How Does A Morphine Addiction Affect The Body and the Brain?

Many do not think about morphine being an addictive substance. After all, it’s regularly used for pain management in hospitals so it should be relatively safe. Right? The reality is that Morphine is still a drug, an opioid, and is closely related to other drugs like heroin, methadone, and various other prescription opioids.

If you suspect someone close to you has an addiction to morphine, you should understand how it affects their brain and body. Call 800-934-1582(Who Answers?) for information on treatment options.

Suppresses the Immune System

Morphine Addiction

Morphine use can weaken your immune system.

A study by the NIDA has concluded that morphine causes a series of biological effects that can compromise a person’s immune response. They found that when morphine enters the body, it begins to suppress the functions of three types of white blood cells: natural killer or NK cells, B lymphocytes, and T lymphocytes.

These cells respond quickly to infections and diseases like cancer, but morphine use can slow them down and prevent the cells from properly functioning. Even in some medical situations, like treatment for severe burns, administering morphine is considered dangerous for the sake of the patient’s risk of infection.

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Pain Receptor Sensitivity

Morphine is opioid-based, which means that it affects how the body responds to pain. It attaches to the body’s opioid receptors, which eases any pain and causes a sensation of euphoria in the body as a result of the release of dopamine.

According to the DEA, continued use can cause tolerance as the sensitivity of the receptors changes. The higher a person’s tolerance is, the more of the drug they need in order to feel any effects from the dopamine release. As a result, the opioid receptors can become overloaded and compromised, causing permanent damage that can remain well into recovery.

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47,300* People Addicted
23,100* Getting Help
8,209* Deaths
*Statistic from 2015

The Brainstem’s Functionality

The brainstem serves a key purpose in keeping a person alive. It is the control center of the brain and the body, and makes sure that your heart, lungs, and other organs that are necessary for life continue to work. The brainstem is usually the first place that morphine reaches, and its presence can impede function.

High doses of opioids, morphine or otherwise, can completely shut down the brainstem and lead to coma and/or death. It is common for a morphine overdose to cause respiratory issues, including hypoxia where the body does not receive enough oxygen and can cause damage to tissues. Changes to the brainstem can result in permanent brain damage.

Inhibits Synapse Function

Synapses are the connections in the brain and are the main way that it communicates with itself and the rest of the body. Morphine use has been found to prevent a specific process that allows the strength of the synapses to be strengthened.

The weaker the connections are, the harder it is for the brain to do functions like make memories and learn. If the process that strengthens the connection is prevented from happening due to morphine usage, the synapses’ overall strength will remain stagnant and may potentially wane if the process is blocked for a significant amount of time.

If you or a loved one has an addiction, know that help is available. Please call 800-934-1582(Who Answers?) to speak with one of our caring specialists for more information about treatment.

the Take-Away

Morphine addiction has numerous adverse health effects. It’s imperative that treatment is sought as soon as morphine abuse is recognized.