Morphine Addiction: Definition, Common Signs & Options For Help


Morphine is a non-synthetic narcotic derived from opium and can be highly addictive. Despite its addictive qualities, its often prescribed by doctors for pain treatment. It’s not uncommon for those prescribed morphine to develop an addiction.

Are you struggling to break your addiction to morphine, or do you have a loved one who’s an addict?

You’re not alone; many struggle with a morphine addiction. Luckily, treatment options are available to help you overcome your and get your life back.

What Is a Morphine Addiction?

Morphine is an opiate that doctors often prescribe to relieve pain. However, it’s a highly addictive and a common type of addiction because our bodies rapidly develop a tolerance to it. When someone abuses morphine, they often describe it as a euphoric, dream-like state.

Unfortunately, morphine has a high potential for abuse due to its relatively easy access and pleasurable effects. Morphine pills have an abuse deterrent to prevent people from crushing, snorting, or injecting them. Although this minimizes the addictive potential, it hasn’t eliminated the risk nor eliminated those from obtaining morphine illegally.

Do Morphine Addiction Urges Go Away?

Once someone develops a dependence on morphine, they’ll need to continue taking more and more to feel normal. If they suddenly stop, they’ll start to have withdrawal symptoms as their brains adapt to functioning without morphine again.

Morphine withdrawal symptoms feel flu-like and may cause the user psychological and physical distress. The duration of the symptoms varies from person to person.

Forms of Morphine Addiction

  • Functioning addict: Functioning addicts struggle with morphine addiction but seem to continue their lives as usual. They’re cautious about hiding their drug abuse from others and don’t want to come off like they’ve lost control of their lives. Functioning addicts worry that their social life and career could suffer if anyone finds out. Additionally, functioning addicts do an excellent job of hiding their addiction from those closest to them.
  • Closet addict: A closet addict is similar to a functioning addict as they do what they can to hide their addiction from those around them. Closet addicts may struggle to keep close relationships and disappear for long periods.
  • An addict that’s unaware they have an issue: While most addicts don’t confront their addiction, some believe that since it’s a doctor-prescribed medication, it’s fine to take, even if they’re abusing it. It’s challenging for loved ones to help if the user doesn’t want to help themselves.
  • Addict relapse: Sometimes, morphine addicts stay clean for a few months or even years, and something triggers them to start using again. Relapse is often a part of the recovery process, and even if someone relapses, they can get back on track and stay clean. However, it can be hazardous for users to relapse, as they may overestimate their tolerance and take enough to overdose.

Morphine Addiction Statistics

What Are the Signs of a Morphine Addiction?

Here are the most common signs and symptoms of morphine addiction.

Mood and Psychological Signs and Symptoms:

  • Euphoria: Euphoria is an immense but unrealistic feeling of happiness. While standard and healthy life events can make one feel euphoric, it’s unusual when a person appears to be in that state no matter what happens around them. This can be dangerous because it gives the user a false sense of well-being.Poor judgment: Abusing morphine impacts the part of the brain that stimulates good judgment, critical thinking, and decision-making. Thus, someone using morphine may make poor judgment calls and cannot think critically, leaving them vulnerable to impulsive and dangerous decisions.Inability to pay attention to surroundings: Someone who’s taking morphine will seem “out-of-it” a lot of the time. They’re in their own world, making them unable to pay attention to their surroundings. Additionally, morphine can cause double vision, blurry vision, or involuntary eyeball movement.Impaired mental performance: Long-term morphine use can lead to cognitive impairment and negatively affect memory. Morphine users may seem confused much of the time, straining work and relationships. Someone using this drug may take longer than usual to respond or forget things easily.Planning life around morphine: Morphine addicts may get to a point where the drug controls their lives, primarily if they’re functioning addicts. They’ll plan their lives around their use and will likely spend more time alone where they can use without the risk of getting caught.

