Morphine Abuse and Addiction: Finding the Right Treatment in WA State

Morphine addiction and abuse have not disappeared from Washington State, contrary to popular believe. It is still a big problem in the United States as a whole, and detox and rehab are often needed to help people recover. This is a drug that has been around for a very long time. It was first discovered in 1804, and while it is an effective pain reliever, it causes euphoria and sedation just like other opioids.

The problem is that people’s perceptions of Morphine have changed over the years. Most people know that drugs like Oxycontin and heroin are the ones primarily to blame for our opioid epidemic. But they fail to realize the fact that any drug in this classification can and does play a role.

It is important to understand the dangers of abusing Morphine. This is not a safe drug, regardless of the fact that it is available by prescription. When a person abuses it, they increase their risk of addiction, and that is something we want people to be aware of. We also want to make it clear that detox and rehab is the best course of action for recovery.

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What Is Morphine?

Morphine is an opiate analgesic used to treat moderate to severe pain that’s either acute or chronic. Unlike synthetic opioids, morphine is actually naturally occurring and is isolated from the opium poppy Papaver somniferum, a plant indigenous to the Mediterranean region.

Other opioids include heroin, Fentanyl, codeine, OxyContin, and opium.

This pain reliever comes in a couple of forms. During its earliest years in the medical field it was strictly used via injection. However, the ability to distill chemicals in different forms has advanced greatly since it’s use in the 19th and early 20th century.

Now modern morphine can come in an immediate release tablet, an extended release tablet, an oral solution, capsules, and also suppositories.

Morphine is marketed under a number of different brand names including:

  • Arymo ER
  • Kadian
  • MorphaBond ER
  • MS Contin
  • Infumorph P/F
  • Duramorph

Like other substances of abuse, morphine has a several different street names that both addicts and drug dealers use to refer to the medication. According to the DEA, some of the most notable are:

  • Dreamer
  • Emsel
  • First Line
  • God’s Drug
  • Hows
  • S.
  • Mister Blue
  • Morf
  • Morpho
  • Unkie

Like other opioids, drugs like Duramorph and Infumorph P/F affect the brain by interacting directly with opioid receptors in various areas. These receptors act as a sort of lock, only opening for chemicals that have the right key – i.e. the proper chemical structure.

The body’s naturally-produced neurotransmitters that match up with these receptors (known as endorphin and enkephalin) have an incredibly similar structure to opioids like morphine. As such, when morphine floods the brain, the molecules are able to activate these receptors and produce a range of pleasurable feelings including euphoria and pain relief.

Opioids also have been shown to affect dopamine (the brain’s primary pleasure chemical) as well as serotonin which has a role in such bodily processes as mood regulation, memory, and digestion.

The exact effects of abusing morphine vary from person to person but in general, the “high” achieved is a lot like that of other mild and long-lasting opioids. It creates a general sense of euphoria, sedation, pain relief, and overall tranquility.

However, when morphine is injected, the effects are unsurprisingly much more intense. Part of this is due to the fact that the bioavailability (the amount of the drug that actually gets into the bloodstream) is low when taken orally or snorted.

Injection, on the other hand, has a 100% bioavailability as it’s being pumped straight into the vein. Doing so, of course, is also much more dangerous than any other method of administration.

In any case, users report that a morphine high can last about 4 to 5 hours with a much more sudden onset and peak high when the drug is injected rather than taken orally or nasally.

We truly are in unprecedented territory when it comes to the sheer gravity of the drug abuse problem in this country today. Never before have there been so many addicted U.S. citizens and never before have there been so many fatal overdoses because of it.

And opioids like morphine are undoubtedly part of the problem. Below are a few statistics to help put the situation into perspective and demonstrate that today is in fact the age of the opioid epidemic.

  • The number of morphine prescriptions has risen from around 3 million in 2004 to over 7 million in 2014. It is now the 104th most common prescription in the entire medical community. 
  • There are about 4 in 100,000 overdose deaths related to natural and semi-synthetic opioids like morphine. That translates to about 13,000 deaths a year. 
  • The United States consumes about 57% of the world’s morphine supply, even though it only makes up around 5% of the total population. 
  • Overdosing on opioids alone claims the lives of at least 91 Americans every single day. This number has quadrupled since 1999 and is only growing. 
  • In 2015 alone 5 million people misused prescription opioids. Over 33 thousand people died from overdosing on these substances and 2 million had a prescription opioid use disorder. 
  • It’s estimated that 5 million people take opioids globally. 
  • Drug addiction has now surpassed both guns and car crashes in terms of the number of victims it claims every year. In fact, overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans under 50 years old.

How Has the Opioid Crisis Changed Morphine Prescribing Practices in WA State?

