Where to Find the Best Treatment for Morphine Sulfate Addiction

By The Fix staff 08/06/19

Looking for morphine sulfate addiction treatment? Our guide can help.

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Table of Contents

1. What is Morphine Sulfate and How is it Used?
2. Overdose Risks
3. Development of Morphine Sulfate Dependence
4. Development of Morphine Sulfate Addiction
5. Preparing for Addiction Treatment
6. Inpatient or Outpatient Assistance for Morphine Addiction?
7. Identifying Effective Plans Morphine-Related Care
8. Find the Best Morphine Sulfate Care Facilities

Suffering from the damaging impact of an addiction to morphine sulfate? Help is available for even the most serious kinds of problems. With the information gathered here, you and your loved ones can learn more about the nature of addiction. You can also learn more about the types of treatments recommended by experts, as well as the common care settings.

Crucially, you can also learn how to tell which addiction programs have services that are up to par and which ones don’t. From this informed perspective, you can begin to identify you ideal scenario for quality care at a top-rated facility. That way, you’ll know you’re doing everything you can to prepare for your journey back to a sober lifestyle.

What is Morphine Sulfate and How is it Used?

Morphine sulfate (also known as morphine sulphate) is one of the formal chemical names for morphine, one of the world’s most widely used opioid medications. It’s available in a large assortment of forms, including tablets, extended-release tablets, capsules, extended-release capsules, oral solutions, concentrated oral solutions, injectable solutions and rectal preparations. Morphine also comes in a range of formulations and dosage potencies.

In all of its many forms, morphine sulfate/morphine sulphate serves as a mainline treatment for moderate pain and severe pain. Certain products (e.g., extended-release capsules and tablets) are used only to treat severe symptoms that don’t respond to the effects of weaker painkilling alternatives. In addition, certain products are only prescribed to people who have previous experience with opioid substances.

Morphine and all other related medications relieve pain by changing the way you perceive the signals sent by nerve receptors throughout your body. While doing so, they also slow down or depress the normal rate of nerve cell communication in your central nervous system. When this communication decreases, you experience feelings of sedation. At the same time, changes in your brain chemistry also trigger intense feelings of pleasure.

All chemical formulas for morphine are classified by the U.S. government as Schedule II controlled substances. Among other things, this means that morphine’s use comes with a “high potential” for substance abuse. That abuse can lead to severe indicators of both psychological and physical dependence. In turn, a dependent state can transition into an addiction.

Opioids powerful enough to qualify for Schedule II classification also have something else in common. Namely, they can produce dangerous suppression of your normal nervous system function when taken in high amounts. Potential results of this major alteration of your system include life-threatening decreases in your breathing rate and heart rate.

Consumption of morphine sulfate/morphine sulphate can also lead to the appearance of a range of side effects. Some of these effects are only of concern when they’re severe or linger over time. Examples in this category include pupil dilation, urinary problems, headaches, sleepiness, painful stomach cramps and changes in your typical mood. 

Other side effects are always worrisome to doctors, regardless of their intensity or duration. Examples here include heartbeat alterations, skin with a bluish or purplish appearance, breathing problems, extreme sleepiness, itching, rash, seizures and swelling anywhere in the region of your throat or face.

Morphine sulfate/morphine sulphate and other morphine products are available in the U.S. under a wide assortment of brand names. The list of these products includes:

Generic morphine products are also common. Morphine sulfate/morphine sulphate and its related medications have a few well-known street names or nicknames, including M, Miss Emma, White Stuff and Monkey.

Overdose Risks

In the past few years, Americans have been struggling to address a widespread phenomenon: opioid overdose. Like all other members of this large family of substances, morphine can serve as an overdose source. In addition to dangerous decreases in your normal heart and lung function, possible problems in someone affected by a life-threatening toxic reaction include:

  • Flaccid (i.e., limp) muscles
  • Skin that feels clammy or cold to the touch
  • Abnormally low blood pressure
  • Intense drowsiness followed by a dazed state called stupor
  • Complete stoppage of your heart or lung function
  • Complete loss of activity in your circulatory system
  • Unconsciousness
  • Coma (a profoundly unresponsive state of unconsciousness)

You can potentially overdose on morphine even when taking it according to your doctor’s instructions. However, your risks rise if you disregard those instructions and take too much medication at once or reduce the time you wait between doses. Your chances of overdosing also increase if you consume any amount of medication without official permission from a doctor. Other groups with increased odds of experiencing a morphine overdose include elderly adults, people who mix their medication with benzodiazepines or alcohol, and people affected by certain kinds of major health issues.

Development of Morphine Sulfate Dependence

For 200 years, addictive morphine has played an important role in the medical relief of serious pain. However, by its very nature, it has the potential to make you dependent if you take it for more than brief amounts of time. Dependence is the common name for a set of chemical and physical changes that cause your central nervous system to treat a substance as an accepted part of its daily environment. If dependent people fail to meet the new expectation for continued substance intake, they can develop symptoms of withdrawal.

Withdrawal is basically your brain’s way of telling you that its now-established need for the opioid in question has not been met. It can happen if you stop taking your medication altogether. It can also happen if you make rapid reductions in your habitual dosage.

