What Is Morphine?
A prescription narcotic, morphine is most commonly used to treat patients who have been seriously injured, undergone surgery, or experience other forms of severe, moderate, or chronic pain. It is an opiate that occurs naturally in the substance extracted from concentrated poppy straw or the opium poppy plant. Morphine is classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a Schedule II drug, meaning it has medically accepted uses but is considered highly addictive. When a physician prescribes morphine in small doses for a short-term period, it is safe to use. However, when the drug is abused or used in large amounts, psychological and physical addiction can quickly occur.
Brand Names & Common Street Names for Morphine
Morphine is sold under several generic and brand names, including Kadian, Roxanol, MS-Contin, MSIR, RMS, and Oramorph SR.
On the street, morphine is commonly referred to as Dreamer, Mister Blue, Hows, MS, Emsel, M, First Line, Roxanol, and Morf.
Additional slang names of the drug include:
- Miss Emma
- God’s Drug
- White stuff
How Does Morphine Work?
The way a person takes morphine affects how quickly they will feel its effects. Injecting, smoking, or snorting it gets the drug more rapidly into the bloodstream than swallowing a pill.
Morphine affects specific receptors in the user’s brain and central nervous system, triggering different responses in the body such as feelings of euphoria, the inability to feel pain, mild respiratory depression, mental cloudiness, drowsiness, hallucinations, and delusions. The drug stimulates the brain’s reward system and changes what makes the person feel happy.
Because of the euphoric high morphine produces, it is commonly used as a recreational drug. Since it is so highly addictive, anyone using it recreationally or by prescription for a long period of time will develop tolerance to the drug. Once tolerance develops, physical dependence quickly follows. When the person’s body is dependent on morphine being present, it is not able to function normally without the drug. Then, morphine addiction can quickly develop.
Constricted pupils, slurred speech, nodding off, shallow breathing, and the inability to pay attention are a few of the common short-term effects of morphine use and addiction. The person may also have itchy skin and nausea, be apathetic, and experience hallucinations.
Several common behavioral symptoms of morphine addiction include:
- Harming oneself or faking injuries to get a prescription
- Asking for money or stealing
- Poor hygiene
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Needle marks from injecting drugs
According to WebMD, when a person stops using morphine, their body has a reaction, and withdrawal begins. Morphine is a powerful opioid, like some prescription drugs and heroin. When it is stopped, the brain’s opioid receptors no longer have access to it, triggering withdrawal symptoms that typically last for several days. However, in some cases, withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening.
Morphine withdrawal symptoms vary from one person to another. The intensity of the symptoms, how long they will last, and which symptoms will occur are different for each person. Generally, morphine withdrawal begins within six to fourteen hours from taking the last dose of the drug. Symptoms usually peak between 24 hours to five days after the last use of the drug. Symptoms can last for as long as ten days.
According to the article, flu-like symptoms, such as chills, body aches and pains, sweating, and fever are common. The person may have a headache, runny nose, and watery eyes. They may feel depressed, anxious, agitated, and irritable. Their pupils may be dilated, and nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may occur.
Other common morphine withdrawal symptoms include:
- Increased blood pressure
- Rapid heartbeat
- A strong desire to use morphine
Symptoms of morphine withdrawal are typically painful and intense. For individuals who inject the drug intravenously, the intensity and severity of withdrawal symptoms are increased because they are more vulnerable to HIV, hepatitis, and life-threatening infections.
Morphine Withdrawal Timeline
- During the first six to fourteen hours after stopping the drug, mood swings, anxiety, and drug cravings occur.
- During the following 15 to 48 hours, flu-like symptoms begin. The person may have difficulty getting to sleep, feel irritable, and have a rapid heartbeat. Towards the end of this time period, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may begin, and the other physical symptoms reach their peak.
- By the fifth day, almost all of the physical symptoms begin to disappear. However, the psychological symptoms typically continue.
- From the tenth day forward, most physical withdrawal symptoms have faded away. Still lingering are Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) symptoms such as depression, irritability, anxiety, and drug cravings which may continue for weeks, months, or years.
Do You Need Help?
If you or a loved one struggles with a drug or alcohol addiction, you are not alone. Call and speak with a professional at English Mountain Recovery located in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. We will answer your questions and help you begin your journey to a sober life.
About the Author:
Terry Hurley is a retired educational professional and freelance writer with more than fifty years of experience. A former reading specialist and learning center director, Terry loved her years working with children in the educational field. She has written extensively for print and online publications specializing in education and health issues. For the last six years, her writing focus has been on addiction and mental health issues.