It was not that long ago when patients were able to walk into a doctor’s office and come out with a prescription for Morphine or another opioid drug. In fact, there were many pain clinics set up for the sole purpose of prescribing these medications. But overprescribing painkillers is what most people believe led us into the opioid crisis, so that practice had to change.

The Seattle Times reported about one man who had been taking opioids for close to 20 years. He used them to get pain relief after having had seven back surgeries and a spinal infusion. Because of them, he was able to live a normal life, but the constant supply of painkillers stopped when his doctor’s license was suspended. The reason was cited as “unprofessional prescribing practices.”

Clearly, a new doctor was in order, which he found. But this one made it a goal to reduce his prescription by 10% each month. That is the way many doctors are proceeding in order to get their patients off these drugs.

Dr. David Tauben is the Chief of Pain Medicine at the University of Washington. He states, “They (patients) have a reason to be upset because frankly they were caught up in a medical experiment that high-dose opiates were the way to go. It could take years to get these folks’ (doses) down because their bodies have been so transformed by exposures that create changes in the brain, spinal cord and elsewhere.”

The crackdown on opioid prescriptions is something that could not be avoided. It is a shame that so many people have to go through the pain of withdrawal and recovery because of the false information that was presented about these drugs. But the reality is that they are dangerous, and the problem should have never happened in the first place.

Short-Term Arymo ER Side Effects

In addition to the short-term side effects that many people end up abusing morphine to bring about (e.g. euphoria, pain relief), there’s a long list of other side effects that anyone taking morphine (legally or illegally) should without a doubt be aware of.

According to Drugs.com, the most notable short-term side effects of morphine abuse are:

  • Cramps
  • Drowsiness
  • Relaxed and calm feeling
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty having a bowel movement
  • False or unusual sense of well-being
  • Sleepiness or unusual drowsiness
  • Absent, missed, or irregular menstrual periods
  • Bad, unusual, or unpleasant (after) taste
  • Depression
  • Face is warm or hot to the touch
  • Halos around lights
  • Loss in sexual ability, desire, drive, or performance
  • Night blindness
  • Problems with muscle control
  • Skin rash
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Uncontrolled eye movements
  • Stomach discomfort or upset
  • Redness of the skin
  • Over-bright appearance of lights
  • Muscle stiffness or tightness
  • Heartburn or indigestion
  • Floating feeling
  • Dry mouth
  • Change in vision
  • Agitation

As with most drugs, these symptoms are oftentimes exacerbated or become more severe depending on the level of morphine abuse. In order to avoid experiencing these symptoms then, the best method is by using morphine strictly according to your doctor’s orders.

Regular and sustained use of morphine has a number of long-term side effects to be aware of. In addition to the increased risk of physical dependency and developing an addiction to this and other powerful opioids, some studies have shown that there are a range of other health effects to consider including:

  • Severe constipation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Bloating
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Sleep-disordered breathing
  • Respiratory depression
  • Bradycardia (especially slow heartbeat)
  • Hypotension (abnormally low blood pressure)
  • Myocardial infarction (heart attack)
  • Heart failure
  • Dizziness
  • Sedation
  • Hyperalgesia (increased sensitivity to pain)
  • Clinical depression
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Infertility
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased testosterone
  • Osteoporosis
  • Anxiety disorders

What’s more, research is currently being conducted into how the decreased respiration caused by opioid abuse can affect the amount of white matter in the brain. NIDA reports that the decreased oxygen that reaches the brain (a condition called hypoxia) may have both psychological and neurological effects like coma and permanent brain damage.

These changes in the brain may result in changes to decision-making abilities, the ability to regulate behavior, and the body and mind’s responses to stressful situations.

With such an extensive list of long-term side effects, it’s no wonder that so many people are actively looking for ways to drop this drug from their life for good.

Continued abuse of morphine has also been shown to lead to a compromised immune system. One NIDA-funded study found that morphine actually directly affects the activity of three different kinds of white blood cells: B lymphocytes, natural killer (NK) cells, and T lymphocytes.

Through its activation of the dopamine-1 receptors on the nucleus accumbens, morphine sets off a chain reaction of biological events that can essentially make it much easier for a morphine abuser to contract almost any type of illness.

Another study showed that morphine use actually speeds up the onset of AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, in test monkeys.

It’s just one more detrimental long-term effect of abusing morphine to add to the books.

Recognizing the signs of a morphine use disorder in others isn’t especially difficult. You’ll likely notice a drastic change in their hygiene, ability to fulfill obligations, their general demeanor, etc.

But the real challenge is learning how to see the signs of morphine abuse in yourself. The old saying that you are your own worst enemy is especially true when it comes to substance addiction and oftentimes the last people to realize that they have a problem are actually the addicts themselves

As such, one of the best ways of determining whether or not you’re suffering from a morphine use disorder is by taking a cold hard look at your own behaviors unimpeded by subjectivity or emotion. But that can be tough.

