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Morphine Abuse & Addiction

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Morphine is a powerful opioid painkiller commonly prescribed by healthcare professionals to manage severe pain. While it can provide effective pain relief when used as prescribed, it also carries the risk of abuse and addiction.

If you or someone you care about struggles with dependence on morphine or another substance, Guardian Recovery can help. We will work with you to develop an individualized and effective program to help you recover from addiction and get you on the road to long-term recovery. We believe in the benefits of a full curriculum of clinical care, beginning with medical detoxification, transitioning into a higher level of treatment, and concluding with personalized aftercare planning. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment options in your area.

Morphine comes from the opium poppy plant. It acts as a pain reliever by binding to opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and other organs. By doing so, it blocks the transmission of pain signals and produces a feeling of euphoria and relaxation.

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Can Using Morphine & Narcotic Analgesics as Prescribed Cause Dependence?

Using morphine and other narcotic analgesics as prescribed by a healthcare professional can lead to physical dependence because of their effects on the central nervous system (CNS) and the brain’s reward system. Physical dependence can occur if you use these medications for a long period. The body adapts to the presence of the drug and requires it to function normally. It is important to note that physical dependence is not the same as addiction.

How Addictive Is Morphine to Users?

Morphine has a high potential for addiction due to its powerful effects on the brain’s reward system. It can create a sense of euphoria and well-being, making it highly desirable for some individuals. Continued use of morphine can lead to psychological and physical dependence, increasing the risk of addiction.

How Does Morphine Addiction & Dependence Develop?

Morphine addiction and dependence can develop gradually over time. As you use morphine, your tolerance may increase, requiring higher doses to achieve the desired effects. Dependence develops as the body becomes reliant on the drug to function properly. Addiction occurs when your use of morphine becomes compulsive, leading to negative consequences in your personal and professional life.

Causes & Risk Factors for Morphine Abuse & Addiction Development

Several factors contribute to the development of morphine abuse and addiction. Some of the common causes and risk factors include:

  • Chronic pain — Individuals who experience chronic pain may be more prone to morphine abuse and addiction as they seek relief.
  • Previous substance abuse — Those with a history of substance abuse, including alcohol or other drugs, are at a higher risk of developing morphine addiction.
  • Genetics — Certain genetic factors can influence an individual’s vulnerability to addiction.
  • Co-occurring mental health disorders — People with mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety may turn to morphine as a form of self-medication, increasing the likelihood of addiction.

Morphine Use & Its Effect on Mental Health

Morphine use can have a significant impact on mental health. It can exacerbate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. Prolonged use may lead to the development of mental health issues or worsen pre-existing conditions.

Here are some additional ways morphine affects mental health:

  • Euphoria and mood alterations — Morphine can induce feelings of euphoria and pleasure that can temporarily alleviate negative emotions and create a sense of well-being. However, this mood alteration can also contribute to psychological dependence and addiction.
  • Sedation and cognitive impairment — High doses or prolonged use of morphine can lead to sedation and cognitive impairment, including difficulties with concentration, memory problems, slowed thinking processes, and reduced overall mental functioning.
  • Emotional numbing and blunting — Morphine use can reduce the intensity of emotional experiences, making it challenging to fully engage with and respond to your own feelings and the emotions of others.

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Can Long-term Morphine Use Cause Permanent Damage?

Long-term use of morphine can potentially lead to various health complications. These may include respiratory problems, decreased cognitive function, hormonal imbalances, gastrointestinal issues, and weakened immune function. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), long-term use of opioids, like morphine, can also lead to:

  • Serious bone fractures.
  • Breathing problems during sleep.
  • Increased sensitivity or extreme response to pain.
  • Chronic constipation or bowel obstruction.
  • Heart attack

Clinical data indicates that both men and women could experience sexual side effects such as malfunction of the testes and ovaries, erectile dysfunction, infertility, and decreased libido.

What Demographics Are Most at Risk of Morphine Abuse?

According to the NIH, of the 20 million Americans dealing with substance abuse, around 2 million are using prescription opioid pain medications like morphine. Approximately 50% of patients on long-term opioid therapy meet the criteria for opioid use disorder, which means they have become dependent on these medications.

The prevalence of opioid use and dependency can vary depending on age and gender. Men are more likely to use opioids and become dependent on different types of opioids. They also account for most opioid-related overdoses. On the other hand, women are prescribed opioids more often than men for pain relief.

Deaths caused by opioid use tend to occur more frequently among individuals between the ages of 40 and 50. The peak age for seeking treatment for opioid use disorder is between 20 and 35 years old.

Visible Signs Someone May Be Addicted to Morphine

Recognizing the signs of morphine addiction is vital for seeking intervention and treatment. Some visible signs include:

  • Frequent and uncontrollable cravings for morphine.
  • Changes in appearance include dilated pupils, poor hygiene, or sudden weight loss.
  • Neglecting personal and professional responsibilities.
  • Social withdrawal and isolation.
  • Doctor shopping or visiting multiple healthcare providers to obtain additional prescriptions.

Common Symptoms & Side Effects of Morphine Dependence

The symptoms and side effects of morphine dependence are wide-ranging and can vary from person to person depending on other health, physical, and psychological factors.

Physical Symptoms & Side Effects

Physical symptoms of morphine dependence may include:

  • Increased tolerance, requiring higher doses for the same effect.
  • Withdrawal symptoms when attempting to reduce or stop using morphine.
  • Constipation and gastrointestinal issues.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Drowsiness or sedation.

Psychological Symptoms & Side Effects

Psychological symptoms of morphine dependence may include:

  • New or increased anxiety or depression.
  • Continued use despite negative consequences.
  • Preoccupation with obtaining and using morphine.
  • Neglected interests, hobbies, and relationships.
  • Mood swings and irritability.
  • Cravings for morphine.

What to Do if Someone Overdoses on Morphine

A morphine overdose is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. If you suspect someone has overdosed on morphine, call emergency services right away. While waiting for medical help, stay with the person, ensure their airway remains clear, and provide any relevant information to emergency responders.

What Treatment Is Available to Those Who Suffer from Morphine Addiction?

Successful treatment for morphine addiction requires addressing the drug’s physical and emotional impact and any social or other issues that may lead to drug abuse.

Some of the treatment modalities used by licensed rehabilitation facilities like Guardian Recovery include:

  • Detoxification — Medically supervised withdrawal to manage withdrawal symptoms safely.
  • Inpatient Rehabilitation — Residential programs that provide intensive therapy and support.
  • Outpatient Rehabilitation — Programs that offer counseling, support groups, and treatment while allowing individuals to live at home.
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) — The use of medications, such as methadone or buprenorphine, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies.
  • Support Groups — Participation in support groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or SMART Recovery for ongoing peer support.

Morphine abuse and addiction pose serious risks to individuals and society. Understanding the nature of morphine, its effects on the brain, risk factors, signs of addiction, and available treatment options is crucial for prevention and early intervention.

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No matter the substance, the best way to overcome addiction is with the help of experienced, trusted professionals like those at Guardian Recovery. We provide comprehensive treatment, including medically-assisted detox, therapy, specialty programs, and reintegration support. Our caring and skilled administrative, medical, and clinical teams will guide you through every step of your recovery process from the first time you call and work with you to develop an individualized and effective program to help you recover from addiction and get you on the road to long-term recovery. We provide a complimentary assessment and a free insurance benefits check and help coordinate local travel to our facility. All you have to do is ask; we will take care of the rest. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment options in your area.


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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.


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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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