What Is Morphine?
Morphine belongs to a group of drugs known as opiates. It is derived from raw opium from the poppy plant. Morphine is a painkilling drug and is one of the most effective drugs known for pain relief so it is mostly used to treat moderate to severe pain and severe coughs.
Morphine was first isolated in 1804 by the German pharmacist Friedrich Wilhelm Adam Sertürner, who named it “morphium” after Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams. But it was not until the development of the hypodermic needle (1853) that its use spread.
Morphine, a narcotic, directly affects the central nervous system. Morphine’s euphoric effects can be highly addictive. Tolerance (the need for higher and higher doses to maintain the same effect) and physical and psychological dependence develop quickly. Morphine effects include but are not limited to:
- Relief of pain
- Impairment of mental and physical performance
- Relief of fear and anxiety
- Decreases in hunger
- Inhibits the cough reflex
- Reduces sex drive
- Interferes in the menstrual cycle
Morphine was first used medicinally as a painkiller and, erroneously, as a cure for opium addiction. Morphine quickly replaced opium as a cure-all recommended by doctors. It became a recreational drug and was readily available from drugstores or through the mail. Morphine was used during the American Civil War as a surgical anesthetic and was sent home with many wounded soldiers for relief of pain. At the end of the war, over 400,000 people had the “army disease”, Morphine addiction. The Franco-Prussian War in Europe had a similar effect.
Withdrawal from Morphine causes the following:
- difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep
- drug craving
- feelings of being generally unwell (malaise)
- panic attacks
- suicidal thoughts
- abdominal cramps
- dilated pupils
- flu like symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, weakness, body ache and chills
- goose bumps
- heightened sensitivity to pain
- increased blood pressure
- increased heart rate
- muscle cramps
- nausea and/or vomiting
- restless legs syndrome
Morphine crosses the placental barrier, and babies born to Morphine-using mothers go through Morphine withdrawal.
- Constricted, pinpoint, or small pupils (black part of the eye)
- decreased awareness or responsiveness
- extreme drowsiness
- increased blood pressure
- increased thirst
- lower back or side pain
- muscle cramps or spasms
- muscle pain or stiffness
- no muscle tone or movement
- severe sleepiness
- swelling of the face, fingers, or lower legs
- weight gain
If any of these symptoms of overdose occur while taking morphine, get emergency help immediately.
Self-detoxification from Morphine can be extremely dangerous. Morphine addiction withdrawal can cause physical and emotional trauma including stroke, heart attack, and even death. Methadone is often used to ease the pain from Morphine addiction withdrawal. The outcome from methadone treatment typically ends with the individual acquiring an addiction to methadone, and continued Morphine use without detoxification from either substance.
Home or out-patient Morphine detox rarely succeeds in breaking the cycle of Morphine addiction. The addict can expect a long list of Morphine addiction withdrawal symptoms to occur as they attempt their Morphine detox. The worst-case scenario for Morphine detoxification is an additional addiction to depressants; this is known as a “mixed addiction”. It has been found the best way to get off and stay off, Morphine is to go cold-turkey (ending use abruptly without the aid of other drugs or medications) at an in-patient drug rehabilitation center. Inpatient drug rehab centers help to keep the addict away from the normal stresses of living as well as the routines of their Morphine addiction. The environment of recovery is crucial since there are many factors that greatly inhibit the addicts’; the ability for a successful recovery.
Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse
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