Differences Between Side Effects of Morphine and Addiction Symptoms

Differences Between Side Effects of Morphine and Addiction Symptoms

Morphine is a natural compound in opium poppy plants. It made history as the first natural alkaloid to be isolated when a German pharmacist created it in 1804. The following decade it was marketed as a medication, and two centuries later it remains one of the most effective and addictive painkillers available. Morphine works by binding to opioid receptors in the central nervous system to reduce nerve impulse transmissions. This same alkaloid is used to make heroin, which should epitomize its potential for recreational highs, physical dependence and addictive use. As a powerful drug, morphine has several potential side effects, even with proper medical use. For this reason, people who use this drug for a legitimate medical need must recognize the differences between its side effects and addiction symptoms.

Morphine use can produce any of the following side effects:

  • Injected morphine can cause skin rashes, urination difficulties and burning or pain sensations where the IV was administered
  • Oral morphine can cause allergic reactions, confusion, stomach or back pain, fever, seizures, excessive sweating and dizziness
  • Shared symptoms between the two administration types include constipation, nausea, itchiness, heartbeat changes, swelling, hives, drowsiness and confusion

These signs can occur with normal morphine use, and they should be reported to the prescribing doctor. However, when morphine addiction occurs, the side effects are usually more pronounced. Morphine abuse can also result in memory loss, vision problems and insomnia, and it often triggers or intensifies mental health disorders like depression and anxiety.

Regularly using morphine can lead to physical dependence, but addiction changes brain circuitry associated with reward, memory and motivation. These changes can produce the following symptoms:

  • Obsessive thoughts about acquiring and using morphine
  • Seeking out the drug through illicit sources or actions (e.g., doctor shopping)
  • Increased willingness to take legal, financial, family and health risks
  • Extreme changes in mood and emotions when morphine is not taken
  • Use of other opiates or opioids to feed cravings when morphine is unavailable

Besides learning to differentiate between side effects and addiction symptoms, morphine users should also be able to recognize the following signs of overdose:

  • Fluid pools in the lungs
  • Skin becomes cold and clammy
  • Respiratory and cardiovascular systems slow down
  • Muscles become flaccid or move involuntarily
  • Skin color changes to blue or purple
  • Breathing becomes shallow and labored

Many of the aforementioned side effects may also suggest overdose, especially if they occur in force. Most of these signs signify a central nervous system depression, which causes respiratory function to collapse. In addition to taking too much morphine, an overdose can also result from combining substances (even in smaller doses) like alcohol, sedatives, antidepressants, stimulants and sleep medication, among others. If signs of an overdose appear, then call 911 immediately.

Medical professionals should be consulted for both side effects and addiction symptoms. If addiction treatment is necessary, professional rehab is the most effective path to recovery. Potential treatment includes medically supervised detox, behavioral therapies, life-skills training, holistic pain management, individual and group counseling, addiction education and integrated mental health care.

If you have questions, then call our toll-free helpline to speak with one of our admissions coordinators. They can discuss treatment options and rehab facilities, and, if you have health insurance, they can also look up the policy to explain its benefits. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, so please call now for instant support.