Morphine addiction potential is among the highest of all drugs known to humans. Only heroin which is nearly identical to morphine ranks nearly identical in addictiveness. Compared to other legally prescribed pain relievers, morphine is considerably more likely to be abused and development of a morphine addiction. Withdrawal symptoms can occur after only five days of administration and abrupt cessation of dosing.
Morphine has the same mechanism of action as other opioids. Described simply, morphine binds to a specific opioid receptor, inhibits specific chemical messengers and causes decreased excitability of neurons. Altogether, this limits the body’s ability to transmit pain. Therefore, Morphine prescription is appropriate for the relief of moderate to severe pain. It is intended for use in patients who require repeated dosing with potent opioid analgesics over periods of more than a few days. Physical dependence leading to morphine addiction does usually occur only after a few weeks of continued administration.
The side effects of morphine and morphine addiction are essentially those observed with other opioid pain medications. These affect the major organ systems of the body including cardiac, respiratory, and gastrointestinal systems. Some examples are decreased rate of breathing, or temporary cessation of breathing (apnea), and constipation. To a lesser extent, severe side effects can occur which include low heart rate, complete cessation of breathing, and even cardiac arrest.
The onset of withdrawal symptoms associated with morphine addiction often occurs shortly before the next scheduled dose and sometimes within 6-12 hours after the last treatment. The person with morphine addiction would experience strong drug cravings, insomnia, diarrhea, runny nose, yawning, and sweating. If another dose of morphine is not received to address the morphine addiction the symptoms progress to include irritability, body aches, severe abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, tremors, and even stronger and more intense drug craving. Severe depression and vomiting are also prevalent with morphine addiction withdrawal. Major withdrawal symptoms peak between 48 and 96 hours after the last dose and subside after about 8 to 12 days. Sudden withdrawal by morphine addiction patients in poor health occasionally results in death. The psychological withdrawal from morphine addiction is a very painful process and can last a lifetime.