Morphine addiction

Morphine is a commonly prescribed medication which is used for treating severe pain in the body. It is only available on prescription and there are strict rules surrounding its use. However, despite these rules, morphine is a commonly abused substance and morphine addiction can develop as a result of both prescription and recreational use. Once you become addicted to morphine, it can be very difficult to overcome but there is help available. Recovery Lighthouse has helped many people struggling with morphine addiction to find the support and care they need to turn their lives around.

Morphine addiction

What is morphine and why is it addictive?

Morphine is an opioid drug which is derived from the opium poppy plant. It works by binding to certain areas in the brain and spinal cord, blocking the transmission of pain signals. Morphine is used for a wide range of medical conditions, from post-operative pain to cancer pain and, when used correctly, it can be very effective in managing pain. Some of the common brand names that morphine is sold under include Zomorph, MST, Morphgesic, Sevredol, MXL and Oramorph.

Despite its medical uses, however, morphine also has a high potential for misuse because it produces a feeling of euphoria which can make users feel relaxed and content. When you abuse morphine recreationally, you can quickly develop a tolerance to the drug, which means you need higher and higher doses in order to achieve the same effects. This can lead to physical dependence where your body becomes reliant on the drug in order to function normally and finally addiction where you compulsively take morphine even though you know it is causing you harm.

Morphine addiction can also result from prescription morphine use in a similar way, particularly if morphine is taken in greater doses or for longer than prescribed. This is why it is so important to follow the advice of your doctor when taking morphine and to seek help immediately if you notice any of the signs of morphine addiction.

Morphine addiction in the UK

Morphine addiction has been a major issue in the UK for many years with serious consequences for both individuals and the wider population.

Part of the issue is that the UK is now the world’s biggest consumer of opioids per capita. In terms of morphine, in 2019, the UK consumed 1353 morphine milligram equivalents (MMEs) per 1000 per day. These figures can be better understood when compared to other countries morphine consumption:

  • Germany – 1,104 MMEs
  • USA – 1,101 MMEs
  • Canada – 1,039 MMEs

It is a logical conclusion to make that the more morphine a country consumes, the higher the risk of death by morphine poisoning. Indeed, the UK figures bear witness to this as deaths from heroin and morphine have remained steadily high over the past seven years:

  • 2015 – 1,201
  • 2016 – 1,209
  • 2017 – 1,164
  • 2018 – 1,336
  • 2019 – 1,329
  • 2020 – 1,337
  • 2021 – 1,213

The impact of morphine addiction on health

Morphine abuse and addiction can cause serious short-term and long-term effects on both your physical and mental health. These include:

  • Kidney and liver damage
  • Respiratory depression
  • Digestive issues
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Memory problems
  • Damage to heart tissue
  • Health risks due to dangerous behaviour such as needle sharing or engaging in risky sexual behaviour

A potentially fatal overdose is also a risk when taking morphine and some of the most common signs of morphine overdose include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Blue lips or extremities
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Hallucinations
  • Poor coordination or balance
  • Unresponsiveness or unconsciousness
  • Heavy or unusual snoring
  • Breathing issues
  • Tiny pupils

If you or someone you know is showing any of these signs, it is important to seek medical help right away to avoid serious health complications or even death.

Morphine addiction - breathing struggles

Am I addicted to morphine?

Addiction is a master manipulator and will take any opportunity it can to try and convince you that your morphine use is under control or that you need it for medical reasons. To accurately determine if you are addicted to morphine, it is important to answer the following questions:

  • Do I feel like I need morphine in order for me to get through my day?
  • Have I increased my morphine dose over time to get the same effect?
  • Am I hiding my morphine use from my loved ones?
  • Do I experience withdrawal symptoms when I try and stop taking morphine?
  • Do I prioritize taking morphine over other activities or responsibilities?
  • Have my relationships suffered because of my drug use?
  • Do I continue using morphine even though it is clearly damaging my health?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, there is a good chance that you have developed an addiction to morphine and need professional help.

