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If you’ve been taking morphine for pain management and begin to notice the signs of morphine addiction, it’s time to see your doctor. Like any other opioid addiction, morphine abuse or addiction should never be ignored.
Facts About Morphine
Morphine is a natural opioid drug, derived from opium, which is used to relieve moderate to severe pain. For those in hospice, morphine is used to mask pain in patients with terminal cancer.
Morphine blocks the pain messaging that travels through the central nervous system by latching onto opioid receptors in the brain. It also creates a feeling of calm and relaxation, as well as euphoria.
Side effects of morphine include:
- Dry mouth.
- Chest pain.
- Itchy skin.
- Slowed breathing.
- Loss of libido.
- Mood changes.
- Rapid heart rate.
- Trouble concentrating.
Morphine has a high risk for abuse and addiction due to the way it increases the brain’s production of dopamine. Dopamine is a brain chemical that is referred to as the “pleasure” chemical. Dopamine is released when a person is experiencing a pleasurable event. This includes the euphoric high associated with morphine.
The brain records this reaction in its reward system. The brain now sees the act of using morphine as a good thing and prompts them to repeat it. This sets up the cycle that leads to addiction.
Ongoing use of the morphine causes the body to get used to the drug being in its system. This often causes the person to start using higher amounts of morphine in an effort to chase the desired high. Within only a couple of weeks, repeated use of morphine can lead to dependence and addiction.
Some of the warning signs of morphine addiction are:
- Chronic constipation.
- Nausea and vomiting after taking morphine.
- Slurred speech.
- Doctor shopping.
- Extreme drowsiness; nodding off.
- Mood swings.
- Dilated pupils.
- Trouble paying attention.
- Shallow breathing.
- Ignoring responsibilities.
- Keep using morphine despite all the problems it causes.
- Legal problems.
- Problems at work.
- Obsessed with obtaining the morphine.
- Withdrawal symptoms.
What Is the Difference Between Morphine Dependence and Addiction?
Patients that are on long-term morphine treatment for chronic pain are not usually addicts. While both dependence and addiction will lead to harsh withdrawal symptoms if the drug is stopped, they are different conditions.
Dependence means just that, that the patient has taken the drug long enough for their body and brain to be dependent on it. This does not necessarily lead to addiction, but just means the person will have to have medical help when they want to stop taking morphine.
Morphine addiction occurs when the person begins misusing the drug taking more than what is prescribed to achieve a high. The morphine use becomes compulsive, leading to illegal acts to procure the drug. Some opioid addicts seek out morphine to satisfy cravings when the drug of choice is unavailable.
Morphine Detox and Withdrawal
When you decide it’s time to get off morphine, you will need the support of medically trained detox experts. The doctor in charge will prescribe a tapering schedule to help the person ease off of the drug over a week or two. This helps to reduce the withdrawal symptoms, which are a sign of the changes that morphine has caused in the brain. When the morphine is withdrawn, the body becomes destabilized. Withdrawal symptoms begin about 6-12 hours after the morphine leaves the system. They include:
- Stomach cramps.
- Muscle aches.
- Excessive yawning.
- Watery eyes.
- Loss of appetite.
- Rapid breathing.
- Brain fog.
The detox care providers will keep a close watch over the person during the detox process, which lasts about a week after the taper. They provide meds as needed to address the symptoms and reduce discomfort and keep the patient hydrated throughout.
Next Steps After Morphine Detox
Detox alone is not enough to cure someone from morphine addiction. Their brain has been wired to accommodate the addiction, and that takes time to unwind. An addiction treatment program is the best bet for acquiring the skills and tools to be able to sustain abstinence.
The person will engage in a wide array of treatment activities. Each of these is designed to help them change the habits they formed while in active addiction. They include:
- Psychotherapy: The role of therapy is key for treating a morphine addiction. The therapist will use a number of evidence-based therapies to guide the person toward embracing new healthy thought patterns.
- Group therapy: Peers join together in small groups to discuss their feelings and experiences with each other. This shared journey acts as a bond between the participants.
- 12-step participation: The 12-step theory is often included in the overall rehab program. Recovery meetings offer a chance to learn from each other and become inspired by those who have achieved long-term abstinence.
- Addiction education: Classes offer recovery coaching, in which the person acquires new coping techniques and tools to help them steer clear of morphine. They will about how chemical addiction happens and how to avoid relapse.
- Holistic therapies: These activities help reduce stress, so they are helpful during treatment and also in recovery. These include yoga, meditation, equine therapy, art therapy, and massage.
- Aftercare services: Rehabs should always encourage aftercare planning prior to discharge. These activities or services can help strengthen early recovery while helping to avoid relapse. These might include outpatient therapy, continued participation in a recovery community, or staying in sober living.
If you notice the signs of morphine addiction and know it is time to address the problem, reach out for help today.
Capo by the Sea Provides Comprehensive Addiction Treatment
Capo by the Sea is a trusted leader in the addiction recovery industry. Located in a quaint beachside community, Capo by the Sea offers the perfect setting for treatment and healing. If you recognize the signs of morphine addiction and need help, give our team a call today at (888) 529-2114.