Morphine is an opiate medication used for pain relief. As a controlled substance, this substance has a significant potential for both psychological and physical dependence and abuse. Because it is readily available and relatively inexpensive, it is often a popular drug of abuse.
During the 1800s, the French physiologist François Magendie advanced the use of morphine in medicine, administering it both orally and by injection. Morphine’s greatest medical advantage is its depressant action, which causes the threshold of pain to rise, relieving pain many other analgesics are unable to control. Its narcotic properties also produce a calming effect, protecting the body’s system in traumatic shock. Its greatest disadvantage, however, is its addictiveness.
Morphine abuse and addiction has been reported to be among the highest as compared to a large number of other types of similar drugs that are currently being used for the treatment of chronic and severe pain; additionally, drug overdose rates that have been linked directly to the medication have increased dramatically in comparison to other similar types of opiate based drugs. Drug researchers at Brown University conducted studies in relation to Morphine use that have indicated that as little as a single dose of the drug of the drug could potentially contribute to addiction; additionally, a study that was conducted by Japanese researchers concluded that mice that were administered just 10mg. of the drug, twice a day for as little as five days, exhibited drug withdrawal symptoms
Morphine’s popularity on the Civil War battlefields boosted its general use in the treatment of many kinds of discomfort, and a leading British doctor called morphine “God’s own medicine.” However, thousands of people worldwide were tragically addicted. In 1898, the Bayer corporation synthesized heroin from morphine and marketedit as an antidote to morphine addiction, but the concurrent moral reform movements were beginning to give rise to anti-opiate sentiments, and morphine’s popularity and acceptance began to decline. Today, morphine is often replacedin medicine by methadone, which also treats chronic pain and prevents withdrawal symptoms.
Short term effects:
- Pain relief
- Cough suppression
- Anxiety relief
- Unusual unpleasant feelings (dysphoria) or unusual pleasant feelings (euphoria)
- Decreased breathing (slow or shallow breathing)
- Certain changes in the circulatory system
- Slowing of the digestive tract
- Release of histamine (which often causes itching)
This drug is commonly abused. People may experience euphoria due to the drug. Frequent use of morphine leads to tolerance and dependence. This means that a higher morphine dosage will be necessary to achieve the desired effects, and the body will become accustomed to the effects (and morphine withdrawal symptoms may occur if the drug is stopped).
Long term effects
Long term effects involve the central nervous system, the gastrointestinal system and the urogenital system, causing multiple side effects.
- Constipation: Opioids decrease gastric motility–the natural movement of contents through the intestine–resulting in constipation. This can be minimized by drinking adequate amounts of water, eating a high-fiber diet, exercising regularly and using stool softeners as directed by your physician.
- Decreased Libido: Some men on high doses of long-term morphine may experience decreased testosterone levels. This can cause decreased libido and decreased potency. However, testosterone replacement therapy can alleviate this problem.
- Physical Dependence: Because morphine affects the central nervous system, sudden removal of the drug can cause physical symptoms of withdrawal. Morphine affects a person’s respiratory rate, heart rate and blood pressure, gastrointestinal system, and mental state. Stopping morphine after long-term use has multiple effects, such as anxiety, agitation, insomnia, sweating, nausea and vomiting, watery eyes and runny nose, drooling and chills. Withdrawal symptoms can begin from 6 to 12 hours after abruptly stopping the drug, and peak in one to three days. Tapering off can prevent withdrawal symptoms.
- Addiction: Addiction is a psychological and behavioral phenomenon. It’s not the same thing as physical dependence. A person who is addicted to morphine has three characteristic traits: compulsive use, continuing use of the drug despite bad consequences, and an obsession or preoccupation with getting and using more morphine. As morphine addiction worsens, the person’s life becomes more consumed with the drug. Relationships suffer, and the person’s life is constricted or limited. This is the opposite of what happens to a patient who uses morphine for pain relief. A person who gets pain relief from this substance has a more active life. He engages with family and friends, and is able to participate in activities that he could not perform before because of the limiting effects of pain.