Clinically Reviewed by Linda Whiteside, LPCC

Medically Reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson, MD

Morphine Sulfate: What It Is & Risks Associated With Taking It

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Abuse of opioids in this country is a crisis of epidemic proportions. The start of the 21st century saw the rise of opioid prescription abuse become one of the biggest substance abuse issues in the US. The need for millions of Americans to manage severe and chronic pain, whether due to aging or injury, is undeniable, however, the drugs can be highly addictive. This is particularly true for opioids which attach to pain receptors in the brain and block out pain messaging while releasing dopamine to produce a strong feeling of euphoria.

Morphine Sulfate is one of the oldest and most popular prescription opioid painkillers. Morphine is one of the most commonly cited contributing factors to millions of Americans who have reported misusing prescription painkillers. By understanding how addictive morphine sulfate can be, you can be better prepared should you or someone you know be at risk for developing a dependence on the drug.

What is Morphine Sulfate?

Morphine sulfate is a painkiller available by prescription only, that is used to relieve or reduce moderate to severe chronic pain. They are a formulation of morphine that is designed to be taken orally and to provide an extended-release function. This extended-release feature is crucial for the legitimate users who require it to help manage constant, daily pain which is unable to be, or ineffectively treated by, other treatment options.

Even when taken as directed, morphine sulfate has the potential to build a chemical dependence, and can easily result in addiction or abuse. Long-term morphine sulfate use will result in significant dependence, which happens after the body becomes used to the effects of the opioid on the pain receptors. At this stage, it is required by the body in either more frequent doses or larger doses in order to feel the same effect.

Side-Effects & Risks of Morphine Sulfate

There are a staggering number of side effects and risks from taking morphine sulfate, and while many of them can be considered minor, there are some that can be quite dangerous and even potentially deadly. One of the main risks of illicit or unprescribed morphine sulfate use is the enormous potential for an overdose condition.

Some of the minor side effects of morphine sulfate can include dizziness, nausea, sweating, and constipation. Depending on the severity of the dosage, there may also be drowsiness, headache, and a loss of appetite.

Even though more severe side effects are uncommon, morphine sulfate has a large potential to cause serious and potentially dangerous side effects. These effects can include stiff muscles, convulsions, confusion or trouble focusing, difficulty swallowing, slowed rate of breathing, and depressed heart rate. If any of these more severe side effects occur, the user should see a doctor or medical professional immediately. 

One of the most serious long-term effects related to morphine sulfate use is the high potential for addiction and dependence. Once the individual has been taking morphine sulfate for a longer duration than intended, their brain stops producing certain neurotransmitters itself and requires the morphine sulfate to produce those chemicals.

One of the main neurotransmitters involved in this “burnout” is dopamine. Dopamine has a crucial role in the pleasure and reward systems in the brain, so when dopamine is provided in response to something, it can build an incredibly powerful chemical dependence. In many cases, when the opioids are cut off, the recovering individual’s brain will initially have trouble picking up the dopamine production at the levels required to function normally.

Withdrawal From Morphine Sulfate

Morphine withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable at the least, painful and dangerous at their worst, with some of the most serious cases being potentially deadly without medical assistance. The type of symptoms as well as the severity of the symptoms will vary depending on the tolerance of the user, as well as other factors. The individual’s general health, metabolism, as well as drug dosage, and frequency tendencies also play significant roles in the detox process.

Common symptoms when detoxing from morphine sulfate include:

  • Runny nose
  • Watery, red eyes
  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Body aches & pains
  • Elevated heartbeat
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Agitation and anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Disorientation

The severity of symptoms for some heavy users is frequently too much and is the factor that forces a relapse. There are situations where the individual is simply too dependent on the substance and needs medical intervention to help facilitate detox more safely.

This is often seen in those that have been taking high doses for a relatively long time, and have developed a dependency that is not only incredibly uncomfortable and painful but may even become medically complicated and require additional efforts from medical professionals. Some of the symptoms of extreme opioid withdrawals can include seizure and coma, so sometimes it’s in the individual’s best interest to get additional help.

How to Safely Detox From Morphine Sulfate

If you or someone you know is having a problem with morphine sulfate and may need to detox, there are resources available that can dramatically increase the chances of success for the recovering individual. It is incredibly important to reach out to that person and make sure they understand they are not alone, and that there is a support network waiting for them if they choose.

By working with an experienced professional treatment center, the individual recovering from their morphine sulfate abuse will have a far greater chance of their recovery being successful over the long term.

Inpatient rehab is particularly advantageous for  individuals as it will also benefit from learning improved coping techniques to help them deal with future potentially triggering situations. This gives them the skills they need to have a successful, permanent recovery. Furthermore, inpatient drug rehab removes all distractions and temptations to return to drug use, allowing the individual to focus solely on their recovery and well-being.

If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to morphine sulfate, the time to get help is now. Don’t let another precious moment slip you by while being plagued by a drug addiction. Reach out today to a premier rehab in Los Angeles California that can get you on your way to living your best life possible right now. 

Read Further

Zomorph: Side-Effects & Risks of Morphine

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Written By: Linda Whiteside

Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who has been providing mental health services for over 10 years.

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson

Went to medical school at The George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C.

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