Morphine is categorized as an opiate. It is obtained from opium in its raw form from the poppy plant.
(When I read this the first thing that came to mind was war, since the poppy is a symbol relating to it. Ironic. The opium is something related to a different kind of war. And oddly enough, this war of addiction also loses lives. Knowing this will unfortunately cause me to think of morphine. It’s how my brain works.)
Since it is a powerful analgesic drug, it is prescribed for treating severe to acute pain. Morphine is also often used to relieve pain following operations.
As long as morphine is taken according to the dosage prescribed by the doctor for treating pain, it is safe. However, if the individual starts taking it in doses that exceed the prescribed limits, or if it is used for other purposes than medical use, it can rapidly result in addiction.
The reward systems of the brain are activated by the addictive characteristics of morphine. The anticipation of the reward becomes very intense, which causes the individual to want the drug continuously, which in turn results in him/her making morphine the focus of his/her life. This capacity of morphine to chemically alter the brain from functioning normally by activating its reward mechanisms is what causes addiction to the drug. Besides, morphine also impairs the consciousness level of an individual, hampering his/her capability of being fully cognizant of his/her surroundings and to think properly.
(For example, trying to eat while I have morphine in my system can get tricky. Mind you this is ONLY when I take it in excess. It’s happened. Yes. Which is why I am currently going through the most intense withdrawal I have ever gone through on my own. Taking extra doses leaves me in a bad place because the pharmacy has a strict protocol for me and I can only get my prescription filled weekly. I cannot get it until exactly the morning of the 8th day, so I take my dose that morning. Anyways, when I increase doses on my own, or take it any way other than orally, I react differently. My mind seems to shut down. Heartbeats gets slower. And communicating becomes difficult. I shut down all over. And getting a fork to go straight to my mouth to eat something is ridiculous. It is shameful for me to even know what using morphine wrong feels like. But I do. I have screwed up in the past. I’ve gone overboard with it more than I am willing to admit. And for that I am currently being eaten alive with guilt.)
Once the body gets used to morphine, it requires increased amounts of the drug to produce the same pleasurable effects. This is when an individual develops tolerance to it. While tolerance to morphine usually develops in a few weeks, sometimes it can happen in just a few days. Once an individual develops tolerance to the opiate, he/she will undergo withdrawal symptoms if the amount of the drug is reduced by a certain level. The withdrawal symptom’s severity usually depends on the length of time the drug has been used and the amounts taken. The withdrawal symptoms of morphine generally include a whole range of physical sensations such as: uneasiness; abdominal cramps; diarrhea; nausea; vomiting; insomnia; chills; coryza; rhinorrhea; severe bouts of sneezing; lacrimination; perspiration; muscular spasms and twitching; involuntary kicking; acute aches in the abdomen, back and legs; cold and hot flashes; restless sleep; goose flesh; mydriasis; increases in blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and the temperature of the body.
If untreated, the addict then gets trapped in a ceaseless cycle of attempting to quit, experiencing withdrawal symptoms, the craving urge, and relapsing. And even if the addict refrains from relapsing, the metabolites of the drug which remain for many years in the fatty tissues get released into the blood, which increases the chances of craving and relapsing continuing for a long time. If left untreated, even microscopic amounts of metabolites can make the individual feel as if he/she has actually had the drug, setting off the feelings of craving and relapsing, even after years of being off the drug.