Morphine Abuse, Detox, Effects, & Rehab

Morphine is an opioid that has been used medicinally as a painkiller for over a century. Like other opioid medications, it’s prescribed by doctors for patients suffering moderate to severe pain. All prescription opioids carry a high potential for misuse and addiction.1, 2

This page will discuss the effects and risks of opioid abuse and how opioid addiction can be treated.

What is Morphine?

Vial of morphine

Morphine is a widely used prescription opioid medication. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has classified it as a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it has recognized medical uses but a high potential for abuse.3

When prescribed to relieve pain, morphine and other opioids work by binding to and activating opioid to modify pain perception as signals are sent from the spinal cord and processed in the brain.1

Opioids like morphine are also associated with an increased release of dopamine. When used at high doses or in other ways not prescribed by a physician, opioids like morphine are able to elicit a euphoric “high.” This rewarding sensation can reinforce continued use and misuse of opioid drugs.1

Side Effects of Morphine Use

There are many side effects that may be experienced with morphine use. They include:2, 4

  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Constipation.
  • Dizziness.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Fatigue.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Itchy skin.

What is Morphine Abuse?

Morphine abuse (or misuse) can be characterized as:5, 6

  • Using morphine in a manner that is inconsistent or contrary to its prescribed use (e.g., grinding pills and injecting or snorting the powder, using the drug more often or in greater amounts than its prescribed use, and/or using the drug for it psychoactive effects).
  • Taking someone else’s morphine (i.e., morphine that you do not have a prescription for).
  • Using morphine more often or in greater amounts than prescribed.
  • Using morphine to experience a high.

What Are the Signs of Morphine Abuse?

It may be difficult to recognize prescription painkiller abuse without knowing what to look for. Some potential physical and behavioral signs of morphine or opioid abuse include:6

  • Constant preoccupation with acquiring morphine or other opioids.
  • Lying about losing medications and requesting prescription refills early and more often.
  • Attempting to acquire more morphine or opioids by visiting several doctors.
  • Being unwilling to discuss other treatment options for pain relief.

Is Morphine Addictive?

It can be. Over time, someone who regularly uses morphine or any opioid, even when taken as prescribed, can develop a tolerance to it. This means that a higher dose of the drug is needed (or that it needs to be taken with increased frequency) to feel its effects.7

With regular use, a person might also develop a dependence on it, which means that they experience withdrawal symptoms when they cease or reduce their opioid use.7

Developing a tolerance and/or dependence on a substance does not necessarily mean that a person would be diagnosed with a substance use disorder. However, both are common components of many addictions.

When someone is prescribed an opioid, they are at an increased risk for developing opioid use disorder (OUD), more commonly known as opioid addiction. Misusing prescribed opioids further increases the potential for addiction.1

OUD, however, involves more than physical dependence to a substance like morphine. Addiction is a treatable chronic brain illness of which there are many contributing factors, including but not limited to:8

  • Genetics.
  • Family environment.
  • Presence of co-occurring disorders.
  • Early drug use (e.g., in adolescence).

What Are the Signs of Morphine Addiction?

Medical professionals use the criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) to diagnose someone with OUD.

It’s important to note that when a physician uses the DSM criteria to evaluate a patient for OUD, tolerance nor dependency count toward the 2 criteria needed for a diagnosis if the patient is actively taking opioids under the guidance of a physician.9

Health Risks Associated with Morphine Use

Although morphine is safe and effective when used as prescribed, long-term use of morphine can have many serious mental and physical health risks.1, 3

The long-term use of opioids may also be associated with:10

  • Low testosterone in men and osteoporosis in women, brought on by hormonal changes.
  • Mood disorders, such as depression.
  • Development of an opioid use disorder.
  • Bowel obstruction caused by severe constipation.
  • Sleep-disordered breathing.

Morphine use can also result in an overdose. Opioid overdoses and the accompanying respiratory depression can be life-threatening and require immediate emergency medical attention. Naloxone, which is available in Mississippi without a prescription, can be administered to reverse an overdose while awaiting the arrival of paramedics. Please note that medical attention is still required.1, 11

Morphine Addiction Treatment & Rehab Centers

Addiction is a treatable chronic disease. Long-term recovery requires not only breaking free from physical dependency but also retraining a person’s thought and behavioral patterns that led them to compulsive substance use.12

Addiction treatment often follows the basic outline of:

  1. Detoxification.
  2. Rehabilitation.
  3. Aftercare, or continuing care.

Prior to developing a treatment plan, the person should be thoroughly assessed for any co-occurring mental health, medical, or social conditions that could contribute to their potential for relapse.12

Co-occurring conditions may also be addressed or managed along with withdrawal management and formal substance use disorder treatment.12

Medically Supervised Detox

Medical detoxification allows a patient to withdraw from opioids safely and comfortably under the supervision of a physician and medical staff. This often involves the administration of an opioid agonist (e.g., methadone, buprenorphine, or Suboxone), which helps to mitigate withdrawal symptoms and reduce drug cravings.7

This maintenance treatment may continue well after detox ends.13

Morphine Addiction Treatment

Detox is the first stage of drug rehabilitation treatment. Rehab can be performed in a variety of settings, from inpatient or residential treatment options, where patients stay at the addiction treatment facility 24/7, to outpatient programs, which allow patients to stay at home and visit the facility or phone in for treatment.7, 12

Rehab primarily relies on evidence-based behavioral therapy methods that have been demonstrated to help patients avoid and overcome triggers and form positive thought and behavioral patterns. Medication is another important component of treatment for many patients with opioid use disorder.12, 14

Following formal treatment, it’s vital that individuals form a supportive network that is conducive to their sobriety. Aftercare, also called continuing care, can include various post-rehab recovery efforts such as attending mutual support meetings, participation with rehab alumni groups, as well as residing at a sober-living facility.15

If you or a loved one is struggling with an opioid problem, it’s not too late to get help. Please reach out to an admissions navigator at . Oxford Treatment Center has multiple levels of care and specialized treatment programs to ensure every patient’s unique needs are addressed.

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