Signs and symptoms of morphine addiction

How do you know if someone is addicted to morphine? Here, we explore the signs and symptoms of morphine addiction and its treatment.

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Reviewed by: Dr. Dili Gonzalez, M.D.

Do you think you know someone who may be addicted to morphine?

Morphine is an extremely addictive painkiller.  In fact, morphine addictive properties make it a Schedule II narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act.  When addicts try to quit morphine, they often experience severe cramps, pains and anxiety which can result in using the drug again in order to avoid withdrawal. But what are some clear signs of morphine addiction?

Here, we will explore the signs and symptoms of morphine addiction and let you know what you can do to help someone who is addicted. Then, we invite your questions about treating morphine addiction in the comments section at the end.

Symptoms of morphine addiction

Morphine addiction can start as a prescribed medication to solve real pain issues. However, having morphine in the system can lead to habitual drug seeking or using morphine other than intended. Many users find that they cannot stop after even a few weeks of regular dosing.

Morphine addiction can result in a range of symptoms from weight loss to vomiting and memory problems. There are also obvious emotional signs of morphine addiction which can include anxiety, hallucinations, depression and irritability. Morphine addiction also reduces the addict’s level of consciousness, which affects their ability to be fully aware of their surroundings.

In addition to morphine withdrawal symptoms after a missed dose (lack of appetite, irritability, weight loss, drowsiness and sweating), Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders clinical criteria for morphine addiction include:

  1. A strong desire to take morphine
  2. Difficulties controlling morphine use
  3. Entering a psychological withdrawal state when the drug use is stopped
  4. Increased doses due to tolerance
  5. Neglect of alternative interests because of morphine use
  6. Persistent morphine use despite harmful consequences physically or mentally

Morphine addiction symptoms: Can they be treated?

Morphine addiction symptoms can be treated through several different types of therapies and/or the use of prescription medications.

Psychological treatments – Psychotherapy and behavioral therapy are two of the most successful interventions for morphine addiction. These treatments address the emotional and cognitive aspects of addiction to resolve and change past behaviors.

Opiate replacement therapy – Replacement therapy attempts to curb addiction to morphine by replacing morphine with a less euphoric opioid, such as methadone or buprenorphine, which is taken under medical supervision. Replacement therapy helps addicts to lead a normal life while being treated with a substance that stops them from experiencing the harsh morphine withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

Prescription medications – There are medications available for morphine addiction and when used in combination with behavioral treatment programs increase chances of quitting morphine significantly. Prescription medications include anti-anxiety meds, antidepressants, and drugs such as nalexone or buprenorphine used to address withdrawal symptoms. Patients are less likely to become dependent on buprenorphine and when they stop the withdrawal symptoms are much weaker.

Morphine addiction support groups – Morphine addiction support groups can be useful for helping treat morphine addiction symptoms. Many addicts can find a sense of community by joining a support group and get further assistance psychologically months down the road to help prevent relapse. Support groups can be found at your local rehab center.

Signs and symptoms of morphine addiction questions

We welcome your questions below about how the signs and symptoms of Morphine addiction manifest for morphine users. We will try to answer any questions you have about morphine addiction personally and promptly.

Reference Sources: NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse: Medical treatment for opioid addiction
MedlinePlus: Prescription drug abuse
NHTSA: Morphine
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
Medical Reviewers
Dr. Dili Gonzalez, M.D. is a general surgeon practicing women's focused medici...

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a licensed medical professional.

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