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Morphine Addiction and Treatment

morphine addiction

Morphine is a powerful drug that is used by individuals who suffer from long-term moderate to severe pain, or those who have a condition that is expected to last longer than a few days, according to the experts at Medline Plus, an information network of the National Institutes of Health. The drug is derived from opium, which is created from the poppy plant, and works directly on the central nervous system to alleviate feelings of physical pain. The poppy and opium have been used for thousands of years, according to some experts, for the relief of pain while morphine itself has been around since the 1800s.

History of Morphine and Morphine Addiction in the United States

Did you know that there was a time in the United States when an individual could drop by the local pharmacy or corner drug store and purchase a pre-loaded vile of heroin or morphine? According to an article published by the support group Narconon, drug companies advertised the healing powers of these drugs as a cure or treatment for conditions as mundane as the common cold to the effects of aging. They even bragged that morphine was a reasonable means through which to cure alcohol withdrawals. Because both alcohol and morphine are central nervous system depressants, these ill-informed advertising campaigns weren’t completely off the mark. By providing the body with a CNS depressant, the severe withdrawal symptoms may very well have been reduced or eliminated, but at the risk of trading one addiction for another.By the 1920s, the United States government had passed the Dangerous Drug Act that removed these drugs from the marketplace, at least without a prescription, but the damage had already been done. Hundreds of thousands of individuals across the nation were already suffering from morphine addiction and addiction to other substances, which had also been readily available. Today, morphine is only available with a prescription, but that does not lessen the addictive powers of the drug. To understand how an individual might become addicted to morphine, it is important to understand how opioid drugs work on the brain.

Opioid and Morphine Addiction and the Human Brain

The human brain is responsible for every aspect and function of the human body. Without the brain, we can’t breathe, our hearts won’t beat, and our muscles can’t move. More than simply an automated control panel, our brains are also at our command, as we think and move deliberately through our lives. The brain is made up of cells, called neurons, that communicate with each other through the use of chemicals. These neurotransmitters pass from one cell to another through microscopic spaces, or synapses. Each chemical that the brain releases has a distinct purpose. Some are specifically designed to make us feel good, for instance. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is released into the synapse to help us learn that things that make us feel good are generally good things. It sounds rather simplistic, but when you consider that we learned rather early in life that food is necessary in order for us to survive, it isn’t surprising that the presence of food when we’re hungry makes us feel good. It makes us happy. Our favorite foods make us even happier, as more dopamine is released. Each neuron in the brain contains receptors for specific brain chemicals. Each cell may also contain a transporter. The receptors are designed to receive and interpret the message that the neurotransmitter is trying to send. The transporter is designed to absorb back into itself any excess chemical messenger. Using dopamine as an example, if neuron A releases too much of the chemical and neuron B has received the intended message, neuron A will take back the extra chemical. This helps the body maintain the right amount of chemicals and helps us feel and behave appropriately in various situations.

When it comes to pain, from illness or injury, the body communicates in much the same way. When we are hurt, the pain causes the release of a neurotransmitter called endorphins. These chemicals bind to the opioid receptors to block the pain messages. Opioid drugs, such as morphine, have a chemical composition that is very similar to the neurotransmitters that exist naturally in our body, so they trick the cells into feeling relief. A secondary effect of drugs like morphine is the way in which the drugs enhance pleasure. The relief of the pain in our bodies prompts the release of dopamine. Another chemical, called GABA, is an inhibitor that prevents too much dopamine from being released at any given time. Morphine blocks the action of GABA as well, so the brain is flooded with the “feel good” neurotransmitter and causes euphoria. As the body and the brain become tolerant to drugs like morphine, the euphoria will decrease. The individual taking the drugs will need to consume higher doses in order to feel the same “high.” If this need increases to the point that an individual is placing the abuse of drugs in a more important position than other aspects of his or her life, addiction may have developed, as well.

For instance, addiction may have taken hold if:

  • An individual abuses drugs rather than going to work or school, or instead of participating in other important events and areas of his or her life
  • An individual is unable to adequately care for himself, his family or his responsibilities
  • An individual spends the great majority of her time seeking drugs, abusing them, and recovering from the use of the drugs
  • An individual is unable to stop abusing a drug even if he or she would like to
  • An individual is unable to control how much morphine or other drugs he or she consumes, even when the intent is to only use “a little”
  • An individual suffers from withdrawal symptoms (known as dope-sickness) when he or she is unable to obtain and abuse morphine

Treatment for Morphine Addiction Works

Because addiction is a chronic disease that affects how people think and feel about themselves, as well as their ability to make informed, rational decisions, treatment is often necessary in order to stop abusing drugs. There are several types of treatment available for morphine addiction.

Treatment options can be broken down in two main categories: inpatient and outpatient services.

Outpatient services include visiting with a private therapist or counselor or treatment in an intensive outpatient program for drug or alcohol addiction. According to the experts, however, participation in outpatient programs accounted for the least number of individuals who successfully completed a treatment program. On the other hand, participation in residential treatment programs of various types accounted for the top three highest completion rates. Individuals who take part in residential programs finish treatment more often, plain and simple.

Residential treatment programs for morphine addiction provide several distinct benefits, including:

  • The ability to concentrate 100 percent of one’s time, energy and attention on healing
  • Fewer distractions that may lead to relapse, including the availability of dangerous drugs
  • A relaxing and pleasant environment that can reduce the stress associated with recovery
  • Medical supervision and treatment when necessary for withdrawal symptom management
  • Dedicated, highly trained and experienced staff members with the compassion to help
  • Access to complementary and alternative treatments that can assist throughout the recovery process and into one’s new, sober lifestyle

Finding the right treatment center that can provide the specialized and personalized services that you need to overcome morphine addiction, or to help a family member recover their health and peace of mind, is an important factor in getting the treatment needed. To find out more about how Futures of Palm Beach can help you and your family through this challenging time, please call today.