Morphine

What is Morphine?

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 to maintain the same effect, and physical and psychological dependence develop quickly. 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 both substances 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 can cause asphyxia and death by respiratory depression if the person does not receive medical attention immediately. Overdose treatment includes the administration of naloxone. The latter completely reverses morphine's effects but may result in the 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 involves 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 using it and feel strange or overwhelmed coping with daily activities without being under the drug’s influence. Psychological withdrawal from this drug is usually a very long and painful process. Addicts often suffer severe depression, anxiety, insomnia, mood swings, forgetfulness, low self-esteem, confusion, paranoia and 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 Addiction?

A high probability of relapse exists after withdrawal when neither the physical environment nor the behavioral motivators that contributed to the abuse have changed. 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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