Morphine sulfate/morphine sulphate withdrawal is well-understood by researchers, doctors and addiction specialists. It begins with an early-stage syndrome that includes things such as anxiousness, aches in your muscles, a runny nose, insomnia, unusual sweating and excessive yawning. As the process continues, a group of later-stage symptoms also begin to appear. They include such things as cramping in your stomach/abdominal region, diarrhea, dilated pupils, nausea and bouts of vomiting.

It’s easy to get morphine dependence and morphine addiction confused, especially since people affected by both issues can go into withdrawal. However, dependence differs from addiction in the way it affects your behavior and the function of your brain. To begin with, doctors can manage their dependent patients and assist them in maintaining reliable function in their daily routines. That is not the case for morphine addiction, which often triggers a damaging loss of day-to-day life stability. In addition, the brain areas altered by morphine sulfate/morphine sulphate dependence are apparently not the same as those involved in cases of addiction.

Development of Morphine Sulfate Addiction

Like dependence, a transition into addiction is possible even for people who never abuse their prescribed doses of morphine. However, it’s far more common for addiction to follow on the heels of an established pattern of abuse. That’s true whether you take the medication too frequently, in excessive amounts or without a doctor’s say-so. It’s important to note that unauthorized use of morphine always qualifies as a form of prescription drug abuse, regardless of any other surrounding circumstances.

Potential Symptoms in Users of Morphine Sulfate

The presence of morphine sulfate addiction will qualify you for a diagnosis of a disease called opioid use disorder, or OUD. In addition to withdrawal, specific problems found in addicted people with this condition can include:

  • Increasing tolerance to the drug effects of your accustomed dose of morphine sulfate/morphine sulphate
  • An established pattern of excessive medication consumption
  • An inability to change that excessive pattern and bring your prescription drug abuse to a halt
  • The presence of an intense desire to take more morphine
  • The creation of a daily routine that revolves around your need to acquire morphine, consume it or recover from its after effects
  • An inability to change your consumption habits even when you know that they cause you serious harm

The OUD diagnosis also applies to people who aren’t addicted, but still suffer from damaging life changes as a result of their involvement in substance abuse. The possible symptoms of non-addictive problems include:

  • Repeated use of morphine sulfate/morphine sulphate in situations that create safety hazards for you or anyone else
  • A pattern of medication abuse that keeps you from fulfilling important duties in any area of your life (e.g., work, home or school)
  • An inability to lower your level of medication intake even when you know that it negatively affects your main social or personal relationships

OUD sometimes only involves problems of addiction. On the other hand, it sometimes only involves problems of non-addicted abuse. However, the diagnosis includes both sets of symptoms, because they often appear together in the same person.

The seriousness of OUD varies from case to case. Only people with at least two symptoms in the span of a year can receive an official diagnosis. In moderate cases, four or five symptoms are present. In severe cases of OUD, a minimum of six symptoms appear within a year’s time. It takes a trained doctor or addiction specialist to determine how many problems are present.

Preparing for Addiction Treatment

Recovery from morphine sulfate addiction begins with a period of opioid detoxification, or detox. Detox is the starting point for a couple of important reasons. First, it allows you to bring your medication abuse to a close and take your first step toward sobriety. At the same time, detox gives the medication levels already built up in your system time to decrease.

Rather than seek assistance at this critical stage, some people try to detox without any medical oversight. It’s crucial to point out that no addiction specialist, doctor or public health official would recommend this go-it-alone approach. That’s true for several major reasons.

For starters, people who try to detox on their own often go “cold turkey” and stop taking morphine all at once. This is a serious mistake. Why? Any addicted person who quickly cuts off their intake will go into rapid withdrawal. In many cases, the intensity of the symptoms triggered by rapid withdrawal is simply too much to handle. Instead of going through them, you have a good chance of just returning to your previous pattern of abuse.

If you return to the misuse of morphine sulfate/morphine sulphate after detoxing for some time, you also face another, even more serious problem: the chance of experiencing a life-threatening overdose. As specialists in the field are well-aware, overdose risks are at their highest in this type of situation.That’s because your body will have lost a fair amount of its accumulated tolerance to the effects of morphine. This reduction in tolerance means that a habitual dose you took in the past may now be enough to crash your system, or even kill you. Unfortunately, someone dies in America every day as a result of precisely this chain of events.

By undergoing detox in a monitored, medically supervised environment, you steeply reduce your chances of experiencing any of these major issues. With the aid of constant oversight and supportive care, you can go through detoxification gradually and reduce your risks for overwhelming symptoms. In fact, if necessary your doctor may prescribe a medication specifically intended to decrease symptom intensity. The ongoing presence of medical professionals also provides you with rapid assistance for any unanticipated detoxification complications.

With your detoxification-related symptoms under control, you have smaller chances of relapsing back into addictive morphine abuse. If you do relapse, you’ll have ready access to help that can get you back on track and avoid overdosing. And if you do experience an overdose, the availability of immediate assistance can help you steer clear of any life-threatening outcomes.

