Morphine addiction

The ongoing opioid crisis continues to leave a trail of devastation across the globe, claiming lives and causing untold pain. While opioid addiction rates in the UK are far from matching those in the United States, the situation remains worrisome. In 2021, a staggering 1,337 people lost their lives to morphine and heroin poisoning in the UK, the highest figure ever recorded. This number underscores the gravity of morphine addiction, a battle that many people face daily. Despite the daunting nature of this fight, professional help is available for those ready to make a change.

What is morphine?

Morphine is a potent opioid pain medication, often prescribed to treat severe pain. It works by altering the way your brain and nervous system respond to pain. Morphine is available in various forms, including tablets, capsules, injections and suppositories. Despite its legitimate medical uses, morphine also has a high potential for abuse and dependence due to its euphoric effects. When misused, whether by taking higher doses than prescribed, using it without a prescription or using it in a non-prescribed way such as snorting or injecting, morphine can quickly lead to addiction.

What is morphine addiction?

Morphine addiction is a form of prescription drug addiction where you keep taking morphine compulsively even though it is causing problems to your health or different aspects of your life. Morphine addiction can develop from recreational use, misuse of a morphine prescription or as a result of self-medication. Chronic use of morphine changes the brain’s chemistry, resulting in tolerance (needing more of the drug to get the desired results) and dependence (needing morphine to feel “normal” and experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop). This can make it very difficult to quit without professional help.

Am I addicted to morphine?

Recognising morphine addiction can be challenging as it can convince you and others that there’s no problem.

If you’re unsure about your relationship with morphine, consider these questions, which could indicate morphine addiction signs:

  • Do you find it difficult to control your morphine use?
  • Do you spend a lot of time obtaining, using or recovering from morphine?
  • Have you experienced negative consequences from using morphine but continue to use it?
  • Do you need to take more morphine to get the same effect?
  • Have you tried to cut down or quit using morphine but been unable to?
  • Do you experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop using morphine?
  • Has your morphine use led to neglecting responsibilities at home, work or school?
  • Have you given up activities you once enjoyed in favour of morphine use?

If you answered ‘yes’ to several of these questions, you might be dealing with a morphine addiction and should seek professional help.

Who is most at risk of morphine addiction?

While anyone can become addicted to morphine, especially if they are taking it other than prescribed, certain factors can increase the risk. These include:

  • History of substance abuse: Those with a past or current substance abuse problem are more likely to become addicted to morphine.
  • Psychiatric conditions: People with unresolved trauma or mental health disorders like depression or anxiety may use morphine as a form of self-medication, increasing their risk of morphine addiction.
  • Early exposure: Early exposure to drugs increases the risk of developing a substance use disorder later in life.
  • Genetic predisposition: Genetics can also play a role in the risk of developing a substance use disorder, so if there is a history of addiction in your family, you are more prone to morphine addiction.
  • Environmental influences: Factors such as peer pressure, lack of family involvement and socioeconomic status can contribute to the risk of morphine addiction.
  • Chronic pain patients: Those who are prescribed morphine for long-term pain management are at higher risk due to the drug’s addictive potential.
  • Lack of knowledge: Not understanding the risks associated with morphine use can lead to misuse and addiction.
  • Access to the drug: Easy access to morphine, either through a legitimate prescription or illegal means, can increase the risk of morphine addiction as there is more opportunity to take it.

What are the effects of morphine addiction on health?

The health effects of morphine addiction are serious, long-lasting and can include:

  • Respiratory depression: Chronic morphine use can significantly depress respiratory function, leading to hypoxia, a condition where not enough oxygen reaches the brain. This can potentially lead to severe brain damage or even death.
  • Digestive issues: Morphine slows down the digestive system, which often results in constipation. Over time, this can lead to more serious gastrointestinal problems, including bowel obstruction and perforation.
  • Mental health disorders: Morphine addiction often coexists with mental health issues. And can exacerbate existing conditions such as depression and anxiety. The cycle of morphine addiction itself, with periods of high and withdrawal, can also trigger the new onset of these disorders.
  • Immune system suppression: Opioids like morphine can weaken the immune system, making users more susceptible to infections. This could lead to an increased risk of common illnesses, as well as potentially severe or opportunistic infections.
  • Cardiovascular issues: Morphine use can also lead to a range of cardiovascular problems. These include abnormal heart rhythms and an increased risk of heart attack, particularly in those who inject morphine.
  • Hormonal dysfunction: Long-term opioid use can disrupt the normal functioning of the endocrine system, leading to issues like reduced libido, infertility, fatigue, depression, anxiety and an overall decreased quality of life.
  • Risk of overdose: Morphine has a high risk of overdose, especially when used in high doses or combined with other substances. Overdose can result in severe respiratory depression, unconsciousness and death.

