Morphine is one of the well-known substances used to save lives, but at the same time it also has adverse effects such as addiction. With origins that can be traced as far as the 1500's, Morphine has been known as an effective pain killer. But it was until the late 1700's that opium had become accessible to the West, when the East India Trading Company took interest of bringing opium to Europe. By 1804, a German scientist by the name of Friedric Serturner discovered that morphine was extracted from the Poppy Plant and discovered a way of creating it. By 1827, it became available to the public as a way to treat alcohol addicts and opium addicts. The popularity of Morphine soared even higher after Charles Pravas and Alexander Wood, a French surgeon and a Scottish physician respectively, invented the hypodermic needle. Since then, Morphine has become one of the most widely used substances to relieve a person of pain. However, along with the benefits that this discovery has produced was also a start of another problem that still haunts many today.
Morphine is made by extracting the alkaloids from an opium poppy plant. Since morphine is the main alkaloid of the plant, it is quite easy to extract. There are two ways of gathering opium extract: one is by using the poppy straw (the dried stem and pod parts of the opium poppy), while the other is collecting the latex from unripe pods. Extraction is done by crushing the poppy plant and treating it with sulphuric acid. The mixture resulting from the treatment passes through a number of extraction methods to ensure that only the alkaloids are left in the solution. After the last method of extraction, precipitation is done by using either sodium carbonate or ammonium hydroxide. Finally, morphine is separated from the rest of the alkaloids by purification. Most prefer to use the poppy straw method of making morphine because it is a lot easier and takes less time. Because of the simplicity of the methods on how morphine is made, it has become quite possible for many to abuse it, because of its addictive properties.
Morphine is a very helpful substance in treating pain, whether they are in acute or chronic severe forms. Some of the examples are relieving mothers from the pains of childbirth, reducing the pain felt by wounded soldiers in battle and curing acute pulmonary edema. However, despite the numerous benefits of using morphine, there are also quite a number of negative effects on the body, especially if morphine is taken in greater amounts than those prescribed by a doctor:
• Constipation is a normal side effect of morphine, since it reduces gut motility.
• Morphine is highly addictive, which can have devastating results on the person taking it, both physically and psychologically.
• When used regularly, the body eventually develops a tolerance against it, negating the pain-relieving effects of the substance.
• A morphine addict who stops will go through a discomforting process of withdrawal, which can have very inconvenient and painful effects on the person's body (some examples are anxiety, depression, aching muscles and bones, high-blood pressure, etc…).
• Over dosage of morphine can lead to death by asphyxia or other respiratory cases.
Because of its dangerous effects on the human body, morphine is generally considered a controlled substance, only used if the doctor deems so. For those addicted in morphine, there have been treatments made in order to get them off the drug. While some of these treatments involve psychiatric or drug induced methods, they are quite inconvenient and at the same time expensive. Apart from these, treatments that involve drugs will only shift the addiction of the patient from morphine to another. A holistic approach is much better in this case because it not only treats the addiction, but the person himself. Some of the holistic methods used in treating morphine addicts are the following:
• Detoxification through diet modification
• Spiritual awareness and encouragement
Like every other drug, Morphine is a very helpful substance if it is utilized within the limits of its proper use. The discovery and use of morphine has saved thousands, if not millions of lives and will continue to, if people are enough control to use it only for the purpose in which it is supposed to be.