Morphine Addiction, Statistics, Abuse, Symptoms & Side Effects

What is Morphine?

Morphine is classified as an opiate drug and is primarily used for short and long-term pain relief. Like other opiate drugs, it is derived from the poppy plant and can also be categorized as a narcotic. Morphine is available in several forms, such as in a syrup, injection, tablet or suppository. Morphine can be swallowed, inoculated, or even smoked depending on what form it is in. Slang or street terms that refer to Morphine include ‘Miss Emma’, ‘White Stuff’, ‘Monkey’, ‘Roxanol’, ‘Duramorph’, or ‘M’. Since Morphine is in the drug family of opiates and because of its high potency, it is commonly abused by Heroin addicts who are unable to obtain heroin. Initially used for medicinal purposes, morphine is a potentially addictive substance that when abused, can result in a serious narcotic habit in a short time period. Because of the dangers that can result from morphine abuse, it is crucial that professional treatment be sought to promote recovery from this deadly addiction.

Morphine Addiction Statistics

According to the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, it was found that almost 12 million Americans aged 12 or older have abused prescription pain relievers, including morphine, representing an estimated 5% of the whole United States population [1]. The Drug Abuse Warning Network recorded an estimated 324,000 emergency room visits where prescription painkillers, including morphine, were responsible [2].

Other important statistics on Morphine addiction include the following:

  • Over half of accidental drug deaths in the United States are caused by Heroin and Morphine.
  • Approximately 2.5 million Americans have abused prescription pain killers to “get high”.
  • The average age of an abuser is 21 years old. [3]

Causes of Morphine Addiction

In itself, Morphine is a highly addictive drug if abused, but there are many other factors that contribute to a Morphine addiction. These factors can play a role in the development of an addiction and can vary from emotional to psychological.

Major underlying causes of morphine abuse are related to biological, psychological, and social/environmental factors. Biological factors that can be attributed to morphine addiction include genetic influences as well as variances in brain mechanisms and body chemistry linked to drug abuse. Psychological factors connected with morphine addiction are underlying traumas, cases of abuse, feelings of depression, anxiety, etc. Morphine may be used in an attempt to escape from uncomfortable feelings, pain, or realities of living. Social / environmental factors that can contribute to drug addictions include family substance use, availability and acceptability of drugs within the community, and pressure from peer groups. Circumstances such as poverty, poor housing, and homelessness are other examples of social / environmental factors that can be linked to a morphine addiction. Morphine addiction can also be co-occurring with abuse of other substances, alcohol, and even eating disorders; it is also likely that men and women who abuse morphine may struggle with another form of addiction.

Signs and Symptoms of Morphine Addiction

Individuals who are struggling with an addiction to morphine will display particular signs and symptoms, resulting from this drug abuse. If you are dealing with a morphine addiction, or if you are concerned that a loved one is abusing morphine, it is important to be aware of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Unusual rashes over body
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Compromised or labored breathing
  • Fainting spells
  • Seizures
  • Skin that is appears to have a bluish tint
  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Uncontrollable muscle twitching
  • Kidney failure

Morphine Effects

Addiction to morphine can compromise a man or woman in several ways, including physically, emotionally, psychologically, and socially. The short-term effects of morphine abuse are the result of the body becoming intoxicated with the drug and manifest through physical disturbances. The following are ways in which an individual might be physically affected by the use of morphine:

  • Blurred Vision
  • Itching
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Irregular Heartbeat
  • Dry-mouth
  • Decreased Appetite
  • Respiratory Distress

With prolonged use of Morphine, physical conditions can rapidly deteriorate as further complications, such as bone, blood, and brain damage, can arise.

The effects of Morphine do not stop at physical consequences. Being addicted to Morphine can damage your emotional / psychological well-being in the following ways:

  • Increased depression
  • Increased anxiety and restlessness
  • Mood swings
  • Emotional instability

An addiction to Morphine can be detrimental to relationships and social functions, causing dysfunctions in the following ways:

  • Isolation and withdrawal from family and friends
  • Avoidance of social gatherings
  • Decreased involvement in activities once enjoyed
  • Disturbances in family units or relationships because of addiction

Morphine Withdrawal

Addiction to morphine will cause the body to become dependent on the drug for normal functions. In a withdrawal state from morphine, it is likely that the abuser will experience detoxifying symptoms as the body attempts to readjust to a normal state without the drug. The withdrawal stage can vary in time, depending on the condition of the addict and how long morphine was abused. Withdrawals are best managed by a treatment center and health care professionals to avoid further complications.

Withdrawal symptoms from Morphine include the following:

  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Excessive sweating, chills
  • Feverish
  • Nausea, Vomiting
  • Headaches, disorientation

Morphine Versus Methadone

Both Morphine and Methadone are used for pain relief and are within the class of opiate drugs. Methadone is typically more effective for pain relief than morphine and more cost-effective as a treatment. However, methadone can become toxic in the human body much more rapidly than morphine, and use of these drugs should be supervised closely. Though these drugs may differ in route of pain relief, they can both be potentially abused and should only be taken as prescribed by a health professional.

Morphine Treatment and Help

Addiction to morphine can reap devastating consequences in your life, or the life of your loved one. If you or someone you care for is struggling with a morphine addiction, it is helpful to identify this problem. Awareness of this struggle is the first step towards getting the assistance you need towards a journey in recovery. Seeking out a professional morphine rehab center and professional help is necessary to deal with the complications that may have resulted from morphine abuse. Though suffering through this addiction can cause you to feel overwhelmed and helpless, you do not have to be alone. Having the support of a professional team and treatment center will allow for the best care and ultimately give you the tools you need to overcome a morphine addiction.

Articles on Morphine

A long-acting pain medicine is given at regular times to provide continuous pain relief for chronic pain, and a quick, short-acting medicine is given when pain “breaks through” the longer-acting medicine. The fast-acting drug is sometimes called a “rescue” medicine. Morphine is an opioid pain reliever. It binds to opioid receptors in the brain and central nervous system (CNS), reducing the perception of pain as well as the emotional response to pain.





Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on April 15th, 2013
Published on, Addiction Resources