What are the signs of morphine overdose?

Morphine overdose is a medical emergency that can be fatal if not treated promptly. Signs of a morphine overdose include:

  • Slow or irregular breathing
  • Blue or purple lips and fingernails
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Limp body

If you suspect a morphine overdose, call emergency services immediately. Prevention of overdose involves responsible use of the drug, regular monitoring by healthcare professionals and avoiding combining morphine with other substances.

What are the other effects of morphine addiction?

Morphine addiction can extend its harmful effects far beyond physical health, deeply impacting various aspects of your life:

  • Relationship issues: Morphine addiction can strain relationships with family and friends due to the chaos and unpredictability it brings. Broken trust, neglect, and erratic behaviour associated with drug-seeking and drug-using behaviours can isolate the addict from their loved ones. Marital and familial discord, child neglect or abuse and social ostracisation are commonly seen in severe addiction cases.
  • Financial problems: Maintaining a morphine addiction can be financially crippling. The cost of acquiring morphine, coupled with the potential loss of employment, can lead to serious financial instability. This may result in an inability to fulfil basic responsibilities like providing for your family, paying bills or managing debts. In extreme cases, it can even lead to bankruptcy or homelessness.
  • Legal troubles: Illicit use of morphine is a criminal offence and can lead to legal consequences, including arrest, imprisonment, fines and a criminal record. These legal troubles can further exacerbate financial instability and strain interpersonal relationships. Additionally, a criminal record can make it harder to find employment or secure housing in the future.
  • Employment issues: Morphine addiction can significantly impact productivity and professional performance. The physical and psychological effects of the addiction, along with the time spent acquiring and using the drug, often lead to decreased productivity, increased absenteeism and difficulty maintaining a job. Job loss can then result in a downward spiral of financial troubles, further fuelling morphine addiction.
  • Educational setbacks: For younger individuals, morphine addiction can severely impact educational potential due to poor academic performance, increased school absences or dropping out of school altogether. The long-term consequences can include limited career prospects and lifelong financial struggles.

How can you recover from morphine addiction?

Morphine addiction treatment often begins with detox, where the drug is gradually eliminated from your body under medical supervision. This usually involves slowly tapering off morphine to avoid the most severe withdrawal symptoms and may also require supportive medication. The next stage is rehab which includes therapy to address the root causes of morphine addiction and learn new coping strategies to prevent relapse going forward.

How to get help for morphine addiction

If you or a loved one is struggling with morphine addiction, know that help is available. With a team of expert staff and a supportive environment, Oasis Runcorn is committed to helping you overcome morphine addiction and build a sustainable recovery. Don’t let morphine addiction control your life. Reach out to Oasis Runcorn today and take the first step towards a healthier, drug-free future.

Frequently asked questions

Is morphine the same as heroin?
Morphine and heroin are both opioids but not the same substance. Morphine is a natural product extracted from the opium poppy and is used in medical settings to treat severe pain. Heroin, on the other hand, is synthesised from morphine and is typically used illicitly due to its potent euphoric effects. While both substances have a high potential for addiction, heroin is sometimes considered more dangerous due to its illegal status and the risks associated with unregulated use.
How can I help someone with a morphine addiction?
Helping someone with a morphine addiction involves a combination of emotional support and encouraging professional treatment. Communicating your concerns openly and honestly is essential, without judgement or blame. Encourage them to seek professional help and remember that recovery is a long-term process. While it can be difficult, your continued support can make a significant difference in their journey towards sobriety.