Often used in pain relief for severe or unmanageable pain, morphine is an opioid analgesic that can be highly addictive. Morphine is an extremely potent pain reliever, often administered in a hospital setting. The drug can also produce an intense high and induce feelings of euphoria and relaxation, which makes it a common drug to abuse.
While morphine addiction and abuse is not uncommon in the United States, it can be difficult to overcome this type of addiction. For treatment centers such as The Treehouse, a belief in multifaceted, holistic treatment plans tailored to an individual’s specific needs has proven to be successful for many clients.
What Is Morphine?
Morphine is primarily harvested from the opium poppy plant most commonly found throughout the Middle East and parts of Asia and Europe. While an estimated 600,000 kilos of morphine is produced every year, experts from the International Narcotics Control Board estimate that 70% of that morphine is used to make other drugs such as heroin.
Morphine is considered an extremely addictive drug in most developed countries, with the United States listing it as a Schedule II drug. At the same time, the World Health Organization has also placed morphine on its list of essential medicines, which means they condone the storage and use of it in health systems across the world.
Morphine is not a new drug on the market. Hundreds of years before scientists discovered its purpose in medical applications, natives working the poppy fields of the Middle East and Asia would chew on the leaves of the opium poppy plant for a subtle high and relaxing effects. Over the years, morphine has come to be known by many slang names including:
- Mister Blue
- White Stuff
- Miss Emma
- God’s Drug
How Does Morphine Work?
As an opioid, morphine works as a painkiller by bonding to opioid receptors in your brain and spinal cord. These opioid receptors are generally located near the surface of neurons, or nerve cells, and can be located anywhere along the central nervous system. Through this bonding, the chemical signals in your central nervous system are interrupted or dulled. This means any stimulation that you feel, such as pain, will only be received by slow-moving or inactive nerve endings. This creates the ‘pain killer’ effect of most opioid analgesics.
While there are many positive pain killing aspects to morphine, it can also effect your body in negative ways. Along with suppressing the nerve ending that control pain sensing, morphine also impacts the nerve endings that control blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing. If these nerve endings are affected by too large a dose of morphine, it can cause an individual to stop breathing all together. This is also known as respiratory arrest.
Morphine can also suppress nerve endings in other organs throughout the body including liver, kidneys, and intestines. Suppressed nerves in the liver and kidneys could affect the body’s ability to filter out toxins and other chemicals. When nerve endings in the intestines and upper gut are affected by morphine, the body can experience difficulties in digestion and passing waste. Constipation is one of the number one side effects patients feel when taking prescription opioids such as morphine.
What Is Tolerance?
There are many safe ways to administer and use morphine for medical purposes, however even with good intentions it is still possible to become addicted to the drug. The human body does naturally produce some analgesic chemicals that are similar to morphine to aid in pain relief in intense situations.
For example, when an individual suffers from extreme trauma they may not actually feel much pain due to the body’s production of dopamine in response. Dopamine is a chemical that is closely related to morphine and other opioids, and it can have a very similar effect on the body. Dopamine suppresses nerve endings in a similar manner as morphine, resulting in a temporary reduction of pain, suppression of heart rate and breathing, as well as other nerve endings in the body.
When you introduce additional chemicals into your body such as morphine, your brain reacts to it in a similar manner as it would its own natural chemicals. When the brain senses too much dopamine in your system, it will stop producing that dopamine and nerve endings will be less receptive to it. This same effect happens when an individual takes morphine for an extended period of time.
This is also known as tolerance, and it is the main factor behind morphine dependence. When your body is used to continuously having morphine in its system, it will react in a way that makes that morphine essentially less effective. When it is less effective, you will need more of it to get the same effect you did from your first dose. Your body builds up a tolerance to morphine over time, causing each dose to be larger a closer together.
Understanding Morphine Dependence
It is not uncommon for someone who abuses morphine to reach a point of morphine dependence. What this means is their body has become so accustomed to having the chemical reactions caused by morphine, that it doesn’t function well without it. The state of the brain’s chemistry while on morphine has become the new ‘norm’ in this case, which can cause a sober state to feel uncomfortable and unmanageable. This type of dependence is a sign of addiction, and can be very difficult to overcome without professional help.
Morphine dependence can actually make the body function differently than it did without morphine. This is defined as a physical dependence and can be characterized by the lack of chemical reaction in the brain due to suddenly removing morphine from a system that has become dependent on the drug.
Morphine can also cause a psychological dependence when taken for prolonged periods of time. A psychological dependence is characterized by an individual thinking they need to take a drug in order to function properly, even though there is no actual chemical or physical need for it. When an individual develops a psychological dependence before a physical dependence on morphine, it can often lead to a more aggressive dependency or addiction.
Holistic Treatment For Drug Abuse
There are many options for drug rehab or treatment in the United States, and each has its own approach and beliefs when it comes to helping an individual move towards sobriety. At The Treehouse, we believe that treatment for morphine addiction (and many other types of addiction) should be tailored to fit the needs of each individual client. Only with a customized treatment plan are we able to provide rehabilitation that focuses on every facet of your addiction.
Our holistic approach is designed to treat both the chemical and physical aspects of addiction as well as the complex mental health issues that can often accompany substance abuse. Just as our approach is multi-faceted, we have a team of staff from varied disciplines to ensure your treatment is provided by as many licensed professionals as you need.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is an approach that is commonly practiced at The Treehouse. Centered around the theme of mindfulness and setting and achieving goals, DBT is practiced by therapists that see themselves as equals with their clients. The goal of DBT is that the client and therapist will work together and put in equal effort to help the client get to their goal of reaching sobriety and staying sober. The five vital functions of DBT that are practiced by The Treehouse are:
- Improving motivation
- Enhancing capabilities
- Enhancing and maintaining motivation
- Structuring the environment
- Generalizing capabilities
The Treehouse sits on 40 acres of beautiful land and lakes with the sole intention of bringing its clients the peace and focus required to help them overcome their addiction. We have counselors, therapists, and nurse practitioners waiting to help design a treatment plan that is specifically tailored to you. Give us a call today to learn more.