Morphine is an opioid prescribed to treat pain after surgery, as the result of an injury or to manage chronic pain. Morphine works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain, changing the way the body perceives pain.1 Morphine is not a drug people turn to when they want to gain or lose weight; however, the drug can affect a wide range of the body’s systems.
Morphine is known to change the way the body uses food and resulting in changes to a user’s eating and exercise habits. Body weight may go up or down as a result. Understanding how morphine abuse impacts the appetite and digestive system can help you or your loved one recognize problems and get help.
Morphine can cause food cravings in some people. An unusual desire to eat sweet things can drive some morphine addicts to eat candy and desserts and drink sugary sodas. The extra calories in these foods can lead to weight gain.
Changing Energy Levels
Morphine is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. Its direct physical effects take place mostly in the brain, but every process in the body that depends on the central nervous system also slows down. Heart rate, breathing and even thinking become slow and sluggish.
The slowing down of these systems results in a reduction in the amount of energy the body uses. This excess energy can be retained by the body and stored as fat, causing body weight to go up.
Loss of Appetite
Morphine use can also result in a loss of appetite.2 For patients using morphine medically, not eating enough food can become a big problem. Even though a person needs quality nutrition to help heal from surgery or fight off a disease, morphine makes food look unappealing. Patients may also suffer from nausea, which makes eating and retaining food even more difficult.3
Narcotic Bowel Syndrome
Large amounts of morphine can cause a set of symptoms called narcotic bowel syndrome (NBS).4
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal swelling
Although morphine usually relieves pain, it does not lessen the pain of NBS, and the person struggling with addiction may not be able to identify morphine as the cause of NBS. Even if the addict understands the problem, the addict may have difficulty reducing his or her morphine intake. Hoping to alleviate the abdominal pain, the person struggling may take more morphine, which makes things worse.
Unfortunately, eating less food does reduce the symptoms of NBS. Often those addicted to morphine cut their food intake to avoid the pain. This causes the person’s weight to drop quickly, resulting in extreme malnutrition.
Finding Help for Morphine Addiction
If you or someone you love is struggling with morphine addiction, we are here for you. Call our toll-free helpline 24 hours a day to speak to an admissions coordinator about available treatment options. Getting the right help can end morphine dependence and bring your body back into balance. Call us at 855-894-3703 now.
1 “Morphine (Roxanol) - Side Effects, Dosage, Interactions - Drugs.” EverydayHealth.com, 12 Jan. 2015.
2 “General Cancer Information.” Side Effects of Morphine | Cancer in General | Cancer Research UK, 29 June 2015.
3 “Morphine (Oral Route) Side Effects.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 1 Mar. 2017.