Morphine, often prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain in a hospital setting, is one of the most powerful opiates available today. It is commonly used for pain relief after surgeries and in cancer patients. It is classified as a Schedule II drug, which means it has an accepted, approved medical use but also has the potential for misuse and addiction.
A natural derivative of the opium poppy plant, morphine acts directly on the central nervous system by binding to opioid receptors to block pain signals from reaching the spine and the brain. Named after Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams, when it was first discovered in the 18th century, morphine produces a euphoric, dream-like feeling.
Morphine is available in a short-acting form, normally used to treat moderate pain, and an extended release version, for patients with severe or chronic pain. It is most often administered as a tablet or injection, although it can also be snorted or smoked.
Tolerance to morphine develops rapidly, and it is highly addictive. Anyone who takes morphine regularly will develop a physical dependence, which leads them to increase the amount and/or frequency of their use to attain the same level of pain relief. This, in turn, leads to addiction, as the user develops psychological cravings for both morphine and other opiate pain killers. Studies have shown that the majority of heroin users started with a legal morphine prescription.
When prescribed by a doctor, morphine is usually sold by pharmaceutical companies under brand names such as Roxanol, Kadian ER, Duramorph, Embeda, MS Contin and others. In the hospital, it is most commonly administered intravenously, which is the easiest way to have exact control over how much of the drug is used. When prescribed for a patient to be used at home, its most common forms are tablets, patches or a suppository.
On the street, morphine is called by names such as Monkey, Dreamer, Miss Emma, Mister Blue, Morpho, Unkie and others. People who misuse morphine generally prefer to use tablets or patches – crushing the tablets into a powder that can be snorted or cutting open the patches and injecting the solution that is on the inside.
When you begin to develop a tolerance to morphine – as the drug’s effect on your body becomes less intense – you are likely forming an addiction. As physical dependence grows, you begin to need the drug just to feel “normal.”
There are also behavioral signs of a morphine addiction, which may include:
Much like heroin addiction, morphine addiction can be very hard to overcome, but is possible through drug rehab. Withdrawal symptoms can range from unpleasant to dangerous, and depending on the severity of the addiction, clients require a full medical detox program at the beginning of drug rehab treatment.
Withdrawal symptoms usually begin between 6 to 12 hours after your last use and grow more and more intense until they reach a peak a couple of days later. These symptoms may include:
Your individualized recovery plan may include a “tapering” phase where your morphine use is gradually reduced. This may be done with morphine itself, or with another drug that provides similar effects. You may also receive Clonidine, which helps reduce sweating, cramping, anxiety and irritability, or buprenorphine, a mild narcotic that binds with the same opioid receptors as morphine.
After drug detox, your substance abuse rehab program progresses into evidence-based addiction treatment therapies developed by our clinical specialists. These therapies are the core of your recovery plan, and they may include cognitive behavior therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, group and recreation therapy and more.
Throughout your recovery, our team of counselors and therapists work with you to identify and treat the underlying reasons for your substance abuse. You learn new coping mechanisms and life skills that help you to deal with situations that “trigger” your drug use, which is the key to achieving successful, lasting recovery.