Morphine is a pharmaceutical grade pain medication. It is classified as an opiate. Opiates are found naturally in both plants and animals. Opiates work directly on the nervous system to reduce nerve response to pain. Among opiates, Morphine is one of the strongest and most addictive narcotics in existence. Morphine is manufactured and sold under many names including Kadian, Kadian ER, Avinza, Morphabond, MSIR, Oramorph SR, MS Contin, Roxanol, and Roxanol-T. Morphine comes in tablet, liquid, capsule, and suppository and as an injectable solution.
Varieties of opiates have been used since Byzantine times, but the precursor to modern morphine wasn’t discovered until the early 1800s in Germany. Morphine was first sold as a pain reliever and treatment for alcohol and opium addiction. During the civil war, morphine was widely used, and it was soon discovered that morphine was more addictive than either alcohol or opium. Many soldiers treated with it came to suffer from “soldier’s disease” or morphine addiction. In fact, until heroin was synthesized from morphine in 1874, morphine was the most addictive substance in the world.
In addition to its actions on the central nervous system, morphine affects a person’s reward pathways. Reward pathways are complex and result from a combination of responses in the brain to pleasurable experiences. Morphine use can disrupt and contort these pathways. Eventually, morphine becomes the prime way an addict obtains pleasure.
A person becomes addicted to a drug, substance or behaviour when the activity or use becomes an irresistible and compulsive urge. Addiction is characterized by the addict’s loss of control over his or her usage. Addicts often take several drugs at once including alcohol which increases the odds of addiction.
The use of morphine produces several recognizable side effects: confusion, dizziness, itchy skin, constricted pupils, and extreme drowsiness. Once a person begins to abuse morphine his or her health begins to decline. The person may alternate between sleep and alertness, get sick often from a weakened immune system, hallucinate and may contract blood-born diseases. Outwardly the addict may fake injuries to obtain morphine, exhibit poor personal hygiene, appear distracted and unable to concentrate, have needle marks, steal, and have new friends and withdrawal from former friends and family.
Prolonged use of morphine creates physical changes. When an addict stops using, he or she may experience several withdrawal symptoms. Many addicts in withdrawal have diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps, anxiety, rapid heartbeat and breathing, insomnia, chills, loss of appetite, joint or muscle pain, sweating, runny nose, and weakness. Avoiding these symptoms reinforces the addict’s desire to continue abusing morphine.
Morphine addiction dates back to the civil war and beyond. The new century has brought about new treatments and techniques for those suffering from morphine addiction. Though morphine addiction is still widespread, unlike then help is now available and easier than ever to find.