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Morphine addiction: symptoms, signs, effects, causes, and treatment

Reading time: 18 mins
Morphine addiction: symptoms, signs, effects, causes, and treatment

Morphine addiction is a complex and chronic condition characterized by the compulsive and uncontrollable use of morphine, an opioid pain medication. It often leads to physical and psychological dependence, with individuals experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using the drug.

The symptoms of morphine addiction include craving for morphine, loss of control, preoccupation with obtaining morphine, withdrawal symptoms, mood swings, loss of interest in activities, doctor shopping, and impaired physical and mental performance.

The signs of morphine addiction are unsuccessful attempts to quit, neglecting responsibilities, social withdrawal, risky behaviors, deceitful behavior, limp body, falling asleep or loss of consciousness, pale, blue, or cold skin, and pinpoint pupils.

The long-term effects of morphine addiction encompass tolerance and dependence, chronic constipation, respiratory depression, cognitive impairment, hormonal issues, and overdose risk.

The causes of morphine addiction are medical prescriptions, genetic factors, mental health issues, social and environmental factors, previous substance abuse, and neurobiological factors.

The common treatments for morphine addiction are detoxification, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), medication-assisted treatment (MAT), group therapy and support groups, inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, dual diagnosis treatment, and family therapy.

What is Morphine addiction?

Morphine addiction is a serious and potentially life-altering condition that arises from the prolonged and excessive use of morphine, an opioid analgesic commonly used for pain relief.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defined the term “opioids” in the 2023 August issue, titled “Opioid overdose,” as substances derived from the opium poppy plant (Papaver somniferum), that involve semisynthetic and synthetic compounds possessing similar characteristics, allowing them to interact with opioid receptors in the brain.

Morphine is named after Morpheus, the son of sleep and the god of dreams in Greek and Roman mythology, as claimed by Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, in the RxList medical dictionary section, titled “Definition Of Morpheus”. Being in Morpheus‘s arms means to fall asleep. This association signifies the connection between the drug and the concept of entering a sleep or dream state induced by the drug.

Jahangir Moini et al. in their 2021 book, titled “Global Emergency of Mental Disorders,”  chapter “The opioid epidemic”, defined morphine as an opiate pain reliever with a history spanning over 6000 years.

Morphine operates directly on the central nervous system to alleviate pain sensations. It is prescribed for both acute and chronic pain and is consumed orally, rectally, or through intramuscular, intradermal, and intravenous injections.

The pharmacological effects of morphine, as described by Listos J. et al. in the 2019 study, titled “The Mechanisms Involved in Morphine Addiction: An Overview,” and published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, are linked to its ability to stimulate opioid receptors.

Within the category of opioid medications, morphine is recognized as a highly effective painkiller commonly used for post-operative and cancer-related pain, yet its prolonged use is linked to a significant risk of abuse, as claimed by the study. This heightened risk of abuse becomes particularly apparent when considering the prevalence of morphine addiction, discussed in the next paragraph.

How common is Morphine addiction?

Morphine addiction is very common, considering the current statistics of opioid use disorder affecting over 16 million individuals globally and more than 2.1 million in the United States. This contributes to an annual toll of over 120,000 deaths attributed to opioids worldwide, as reported in StatPearls Publishing, titled “Opioid Use Disorder,” updated in July 2023.

According to the June 2023 report “Drug Overdose Death Rates,”  from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the statistics on nationwide overdose deaths linked to prescription opioids, including morphine, exhibit a variable pattern spanning from 1999 to 2021. The number increased from 3,442 in 1999 to a peak of 17,029 in 2017, followed by a decline to 14,139 by 2019. A slight rise was observed in 2020 with 16,416 deaths, and in 2021, reported deaths involving prescription opioids totaled 16,706.

In light of these alarming statistics on morphine addiction and the broader impact of opioid-related fatalities, understanding the symptoms of morphine addiction becomes imperative for effective intervention and prevention efforts.

What are the symptoms of Morphine addiction?

The symptoms of morphine addiction are listed below.

  • Craving for morphine
  • Loss of control
  • Preoccupation with obtaining morphine
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms
  • Mood swings
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Doctor shopping
  • Impaired physical and mental performance

1. Craving for Morphine

Morphine pills box.

