Anyone receiving treatment for a condition involving chronic pain symptoms may be prescribed morphine as a treatment. As one of the more powerful opiate-based drugs, morphine does a good job at relieving pain, but it can also lead to addiction when used in excess or used on a long-term basis. Likewise, people who use this drug for recreational purposes face the same risk.
Side effects of morphine addiction develop out of the increasing damage this drug causes in the body over time. Knowing what to watch for can help you take needed steps towards getting treatment help.
Morphine’s Mechanism of Action
Morphine’s addictive potential stems from its ability to interfere with the brain’s chemical production rates, according to the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Neurotransmitter chemicals, such as dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin regulate thinking, perceptions and emotions and must be present at stable levels in order for the brain to function normally.
As morphine stimulates chemical production at abnormally high rates, effects had on the brain’s chemical system can have lasting effects when abused on an ongoing basis. In effect, side effects of morphine addiction develop out of these interactions.
Side Effects of Morphine Addiction
With ongoing morphine abuse, chemical-producing cells in the brain undergo considerable strain to produce excess amounts of neurotransmitter materials. Over time, these cells come to rely on morphine effects as they lose the ability to produce needed chemical supplies on their own.
Before long, chemical imbalances start to develop, which inevitably offset the brain’s ability to regulate the body’s systems. Withdrawal-based side effects of morphine addiction result from these changes, some of which include:
- Sleep disturbances
- Aches and pains
- Anxiety episodes
Rising Tolerance Levels
Morphine’s chemical makeup shares certain similarities with the brain’s own natural chemicals. Consequently, the brain readily adapts to morphine’s presence by automatically reducing its own neurotransmitter production rates.
As the brain adapts, a person’s tolerance for the drug increases, so he or she must ingest increasingly larger doses to experience the same desired effects of the drug. The brain’s tolerance for the drug will continue to increase for as long as a person keeps using the drug.
Morphine acts as a depressant-type drug, slowing down chemical activities throughout the brain and central nervous system. Once a person reaches the point where he or she is ingesting large doses, morphine’s effects can slow the body’s respiratory system to dangerous levels, according to the National Safety Council.
This side effect of morphine addiction accounts for the majority of overdose deaths that result from morphine abuse.
More than anything, psychological dependence poses the greatest threat to a person’s ever overcoming morphine addiction. Psychological dependence takes root with the brain’s reward center, an area that determines a person’s overall psychological makeup in terms of his or her priorities, thinking processes and motivations.
Once addiction is at work, morphine becomes the center of a person’s world taking priority over family, work and anything else that was once important in his or her life.