Morphine addiction and abuse
Morphine was the first opiate to be used medically. Indeed, it marked the first time that an active ingredient had ever been isolated from a plant, the poppy. Even now, nearly all non-synthetic opioids are derived from morphine, including medically prescribed drugs and illegal drugs, like heroin. Morphine remains the drug against which other opioid drugs tend to be measured for their effectiveness.
When used medically, morphine is used to help manage acute or chronic pain. It is commonly used to manage post-operative pain, or in the immediate aftermath of injury. It is less commonly prescribed for chronic pain, but can be used to help manage pain in chronic or degenerative conditions, such as cancer. Despite being a powerful opiate, it is relatively safe when used in a clinical environment or under medical supervision. However, the risk of abuse and addiction is always present with opioid drugs and even more so with heroin and morphine.
What is morphine abuse and addiction?
Essentially, any use of morphine that is not clinically directed is abuse. This would include taking more than prescribed or taking morphine without prescription. Although the clinical use of morphine is controlled, the drug is more widely available than some alternatives and for some offers a degree of acceptability because the drug has a legitimate use. This means that legitimately prescribed morphine can often be abused. In addition, the relative simplicity and wide knowledge of the processes used to manufacture morphine means it’s possible to obtain morphine on the black market.
Addiction to morphine works in the same way as any addiction. Opioids work as pain relievers by affecting the way the brain manages signals and, as a side effect of this, will produce the chemicals that create the neural pathways that lead to addiction. Many people will experience pleasurable, even euphoric, sensations when taking opioid medications and these can, quickly, develop into addictive behaviors.
What are the risks of morphine abuse and addiction?
All opioids are powerful drugs, and have a range of effects on the body that can be dangerous, and even fatal. Morphine abuse can have some incredibly serious effects on the body. While rare in clinical settings because of the close control that is exercised on the drug’s use, overdoses can cause confusion, loss of motor functions, depressed heart rate, respiratory distress, and the build-up of fluid on the lungs.
Morphine overdose can be fatal. In other cases, the combination of depressed respiration, fluid on the lungs, and a lower pulse can restrict the supply of oxygen to the brain, resulting in temporary or permanent brain damage. Because of this urgent medical attention should be sought for a suspected or known overdose of morphine, and constant medical attention will be required to ensure that breathing and circulation continue without interruption.
Treatment for opioid addiction can be successful, but needs to be carefully managed, especially if it’s a result of medical prescription and the underlying cause, such as chronic pain, has not been resolved. Treatment will often involve a substitution therapy helping alleviate withdrawal symptoms while also managing the underlying pain.