Morphine is used to treat extreme pain in patients undergoing labor and post-surgical recuperation. It is also prescribed for patients suffering from illnesses at the end of life, often during advanced stages of cancer and heart pain. The drug works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and central nervous system. Once there, it reduces both perceptions and emotional responses to pain. It is a relatively inexpensive and effective drug that has one major downside: it is highly addictive on both physical and psychological levels, especially when regularly used.
Some morphine addicts became hooked after a single use, while other people become dependent more slowly. Signs of morphine addiction include the following issues:
Morphine addiction is a medical emergency. Without professional intervention and oversight of the detox process, addiction often leads to incapacitation and death.
Once morphine abuse alters brain receptor function, the brain requires the drug to avoid painful withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, unless the dose steadily increases, withdrawal symptoms kick in—sometimes just as severely after a decrease in dose or frequency as when an individual goes cold turkey.
The brain system that creates pleasure from enjoyable activities like having sex or eating chocolate is the same system that causes euphoria when people abuse morphine. The high comes as endorphins bind to the opioid receptors in the brain, so, the stronger the bind, the greater the high. Morphine binds very tightly, so what happens next is a release of the pleasure-producing chemicals dopamine and serotonin, and possibly noradrenalin. In addition to a feeling of euphoria, users also feel sedation that makes them feel warm and lethargic.
Once a high wears off, usually within about four hours, people must take more morphine to feel the same high. Tolerance develops as users satisfy escalating cravings in pursuit both of a high and a way to stave off excruciating withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms of morphine withdrawal include the following problems:
Without help, people who detox from morphine usually suffer horrifically. However, by seeking treatment from a rehab facility, users can receive expert care to ensure their health and to minimize pain. There is no easy way to get through morphine detox, so it is important to remember that getting clean is better than living through the hell of permanent addiction.
If you or someone you love suffers from morphine addiction, we can help. Admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day at our toll-free helpline to guide you to a drug-free life. Do not go it alone when help is just one phone call away.