Addicted to Morphine after Surgery

Morphine is an analgesic (pain relieving) medication. It is considered to be the “gold standard” of pain-relievers and is often prescribed for those recovering from surgery or suffering from other painful conditions. Morphine is marketed under various brand names, such as the following:

  • MS-Contin
  • Avinza
  • Kadian
  • Roxanol

Developing Dependence on Morphine

Morphine is in a class of drugs known as opioids and is highly addicting. When morphine was first marketed it was sold both as a pain reliever and as a treatment for opium and alcohol addiction, but is now known to be more addictive than either of those substances. It is chemically similar to heroin and has equal addiction potential.

The process of becoming addicted to a drug involves developing tolerance and dependence. When tolerance develops (often within weeks) the body adapts to a drug and responsiveness is decreased. Larger amounts of the drug are needed to achieve previous effects. When people are taking morphine for its analgesic properties, they may find themselves taking larger amounts or taking the drug more often than prescribed in order to relieve their pain. Even when prescription pain-relievers are taken exactly as prescribed, it is very possible for dependence and addiction to develop. When dependence occurs, the body has adapted to the drug to such an extent that the drug needs to be consumed regularly in order for the user to feel normal and to avoid withdrawal symptoms. When the user begins to crave the drug, full addiction has set in.

Morphine Dependence and Withdrawal Symptoms

When someone has developed a dependence on morphine, early withdrawal symptoms may begin between six and twelve hours after the last dose taken. Early morphine withdrawal symptoms include the following:

  • Insomnia
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Diarrhea
  • Yawning
  • Sweating

Withdrawal symptoms may progress to later include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Chills
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Headache
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Dangerously high blood pressure
  • Dangerously high heart rate

Withdrawal symptoms generally peak two to four days after the last dose is taken.

Treating Morphine Addiction and Dependence

Treatment for dependence on or addiction to morphine involves a safe, medically managed detox. Medically supervised detox involves clearing the drug from a user’s body while minimizing discomfort and withdrawal symptoms and, while effective at immediately ending drug use, is only the first step in morphine addiction recovery.

Addiction is a psychological disease characterized by distinct changes in a user’s brain that are the result of adaptations to morphine. Treatment recognizes these changes and works with them. The use of medications like methadone or buprenorphine is often very helpful when treating dependence on morphine. These drugs attach to opioid receptors in the brain and reduce cravings. Sometimes clients continue on maintenance drugs indefinitely, or the patient may be gradually weaned off of them after a period of stabilization. If the condition for which the morphine was initially prescribed is still causing pain, then finding a non-harmful way to address that issue is also very important. Counseling and education are important parts of addiction treatment, as is thorough followup and aftercare.

Need Help with Morphine Addiction after Surgery?

If you’ve developed dependence on morphine after surgery or in any other manner, we understand and want to help. Call our toll-free number any time, 24 hours a day, and let us connect you with trained professionals who know what you’re going through and can help you escape the cycle of addiction.

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