Craving for morphine is an intense, overwhelming desire or urge to use morphine. Brady M. Thompson et al. in their 2019 book, titled “Neural Mechanisms of Addiction,” “Chapter 7- Interoceptive Stimulus Effects of Drugs of Abuse,” defined drug craving as an internally perceived subjective state that may accelerate the initiation of drug use, particularly intensified in its absence.

Craving is triggered by various factors, including drug-associated stimuli, as well as internal states such as perceived stress or negative mood.

As stated in the 2016 “Neuroscience for Addiction Medicine: From Prevention to Rehabilitation – Methods and Interventions” book chapter titled “2.1 Drug Cue Reactivity (Positive Reinforcement)” and published in Progress in Brain Research, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) recognized drug craving as a key aspect of substance use disorders, acknowledging it as a motivational state that drives drug-seeking behavior. 

Apart from drug-seeking behavior, craving for morphine contributes to addictive behaviors such as continued use despite negative consequences, difficulty in maintaining abstinence, and loss of control.

2. Loss of control

Loss of control refers to the inability of an individual to regulate or manage their use of drugs, including morphine. Drug addiction is a persistent and recurrent condition characterized by an overwhelming urge to seek and use the substance, loss of control over the amount consumed, and the development of negative emotional states when access to the drug is restricted, as defined in the 2016 study Koob GF. and Volkow ND., titled “Neurobiology of addiction: a neurocircuitry analysis,” published in The Lancet Psychiatry.

Individuals addicted to morphine may find it challenging to set limits on their drug intake, continue to use morphine despite experiencing adverse effects on their physical and mental health, and struggle to quit or cut down on its use despite sincere efforts.

Loss of control is a hallmark feature of addiction, reflecting the disruptive impact of morphine on the individual’s ability to make rational and healthy choices regarding drug use. Addressing this symptom is crucial in addiction treatment to help individuals regain control over their behaviors and redirect focus away from the preoccupation with obtaining morphine.

3. Preoccupation with obtaining Morphine

Preoccupation with obtaining morphine is the obsessive and persistent focus on acquiring morphine, dominating one’s thoughts and actions. Individuals experiencing this symptom engage in relentless efforts to obtain morphine, even at the expense of personal, social, or occupational obligations.

In the SAMHSA’s 2016 report “Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health,” chapter 2, titled “The neurobiology of substance use, misuse, and addiction,” the preoccupation or anticipation stage in the addiction cycle is defined as the phase where an individual, especially those with severe substance use disorders, including morphine addiction, become intensely focused on using substances and experience abstinence quite soon, sometimes in just a few hours.

The preoccupation is driven by the urgency to satisfy the addiction, often leading to impaired decision-making and a heightened risk of problematic drug-seeking behavior. Addressing this symptom redirects the individual’s focus toward healthier alternatives and mitigates the challenges associated with experiencing unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

4. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms

Experiencing withdrawal symptoms refers to the set of physical and psychological manifestations that occur when an individual dependent on morphine abruptly reduces or ceases its use.

As per the SAMHSA’s 2016 report “Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health,” chapter 2, titled “The neurobiology of substance use, misuse, and addiction,” when the substance is unavailable, individuals go through withdrawal, encountering negative emotions such as stress, anxiety, or depression, along with physical discomfort.

The manifestations of withdrawal symptoms, including drug cravings, anxiety and irritability, sweating, runny nose and sneezing, insomnia, and headaches serve as a clear signal of the development of physical dependence on morphine.

Understanding physical inconveniences and mood swings experienced by individuals grappling with morphine addiction is essential to navigating the early stages of recovery successfully.

5. Mood swings

Mood swings refer to abrupt and intense changes in a person’s emotional state, involving alternating periods of heightened and lowered mood. As a symptom of morphine addiction, mood swings are often observed due to the neurochemical alterations induced by morphine on the central nervous system.

Janni Leung et al., in the 2022 study, titled “Mood and Anxiety Symptoms in Persons Taking Prescription Opioids: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analyses of Longitudinal Studies,” published in the Pain Medicine, indicated that individuals using prescription opioids like morphine faced an increased risk of experiencing mood-related issues and anxiety-related issues compared to those not using prescription opioids.

The study underscored the importance of taking mental health into account when prescribing opioids, as certain patients are susceptible to adverse mental health consequences.

Individuals addicted to morphine experience euphoria and elation when under the influence of the drug, followed by periods of irritability, anxiety, or depression during withdrawal or in the absence of the substance.