How to overcome morphine addiction

There are three important stages in effective morphine addiction treatment:

1. Morphine detox…

This is where you stop taking morphine and allow your body to recover and break your physical dependence on the drug. This process can cause potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms so it should always be done under medical supervision.

2. Morphine rehab…

Alongside detox, you will also need to undergo therapy to address the emotional and psychological causes and triggers of your morphine addiction. This is crucial because if you only break the physical dependence on morphine, you are still likely to relapse when faced with cravings or during difficult moments.

At Recovery Lighthouse, we offer both of these stages as inpatient treatment. This means you will stay at our morphine addiction treatment centre while you go through the recovery process. Most experts believe that inpatient addiction treatment is the most effective way to tackle substance abuse because you will be in a completely immersive recovery environment where you are shielded from the common triggers and temptations of your everyday life.

3. Aftercare…

Once you have completed the first two stages, it is important to have a clear aftercare plan in place. This will help ensure that you are supported and able to cope with cravings and life stressors without relapsing. At Recovery Lighthouse, you will receive one year’s free weekly group therapy sessions to help you stay on track after you are discharged from our care.

How to help a loved one with morphine addiction

Addiction is a difficult condition to overcome and it is even harder if you are not getting the help and support you need from your loved ones. If someone close to you is suffering from morphine addiction, here are some tips on how to help:

  • Listen – Often the best thing you can do for someone with an addiction is simply to listen. Acknowledge their struggles and pain without judging them so that they can feel safe enough to open up and express themselves.
  • Educate yourself on morphine addiction – Learn about the nature of morphine addiction and how it affects your loved one so you can better understand what they are going through.
  • Set boundaries – Be clear on what behaviour is acceptable to you and which isn’t. This will help your loved one see that their addiction-fuelled behaviour has consequences and will ensure that you don’t enable their addiction. Some of the most important boundaries to set include not giving them money to buy morphine, not allowing them to use it in your home and not making excuses for their behaviour.
  • Suggest professional treatment – This can be a difficult conversation to have but it is important to let your loved one know that help is available and that recovery from morphine addiction is possible. You can show them this page and explain the benefits of inpatient treatment at Recovery Lighthouse or help them to find a local support group.
  • Offer ongoing support – Addiction can be a long and tough battle, so make sure you give your loved one plenty of emotional support throughout their journey. This could mean helping them research treatment centres, visiting them while they are in rehab or attending support groups with them.
  • Look after yourself – In order to help a loved one with morphine addiction, it is crucial to look after your own well-being too. Make sure you take time out to care for yourself and practice self-care activities whether they be yoga, meditating or just going for a walk. This will give you the energy and motivation to stay strong in the support of your loved one.

How to get help for morphine addiction

If you or your loved one is suffering from morphine addiction, it is important to get professional help as soon as possible. At Recovery Lighthouse, we offer a comprehensive inpatient treatment programme to help you break the physical, emotional and psychological dependencies on morphine and rebuild your life. Get in touch with us today and our admissions team will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Frequently asked questions

What if I am addicted to morphine but I need it for legitimate pain?
If you are suffering from chronic pain but you are addicted to morphine then you should notify your doctor immediately. They will be able to assess your situation and prescribe alternative medication to help you deal with your pain without needing to use morphine.
Can I take any opioid medication if I am addicted to morphine?
It is usually advisable to avoid all opioid medications if you are addicted to morphine because there is a high risk of dependency forming. If your doctor feels opioids are necessary, they will usually prescribe a short-acting opioid and closely monitor your progress to make sure you are safe and don’t become addicted.
Is morphine addiction as bad as heroin addiction?
There is no scale of severity when it comes to different opiate addictions as all can be incredibly harmful. However, morphine is just as dangerous as heroin with addiction, health and social issues, legal troubles and potentially fatal overdose all a real risk for anyone who takes the drug.