Morphine, a narcotic analgesic intended to treat pain, has long been a very alluring recreational drug, likely because it stimulates the reward mechanisms in the brain. Morphine is available in short- or long-acting forms, which makes it an effective medicine for providing nearly immediate relief from acute or chronic pain. Unfortunately, its fast-acting properties that work well for providing effective pain relief, also make it highly pleasurable and addictive.
How a Person Becomes Addicted to Morphine
A person who becomes addicted to morphine is drawn to the sensation of reward that comes with each dose. This anticipation causes the addict to crave more morphine, and most addicts will focus their energy on how and when they can take the drug again. In addition to morphine's ability to chemically intensify the normal functioning of the brain's reward mechanisms, it diminishes a person's ability to think clearly or be fully aware of present surroundings.
Because the addiction to morphine has such strong physiological and psychological components, withdrawal from it can be excruciating, with many side effects. Withdrawal from morphine typically causes:
- sweating (lasting up to three days)
Complications of morphine withdrawal can include stroke, heart attack and, sometimes, death. Morphine can be particularly dangerous for pregnant women because it can affect the unborn fetus. Babies born to morphine-using mothers go through withdrawal after birth.
Morphine Detox: A Difficult Road
Methadone is often used in morphine detox to ease the pain caused by the addiction withdrawal. The unfortunate outcome from methadone treatment to facilitate morphine withdrawal is that it often ends with the individual acquiring an addiction to methadone. Another negative outcome for a person who has undergone morphine detoxification is the tendency to acquire an additional addiction to depressants. This is known as a "mixed addiction."
Successful Morphine Detox
It has been found the best way to get off, and stay off, morphine is to go cold-turkey at an inpatient drug rehabilitation center. These detox centers are typically structured with a lot of patient supervision, and help to keep the addict away from the normal stresses of living, as well as the routines and patterns of their morphine addiction.
The environment of recovery is crucial to successful morphine detox, since there are many obstacles and triggers that can potentially inhibit progress. A supportive environment, staffed by experienced health care providers who understand morphine addiction and all the associated withdrawal symptoms, can help an addict recover successfully.