Morphine is the most important and best-studied opium alkaloid. Highlighted in 1805, it got its name in honor of the Greek god of sleep Morpheus.
Morphine was widely used during the American Civil War. He was administered daily to the wounded to ease postoperative pain. This was addictive and addictive in patients. Morphinism at that time was called “soldier’s disease.”
In the period between the world wars, morphine, in addition to medical use, began to be used for pleasure. The morphists at that time were mainly patients who, during their stay in the hospital, became victims of the uncontrolled use of morphine (medical morphinists), experiment lovers and people craving for new experiences that were unbeknownst to themselves to the drug. Among drug addicts then there were also representatives of medical personnel in whom observations of patients under the influence of morphine aroused interest in the drug.
Morphine is a white crystalline powder, odorless, but easily recognizable by its characteristic astringent taste. When stored in the light, it quickly turns yellow. Morphine is slightly soluble in water and in alcohol. In the medical industry, it is most often produced in ampoules.
The highest single dose of morphine for adults is 0.02 g, the maximum daily dose is 0.05 g.
Tolerance quickly develops to morphine, and chronic morphinists can take the drug in doses 20-200 times higher than therapeutic. But it must be remembered that tolerance is never absolute, which means that there is a limit after which the dose becomes lethal. Tolerance develops within about three weeks of daily use.
Morphine can be taken by mouth, through the rectum as an enema, or by inhalation of vapors. But drug addicts most often inject it intravenously for the speed of the effect they cause.
The clinical effect of morphine primarily depends on the pharmacological effect that occurs when morphine interacts with nerve cells. Although the most common effect of morphine is its inhibitory effect on the central nervous system, closer observations indicate a twofold nature of the effect: on the one hand, it is weakening, and on the other, it has an exciting effect on the nervous system.
This phenomenon can be explained as follows: when it enters the body, morphine is first briefly absorbed by the outer surface of the cell membranes and acts excitingly; then it penetrates the cells and causes depression and addiction.
Morphine taken in moderation causes euphoria and pleasant drowsiness, accompanied by a feeling of relaxation and carelessness. Thoughts can be very rich and substantial, but they cannot be controlled. The person feels confident and safe, the feeling of fear is forgotten. Lowering the threshold for inhibition of mental reactions provokes the ability to quickly make decisions. However, they are more the result of general logical reasoning than assessments of a specific situation, and therefore may well be erroneous.
A prolonged concentration of attention usually becomes impossible, the desire for action disappears completely. A person becomes apathetic, is interested only in himself; without feeling the need to communicate with others. Visual acuity decreases, and lethargy occurs.
Psychological effects persist for several hours longer than the analgesic effect. After taking a full therapeutic dose of morphine, motor activity decreases, and the feeling of mental severity is replaced by a deep sleep without dreams.
Breathing slows down, pupils narrow. The temperature decreases due to a decrease in muscle tension and the reaction of the nerve center of temperature regulation. Toxic doses can cause deep hibernation or even death due to paralysis of the respiratory center.
A very common complication when taking morphine is death caused by an overdose of the drug, as well as increased sensitivity to it.
The following symptoms may indicate morphine: severe constipation, alternating with diarrhea, scars and abscesses from non-compliance with sterility rules for injections, narrowed pupils and the most important symptom – the development of withdrawal symptoms with a sudden cessation of morphine or with the introduction of nalorphine.
Morphine is a highly addictive drug. After a few days of constant use of the drug, an addiction forms.
The biological mechanisms underlying the occurrence of physical dependence on morphine are not well understood. Some studies in recent years show that the body produces complex chemicals similar to morphine, which have a strong analgesic effect.
American and British scientists isolated a substance called encephalin from the brains of mice and humans. When introduced into the body, it relieves pain with almost the same effectiveness as morphine. Since encephalin is a natural substance produced by a living organism, it is not addictive. Therefore, there is an assumption that this drug will replace morphine and other painkillers in the future.
It is also suggested that the use of encephalin may be useful in the treatment of morphinism. In the process of using morphine, the drug is constantly present in the body, and encephalin is decomposed. After stopping morphine, the body remains without encephalin and without morphine, which leads to the occurrence of withdrawal symptoms up to the moment of repeated administration of morphine or the production of the necessary amount of encephalin in the brain, which takes seven to ten days.
That is why Dr. Snyder of Johns Hopkins University believes that encephalin can solve important medical problems in the future: eliminating pain and relieving opiate withdrawal symptoms.
The morphinist in his appearance and behavior can be no different from a healthy person, especially if he has the necessary amount of morphine for every day and has the ability to administer a drug at a certain time, and also eats normally. Some authors argue that thorough clinical trials involving all available laboratory methods do not establish the difference between healthy people and morphists.