On top of everything else, supervised detox has another notable advantage. During your time of enrollment, you’ll receive guidance and information that prepare you for continuation of your recovery in a rehab program. Without taking this next big step, you can easily find yourself falling back into the same downward spiral of uncontrolled, addictive substance abuse.

Inpatient or Outpatient Assistance for Morphine Addiction?

Depending on your unique circumstances, you may need to spend some time in hospitalized care before beginning your rehab program. Factors that make this a possibility include very severe OUD symptoms and major problems with your health. Unless you’re affected by these issues, you’ll almost certainly move straight to enrollment in an inpatient or outpatient rehab facility.

The residential model of inpatient care requires you to receive assistance while living at your chosen facility. This approach has several important advantages. First, since you stay onsite, you have round-the-clock access to medical monitoring and assistance. You also take part in a comprehensive, daily treatment plan that allows you to receive the most focused level of assistance possible. In addition, if that plan needs any modification, your doctor and the facility staff can take action as soon as possible and avoid potential delays.

The live-at-home model of outpatient rehab can make it easier for you to fit substance recovery into your current daily routine. That’s true because it only requires you to visit your chosen facility a few times a week for treatment, assessment and guidance. This less concentrated approach can work for a significant number of people with mild substance problems. However, it’s not really suitable for effective treatment of moderate or severe problems. Outpatient care is also not the general recommendation for addicted people who struggle simultaneously with a major mental health condition.

Identifying Effective Plans Morphine-Related Care

Over the years, research has shown that the best method of treating opioid use disorder is to combine certain effective medications and forms of behavioral psychotherapy. On the medication front, there are three options approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration: the opioid prescription drugs buprenorphine and methadone, and the anti-opioid naltrexone.

Some people seeking treatment are surprised to learn that opioid medications are used to treat morphine sulfate addiction. Those concerns are understandable, but unwarranted. Evidence clearly shows that appropriate use of buprenorphine or methadone doesn’t get you “high” or support addictive behaviors. Quite the opposite, these medications can help you stop your substance abuse, ease your passage through detoxification and reduce your risks for relapsing.

Naltrexone plays a different role at addiction centers. If you’re in a program that aims for complete substance abstinence, it can help you avoid relapsing after you fully detoxify your system. The medication does so by creating a chemical barrier around your brain and preventing the entry of opioids. Since these substances can’t reach your central nervous system, they can’t produce their classic drug effects.

Behavioral psychotherapy for morphine sulfate/morphine sulphate-related issues is available in multiple forms. All of these modern therapies provide their benefits by helping you modify damaging behavior that supports addiction. However, most approaches achieve this goal in different ways, and they can be combined to provide the best possible results in rehab. Research-proven techniques include:

  • Motivational interviewing
  • Family behavior therapy
  • 12-step facilitation
  • Community reinforcement approach (CRA) plus vouchers
  • Contingency management

Motivational interviewing is suited for people who don’t feel sure they want or need to take part in rehab. It provides a benefit by encouraging participants to strengthen their own personal motivation. Family behavior therapy includes your loved ones and makes it possible for you to understand and change any family dynamics that promote substance abuse.

Twelve-step facilitation is designed to encourage you to back up you main treatment with participation in an appropriate self-help group. CRA plus vouchers and contingency management share a common goal of rewarding your behavior when you stick to your treatment plan. Another approach called cognitive behavioral therapy can also help people dealing with serious opioid problems.

Find the Best Morphine Sulfate Care Facilities

As you may already know, all kinds of facilities are now offering help for people with opioid-related problems. However, that’s both a good thing and a bad thing. On one hand, it means that you can find a program that suits your exact needs. On the other hand, with so many possible options in front of you, you may find it hard to narrow down your choices and make decisions that ultimately support your recovery.

The first thing to know is that not every program you see advertised meets current standards for effective care. A program can fail to meet these standards in a number of ways. For example, it may not provide treatment with the accepted combination of proven medications and therapy. It may also hire staff members who don’t have the experience or professional credentials required to treat addiction. In addition, substandard programs may fail to maintain their facilities in a safe, secure manner.

When you call a program on your list of options, you should be able to verify that, at the very least, they follow current treatment guidelines, hire only experienced professionals and provide you with a safe environment. Addiction centers on your list should also readily answer your questions instead of just trying to “sell” you on their program. Information on any program’s website should also be informative and easy to navigate.

When discussing its enrollment procedures, any reputable rehab center should mention the need for a thorough assessment of your addiction symptoms. They should also mention the need to assess your health and examine any other life factors that have an impact on how your morphine sulfate/morphine sulphate-related problems are addressed. Without this type of intake process, it’s impossible to determine the steps required to support your ongoing progress in recovery.

You may notice that the very best addiction centers do more than cover the basics of effective care. Instead, they do what they can to customize your experience, treat you as a whole person and increase your level of comfort. The extras available to you may not be the same at every top-notch program. However, they generally include options — such as art therapy or stress management — that complement and reinforce the benefits of your medication- and therapy-based plan.

With all of this information at your disposal, you’ll find it easier to narrow down your options and find the best rehab program for your unique situation. Once you take that step, you’re ready for the challenging, rewarding work of re-establishing your lasting sobriety.

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