In an increasingly addicted world, there are a number of new drugs that are being popped, pushed, injected, and plugged, many of which have only been around for a few decades.
On the other hand, there are also a couple commonly abused opioids on the market today that have actually been around for centuries. Morphine is just such a drug. Discovered in 1804, morphine brings about feelings of euphoria and sedation similar to other opioids.
But morphine abuse and addiction is a growing problem and, given the current pharmaceutical climate, it’s up to you to educate yourself on the hazardous and potentially fatal effects of this dangerous chemical.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
As the body acclimates to the consistent presence of morphine, it begins to adapt on both the physical and chemical level. Ultimately, it is trying to counteract the overly-potent effects of morphine abuse and return to a state of homeostasis.
This process is called building tolerance.
When the body has built up a tolerance and morphine is suddenly removed from persistent usage patterns however, the body struggles to function normally because it has become so used to morphine being present in the bloodstream. As your systems scramble to return to normal, a host of unpleasant side effects come about.
These are withdrawals. And for people addicted to morphine and other opioids, they can be brutal.
As you can see, the symptoms for detoxing from morphine can be incredibly varied and particularly uncomfortable.
One aspect that makes the process even worse is the fact that opioids have an especially protracted withdrawal timeline, meaning that many of these symptoms may actually end up persisting for months at a time.
So, if you plan on detoxing from your morphine addiction, you’re going to need all the help you can get.
As with many other opioids, abusing too much morphine can result in a number of detrimental health effects, some of which can be life-threatening.
As such, it’s incredibly important that you’re able to recognize the signs of a morphine overdose so that you can mitigate as much harm as possible. Remember, every second counts when it comes to an overdose and your hesitation to contact medical assistance could result in the loss of life.
Do not hesitate. Call 911 or the national poison help hotline at 1-800-222-1222.
According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the most recognizable signs of overdose are:
It’s worth mentioning that you should not attempt to make the person who overdosed throw up unless you are directed to do so by a medical professional. There are a number of detrimental health concerns that can come about from doing so and may cause additional harm.
If the person becomes unresponsive, perform CPR immediately.
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:
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.
But given the substantial risks to both mental and physical health that being addicted to morphine can bring, this is one drug that simply isn’t worth misusing.
If you think you are struggling with a morphine use disorder, it’s in your best interest to contact a qualified treatment center and start your journey to sobriety today.