • Shallow or inconsistent breathing
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Not responsive to loud noises or physical stimuli
  • Limp limbs and neck
  • Eyes rolled back
  • Seizures

Call 911 immediately if you suspect a morphine overdose. If you have access to Narcan (Naloxone), give it to the person overdosing until help arrives.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Morphine withdrawal symptoms will differ for everyone and range from uncomfortable to intense and life-threatening. The longer you take morphine, or if you are taking large amounts, the more severe the withdrawal will be.

Withdrawal symptoms can start as soon as six hours after the last dose of morphine— people attempting to withdraw on their own or quitting cold turkey frequently relapse when the symptoms become too much.

Common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Joint pain
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Sweating
  • Runny eyes and nose
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Hot and cold flashes
  • Shaking or tremors
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • High blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Coma

If you are concerned about your well-being during morphine withdrawal, talk to your doctor about treatment options before attempting to quit. Many people will require medically supervised detox to withdraw from morphine safely.

morphine withdrawal symptoms

Morphine Addiction Treatment

If you or a loved one is struggling with morphine addiction and substance abuse, we are here to help. At Northridge Addiction Treatment Center, your lasting recovery is our priority.

We offer comfortable medical detox with 24-hour medical care in our private residential treatment center to keep you safe and help you through withdrawal symptoms while allowing your personalized treatment to begin.

Using only evidence-based treatments like dual diagnosis, medication-assisted treatment (MAT), and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), we address the underlying causes of your addiction to ensure life-long sobriety.

Our expert and caring team will be with you every step of the way on your journey to recovery— empowering, supporting, and teaching you the skills and strategies to prevent relapse.

Allow us to help you reclaim your life with Northridge Addiction Treatment Center. Reach out to our compassionate treatment specialists today.

Find Meaningful Recovery

Our caring and compassionate specialists are eager to help you comfortably navigate this journey to recovery. Our individualized treatment plan, programs, and therapies may be a perfect match for you or your loved one. Let us assist you in living the happy life you deserve. It starts with a phone call.

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