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Is Morphine Addictive?

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

June 3, 2019

Morphine is a highly potent opioid used in the treatment of moderate to severe pain. As one of the strongest opioids available, this drug comes with a high risk of abuse and addiction. Morphine addiction can happen quickly, especially in those individuals who abuse the drug.

Morphine is a strong opioid narcotic commonly used to treat severe pain in a hospital setting. In fact, according to the Global Information Network About Drugs, morphine is one of the strongest opioid medications available.

This substance is available as a tablet, liquid, capsule, or in an injectable form. Common brand names for morphine include Roxanol, Kadian, and MS-Contin. This drug is typically only prescribed in cases where the pain is unmanageable with other medications.

This drug is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance, which is the highest regulation for medications used in a medical setting. As a Schedule II substance, morphine has an extremely high potential for abuse and addiction.

What Makes Morphine So Addictive?

As with other opioids, morphine binds to opioid receptors in the brain to block sensations of pain. This drug acts directly on the reward system in the brain and can create feelings of euphoria and relaxation.

Morphine also causes dopamine to flood the brain. This action contributes to the euphoric effects of the drug. The more morphine a person uses, the more his or her brain and body become dependent on the drug to experience feelings of pleasure.

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The more morphine a person takes, the more this dependence deepens. Additionally, abusing morphine can quickly result in tolerance to be built up. This means that more of the drug is needed to experience the same positive effects.

Continued abuse of morphine only increases a person’s tolerance to and dependence on the drug. Many people will continue taking this substance to feel “normal” or to function properly. This can fuel the cycle of abuse and lead to an addiction to morphine.

Getting Treatment For Morphine Abuse And Addiction

People who are addicted to morphine often lose control over their drug use. This can put individuals at risk for severe health consequences including overdose. Seeking treatment for an addiction to morphine is the best way to avoid potentially deadly side effects.

Many people with an opioid addiction will need to participate in formal treatment. This will often begin with a medically supervised detox program. Detox programs provide any medical support needed throughout the morphine withdrawal process.

Once a detox program is completed, a residential or inpatient program will likely be recommended. These programs provide customized plans of recovery to help each person address and overcome his or her addiction.

To learn more about whether morphine is addictive, contact a treatment specialist today.

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National Institute on Drug Abuse - The Neurobiology of Drug Addiction

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