Morphine is a potent painkiller that has been used medicinally for hundreds of years. In recent decades, synthetic opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone have become more commonly prescribed, but morphine is still often used to treat cancer pain. It is also sometimes used for other conditions, such as pulmonary edema and myocardial infarction.
The fact that morphine is not used medicinally as often as it once was is due in part to its high addiction potential. Morphine is as addictive as heroin, and both drugs can cause physical and psychological dependence. Morphine and heroin are more likely than other opioids to produce euphoria, which is generally a hallmark of highly addictive substances.
When people begin taking morphine, either medicinally or recreationally, their bodies react to the drug’s effects and attempt to counteract them in order to restore balance. As the body adapts to the morphine, drug tolerance develops. When users develop tolerance for morphine, they must take larger amounts of the drug in order to achieve the results a smaller dose once produced.
As people continue to use morphine, their bodies continue to adapt. Eventually, adaptation occurs to the degree that the presence of the drug is considered normal and users are biochemically out of balance when it isn’t in the body. This dependence on the drug is incredibly powerful, and if a user goes without morphine for too long they will experience withdrawal symptoms, causing them to take the drug again to avoid these painful symptoms. Addiction, in which people are unable to control their consumption of the drug and continue to use it despite negative consequences, is often the next step.
Because tolerance to morphine can develop quickly and users will end up taking larger doses to compensate, overdose is a significant risk of morphine use. Overdose symptoms include shallow breathing, extreme drowsiness, confusion, fainting, weak pulse and clammy skin. Morphine overdose can be fatal and is usually related to breathing cessation.
The biological processes that underpin tolerance and dependence occur regardless of whether the drug was taken for medical or recreational reasons. Either can lead to addiction. Dependence on and addiction to morphine can develop very quickly, often within a matter of weeks. Taking the drug recreationally or without a doctor’s supervision is a very dangerous practice.
If you’ve lost control of your morphine use and are ready to face the issue, give us a call. Our helpline is toll free and available 24 hours a day. We can help you sort through your treatment options and can even check your insurance coverage if you wish, at no cost or obligation to you. Addiction is a serious, but treatable disease. Take the first step toward freedom today.