Opiate abuse in the United States is an immeasurably serious problem that affects all individuals in society in one way or another. One of the components of America’s opioid and drug problem is morphine. Morphine is a very strong pain reliever in the opiate family. It is usually used in a hospital setting to manage pain in people who have undergone major surgery. The drug functions by bonding to the opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord, which produces chemical signals. Beyond pain relief, these chemical signals trigger an extremely intense high and bring on euphoric feelings and relaxation. These are the effects people are after when they abuse morphine.
One of the main reasons for morphine addiction is that people quickly develop a tolerance for the drug while abusing it. Tolerance means you need to take the drug in higher quantities in order to get the same high. Tolerance does not cause addiction or dependency, but it does increase the addictive potential.
Overdose with morphine is not only possible, it happens too often. In suppressing the nerve endings that control pain, morphine also affects the nerve endings that are responsible for blood pressure, heart rate and breathing. A too-large dose could cause someone to stop breathing, which is called respiratory arrest.
Morphine Addiction and Abuse: Facts and Statistics
Here are some facts and statistics about morphine addiction and abuse everyone should know:
- A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the increasing number of opioid-related deaths has caused the life expectancy for Americans to drop by .1%. This is the third year in a row that life expectancy has dropped.
- More than 72,000 Americans have died from overdose relating to opioids since 1999, and each day 115 lives are lost.
- Between 2002 and 2016, the number of people dying from heroin or morphine in particular jumped 7.6-fold.
- Between 2005 and 2011, visits to the emergency department directly related to morphine use jumped by 120%.
- Data from the CDC show that the abuse and misuse of opioids like morphine costs the US more than $78 billion annually. These costs include lost productivity, health care treatment for addiction and involvement of the criminal justice system.
- One survey found that 38% of people who admitted to abusing morphine reported that they are addicted to the substance.
Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Morphine Addiction and Abuse
Abuse of morphine can have a variety of side effects. If you believe your loved one may be addicted to morphine, here are a few things to watch for:
- Symptoms of low blood pressure, such as confusion, dizziness or a weak pulse
- Severe drowsiness
- Tiny pupils
- Trouble with or inability to breathe
- Digestive issues, most notably constipation
- Nausea or vomiting
- A blue hue to the lips or fingernails
Treatment for Morphine Abuse and Addiction
Addiction is a chronic disease that requires both medical and behavioral treatment as well as ongoing monitoring for the rest of a person’s life. The threat of relapse is always present. It is important to undergo medically-supervised detox in an addiction treatment facility because the withdrawal symptoms experienced by people can be quite uncomfortable, which could increase the risk for relapse. These symptoms include:
- Feeling agitated or restless
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain in the joints and muscles
- Sweating profusely
- Experiencing anxiety or panic attacks
- Runny nose, sneezing
- Feeling feverish or having chills
- Diarrhea and stomach cramps
- Shallow breathing and the sensation of a racing heart
- Intense cravings
Detoxification for morphine addiction lasts from five to 10 days and doctors can manage withdrawal symptoms with medications including methadone, naltrexone and buprenorphine. These treatment bind to opioid receptors the same way morphine does, but at a much lower intensity when it comes to euphoria. Using these medications helps the body to adjust to the lack of morphine gradually.
After detoxification, the behavioral side of addiction treatment can begin. Inpatient and outpatient treatment for addiction at a rehabilitation facility can provide you access to a group of highly trained and experienced mental health clinicians as well as addiction specialists who can come up with a treatment plan completely catered to your needs. A combination of therapy, education, behavioral therapies and holistic treatments like yoga or meditation can help heal your mind, body and spirit after addiction.