These erratic mood fluctuations contribute to the cyclical nature of addiction, influencing an individual’s behavior and everyday life, which leads to a loss of interest in everyday activities that were once enjoyable.

6. Loss of interest in activities

Morphine pills kept on white background

Loss of interest in activities refers to a diminished or complete lack of enthusiasm, engagement, or enjoyment in pursuits and hobbies that an individual previously found pleasurable or fulfilling. Morphine addicts often experience a loss of interest in activities due to certain interconnected physiological and psychological factors.

As per the findings of the 2021 study by Rosoff DB. et al., titled “Prescription Opioid Use and Risk for Major Depressive Disorder and Anxiety and Stress-Related Disorders: A Multivariable Mendelian Randomization Analysis,” published in JAMA Psychiatry, morphine, and other opioids act on the brain’s reward system, primarily through the activation of mu-opioid receptors (MORs) and kappa-opioid receptors (KORs).

These receptors play a crucial role in the perception of pleasure and reward. The brain’s reward system becomes altered and less responsive to natural rewards with prolonged use. This means that activities that used to bring pleasure no longer have the same effect, leading to a general loss of interest.

7. Doctor shopping

Doctor shopping is the practice of visiting multiple healthcare providers to obtain prescriptions for opioids or other controlled substances, often to acquire a larger quantity of the drug than a single provider prescribes.

People addicted to morphine exhaust various medical resources, seeking prescriptions from different doctors or clinics, either simultaneously or sequentially. This behavior is driven by the desire to obtain a greater supply of morphine to meet escalating tolerance levels or to maintain the pleasurable effects of the drug.

A 2023 study conducted in France by Soeiro T. et al., named “Systematic assessment of non-medical use of prescription drugs using doctor-shopping indicators: A nation-wide, repeated cross-sectional study,” found that opioids, such as morphine, had the highest proportions of doctor-shopped medications during the study period, indicating a significant issue with non-medical use of these substances.

Doctor shopping is not only indicative of a substance use disorder but also poses significant risks for potential overdose and adverse health consequences. Addressing this symptom will help prevent impaired physical and mental performance and promote a comprehensive recovery plan.

8. Impaired physical and mental performance

Impaired physical and mental performance refers to a decline in an individual’s ability to function optimally in both physical and cognitive aspects. 

In a 2016 study led by Kim J. et al., titled “Brain Reward Circuits in Morphine Addiction,” and published in the Molecules and Cells journal, the experts outlined that morphine addiction leads to impaired mental performance due to its effects on various brain circuits and biochemical pathways.

One of the key factors in this impairment is the alteration of brain reward circuits. Morphine impacts the ventral tegmental area (VTA), which projects dopaminergic transmission to several brain regions involved in reward processing and mood regulation, such as the nucleus accumbens, medial prefrontal cortex, and amygdala.

These changes lead to altered cognitive and emotional processing, impairing mental performance.According to the American Psychiatric Association 2022 issue on “Opioid Use Disorder,” opioids like morphine induce physical dependence in just four to eight weeks. During this period, the body becomes accustomed to opioids, making it challenging to function without them.

What are the signs of Morphine addiction?

Morphine addiction manifests through physical, behavioral, and psychological signs. The common signs of morphine addiction are listed below.

  • Unsuccessful attempts to quit: Individuals experiencing morphine addiction often struggle to break free from the substance despite repeated efforts, reflecting a persistent and challenging cycle of dependency.
  • Neglecting responsibilities: Morphine addiction leads to a decline in fulfilling obligations, as individuals prioritize drug use over important duties, jeopardizing relationships, work, or other responsibilities.
  • Social withdrawal: A common behavioral sign of morphine addiction involves the gradual withdrawal from social activities and relationships, as individuals may isolate themselves to conceal their dependency or due to the impact of the drug on their interpersonal skills.
  • Risky behaviors: Morphine addiction prompts individuals to engage in risky activities, disregarding potential consequences, as the drug’s influence impairs judgment and decision-making.
  • Deceitful behavior: Addicted individuals resort to dishonesty to conceal their substance abuse, creating a pattern of secrecy and mistrust in their interactions with others.
  • Presence of withdrawal symptoms: The manifestations of withdrawal symptoms, including drug cravings, anxiety and irritability, sweating, runny nose and sneezing, insomnia, and headaches serve as a clear signal of the development of physical dependence on morphine. Withdrawal symptoms emerge when individuals abruptly reduce or discontinue morphine use.
  • Limp body: The limp body is characterized by muscle relaxation and reduced muscle tone. This manifestation occurs as a result of the central nervous system depressant effects of morphine, leading to a state of physical lethargy and relaxation.
  • Falling asleep or loss of consciousness: Falling asleep or loss of consciousness is when individuals under the influence of morphine experience a heightened propensity for excessive drowsiness or periods of unconsciousness.
  • Pale, blue, or cold skin: Pale, blue, or cold skin indicates poor blood circulation, respiratory depression, or other physiological effects associated with opioid use that require prompt medical attention. These skin changes are potential indicators of severe complications related to morphine misuse
  • Pinpoint pupils: Small pupils are a physiological sign associated with morphine use, as the drug affects the autonomic nervous system, leading to changes in the size of the pupils.

