Schizophrenia and Morphine Use

While amphetamines might trigger schizophrenia in someone who is already genetically at risk, opiates like morphine are believed to have no such effect. In fact, morphine was actually used as an antipsychotic medicine before falling out of favor in the early 19th century. Today, some schizophrenics use the drug to self-medicate certain symptoms, but as discovered centuries ago, such use can quickly turn into an addiction and create dangerous complications.

Signs of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a complex brain disorder with severe symptoms, and the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that it can affect as much as one percent of the American population. There are different types of schizophrenia, and each has specific symptoms, which include the following:

  • Paranoid – Anxiety, anger and paranoia
  • Disorganized – Immature behavior, communication problems and lack of emotion
  • Catatonic – Muscular tightness, strange facial expressions and limited responsiveness
  • Undifferentiated  – A mixture of symptom types

General signs of a schizophrenic condition can include the following:

  • Difficulty differentiating between reality and non-reality
  • Abnormal emotional responses and social behavior
  • Seeing and hearing things that are not really there
  • Delusional beliefs and ideas that are not real
  • A “flat effect” in which expressions become dull
  • Loose associations that make the mind jump between topics

Genetics are the primary risk factor for schizophrenia, and symptoms typically start to emerge during a person’s teen or early adult years. It can take months or years for the full symptoms to develop, during which time a person might turn to morphine to suppress the emerging effects.

Morphine and Mental Illness

There are numerous reasons a person might use morphine to self-medicate schizophrenia, which include the following:

  • To ease the emotional pain and distress of the disease
  • To create detachment from the psychological effects
  • To cope with the stress that comes from hallucinations and delusions
  • To help relax in the face of extreme anxiety and paranoia

Though an opiate-based drug might provide some initial relief, a physical dependence soon develops and brings on a whole new set of problems. Common morphine side effects can include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Respiratory difficulties
  • Fatigue and drowsiness
  • Seizures and fainting

Morphine abuse can lead to a potentially fatal overdose or allergic reaction. In such cases, call emergency 911 immediately.

Integrated Addiction Treatment

A dual disorder like schizophrenia and morphine addiction requires integrated treatment that tackles both issues at once. A rehab center will work with the patient’s primary doctor if the schizophrenia is already being treated, or it will help initiate a new program if the diagnosis is new. Either way, proper Dual Diagnosis treatment includes the following:

  • Tapered detox to wean the patient off the morphine
  • A comfortable, safe and supportive rehab environment
  • Mental health screenings to identify any other potential issues
  • Alternative, non-narcotic options to treat the emotional pain
  • Behavioral tools to promote healthier habits and life skills
  • Peer group support and ongoing aftercare therapies

Working with a primary mental-health doctor, the rehab center will monitor the patient’s progress and provide continued support.

Addiction and Mental Health Help

Morphine abuse and schizophrenia are both serious conditions, which is why our toll-free helpline is available 24 hours a day to provide support. Our caring staff can discuss warning signs, treatment options, rehab facilities and proper care. We can also check health insurance policies for treatment benefits. Call today and let us help.