Morphine Addiction and Treatment

Content Overview

What is Morphine Addiction Treatment?

Addiction to morphine can develop after just a few hits of the drug. Signs of dependence include tolerance to the drug’s impact and continued use of morphine, even when it causes severe life disruption. Replacement medications that mimic the action of morphine, in conjunction with in-depth therapy and coaching, can help individuals achieve long-term recovery.

Morphine is one of the first to be synthesized for medicinal use.

It came to be in 1803 and still reigns supreme today as the pain reliever of choice for moderate to severe pain ranging from post-surgical treatment to end-of-life care. Doctors wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain relievers in 2012, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some who abuse these drugs choose to snort the crushed tablets or even chew on the extended-release tablets, while others inject it. The injectable form of the drug is known to be three times as strong as oral forms, In the Know reports.

Dangers of Abuse

Young AlcoholicAbusing morphine is highly dangerous and comes at a severe cost for most people. Individuals who inject morphine are at an increased risk of contracting hepatitis. There is a 50-70 percent risk of contracting hepatitis B and a 50-80 percent risk of contracting hepatitis C within five years of the onset of injection drug use, the CDC reports. AVERT reports injection drug use was responsible for 8 percent of newly diagnosed cases of HIV in 2010.

Of course, some users never make it five years. Drug overdoses killed 43,982 people in 2013. Of these, 22,767 were due to prescription drugs and 16,235 of those were solely attributed to opioid pain relievers, per the CDC.

There is also a risk of developing mental health problems when abusing prescription narcotic painkillers.

Mercola reports a 25 percent increased chance of developing depression if you take these drugs for 3-6 months, and that risk increases to 53 percent if you use them longer than that.

Some have questioned whether society as a whole may be growing more tolerant of opioid painkillers and considering them safer and more acceptable forms of treatment than they really are. Not only is the rate of prescription increasing, so is the average amount of morphine that comes with each opioid painkiller prescription. MedPage Today reports the amount of oxycodone in one prescription bottle in 2000 was equivalent to 923 mg of morphine, and that amount has jumped to 1,566 mg as of 2010.

The rate of addiction also continues to mount with 1.4 million people having an opioid abuse or dependency problem in 2006, and 2.1 million fitting such criteria by 2012, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

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Signs of Addiction

Addiction to morphine can form within just a few uses of the drug. Signs of dependence include:

  • Tolerance has developed.
  • You use morphine to avoid going through withdrawal.
  • You have tried to quit and weren’t successful.
  • You no longer hang out with friends or attend family functions, because morphine abuse is your priority.
  • You know your substance abuse is ruining your life, but you can’t stop.
  • A lot of your time is spent preparing for or using morphine.

The Silver Lining

Group TherapyWithin 6-12 hours of your last dose, withdrawal will start to set in. You may start to feel depressed halfway through the first day, and muscle cramps may keep you up at night. By day two, diarrhea usually sets in for most opioid addicts, and many report feeling like it’s hard to catch their breath. You’ll likely start to feel sick before day three rolls around when symptoms will peak before they start to gradually wear off.

The most popular and effective choice of rehabilitating a dependency on morphine is through a medicated maintenance program. While detoxing is possible within the typical 7-10 days, staying clean is a far bigger hurdle for opioid addicts. On a given day in 2011, 299,430 people were enrolled in a medicated maintenance program for an opiate addiction, SAMHSA reports.

Methadone maintenance therapy consists of taking a controlled dose of the drug every day ” usually 5 or 10 mg doses to start. This drug is an opioid agonist that fills opioid receptors, essentially fooling them into feeling they’re still using morphine when they aren’t. The California Society of Addiction medicine stresses that long-term treatment boosts overall efficacy, noting methadone’s success rate lies somewhere between 60 and 90 percent, compared to just 5-10 percent for treatment without medications.

Suboxone and Subutex are similar to methadone. Generally, dosing is started low at around 8 mg and brought up to a maximum of 24 mg, depending on the severity of the individual’s drug abuse habits. Both brands contain buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist, and work in the same way. Suboxone contains another drug called naloxone that blocks any ability to get high from abusing either of the drugs. Success rates have been as high as 88 percent, reported by The Fix, and as low as 49 percent, per the National Institutes of Health. Both buprenorphine and methadone show the greatest efficacy while individuals are still in the maintenance programs.

Medication alone won’t be enough to turn one’s life around from addiction, though eliminating opioid cravings is highly beneficial to recovering persons. Most treatment programs incorporate support groups in their approach toward recovery. These groups are a great way to manage addiction during treatment and afterward. Individual and group therapy are also crucial to recovery.

This kind of collaborative treatment is mandatory when it comes to treating cases of comorbid disorders. Many substance abusers are suffering from mental illness. Around 20 percent of people with psychiatric disorders will also develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol, Everyday Health states.

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When you are planning a trip to rehab, make sure you consider how long you are going to stay in a treatment program.

Many individuals do themselves a great disservice by checking out of rehab too early, and they end up relapsing. Sufficient time in treatment is essential to sustained sobriety.


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