What are the long-term effects of Morphine addiction?

Morphine addiction has severe and lasting consequences on an individual’s physical and mental health. The long-term effects of morphine addiction are listed below.

  • Tolerance and dependence: As per Zeng XS. et al.’s 2020 study on “Morphine Addiction and Oxidative Stress: The Potential Effects of Thioredoxin-1,” published in the Frontiers in Pharmacology, extended use of morphine for chronic pain management leads to the development of tolerance, necessitating higher doses for sustained pain relief. However, escalating doses pose a high risk of relapse.
  • Chronic constipation: The effectiveness of opioids in pain relief is acknowledged; however, the occurrence of opioid-induced constipation (OIC) shows considerable variability, ranging from 15% to as high as 81%, as outlined in the 2019 study on “Opioid-induced constipation: a narrative review of therapeutic options in clinical management,” published in The Korean Journal of Pain. This side effect significantly impacts an individual’s quality of life, often leading them to discontinue the use of opioid therapy. 
  • Respiratory depression: Respiratory depression is a critical adverse reaction associated with opiate use, including morphine, requiring close monitoring, particularly in postoperative patients, as highlighted by Murphy PB. et al., in the study on “Morphine,” last updated in May 2023 in the StatPearls.
  • Cognitive impairment: Persistent use of morphine leads to cognitive impairment, affecting memory, attention, and overall cognitive function. A 2023 study, titled “Cognitive impairment in opioid use disorders: Is there a case for use of nootropics?”, and published in the Psychiatry Research, suggested cognitive impairment and opioid use mutually affect each other; cognitive decline might prompt an individual to turn to opioid use, and in some case, the prolonged use of opioids can contribute to cognitive decline.
  • Hormonal issues: According to a 2012 study by Seyfried O. and Hester J., titled “Opioids and endocrine dysfunction,” opioids affect the endocrine system, which regulates hormone production and release. The opioids’ direct action on the hypothalamus, a region of the brain, reduces the release of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). This reduction negatively affects luteinizing hormone (LH) levels, which, in turn, disrupts the synthesis and secretion of testosterone. The consequences may include symptoms like infertility, diminished sexual function, muscle mass loss, and mental health issues such as anxiety or depression.
  • Overdose risk: As stated by the World Health Organization (WHO) 2023 issue on “Opioid overdose,” non-medical, prolonged, and unsupervised use of opioids, including morphine, leads to opioid dependence and various health issues. Most importantly, the pharmacological impact of these medications results in respiratory challenges, with opioid overdose posing a risk of fatality.

How much Morphine will kill you?

doctor showing morphine tablet bottle.

The lethal amount of morphine for adults is typically around 250 mg, and it can be detected in the blood at a concentration of 0.5 μg/mL, as highlighted in 2021 Forensic Science International: Reports, titled “Forensic aspects about fatal morphine intoxication of an unusual body packer: Case report and literature review“.

However, the lethal dose of morphine varies among individuals and is influenced by factors such as tolerance, overall health, and the presence of other substances.

According to the Health Care Compliance Association’s (HCCA) 2021 March conference handout on “What Is the Maximum Permissible Dose of Morphine—or Fentanyl?,” authored by Bradford D. Winters, Ph.D., M.D. and David N. Hoffman, J.D., dangers associated with opioid use are primarily rooted in their ability to depress respiratory function, leading to potentially fatal consequences.

