Morphine Use in Different Cultures

Morphine is an alkaloid derived from the unripe seedpods of opium poppy, and the World Health Organization has called it the “gold standard” for treating severe and agonizing pain, particularly in cancer patients. Morphine is one of the first opiate-based medicines, and modern opioids now include drugs such as the following:

  • Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet)
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco)
  • Hydromorphone (Palladone, Dilaudid)
  • Heroin

Morphine treats pain by acting directly on the central nervous system, and the drug is highly addictive and commonly used for illicit recreational purposes. Morphine use mostly occurs in wealthier western nations. The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) found that the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand made up over 95% of all morphine use in 2005 despite making up less than 20% of the global population.

History of Morphine

Opium elixir references appear all the way back to the Byzantine era, though modern morphine came into existence in the early 19th century. The following are a few facts about morphine:

  • Morphine was discovered in 1804 and first marketed to the public in 1817
  • Morphine derived its name from Morpheus, the Greek God of Dreams
  • Morphine was once marketed for opium-addiction treatment, just as aspirin-giant Bayer later sold heroin to treat morphine addiction (a historic blunder on both counts)
  • Morphine was used in the Civil War, and this use resulted in widespread addiction (or “soldier’s disease”)
  • All opioids came under government control with the 1914 Harrison Narcotics Tax Act
  • A decade after the 1914 Harrison Narcotics Tax Act the US banned all non-medical use

Today Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of opium, though Mexico has multiplied its output in recent years.

Effects of Morphine Abuse

Morphine users can quickly develop a physical tolerance which results in common drug-related side effects like diarrhea, nausea, chills, shakes and tremors. Symptoms of morphine use that are more serious include the following:

  • Hallucinations
  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Renal failure
  • Seizures and convulsions

Taking too much morphine or combining it with other opioids and/or prescription medications can result in a potentially fatal overdose or central nervous system depression.

Treating Morphine Addiction

Whether the dependency occurred while treating pain or getting high, many addicts maintain the addiction for fear of the withdrawal symptoms. Fortunately modern treatment excels at minimizing the discomfort of detox with options like medically supervised detox, tapered detox or substitute drug therapy. After detox users need professional help to prepare for a drug-free life. This help with do the following:

  • Address any mood disorders or emotional problems the addiction caused or hid
  • Utilize relapse-prevention tools to recognize drug use triggers and risky environments
  • Teach behavioral therapies and life skills that discourage future drug use
  • Provide holistic healing options like yoga, nature hikes, acupuncture and acupressure
  • Offer alternative pain-relief methods, if the abuse started under a doctor’s care
  • Provide group therapy and aftercare counseling to make sure the recovery stays strong

Morphine may appear to be the highbrow version of heroin, but both opioid drugs can ensnare a user in a debilitating addiction.

Morphine Abuse Helpline

If you are struggling with any form of opiate abuse or addiction, our expert staff can help. We are available 24 hours a day to answer questions about addiction, treatment options and rehab facilities. Morphine abuse is too dangerous to delay seeking help. Call our toll-free helpline today.