Physical Signs and Symptoms:

  • Built up a tolerance to morphine: With opioids like morphine, it may only take a few days to build up a tolerance. This happens at the cellular level and results from the brain attempting to restore balance once it’s been repeatedly stimulated by the drug. As balance restores, your brain begins working differently.Withdrawal symptoms when not using: Withdrawal symptoms can be brutal, causing the user to take more morphine to avoid having them. Some morphine withdrawal symptoms include runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, hot and cold flashes, sweating, and difficulty sleeping.Dilated pupils: Like other drugs, including fentanyl, hydrocodone, or even heroin, constrict the user’s pupils. When taking a high dose, the pupils don’t respond to changes in light and result in “pinpoint” pupils. This is a tell-tale sign someone is using some drug, whether prescribed or illicit.Impaired physical performance: At first, morphine users may experience cramps, dry mouth, headaches, drowsiness, warm-flushing skin, difficulty breathing, and nausea. With more use, addicts may have irregular periods, seizures, sexual dysfunction, changes in heartbeat, loss in coordination, and twitching.Weight loss: The drug’s strength affects the body and causes digestive issues, which can affect the appetite. Unless these effects are treated, they may cause extreme weight loss. Some morphine users also become dehydrated and can become very ill if they ignore these problematic symptoms.Shallow breathing: A morphine user may struggle to breathe due to the opioid affecting certain receptors in the brain that affect breathing. If someone isn’t getting enough oxygen, this can lead to unconsciousness, a coma, or even death.

Types of Unhealthy Morphine Behavior

As the addiction continues, addicts will often do whatever it takes to continue using the morphine without getting caught or stopped.

  • Acting more anxious or nervous than usual
  • Withdrawing from everyday activities
  • Having a false sense of well-being
  • Negating their responsibilities
  • Hiding morphine in various places out of fear of someone discovering and confiscating them
  • Lying or stealing to obtain more morphine
  • Continued use despite worsening symptoms
  • Spending more time with other morphine addicts or alone
  • Doctor shopping to get more than one prescription

What Is the Main Cause of Morphine Addiction?

Morphine is highly addictive because of its effect on the brain and the symptoms when someone tries to stop taking it. Morphine binds to opiate receptors in the brain, causing certain chemicals like dopamine to release, which triggers the “reward pathway” in the brain.

Users feel a sense of euphoria and relaxation, which can be addicting in itself. When compared to similar drugs like hydromorphone, oxycodone, and fentanyl, morphine, and heroin tend to produce a greater sense of euphoria.

Additionally, users quickly build up a tolerance to the drug and take more and more to reduce pain or have feel-good feelings. As the addiction progresses, the flu-like withdrawal symptoms make stopping it challenging.

Factors known to show an increased risk of a morphine addiction include psychiatric disorders like depression, a history of substance abuse, trauma, and certain personality traits like sensation-seeking or impulsivity.

How Morphine Addiction Affects the Brain

When an addict repeatedly uses morphine, the repeated exposure alters the brain, causing it to function more normally when the drug is present and abnormally when it’s not.

As a result, it’s easy to build up a tolerance to morphine and increase the need to take more to get the desired effect.

As time goes on, users develop a drug dependence to feel normal. When taking morphine responsibly, quitting typically doesn’t result in withdrawal symptoms; withdrawal symptoms only occur for those with morphine tolerance.

Morphine tolerance occurs because the opioid receptors become gradually less responsive to stimulation. So, more morphine is required to stimulate the VTA brain cells to trigger the reward system and release the same amount of dopamine in the NAc.

Simply put, more morphine is needed to produce a pleasurable effect than before.

What Is the Personality of a Morphine Addict?

There isn’t a single personality type that a morphine addict possesses. However, those who struggle to manage stress, act impulsively, don’t take accountability, and lack empathy are more associated with morphine addicts.

Typically, these people are passive, pessimistic, anxious, or hopeless. Thus, the dopamine morphine causes may feel like an escape for those with mental health issues or a negative outlook.