Murphy PB. et al., in the study on “Morphine,” last updated in May 2023 in the StatPearls, emphasized that improper use of morphine has the potential to be fatal. In cases of overdose, the most dreaded complication is severe respiratory depression.

What are the causes of Morphine addiction?

The common causes of morphine addiction are listed below.

  • Medical prescriptions: Morphine is often medically prescribed for pain relief, and individuals develop dependence and addiction during medical treatment, especially over an extended period.
  • Genetic factors: There is a genetic predisposition to addiction, making certain individuals more susceptible to developing a dependence on opioids like morphine.
  • Mental health issues: Co-occurring mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, or trauma, contribute to substance abuse, including morphine addiction, as individuals use opioids to cope with emotional distress.
  • Social and environmental factors: Access to opioids, social influences, and environmental factors play a role in the development of addiction. Peer pressure and availability of the drug are other factors contributing to morphine addiction.
  • Previous substance abuse: Individuals with a history of substance abuse, whether opioids or other drugs, are more vulnerable to developing addiction to morphine.
  • Neurobiological factors: Opioids like morphine affect the brain’s reward system, and certain individuals are more sensitive to the rewarding effects, increasing the risk of addiction.

 What are the risk factors for Morphine addiction?

The risk factors for morphine addiction are diverse and multifaceted. Prolonged or high-dose use of morphine is a key risk factor for morphine addiction, as it leads to the development of tolerance, requiring higher doses over time and increasing the risk of dependence.

Concurrent use of medications affecting the central nervous system amplifies morphine’s effects, heightening the potential for adverse outcomes, including addiction.

Additionally, individuals with a history of past or current substance abuse, as well as those with a personal or family history of addiction, are at an elevated risk due to existing vulnerabilities.

Co-occurring health conditions or syndromes, such as chronic pain or mental health disorders, contribute to the risk of morphine addiction as individuals seek relief or self-medicate.

Age is another risk factor, with younger individuals being more prone to engaging in risky behaviors, and their developing brains being more susceptible to the rewarding effects of morphine, thereby increasing the risk of addiction.

Moreover, the social or family environment plays a crucial role, as exposure to substance use or a lack of supportive relationships contribute to the initiation and continuation of morphine use.

Furthermore, easy access to morphine, whether through legitimate prescriptions or illicit means, heightens the risk of misuse and addiction.

Why is using Morphine addictive?

Using morphine is addictive because over time the brain adapts to the presence of morphine, leading to tolerance, where higher doses are needed to achieve the same effects. Additionally, the persistent activation of the reward system results in neurobiological changes that contribute to dependence and the development of addiction. The combination of these pharmacological and neurological factors makes using morphine a potentially habit-forming and addictive behavior.

Taking morphine, even when following prescribed guidelines for a short duration, leads to dependence, as stated in the Australian healthdirect article, titled “Taking opioid medicines safely,” last revised in May 2023. Tolerance may develop as well, necessitating higher doses for the desired effect, consequently elevating the risk of adverse side effects and addiction.

How addictive is Morphine?

Morphine is extremely addictive due to its potent effects on the brain’s reward system. The risk of morphine addiction varies based on individual factors and usage patterns.

As mentioned in Jahangir Moini et al.s 2021 book, titled “Global Emergency of Mental Disorders,”  chapter “The opioid epidemic,” morphine is classified as a Schedule II drug in the United States. It is typically listed in the most tightly regulated drug schedules in other countries.

What are the available treatments for Morphine addiction?

The available treatments for morphine addiction are listed below.

  • Detoxification
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
  • Group therapy and support groups
  • Inpatient treatment
  • Outpatient treatment
  • Dual diagnosis treatment
  • Family therapy

1. Detoxification

Morphine pills and bottle.

Detoxification or detox is a process aimed at eliminating or managing the withdrawal symptoms that occur when a person stops using a substance like morphine. The goal of detox is to safely manage the acute physical symptoms of withdrawal, such as nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, and anxiety, allowing the individual to become physically stable.

For individuals dealing with opioid use disorder (OUD), including morphine addiction, the initial phase of treatment involves detoxification. However, detox alone is not a complete solution, as many individuals with OUD often return to the drug without additional assistance, as pointed out in the Harvard Health Publishing 2019 issue, titled “Treating opiate addiction, Part I: Detoxification and maintenance”,

Detox is usually followed by comprehensive addiction treatment, which includes behavioral therapy, counseling, and support groups.

2. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a therapeutic approach that aims to identify and modify negative thought patterns and behaviors.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is tailored for individuals dealing with chronic pain and OUD. This therapy aims to enhance coping skills, targeting prevalent clinical challenges in patients with these conditions.

The primary goal of CBT is to break the cycle of dysfunction between pain and OUD where individuals, in an attempt to manage pain or associated distress, resort to illicit opioid and substance use. This pattern results in adverse outcomes that exacerbate challenges in pain management, as outlined by Marina G. Gazzola et al., in a 2022 book, titled “Treatments, Mechanisms, and Adverse Reactions of Anesthetics and Analgesics”, “Chapter 22 – Cognitive behavioral therapy for chronic pain and opioid use disorder”.

3. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is an evidence-based approach to treating addiction that combines the use of medication with counseling and behavioral therapies.

As per a 2021 study, titled “A Personalized, Interactive, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy–Based Digital Therapeutic (MODIA) for Adjunctive Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder: Development Study” and highlighted in the JMIR Mental Health publications, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the prevailing treatment for opioid addiction, offering a holistic approach.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s 2023 May issue on “Information about Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)” emphasized that currently there are three FDA-approved medications for treating opioid dependence. These medications are buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone.

Clinical studies have shown that, when used alongside counseling and psychosocial support, all three treatments are safe and effective, minimizing cravings, enhancing treatment retention, and supporting sustained recovery.

4. Group therapy and support groups

Group therapy and support groups are therapeutic approaches that involve individuals with similar experiences, such as morphine addiction, coming together to share their struggles, insights, and coping strategies in a supportive environment.

According to BioMed Central 2021 issue, titled “A review of research-supported group treatments for drug use disorders,” individuals engaged in group therapy for substance use disorders typically demonstrate greater progress compared to those receiving standard care without group involvement.

In the StatPearls article, named “Opioid Use Disorder,” updated in July 2023, the researchers claimed that self-help programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and 12-step approaches promote behavioral change through self-help and peer support. These programs encompass education and motivational enhancement and aim to transform patients’ perspectives on opioid impact. Additionally, group therapies are cost-effective.

5. Inpatient treatment

Morphine injection and syringe.

Inpatient or residential treatment involves individuals staying in a specialized facility for an extended period to receive intensive care for morphine addiction.

As per MedLinePlus article on “Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) Treatment,“ updated in July 2023, inpatient programs integrate both accommodation and treatment services, fostering a supportive environment where individuals reside with peers, aiding one another in their recovery journey.

During inpatient treatments, qualified medical personnel are available 24 hours at the facility. Typically, a physician, or in certain instances, a physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner, conducts daily check-ins with each patient in the inpatient unit, every day of the week.

6. Outpatient treatment

Outpatient treatment for morphine addiction involves receiving therapy and support while living at home and continuing with daily activities. It offers flexibility, allowing individuals to attend scheduled sessions, counseling, and support groups during the day and return home in the evenings.

McCarty D. et al., defined outpatient programs as alternatives to inpatient and residential treatment, aiming to establish psychosocial support systems and promote effective relapse management and coping strategies, in the 2014 study, titled “Substance abuse intensive outpatient programs: assessing the evidence,” published in the Psychiatric Services.

Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) for substance abuse, including morphine abuse, provide a structured framework for recovery for those who do not necessitate medical detoxification or continuous 24-hour supervision. IOPs provide a structured yet flexible approach to treatment, allowing participants to receive intensive support while maintaining a level of independence.

7. Dual diagnosis treatment

Dual diagnosis treatment refers to an approach that addresses both substance abuse or addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders simultaneously. This treatment approach is beneficial for morphine addiction as it acknowledges the complex relationship between substance use and mental health disorders. By addressing both aspects concurrently, individuals are more likely to achieve long-term recovery.

A 2014 study by McGovern MP. et al. on “Dual diagnosis capability in mental health and addiction treatment services: an assessment of programs across multiple state systems,” employed the dual diagnosis capability in addiction treatment (DDCAT) and dual diagnosis capability in mental health treatment (DDCMHT) indexes to assess program capacity, revealing varying estimates of the availability of integrated services in a sample of 256 programs across the United States.

