Morphine Addiction: Symptoms, Signs and Side Effects

Last Updated: September 22, 2023

Morphine is a potent opioid used in medical settings to relieve pain. For example, morphine might be used after medical procedures, or during labor and childbirth. Morphine is a narcotic and a controlled substance. Morphine can be given intravenously or orally. Since it’s a controlled substance, morphine is not supposed to be used in any way outside of how it’s medically prescribed. Diversion from medical use is possible with morphine and other opioid pain relievers.

Symptoms of Morphine Abuse

When someone takes or is administered morphine, that affects their central nervous system. Morphine slows the functions of the central nervous system. In doing so, morphine alters the pain signals sent to the brain. At the same time, as a CNS depressant, morphine can also slow a person’s breathing, heart rate, blood pressure and other essential functions.

Morphine can create feelings of euphoria and relaxation. These desirable effects can trigger a reward response in the person’s brain. That reward response may lead to morphine abuse or addiction.

With prescription drugs, it’s considered abuse whenever someone uses it outside of how it’s prescribed or intended. Morphine abuse symptoms include:

  • Taking higher doses of morphine than prescribed
  • Using morphine more often than instructed
  • Taking morphine only to achieve certain effects such as euphoria
  • Using morphine without a prescription
  • Creating symptoms to get morphine
  • Doctor shopping to get morphine or other prescription opioids

If someone shows signs of morphine abuse, they may not be addicted. Abuse often leads to addiction, though. Physical symptoms of morphine abuse include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Sedation
  • Hallucinations
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Slurred speech

Side Effects of Morphine

Whether or not someone takes morphine as prescribed, side effects are possible. Some of the side effects of morphine include:

  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Slow breathing
  • Memory problems
  • Chest pain
  • Weakness
  • Sexual problems
  • Tolerance
  • Addiction

Side Effects of Long-Term Morphine Abuse

Two of the possible long-term side effects of morphine abuse are addiction and dependence. The more someone’s brain is exposed to morphine or any opioid, the more likely addiction is to develop. Dependence can occur with or without addiction but often develops due to addiction. Some signs of morphine addiction include:

  • Using morphine even when there are negative consequences or side effects
  • Wanting to stop using morphine but being unable to
  • Morphine use becomes a top priority
  • Going to extreme lengths to obtain or use morphine
  • Having unsuccessful attempts to cut down on morphine or stop using it
  • Ignoring other responsibilities to use morphine

Other long-term side effects of morphine abuse include effects to nearly every part of the body. For example, opioids like morphine slow the gastrointestinal system. This can cause chronic constipation, which can damage the bowels. When someone uses morphine, it slows their breathing, which can damage the brain and increase the risk of death. Ongoing opioid use affects hormone levels, and it can decrease estrogen and testosterone. This can lead to infertility and sexual dysfunction.

People who use morphine for long periods may also experience a reduced pain threshold. They may experience more pain than they did before they started using morphine because the opioid receptors in the central nervous system are damaged from repeated morphine exposure. The use or morphine can change how neurotransmitters are released and function in the brain. Morphine can affect serotonin and dopamine. This can cause negative effects on emotional regulation, memory and learning, thinking and even the structure of the brain.

Signs of a Morphine Overdose

When someone takes too much of any opioid, including morphine, it can overwhelm their central nervous system. Their breathing can slow to a dangerous or deadly level. The signs of a morphine overdose include:

  • Slow, shallow or stopped breathing
  • Agitation, irritability or extreme changes in mood
  • Having a bluish or purplish tint to the skin
  • Confusion
  • Urine retention
  • Dry mouth
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Weakness
  • Fainting
  • Hallucinations
  • Extreme vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Small pupils
  • Limp muscles
  • Coma

If someone is believed to be abusing morphine, it’s extremely important to get them emergency medical help. An untreated morphine overdose can result in brain damage, coma or death.

If you or your loved one is struggling with morphine abuse or addiction, please contact Orlando Recovery Center. There are available treatment options, and representatives can help you find the right one for you or your loved one’s needs.

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