Morphine is a depressant, not a stimulant. Depressants are any type of drug that slows down activity in the body, and morphine is one such drug. Depressant effects of morphine on the body include sedation, impairment, respiratory depression, and slowed heart rate.
Morphine is a prescription drug that can manage chronic and severe pain. It is also classified as an opiate or opioid analgesic. Like other opioids, morphine is a target of drug abuse due to its ability to cause euphoria and analgesia (pain relief).
Abusing morphine can cause serious adverse effects such as respiratory depression and opioid use disorder.
How Morphine Causes Depressant Effects
Once morphine enters the bloodstream, it binds to opioid receptors in the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system. Once there, it activates inhibitory pathways in the brain, slowing down brain activity and causing analgesia, sedation, and feelings of euphoria.
Since the brain controls many body functions, inhibition of brain activity can affect these functions as well.
Depressant Side Effects Of Morphine
Morphine’s CNS depressant effects can extend past pain relief and sedation. Side effects of morphine can also include:
- slowed breathing
- low body temperature
- low blood pressure
Larger doses of morphine can cause more intense versions of these effects. Taking higher doses of morphine can also lead to an increased risk of an overdose.
High doses of morphine can cause a potentially life-threatening overdose. During a morphine overdose, brain activity slows to dangerously low levels. Symptoms of an opioid overdose can include:
- respiratory depression (slowed or stopped breathing)
- clammy skin
- pinpoint pupils
- slowed heart rate
Morphine overdose can occur during short-term or long-term opioid use. Naloxone may be given by witnesses to reverse overdose symptoms while professional help arrives.
Opioid Use Disorder
Repeated use of morphine can cause physical dependence, where the brain requires morphine to bind to opioid receptors in order to function properly. When the brain is deprived of morphine in this state, a person may experience withdrawal symptoms.
Opioid withdrawal symptoms such as cravings, insomnia, vomiting, and stomach pain may persist for weeks after the last dose of morphine. Withdrawal can be painful, compelling a person to start the cycle of drug use over again.
Dependence, drug addiction, and withdrawal are all facets of a substance use disorder, a serious mental health problem. Risk factors of a substance use disorder include higher doses of morphine, a history of mental health problems, and taking other drugs such as Valium or Xanax.
Treating CNS Depressant Abuse
Morphine is a CNS depressant, a broad class of drugs that includes benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and other opioids like fentanyl and oxycodone. All CNS depressants have a potential for substance abuse due to the “high” they can cause.
If you or a loved one are suffering from CNS depressant abuse, you may benefit from a professional treatment program. Treatment programs may provide detox services before moving on to treatment options such as behavioral therapy and methadone.
To learn about our outpatient treatment programs, please contact us today.
Northeast Addition Editorial Team
©2023 Northeast Addition Center | All Rights Reserved
This page does not provide medical advice.