Morphine is an extremely potent opiate analgesic drug. In clinical medicine, morphine is regarded as the benchmark for analgesics used to relieve pain due to its effectiveness. Like other opioids OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan,Dilaudid, and diamorphine (heroin), morphine acts directly on the central nervous system to relieve pain.
Morphine has a high potential for addiction because tolerance and dependence develop very rapidly.
Morphine was the most commonly abused analgesic in the world until diamorphine (heroin) was synthesized. Morphine became a controlled substance in the U.S. in 1914. Possession without a subscription is a criminal offense.
The common effects of morphine euphoria, heightened ambition, nervousness, relaxation, and drowsiness. when taken in large doses a very serious narcotic habit can develop in a matter of weeks.
The withdrawal symptoms of morphine are usually experienced within 6 to 12 hours of the last administration. Symptoms include watery eyes, insomnia, diarrhea, runny nose, yawning, dysphoria, sweating and in most cases a strong drug craving. As withdrawal progresses, severe headache, restlessness, irritability, loss of appetite, body aches, severe abdominal pain, nausea, and uncontrollable tremors may occur. Craving for the drug continues to increase, and severe depression and vomiting are very common.
If withdrawal becomes acute, heart rate and blood pressure increase significantly, leading to possible heart attack or stroke.
Chills or cold flashes with goose bumps (“cold turkey”) alternating with flushing (hot flashes), kicking movements of the legs (“kicking the habit”) and excessive sweating are also characteristic symptoms. Severe pains in the bones and muscles of the back and extremities occur, as do muscle spasms. At any point during this process, a suitable narcotic can be administered that will dramatically reverse the withdrawal symptoms.
Major withdrawal symptoms peak between 48 and 96 hours after the last dose and subside after about 8 to 12 days. Psychological withdrawal from morphine, however, is a very long and painful process. Addicts often suffer severe depression, anxiety, insomnia, mood swings, amnesia, low self-esteem, confusion, paranoia, and other psychological disorders.
Without treatment, the psychological dependence on morphine can last a lifetime. There is a good chance that relapse will occur unless a change occurs in both the physical environment and behavioral motivators that contributed to the abuse. Abusers of morphine (and heroin), have one of the highest relapse rates among all drug users.
In addition, opiate addicts show increased risk of infection such as increased pneumonia, tuberculosis and HIV. This has led scientists to believe that morphine may also affect the immune system, further indicating a need for medically supervised detoxification.
Self detoxification from morphine is rarely successful and can be dangerous. Morphine addiction withdrawal can cause physical and emotional trauma. Methadone or other illicit drugs are often used to ease the distress of morphine withdrawal, creating a potential for further abuse.
The most successful detoxification and withdrawal scenario involves an inpatient setting removed from the normal stresses of living and the routines of the patient’s morphine addiction. Medically supervised detoxification, followed by social therapy and psychotherapy, offers the best chance for a full recovery.