Pain has long been a part of human life. Sudden injuries, including broken bones and deep lacerations, can cause signals of pain that are so overwhelming and so intense that people just can’t concentrate, and they certainly can’t heal. Long-term pain caused by cancer or some other chronic illness can be even more debilitating, as the signals can vary in intensity from one day to the next without ever really resolving. Morphine, a very old drug made from the sap of a poppy flower, can help to soothe those pain signals and make them less acute. However, this drug also has the ability to amend the way the brain responds to pleasure, and this change could make an addiction likely.
Old Drug, New Problem
For people experiencing deep and overwhelming pain, morphine can be a remarkably effective tool. For example, in a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that soldiers provided with morphine in the aftermath of a serious injury had lower levels of post-traumatic stress disorder than people who did not get morphine. It’s possible that the relief provided by the drug allowed these soldiers to process their memories, and they healed as a result. Studies like this just demonstrate how this old drug works, and why it’s in use.
But morphine also tweaks the production and uptake of chemicals associated with pleasure. People who take this drug recreationally may not have signals of pain to block, and they may feel that the drug just allows them to feel happy, contented and comfortable. In time, they may become psychologically addicted to the way the drug makes them feel, and they may become desperate to get the drug and to keep taking it, no matter the cost.
Seeing the Signs
People with addictions like this may not refer to the drug by its brand name, as they may hope to evade detection, but common slang terms that refer to morphine could alert the family to the addiction that is unfolding. These terms include:
- Vitamin M
- Miss Emma
In addition to peppering conversation with slang, people who abuse morphine may keep supplies of the drug on hand at all times. Long-time users develop flu-like symptoms when they do not have access to the drug on hand, and they may stockpile supplies in order to ensure that they never have to deal with that kind of physical pain. The Partnership at Drugfree.org suggests that morphine can be sold in tablet form, or it can be compounded into syrup or an injection. Sometimes, morphine even comes in the form of a suppository.
Any hidden stashes of drugs should be a red flag to families, indicating that a serious drug problem is unfolding.Some people with these addictions build up their supplies by making purchases from street dealers, and some use online pharmacies in order to keep their supplies high. But the cost of these purchases can quickly add up, and those rising costs might force people to steal, lie or otherwise stoop to crime in order to afford their drug habits. Some people even steal medications from other family members, hoping to keep the high going.
Why Help Is Required
Addictions to morphine are quite serious, as the sedating properties of this drug can cause people to lose their lives. In advanced cases of addiction, people take larger and larger doses of the drugs they’re addicted to, as their bodies have become accustomed to the effects of smaller doses of drugs. In time, they may take doses that are so high that they produce a high, but the doses might also stop the heart.
People who abuse morphine via needle face even more severe health consequences, especially if they share needles with friends. Shared needles can become blunt and dull, doing damage as they pierce the skin, and tiny droplets of blood can remain inside the needle, exposing the person to diseases like HIV or hepatitis.
Addictions can also rend the fabric of the family, causing feelings of hostility to grow and spread, and the family’s finances can suffer if the person loses gainful employment due to the addiction. Some families even see the addicted person they love enter prison programs, since using this medication without a prescription from a doctor is an illegal activity.
These sorts of problems don’t have to strike your family. Let the experts at Axis help. We can provide 24-hour-per-day supervision in our residential program, ensuring that the addicted person has no access to drugs. We can also provide scientifically proven therapies that can help the person you love to understand the addiction and develop a resistance to the temptation to use. Please call us, and we’ll get started on the enrollment process.