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Morphine is an opiate drug which is extracted from the opium poppy, a drug which has been used for nearly two centuries in clinical settings to relieve severe pain. Because it is such a powerful opiate narcotic, it isn't typically prescribed outside of a hospital setting as are other opioid prescription pain relievers such as OxyCodone or Percocet for example. Morphine is the gold standard in clinical settings to relieve pain, and is very beneficial and effective for individuals who are experiencing severe and extreme pain. Examples of this would be after a major surgery or for individuals who are extremely ill because cancer or other extremely painful diseases. So it isn't a drug that would normally be prescribed every day for mild to moderate pain which could be alleviated with a less potent drug.
Morphine, like other opioid prescription pain killers, affects the central nervous system directly which is what provides effective pain relief. It doesn't take away the pain or ailment, but blocks the pain by tricking the individual's body into thinking it isn't there. All opioid pain killers produce these effects because they influence those areas of the brain and central nervous system which regulate pain, pleasure and feelings of reward. This is also true with the illicit street drug heroin, which is also derived from the opium poppy. Because of this, individuals who are on morphine experience a sense of euphoria accompanied by the intended pain relief.
Morphine, because it is so potent, has a very high potential for dependence. Meaning, an individual who has been on morphine for even a short period of time can become accustomed to its effects and find it very hard to function without the drug. Someone who has been administered morphine in a hospital after a serious accident where injuries were sustained may be taken off of the drug at some point, only to find that they are experiencing opiate withdrawal. If the individual didn't know what opiate withdrawal felt like, they may not understand why they feel sick, have body aches, can't sleep, feel depressed etc. If more morphine or some other opioid prescription drug is administered, these symptoms can be alleviated. This is the cycle of dependence with these types of narcotics.
Individuals who have become dependent to drugs such as morphine and are not in a hospital setting won't be able to get more morphine. However, they may be prescribed some alternative prescription pain killer other than morphine at some point in their recovery. Physicians are not very diligent about how they prescribe these types of powerful pain killers which can cause dependence and addiction, and patients can very easily obtain such prescription drugs for as long as they see fit. This has prompted a serious prescription drug abuse epidemic which many individuals without any history of substance abuse often fall prey to. So while many begin using opioid prescription drugs such as morphine for legitimate pain, they will remain on some type of opioid prescription drug long after their illness or injury has been alleviated due to opioid dependence. This can of course be avoided with proper consultation with patients and diligence on the part of physicians and patients, this is often not the case and physicians are either to lazy or too ignorant to take proper precautions to ensure this situation doesn't occur.
Because morphine isn't readily available at your local pharmacy as are other prescription pain killers such as OxyCodone, Hydrocodone, Percodan, Lortab, Percocet, Vicodin etc., the problem isn't necessarily with morphine itself. Opiate dependence due to morphine use which leads to abuse of other prescription drugs is the bigger problem, if left unabated can lead to serious consequences. This is the broad problem that many individuals are faced with. One would be surprised how often this is the case, and it can happen to anyone whether they have a history of substance abuse or not. It is more common for individuals who do have a history of substance abuse and opiate dependence to abuse prescription opioids, but because these types of drugs as so powerful many individuals can find themselves in this situation even when they had no intention of ever becoming involved in this type of situation.
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