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Warning Signs, Symptoms and Side Effects of Morphine Abuse

Warning Signs, Symptoms and Side Effects of Morphine Abuse

Morphine is obtained from opium poppy plant and just like other opiates, it is a highly addictive drug. Even though morphine is an effective drug when used for therapeutic purposes, its recreational use has been known to cause serious side effects. Even medical use, if prolonged or carried out carelessly, can result into addiction. It can be difficult to detect a morphine addiction if the person is taking it with a prescription. However, with prolonged use, the signs and symptoms of abuse become apparent that help pinpoint an addiction.

Signs of morphine abuse:

Morphine is a drug which produces its effects on the brain by stimulating the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with the feelings of euphoria, reward and happiness. With prolonged use, the brain becomes used to function in abnormal conditions. The user has an urge to take the drug over and over again to maintain the euphoric feelings. Morphine induces physical, mental and behavioral changes in an addict that can help to detect an addiction.

According to the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders and clinical criteria, following are a few signs that can serve as an indicator of morphine addiction:

  • Excessive desire to consume morphine and an inability to control the amounts.
  • Facing severe depression when morphine use is quit.
  • Carelessness towards other obligations in life.
  • Inability to quit the drug even after having knowledge about its harmful effects and even after trying to do so.

Apart from these, some other behavioral symptoms that can be noticed in a morphine addict are:

  • Declined performance at school or office.
  • Excessive irritability or aggressive behavior.
  • Getting into frequent fights with the significant other, inability to maintain healthy relationships with people who matter.
  • Frequent episodes of depression.
  • Lack of energy, lethargy.
  • Doctor shopping or frequent visits to the doctor in an attempt to get a prescription for morphine.
  • Spending excessive amount of money on obtaining the drug.
  • Negligence towards hygiene.
  • A change in company, the addict befriends other addicts.
  • Antisocial behavior, avoiding gatherings.
  • Injuries at intravenous sites if the patient injects the drug.

Physical signs and symptoms:

  • Nausea/vomiting are frequently experienced by morphine users due to slowed down peristaltic activities by the drug.
  • Constipation, also caused by slowed down peristaltic movements.
  • Slow respiration, in case of an overdose, even death is resulted due to fatally depressed respiration.
  • Drastic weight changes.
  • Slow metabolic activity.
  • Labored breathing.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Kidney damage.
  • Stomach cramps.
  • Dilated pupils.
  • Slurred speech.

Mental signs and symptoms:

  • Unexplained euphoria.
  • Cognitive impairment.
  • Poor judgment.
  • Declined mental capabilities.

Hazards of morphine abuse:

Morphine is among the most hazardous drugs available in the market. A large number of Americans is addicted to morphine and other opiate medications. When used for medicinal purposes, morphine is given in the form of oral tablets, syrups of intravenous injections. An injection of morphine produces instant pain relief and euphoria followed by the feelings of drowsiness.

The tolerance for the drug develops quickly that forces the user to take more and more amount of the drug. Tolerance can be among the earliest signs of addiction. People tolerant to the drug are at a higher rate of overdosing since they take more and more drug in an attempt to cope with tolerance. It may eventually result into an overdose which can be fatal.

Side effects of morphine: Short term and long term

Just like any other drug, the use of morphine is not free of side effects. It produces both long term and short term side effects. The short term side effects of morphine depend upon how much drug was taken and the way it was taken in.

Some immediate side effects produced by morphine include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Respiratory depression
  • Dizziness
  • Hallucinations
  • Itchiness
  • Coma
  • Apathy

Prolonged use of morphine has been known to cause even more dangerous side effects with one of them being development of addiction. Other long term side effects produced by morphine are:

  • Depression
  • Suppressed immune system
  • Confusion
  • Restlessness
  • Constipation
  • Collapsed veins due to damage caused by injections

Morphine overdose:

Morphine toxicity is resulted when it is taken in amounts beyond safe limits. There is a greater chance of overdose among tolerant patients since they take the drug in high amounts. Overdose reaction is resulted because the drug is administrated at a faster rate compared to the capability of the body to detoxify and remove it. Some common signs of morphine overdose include:

  • Constricted pupils
  • Decrease in body temperature
  • Severe respiratory depression
  • Dangerously low blood pressure
  • Fading/irregular pulse
  • Extreme lethargy
  • Inability to stay conscious
  • Blueness of lips and fingernails
  • Slurred speech
  • Hallucinations/delusions
  • Coma

Morphine overdose is a dangerous condition. Even death is possible if a patient with morphine overdose is left unattended. Immediate medical care should be provided to a patient spotted with overdose symptoms.

Planning an intervention:

If a loved one is abusing morphine, it is important to confront them and address the problem. However, extreme care should be taken in the process since their reaction can not only be unpredictable but also dangerous. Professional interventionists can be helpful in this regard. They are aware of the excuses and lies the addict is going to come up with and hence they can help to prepare to intervene accordingly. They can make the process of communication between the addict and his family easier and convince the addict to seek treatment for their addiction.