Although the pain blocking and intoxicating effects of opium had been known for centuries, its derivative morphine was first crystallized in 1805. For over 200 years it has remained a sort of benchmark drug in the treatment of acute and chronic pain and has ensnared millions of people with its addictive properties. While the way the drug is used, and abused, have changed significantly in recent years, the underlying potential for both relief and abuse remain much the same.
The tar collected from the flower pods of Papaver somniferum, aka opium poppies, contains roughly 12% morphine by volume. Opium has been used recreationally and pharmaceutically for thousands of years, and is enjoying a sort of comeback amongst certain recreational users today due to its antiquated reputation. Since 1805, however, the morphine contained within these poppies has been isolated, alkalized, refined, and even chemically synthesized. One of the first distillates of morphine, diacetylmorphine, was first thought to be a safer and less addictive treatment for pain. That drug, later branded as heroin, turned out to be every bit as addictive as morphine, if not more so.
Medical researchers continued to experiment with morphine, refining and concentrating it and seeking ways to make it less addictive. While morphine itself is only legally allowed to be used by doctors in a hospital setting, derivatives and analogs such as hydrocodone, codeine, and OxyContin are prescribed millions of times each year by doctors for the relief of pain following surgery or injury or for the treatment of chronic pain. This has created a flood of morphine-like drugs in medicine cabinets and on American streets.
Prescription painkiller abuse and addiction continues to rise. As interdiction and enforcement efforts have been stepped up in recent years the diminished supply of pain pills through illicit dealers has caused their street value to skyrocket. Many prescription addicts have started to turn to heroin as a more cost-effective way of meeting their need for opiates.
Opiate addiction is difficult to overcome because it is both physiological and psychological in nature. Physiologically it replaces naturally occurring pain blocking substances in the brain. If and when an addict stops using these drugs he will experience a range of physical withdrawal symptoms until his natural chemical balance is re-established. The following symptoms may last for anywhere from a few days to longer than a week:
The psychological symptoms, including panic attacks, powerful cravings, and potentially deadly depression can last or recur for months or even years.
Morphine addiction can be effectively treated with comprehensive and holistic physical and psychological care. Our toll-free helpline is open 24 hours a day and our admissions coordinators are always available with personal, confidential, free advice and access to the best treatment centers around. Whether you are worried about your own use of morphine or other narcotics, or if you are concerned for a friend or loved one, we’re here to help. Call now.