Luckily, there are a number of self-assessment tools out there to help keep you objective. If you’re in a bit of a hurry, we recommend taking a short online addiction quiz as the first step in determining your level of addiction. It’s fast, effective, and a great start for self-discovery.

For a more comprehensive dive into your behaviors, feel free to check out the guidelines used by actual psychiatric professionals and medical physicians to determine a substance use disorder. These guidelines are provided by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and are some of the most trusted criteria for addiction.

But no matter what you choose, the important takeaway here is that you are taking the first step towards a clean and sober life.

Naloxone for Overdosing

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), over 33,000 people died from an opioid overdose in 2015. What’s more, over twenty thousand of those deaths were related to prescription pain relievers like morphine.

Overdosing is deadly when it comes to opioids, which is why the development of naloxone was such a big deal in the addiction community. Not to be confused with naltrexone, naloxone is an opioid antagonist, meaning it binds with opioid receptors while blocking the effects of other opioids in the system.

What’s more, naloxone is also unique in that it can actually kick out opioids that are already binding to receptors and reverse the drug’s effects as well. This particular quality makes it especially useful in rapidly reversing an overdose.

Some people even refer to it as an “opioid antidote” given that when it’s administered properly and within a certain window of time, it can basically “cure” an overdose entirely.

To make things even simpler, naloxone sold under the brand Narcan is administered through an easy-to-use nasal spray that doesn’t take any special training. As a result, Narcan can be used effectively by practically anyone at all.

And when you consider just how bad the nation’s opioid epidemic has gotten, naloxone is a huge step in combatting our country’s drug problem.

There are a number of other dangers associated with morphine abuse that anyone with a Duramorph addiction should be well aware of.

For instance, mixing opioids like morphine with other illicit substances can be especially deadly. While the number of overdose deaths involving opioids with stimulants like cocaine are markedly higher than the overdose deaths with cocaine alone, the biggest danger comes from combining opioids with depressants and sedatives like alcohol.

NIDA reports that when opioids are used in combination with benzodiazepines, for example, the number of overdose deaths in 2015 were nearly 7x as high compared to overdoses with benzodiazepines alone.

One of the most common methods of abusing morphine is by administering it intravenously. However, IV drug use carries with it a number of harmful risks and side effects including:

  • Collapsed veins
  • Track marks
  • Abscesses
  • Bacterial infections like cellulitis, botulism, and endocarditis
  • Increased risk of contracting blood-borne viral infections like HIV and hepatitis B and C

Bypassing the body’s natural filtering systems by injecting drugs like morphine directly into the blood stream can also cause significant damage to the body’s essential organs including the heart, brain, kidneys and liver.

And when you combine that risk with a drug that may have been cut with a number of fillers like talcum powder, the threat of internal damage is even higher.

Treating Morphine Addiction Professionally

There are so many people in Washington State that have gotten addicted to Morphine or other opioids. Many of them do not even realize that they are addicted, which leaves them prone to panic when they find out. Fortunately, there are solutions, and the best way to recover from this addiction is through professional treatment.

A medical detox should always be the very first step when it comes to recovering from Morphine addiction. The detoxification helps to cleanse the body from the effects of this drug. It also provides relief for withdrawal symptoms, which can be difficult to deal with as we mentioned earlier.

After drug detox, the individual should always move on to rehab. This is essential because they need to deal with the reasons behind their addiction to Morphine. Many people are completely unaware that they have been using the drug as a way to self-medicate a co-occurring disorder like anxiety or depression. Regardless, people must get treated for the underlying cause. It will give them a better chance of success in the long-term.

Northpoint the Evergreen Offers Quality Outpatient Treatment in Washington State

At Northpoint the Evergreen we offer an excellent outpatient drug rehab program right here in Washington State. We have worked with many people who were addicted to Morphine and helped them recover. We know how difficult it can be to get off this drug, and we are committed to providing our clients with all the support they need.

We recognize that our clients all have different needs when it comes to addiction recovery. That is why we offer three levels of care. We recommend our clients for either our intensive outpatient program, partial hospitalization or our traditional outpatient rehab. Please note that while we do not provide detox services, we do make it a point to offer referrals for programs we trust.

We have two locations in Washington State. One is in Seattle and the other is in Bellevue. This allows is to provide convenient care to people who need it most. We participate with many health insurance plans as well, and this helps us make getting treatment as affordable as possible.

Find Out More About Morphine Abuse, Addiction and the Best Treatment Options in WA

At Northpoint the Evergreen, we recognize how trying it can be to overcome an addiction to Morphine. This is an incredibly powerful drug that has negatively impacted so many lives all across Washington State and beyond. But we only use the latest, proven treatment methods and because of that, our clients tend to have high rates of success.

Would you like more information about Morphine abuse or addiction and its impact in Washington State? Do you need to talk with someone about what the best treatment options might be for you or someone you love? Please contact us today.

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