Morphine Addiction & Abuse

When one thinks about pain relief, a drug that commonly comes to mind is morphine. Due to its ever-increasing prevalence in popular media, coupled with its frequent real-world medical prescription, morphine is practically synonymous with medicinal pain relief. While the drug is immensely successful in fulfilling this primary function, many neglect to recognize the profoundly detrimental effects of prolonged use.

As a drug, morphine is both widely abused and powerfully addictive. The quick-acting and short-lasting nature of its effects make morphine a substance highly conducive for addiction. It is of paramount importance that you understand the characteristics of morphine, as well as the consequences prolonged use, so you can begin to combat the addiction that you or a loved one may be enduring.

Basic Characteristics and Applications

Just as the vast majority of opiates originate, morphine derives from the latex present in the opium poppy plant. Like its contemporaries, its most common use is as a medically-prescribed means of relieving pain.

Once the drug enters your anatomy, it hurtles its way towards your central nervous system. From this position, it spreads throughout your body to provide quick-acting, but short-lived pain relief.

Due to the rapid impact of the substance, Morphine is used to treat pain ranging from acutely temporary to severely chronic. However, unlike other opiate pain relievers, its effects are short-lasting. This brief nature proves valuable in instances of transient pain. However, in chronic situations, the need for repeated dosage may cause the user to become more prone to addiction.

Medical professionals also prescribe morphine as a method of combating shortness of breath. This practical application proves valuable to those who have respiratory cancer or moderate to severe asthma.

Both in the scientific community and on the streets, morphine has numerous alternative names. Scientifically and medically, morphine is often referred to by the name of the brand that sells the drug, which differs on a country-to-country basis. On the streets, the substance is colloquially called dope, god’s drug, and morf, among other terms.

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Methods of Consumption

Contrary to popular belief, the administering of morphine is not exclusively conducted through injection. There are multiple unique means of introducing the drug into your body chemistry. Despite this variety, none of these methods will keep you safe from the potential development of addiction.

The most common way to send morphine to the central nervous system is through injection. Unlike many other opiates, morphine does not require direct injection into an arm vein to succeed in its pain-relieving mission. The needle can be placed anywhere under the skin. This convenience has led to the drug’s widespread use in emergency environments, such as war battlefields and hospital ERs. One can directly insert the needle into a particular muscle for concentrated relief. Intravenous is also a standard method for injection-based morphine administration.

Morphine can be administered orally for a muffled effect. If ingested through the mouth, only about half of the dose will successfully arrive at the central nervous system to begin its pain-relieving mission.

The ratio of effect-length to potency is important to take into account when determining which administration method to use. While oral consumption only transports roughly 50% of the dosage, its effects last up to an hour. When injected, the vast majority of the dosage reaches the central nervous system. However, the effects of injected morphine wear off after about 20 minutes. Choice of administration method is often made based on the nature of the pain the individual is experiencing.


Primitive forms of morphine have been medically administered and consumed since the time of the Byzantine Empire. However, the contemporary morphine that we have grown accustomed in the United States originated in the early 18th century. In 1817, German scientist Friedrich Sertürner became the first individual to experiment with the drug on humans. He administered morphine not only to himself, but to three children. The four were brought to the verge of death by the substance, but managed to survive.

Regardless of this high-risk level, Sertürner marketed the drug to the public later that same year. Its first major application, and the subsequent discovery of its devastatingly addictive properties, was during the grotesquely violent battles of the American Civil War (1861-1865). Nearly 400,000 soldiers that were given morphine during the war developed an addiction to the substance. The discovery of its deeply-addictive attributes, coupled with the understanding of its practical medical benefits, led the substance to receive a controlled status under the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914. This ruling still stands over 100 years later.

Side Effects

Morphine has gained prominence in the medical field for its pain relieving qualities. This positive perception, however, is accompanied by a potent infamy. Morphine consumption has a library of adverse effects on the human body that only amplify with repeated use.

Like other members of the opiate family, morphine causes constipation. The drug decreases gut mobility throughout the intestinal tract, leaving the intestines in an unnaturally slow and weakened state. This decline makes it increasingly difficult for morphine users to pass bowel movements. Frequent use and abuse of the drug only amplifies this challenge.

There exists a proven correlation between prolonged morphine use and hormonal imbalance (regardless of gender). This irregularity is devastating for menstruation health, bone strength, and overall personality. These effects only grow with the development of addiction.

Addiction, Withdrawal and Overdose

The valuable medical effects of morphine should not lead you to overshadow its detrimentally addictive properties. Morphine is one of the most highly addictive and widely abused opiates. Once your body develops a dependence on morphine, it can’t function properly without it.

Physical reliance on the drug causes devastating withdrawal symptoms to emerge during abuse session gaps. Unlike other addictive drugs, morphine has a six-step withdrawal process, the entirety of which lasts over 72 hours. With each step comes not only the emergence of new symptoms, but the harshening of pre-existing ones. Typical signifiers of morphine withdrawal include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, profuse sweating, severe anxiety, and even crippling depression.

Just as in any addiction, morphine dependence will have calamitous social consequences. You will alienate, or outright harm your friends and family in your desperation for your next dosage. Your relationships will shatter as your life becomes centered around combating your withdrawal. Your behavior will alienate you from your loved ones, leaving you lonely and depressed.


Extensive morphine abuse not only serves as a conduit for addiction development, but as a deadly force. Over-abuse of the drug even once can cause a deadly overdose in the form of respiratory depression. Although sometimes medically stoppable, this often results in the user’s death.

If you find yourself trapped in morphine addiction, you may feel there is nowhere to turn. Riverside Recovery is there to serve as the light at the end of the seemingly pitch-black tunnel. With their caring, experienced personnel and state-of-the-art resources, Riverside has everything you need to combat your addiction. You no longer have to be confined by dependency; restore your happy and productive lifestyle today. For more information, feel free to call (800) 871-5441.

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