Morphine is a highly addictive narcotic analgesic with a high potential for addiction and abuse. The most abundant opiate found in opium, morphine is primarily used to treat both acute and chronic severe pain. Tolerance, the need for higher and higher doses of morphine to maintain the same effect, and physical and psychological dependence develop quickly.
The primary source of morphine is isolation from poppy straw of the opium poppy. About 70% of morphine is used to make other opioids such as hydromorphone, oxycodone, heroin and methadone.
In controlled studies comparing the physiological and subjective effects of the opioids hydromorphone, fentanyl, oxycodone and pethidine/meperidine, former addicts showed a strong preference for heroin and morphine, suggesting that heroin and morphine are particularly susceptible to abuse and addiction. Morphine and heroin are also much more likely to produce euphoria and other positive subjective effects when compared to these other opioids.
A large overdose of morphine can cause asphyxia and death by respiratory depression if the person doesnot receive medical attention immediately. Overdose treatment includes the administration of naloxone. The latter completely reverses morphine’s effects, but may result in immediate onset of withdrawal in opiate-addicted subjects. Multiple doses of naloxone may be needed to be effective.
What is morphine withdrawal?
The withdrawal symptoms associated with morphine addiction are usually experienced shortly before the time of the next scheduled dose, sometimes within as early as a few hours (usually 6–12 hours) after the last administration. Withdrawal from morphine causes nausea, tearing, yawning, chills and sweating lasting up to three days.
The psychological dependence associated with morphine addiction is complex and protracted. Long after the physical need for morphine has passed, the addict will usually continue to think and talk about the use of morphine and feel strange or overwhelmed coping with daily activities without being under the drug’s influence.
Psychological withdrawal from morphine is usually a very long and painful process. Addicts often suffer severe depression, anxiety, insomnia, mood swings, forgetfulness, low self-esteem, confusion, paranoiaand other psychological disorders. Without intervention, the syndrome will run its course and most of the overt physical symptoms will disappear within 7 to 10 days, including psychological dependence.
Morphine crosses the placental barrier and babies born to morphine-using mothers go through withdrawal. Signs of withdrawal in newborns can be present within the first 24 hours of life or take as long as a week to become evident.
Can I end my morphine addiction?
A high probability of relapse exists after morphine withdrawal when neither the physical environment nor the behavioral motivators that contributed to the abuse have been altered. Testimony to morphine’s addictive and reinforcing nature is its relapse rate. Abusers of morphine and heroin have one of the highest relapse rates among all drug users, ranging up to 98% in the estimation of some medical experts.
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