Is Morphine Addiction a Mental Health Issue?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, drug addiction is considered a mental illness due to how the brain fundamentally changes.

Compulsive behaviors override one’s ability to control their impulses despite consequences, similar to the hallmarks of other mental health issues.

What Mental Illnesses Go Hand in Hand With Morphine Addiction?

Drug use disorders typically co-occur with mental health issues, like depression, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

However, someone with no mental illness can become addicted to an opioid.

How Do I Stop My Morphine Addiction?

Addiction isn’t a character flaw; it’s a disease. People who struggle with morphine or other drug addictions have difficulty controlling their drug use, even knowing its harmful effects. Overcoming a morphine addiction isn’t as simple as resisting the temptation to take it.

Several forms of recovery make stopping a morphine addiction more manageable. Recovery may involve medications to aid in withdrawal symptoms and cravings. There are also various forms of addiction support groups, including admitting yourself into a rehabilitation facility.

Twelve-step therapy is a common addiction therapy designed to encourage people to reach acceptance to overcome their addiction. Not only is it helpful to be around others going through similar struggles with you, but having support throughout your journey can make an immense impact.’

However, outpatient counseling can help users understand their triggers and reasons for drug use. This form of treatment is available at doctor’s offices or via telehealth appointments.

You may also look into family support groups, which help struggling families who want to be supportive of their loved ones. Learning how to help someone with an addiction isn’t easy, but an addict’s loved ones may be more supportive than they think.

Can Morphine Addiction Ever Be Cured?

Although morphine addiction is considered a chronic, long-term disease, managing and breaking your habit is possible. Combining medications and behavioral therapies can help people stop taking morphine and get support throughout their recovery.

What Is the Most Common Treatment for Morphine Addiction?

Overcoming an addiction can be stressful alone, and many have difficulty getting sober without support. Treatment at an inpatient facility is the most common treatment that helps increase the user’s chance of achieving sobriety.

What Can I Replace Morphine With?

If you have chronic pain and were prescribed morphine, there are other options to manage it. Acetaminophen, commonly known as Tylenol, works well for moderate pain.

However, you can take Tylanol with anti-inflammatory medication like Motrin without side effects.

One study states that opioids were no more effective at reducing pain than combining non-opioids like Ibuprofen and Tylenol.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the most frequently asked questions regarding morphine addiction.

How long does morphine last?

Morphine typically works between 30-60 minutes and wears off after 4-6 hours. Slow-release medication may take a day or two to work, but the pain relief lasts longer.

What drugs are used in morphine dependence?

Methadone, Naltrexone, and buprenorphine are commonly used to treat opioid use disorder to drugs like morphine, heroin, and codeine. These medications are safe for long-term use.

Additional Addictions To Be Aware Of

Here are a few addictions to be aware of if you believe your loved one may be struggling with an addiction.

  • Hydrocodone Addiction: Unlike natural opiates like morphine, hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic painkiller. This drug has an addictive nature, and once the body becomes dependent, users will experience withdrawal symptoms.
  • Fentanyl Addiction: Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid for pain relief and as an anesthetic. It is approximately 100x more potent than morphine and 50x more potent than heroin as an analgesic. Like morphine, fentanyl produces effects like relaxation, euphoria, drowsiness, confusion, depression, and nausea.
  • Gabapentin Addiction: Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant for epileptic seizures, restless legs syndrome, and other similar disorders. It contains a similar structure to GABA, a brain chemical that affects the nervous system. It’s considered unlikely to be addictive, though it does produce withdrawal symptoms.

Wrapping Up

Morphine is a non-synthetic opioid used to treat moderate to severe pain. It has a highly addictive nature, causing users to feel relaxed and euphoric.

However, the flu-like withdrawal symptoms are challenging to manage, causing users to take morphine to feel “normal.”

If you’re struggling with a morphine addiction, you’re not alone. Several treatment options can help you achieve sobriety.


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