Surprisingly, addiction to morphine is still a problem in the US, yet most people know very little about the drug. In today’s drug-oriented society, few people question where the drugs come from or why they exist. For that reason, we offer a brief history of one of the most addictive drugs, morphine. To begin with, morphine appeared on the market in the 1800s as an alternative to opium. Since then, morphine has made an impact on society.
Unexpected Consequences: Addiction to Morphine
Between the years of 1805 and 1816, a pharmacist assistant attempted to create a drug that maintained the medicinal properties of opium without the threat of addiction. He managed to isolate a compound from crude opium. Several tests on dogs resulted in their deaths. He then tested the drug on himself and some young boys. These tests on humans revealed that the effects of euphoria and pain relief remained, however, the effects were ten times that experienced with opium. He named the drug morphine after the Greed God of Dreams, Morpheus.
In the mid-19th century, morphine was commercially produced as a substitution therapy to cure opiate addiction. It was also used medicinally as an alternative to opium for pain relief. The first hypodermic needle was perfected in 1853, thus enhancing the method of delivering the drug directly into the bloodstream.
Unexpected consequences appeared later during the 19th century when injured soldiers of war developed an addiction to morphine, known as “Soldiers Disease.” People purchased morphine kits over-the-counter. These kits included a case with a syringe and a vial of morphine or other opiates and were sold over-the-counter.
Beginning of the End to Morphine Availability
Eventually, worldwide governing bodies banned morphine abuse. Legislations were passed, such as the Harrison Narcotics Act, which restricted morphine sales and use. Then, in 1970, morphine was classified as a Schedule II drug by the Controlled Substances Act, which was created in that same year.
As hard as it is to believe, heroin, morphine, and other opiate derivatives were unregulated and sold legally in the US until 1920. At that time, Congress enacted the Dangerous Drug Act which deemed the distribution of these drugs illegal. Unfortunately, by this time, a widespread market for the drugs had been established and by 1925 there were over 200,000 opiate addicts in the United States.
The Link Between Morphine and Heroin Addiction
After morphine became illegal, other drugs were sought as an alternative. Heroin, cocaine, and marijuana became the new drugs of choice for years. Eventually, prescription opiates became a popular alternative to morphine until government restrictions made the prescription drugs more expensive and more tamper resistant. In time, legal and illicit opiate users turned to heroin as an inexpensive, readily available substitute. This market for heroin and other opiates persists today and has expanded to become a global epidemic.
Medical Use of Morphine Today
Although morphine is highly addictive, there are some instances in medical situations that require the potency of this drug for pain relief. For example, morphine can be prescribed for the following conditions:
- Pain relief from myocardial infarction or heart attack.
- General anesthesia during surgery.
- Relief from bone and joint pain as in a sickle cell crisis.
- To control pain from kidney stones.
- Pain management for injuries such as automobile accidents.
- Pain relief for rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis.
- For the pain experienced by terminal diseases such as cancer.
As with many addictive substances, morphine was introduced to the public as a wonder drug that would help those in need. Ultimately, these products become known as the villain when unscrupulous individuals abuse them for their euphoric effects. All in all, prescription drugs such as morphine and other opiates serve mankind favorably when used as directed. But, people being human always find a way to make a good thing go bad.
If you need more information about addiction to morphine, or are seeking treatment for yourself or a loved one, please call our toll-free number now.