As per the study findings, 18% of addiction treatment programs and 9% of mental health treatment programs were identified as dual diagnosis capable, indicating that patients seeking care in these programs have a 1 in 10 to 2 in 10 chance of having both addiction and mental health disorders adequately addressed.

8. Family therapy

Family therapy involves families in the treatment process for individuals struggling with morphine addiction. It recognizes the influence of family dynamics on addiction and aims to address interpersonal issues, improve communication, and strengthen the support system within the family.

A 2017 study, titled “Multi-Family Therapy with a Reflecting Team: A Preliminary Study on Efficacy among Opiate Addicts in Methadone Maintenance Treatment,” published in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, emphasized the effectiveness of multi-family therapy (MFT) in reducing addiction severity and improving psychological and family dynamics among opiate addicts undergoing methadone maintenance treatment.

The research demonstrated that family therapies significantly reduce addiction severity and show improvements in employment, social support, and psychiatric conditions for patients.

What are the symptoms of Morphine withdrawal?

 A man having signs of morphine withdrawal

Morphine withdrawal symptoms vary in intensity and duration, and they typically manifest when a person who has been using morphine regularly suddenly stops or significantly reduces their intake. Common symptoms of morphine withdrawal are listed below.

  • Drug cravings: Drug cravings during morphine withdrawal are powerful urges or intense desires to use the substance, representing a complex interplay of psychological and physiological factors. These cravings are overwhelming, making it challenging for individuals to resist the temptation to relapse.
  • Anxiety and irritability: During morphine withdrawal, heightened feelings of anxiety and irritability emerge as prevalent symptoms. This state of alertness triggers an overactive response in the nervous system, leading to heightened arousal and increased sensitivity to stimuli, contributing to the pervasive sense of nervousness.
  • Sweating: Sweating during morphine withdrawal is a notable physiological response that often intensifies the overall discomfort of the withdrawal phase. Excessive sweating is a manifestation of the body’s attempt to readjust to the absence of morphine, as the drug’s effects on the central nervous system are abruptly disrupted.
  • Runny nose and sneezing: Similar to symptoms of a cold or flu, individuals exhibit nasal congestion, runny nose, and frequent sneezing during morphine withdrawal.
  • Insomnia: Insomnia, characterized by difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, is a prevalent withdrawal symptom linked to the intricate relationship between opioids and the central nervous system. The abrupt cessation of morphine, which interacts with neural pathways involved in sleep regulation, leads to a dysregulation of the natural sleep-wake cycle.
  • Dilated pupils: During morphine withdrawal, the dilation of pupils, is a discernible indicator of the intricate physiological alterations taking place within the body. The enlarged pupils signal the body’s adjustment to the absence of morphine and the reestablishment of its natural regulatory mechanisms.
  • Headaches: Headaches during morphine withdrawal are frequently reported and attributed to a combination of physiological and neurological factors. The abrupt cessation of morphine disrupts the balance of neurotransmitters and receptors in the brain, triggering changes in neural activity. Additionally, alterations in blood flow patterns, influenced by the absence of morphine, contribute to headaches.
  • Hot and cold flushes, goosebumps: The abrupt cessation of morphine disrupts the normal functioning of the central nervous system, triggering a disarray in the body’s thermoregulatory processes. As a result, individuals cyclically feel intense warmth followed by sudden chills, and the appearance of goosebumps is a visible manifestation of the body’s struggle to maintain thermal equilibrium.
  • Muscle aches and pains: Muscle aches and pains during morphine withdrawal result from the abrupt cessation of the opioid’s analgesic effects on the nervous system. As morphine suppresses pain signals, its sudden discontinuation exposes individuals to heightened sensations of discomfort throughout their bodies. This withdrawal symptom affects diverse muscle groups, contributing to a widespread, diffuse soreness that individuals may find challenging to alleviate.
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea: During morphine withdrawal, gastrointestinal distress manifests through symptoms like nausea and vomiting, creating a dual challenge for those undergoing withdrawal. These symptoms intensify the physical discomfort associated with the process, as well as pose additional complications by potentially leading to dehydration and nutritional deficiencies. Increased frequency of bowel movements, often loose or watery, is another gastrointestinal symptom observed during morphine withdrawal.
  • Increased heart rate: During morphine withdrawal, the body exhibits heightened sympathetic activity, leading to tachycardia, or an accelerated heart rate, as it adapts to the absence of morphine.