It works by binding to opioid receptors in the central and peripheral nervous system which leads to the activation of inhibitory pathways and the reduction of nociceptive (pain causing) neuron transmissions. Essentially, morphine reduces the perception of pain by triggering receptors in the brain.
Morphine causes the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which lends to its ability to relieve pain. As dopamine is released and specific receptors in the nervous system are triggered, this drug can also cause feelings of drowsiness, mental clouding, and euphoria.
Unfortunately, these feel-good effects of dopamine can lead to morphine addiction. When dopamine is released in a high amount due to the use of an opioid like morphine, this can create a chemical imbalance in the brain. It becomes more difficult for the brain to produce dopamine by itself, which causes withdrawal symptoms and can lead to long-term morphine use and addiction.
The symptoms and signs of morphine addiction
There are many physical and psychological symptoms of morphine abuse. While many of these are internal, there are also behavioral signs that someone is suffering from a morphine addiction. Being aware of these symptoms and signs ensures that those afflicted get treatment as quickly as possible.
Morphine addiction symptoms
The effects of morphine can be seen outwardly, especially in those with a morphine addiction. The following are physical and psychological symptoms that a morphine abuser may experience:
- Slurred speech
- Shallow breathing
- Mood swings
- Inability to concentrate
- Drowsiness or falling asleep at unusual times
- Dilated pupils
Due to physical and psychological effects of repeated morphine use, an addict may display behavioral changes and unusual mannerisms. These signs can help people better understand the state of their loved ones, or even help morphine users self-diagnose.
- Self-isolation. Avoiding loved ones prevents them from finding out about the addiction.
- Neglecting everyday responsibilities. This includes not going in to work and having difficulty completing everyday tasks around the home.
- Quickly switching between doctors in order to procure new prescriptions.
- Financial issues due to spending money on morphine.
- Continued use despite a negative effect on quality of life.
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Short and long term side effects of morphine addiction
Short term side-effects of morphine use can occur immediately after first use and last for as long as the morphine is in your system. It usually takes about 12 hours for your blood to be clear of the drug, depending on various factors.
In cases of prolonged morphine abuse and addiction, the long-term side effects change and become more serious.
Short term effects of morphine use
Even for those who are not abusing morphine, short term side effects of the drug can appear quickly after the first use. These include but are not limited to:
- Weakness or dizziness
- Loss of appetite
- Changes in heart rate
Long term effects of morphine addiction
The gastrointestinal tract and the hormonal and chemical balance of the brain can be affected from continued use or addiction to morphine. These long term effects of morphine use on the body include but are not limited to:
Morphine overdose symptoms and signs
With morphine addiction comes the incredibly dangerous possibility of morphine overdose. This can occur due to a high dose of morphine, or when morphine is mixed with another substance such as alcohol or other opioids. Being aware of the signs of an overdose could save a life.
- Pinpoint pupils
- Blue-colored fingernails and lips
- Severely labored breathing or no breathing
- Inability to stay awake
How and why does morphine addiction start?
Morphine addiction can sometimes stem from clinical situations in which those recovering from a surgery or going through cancer treatment are prescribed morphine.
Morphine tolerance develops quickly, and patients who once used morphine as a medical solution to relieve pain may find themselves craving more of the substance in higher doses even after their prescription has ended. In these cases, people may jump quickly between doctors in order to have access to prescriptions. This can lead to dependence, and then addiction.
Morphine may also be abused by drug users that have difficulty procuring other forms of opioids such as heroin or opium. As these drugs are not cleared for clinical use, addicts may turn to morphine as a substitute.
Treatment for morphine addiction
The long term effects and overdose risk that comes along with morphine addiction can be dangerous and even deadly. Getting professional treatment as soon as possible is necessary to reduce risk and transition into sobriety safely. When getting off morphine, the symptoms of withdrawal may cause relapse or serious medical complications. For this reason, it is important to seek help from a professional to get treated.