I Think My Son or Daughter May Be Addicted to Morphine?

Signs and Symptoms of Morphine Abuse

Morphine is the classic opiate painkiller, the standard by which other opiates are measured. While other opiates are more often the drug of choice of opiate addicts, morphine in pill or liquid form is still sought to satisfy cravings.

When a person is either abusing morphine or even taking it properly, they are likely to be constipated. All opiates tend to slow down the ability of the body to eliminate solid wastes so some people on painkillers seek medications that will help them fight constipation. Opiates tend to make a person nauseated and they may vomit after taking the drug. Opiates slow breathing, which is what usually kills a person who has taken too much of the drug. A person on these drugs tends to be sleepy and they may dope off.

There are certain symptoms that mean that a person may have taken too much morphine.

These include:

  • Shallow breathing - it may feel like the person's chest is barely moving and there may be few breaths each minute
  • Feeling faint or dizzy
  • Confusion
  • Low blood pressure, especially when a person is also taking other medications that cause a drop in blood pressure
  • Constricted pupils
  • Loss of normal muscle tension
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Circulatory collapse
  • Coma

Morphine: What to Look For

If a person is abusing morphine, in addition to physical symptoms of abuse, you may find pill bottles or pills or syringes. Morphine also comes in a liquid form so you may find small bottles of morphine sulfate liquid. There are dozens of different pills and capsules that contain morphine. By brand name, Avinza® capsules are half white and the other half may be blue, dark green, light blue, yellow or red. Kadian® capsules are all one color and may be light blue, turquoise, purple, brown or pink, depending on the dosage. MS Contin® are small round pills in gray, light blue, purple, or orange. Oramorph® SR (sustained release) are round white pills but may also be supplied in a patch. Generic morphine comes in a variety of colors and shapes.

A person using morphine according to a doctor's instruction can still become addicted to the drug, sometimes in a little as a few weeks.

Physical Signs of Addiction to Morphine

When a person is dependent on morphine, withdrawal symptoms present themselves upon significant decreases in dosing or drug cessation. The physical signs of dependence on morphine can include:

  • elevation of blood pressure and body temperature
  • involuntary leg movements
  • irritability
  • liquid diarrhea
  • mild depression
  • vomiting
  • weight loss

Symptoms start to appear within 45 to 96 hours after the last dose and continue for up to 8 to 12 days after stopping morphine.

Physical Dependence on Morphine

Morphine has a high risk for developing physical and psychological dependence. Chronic use and morphine tolerance can provoke these condition. Though both have the same starting point, physical and psychological dependence are two separate conditions. How?

While the dependence is a state of the body, addiction is a state of the mind, the two conditions affect totally different sections in the human brain. So you can be dependent on morphine, without being addicted to it. People being treated chronically with morphine, for example, for pain associated with terminal cancer may be dependent – if the drug is stopped, they suffer withdrawal syndrome. But, they are not compulsive users of the morphine, and they are not addicted.

How is morphine addiction different? The human brain of a morphine addict registers the effects of the morphine as a benefit, a reward, so that over time, a morphine user can begin to seek out the pleasure of getting the reward. The state in which the user engages in a compulsive behavior is called addiction. Even when faced with negative consequences, a morphine addict will lose control and take morphine again. That is how the drug addiction is psychological; the pathway to getting high is more interesting than the moments of being high themselves.

Physical dependence, on the other hand, is a state in which the human body can function normally only in the presence of certain drugs. Dependence manifests only after the drug is promptly removed, and the appearance of physiological disturbances are called withdrawal symptom.

Physical Signs of Addiction to Morphine

When a person is dependent on morphine, withdrawal symptoms present themselves upon significant decreases in dosing or drug cessation. The physical signs of dependence on morphine can include:

  • elevation of blood pressure and body temperature
  • involuntary leg movements
  • irritability
  • liquid diarrhea
  • mild depression
  • vomiting
  • weight loss

Symptoms start to appear within 45 to 96 hours after the last dose and continue for up to 8 to 12 days after stopping morphine.

Getting Help

There is hope for yourself or your loved one.  Footprints of Serenity's Interventionist Specialist's are trained and experienced in getting you or your loved one the help you may need.   If you have any questions regarding Morphine Addiction or are seeking someone to help you, we are here.  You may Request A Call or Call 213-80-SOBER 24 Hours a Day, 7 Days A Week.

Adapted For Footprints Of Serenity by AddictionBlog.org & Narcanon.org