Morphine addiction is usually best treated with a combination of medication and therapy. Medication-assisted treatment is considered the gold standard in treatment for opioid use disorder, and it combines the use of medications like buprenorphine with behavioral therapy.
The key to any treatment program for morphine abuse is to customize treatment to the needs of each individual. This may include treatment for co-occurring disorders, such as depression or other mental health issues that occur alongside morphine abuse.
How Morphine Is Used & Abused
Morphine is a non-synthetic opioid that is sometimes used in a medical context to treat pain. This is an accepted use for the medication, but the drug’s addictive nature means it should only be used with the guidance of a medical professional and only exactly as prescribed.
Like most opioids, morphine is considered to have significant abuse potential. This is because morphine use causes a surge of euphoria and a tranquil relaxed feeling to come over a user, especially if used at moderate or high doses. Repeated opioid abuse, including repeated morphine abuse, can eventually cause a person to become addicted to opioids, struggling to avoid use of these types of drugs even if they logically know it is negatively affecting their physical and mental health.
How Does Morphine Addiction Begin?
While it’s often stigmatized, addiction isn’t a moral failing, and overcoming addiction isn’t just a matter of willpower. The use and abuse of opioids like morphine cause a large buildup of dopamine to occur in the brain, which is a chemical that is key to what makes important behaviors like sex or eating feel rewarding.
Over time, the brain learns to strongly connect that powerful feeling of reward with the use of opioids, which then leads to addiction. A person will feel a compulsion to abuse opioids, chasing that feeling of reward, even if they know that opioid use is going to negatively impact their life.
How Is Morphine Addiction Diagnosed?
A morphine addiction is most often referenced as an opioid addiction or an opioid use disorder (OUD). While individuals may have a preferred opioid of abuse, opioids have similar properties, and many are abused interchangeably depending on what is available. If a person can’t get morphine, they will likely turn to other opioids like Vicodin or heroin.
To be diagnosed with this type of addiction, you will need to get assessed by an addiction treatment professional. They will ask questions about your life, drug use, social and financial circumstances, and more. They will not only assess your mental health, but they will also generally assess your physical health too, checking if you may have any other health conditions that could contribute to your problems with addiction or that may be relevant to your treatment.
Assuming you seem to meet the diagnostic criteria, you may then be diagnosed with OUD.
How Is Morphine Addiction Treated?
Depending on the severity of a person’s opioid addiction, different treatment options are available. For many people, standard outpatient care, where you receive treatment from a provider for a small part of your week but otherwise can live as normal, will be sufficient.
Other people may initially benefit from more intense, controlled care in what is called an inpatient setting. This is when you stay at a facility for multiple weeks, receiving focused care in a safe, drug-free setting until you can better handle the pressures of everyday life while still avoiding morphine misuse.
Often people coming out of inpatient care first transition to intensive outpatient care, which is more restrictive than traditional outpatient care but allows for more autonomy than inpatient care. They then later enter a more standard outpatient program.
Regardless of the type of program one enters, an opioid addiction is typically treated with a combination of a few standard, proven treatments, outlined below.
Medication-assisted treatment means taking medication to directly reduce the risk of drug abuse. Two of the most common medications used for this purpose when treating an addiction to opioids are methadone and medications like Suboxone, which combine buprenorphine and naloxone.
Medication alone cannot address addiction, but it has been shown to significantly improve retention rates in addiction treatment programs as well as the results they achieve from those programs. Therapy is also part of MAT programs.
All types of addiction benefit from some combination of therapy and counseling. Behavioral therapy is popular in addiction treatment, particularly cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
During CBT, an individual talks with a treatment professional about the ways they think and feel. For addiction treatment specifically, there will be a tight focus on what may trigger strong urges to abuse drugs like morphine.
You will build the skills needed to shift the way you think, so you feel those urges less often. You’ll also learn ways to work through those urges in healthier ways so that you don’t relapse when you do encounter them.
Peer Support & Aftercare
Many people find peer support groups beneficial to their addiction treatment. The idea behind these groups is generally to give people in recovery a safe space to talk about their struggles and concerns, and to offer each other support.
There are many different types of support groups, and it can take time to find the best one for you. They are often very low cost or free. The groups can help connect you to people who understand what you’re going through and who may be able to help in your recovery.
Even once a person has achieved prolonged drug abstinence, attending these meetings is often helpful for maintaining progress. You can also offer help to others who may still be struggling with issues you have found solutions to.
These meetings are frequently part of aftercare plans. This is the type of care you receive when you have recovered from addiction enough that you feel more in control over your own life and less likely to relapse even if exposed to triggering thoughts or feelings.
Another important part of aftercare is to speak with a mental health professional at least occasionally. Even if you don’t think you need an addiction specialist, talking to a more general therapist can still help you catch problematic thinking or process stressful events early and in a healthy way rather than having those things potentially increase your risk of a relapse.
The Importance of a Support System in Recovery
Developing a good support system for yourself is an important part of achieving and maintaining your recovery. Many addiction treatment programs help clients build the skills needed to develop a healthy support network for themselves.
Family can be very helpful in this process for those who have a healthy family dynamic. Family members are often the people who know you best and want to offer love and support, even if they don’t know how. Because of this, family therapy is often helpful for people in recovery. It can help teach your family about your struggles and allow you to repair relationships that may have been damaged by your addiction and their reaction to that addiction.
Remember that family can take many forms. Sometimes, family therapy will involve close friends and other relationships that might not fit the traditional idea of family.
You can also find support in peer support groups, as described above. Good examples include Narcotics Anonymous, SMART Recovery, or S.O.S.
- Morphine. (April 2020). Drug Enforcement Administration.
- Opioid Addiction Treatment. (2016). American Society of Addiction Medicine.
- Likeability and Abuse Liability of Commonly Prescribed Opioids. (December 2012). Journal of Medical Toxicology.
- Opioid-induced Euphoria Among Emergency Department Patients With Acute Severe Pain: An Analysis of Data From a Randomized Trial. (March 2020). Academic Emergency Medicine.
- Substance Abuse: Clinical Issues in Intensive Outpatient Treatment. (2006). Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.
- Impact of Continuing Care on Recovery From Substance Use Disorder. (January 2021). Alcohol Research Current Reviews.