Morphine is the purified active ingredient in opium. It is very potent with a very high risk for abuse and addiction. Using morphine, even under a doctor’s care can cause life-threatening breathing problems when first used severe enough to cause death. This risk is especially dangerous for the elderly, people with lung or heart problems, taking other medications such as benzodiazepines, muscle relaxers, sleeping pills or tranquilizers. Morphine effectively relieves severe, constant pain when other pain medications do not work. It is only legal when prescribed by a doctor.
When prescribed by a doctor, morphine comes in a liquid injectable form, an extended release pill, and an immediate release pill. Dosages depend on a patient’s medical history and experience with opioid medications, but the average dose of an immediate release tablet can be 60-120mg per day for someone who has not taken opioids for pain before.
The most common method of administration is injection which produces a rush of pleasure before the sedation. Morphine also comes in liquid and pill form. Ingesting it slows the onset because it must go through the digestive system first, but the potency of the drug means it works fast.
Physical Signs of Using Morphine
Morphine sedates the body’s systems very quickly and does not last long, sometimes only 2 hours. A person intoxicated by morphine will experience
- Extreme sedation, unresponsive
- Mental confusion
- Slow breathing
- Slow movements
- Slow speech
- Skin itching like an allergic reaction 1
- Pinpoint pupils
- Cold, clammy skin
Because morphine is so potent and fast-acting, withdrawal symptoms can set in very soon after someone starts using it. You will notice someone complaining of feeling sick every few days. Visible symptoms will include sweating, runny nose, watery eyes, shivering, verbal worrying, restlessness, increased anxiety and sensitive to pain.
If someone is injecting morphine, signs of needle punctures or track marks may be noticeable.
Morphine Use Signs and Symptoms – Behavior Changes
Once someone starts using morphine, the body begins to develop a tolerance to it very quickly. Addiction also sets in. As the person becomes preoccupied with getting and taking morphine, they will neglect other areas of life. Morphine suppresses the immune system so they may get sick more often take more sick days than usual.
They will need more to get the same effect. Also, the withdrawal symptoms mentioned above start to set in if they don’t get it. These signs, as well as the long-term effects, are noticeable. Someone may nod off, appear confused, and forget things even when not using the drug.
A person’s lifestyle may change including social connections, getting fired from a job, neglecting others or activities they used to enjoy. They may show signs of increased anxiety, paranoia, poor physical health, and malnutrition.
People who inject morphine need needles and tourniquets. They may also leave empty vials laying around. If someone is using pills, the prescription bottles may be laying around as well.
What You Can Do
The best method of preventing morphine use and abuse is not to use it without physician supervision. Never take more than your prescription states and never share your medication with others. If you begin feeling the side effects mentioned above, tell your doctor immediately.
If you suspect someone you know is using morphine, act quickly. Morphine addiction is treatable, but because of the intense pleasure felt during use, there is an elevated risk of relapse. Addiction treatment should be comprehensive and may include medications to prevent overdose, prevent getting high, and relieve unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Prompt treatment is the key to full recovery from morphine addiction.