Updated on January 28, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
The United States is under the grip of a severe opioid addiction crisis that constantly makes the news. In addition to street drugs causing lethal overdoses, prescription opioids pose a severe risk. Drugs like MS Contin can cause as much danger as their illicit counterparts, especially when misused.
MS Contin is a branded extended-release form of morphine that comes as a tablet the patient takes about every eight to 12 hours. Doctors prescribe it to patients who experience constant severe pain, and it’s meant to be taken on an ongoing basis, not as needed. Patients should use great care when taking a morphine medication like MS Contin because of its potency.
While some MS Contin side effects cause no long-term harm, the drug can also cause a lethal overdose. Plenty of patients deal with mild to moderate symptoms like dry mouth and mood changes. But, in cases where the patient passes out, has breathing problems or experiences other severe issues, they should get immediate help. These problems are signs of an overdose.
Patients can become addicted to MS Contin even when they take it as directed. Morphine changes the way our brains create feelings of pleasure and alters the way our brains use dopamine, causing the high that some users feel. However, after extended use, the brain can start relying on the morphine to make positive feelings instead of natural chemicals. That’s why doctors need to monitor patients who take morphine closely.
Unfortunately, it can be easy to make a mistake when taking opioid medication. Morphine-based drugs like MS Contin are some of the most addictive substances out there. MS Contin’s strength makes it easy to build a tolerance, making it feel like you can take more without harm. The risk of addiction increases when someone misuses MS Contin and other opioids.
The more frequently doctors prescribe morphine-based drugs, the more of them you’ll find illegally circulated. Drug diversion doesn’t just involve traffickers and sellers — it can involve your loved ones. More than 60 percent of morphine addicts admit to obtaining the drug from friends or family.
Medical cannabis works in multiple ways to reduce our reliance on MS Contin and other opioid drugs:
In a scientific literature review including research on morphine, Scavone et al. discovered that medical cannabis could reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings in recovering addicts.
Cannabinoids, the components in marijuana, target the same part of the brain that opioids do, but without the dangerous side effects. The patient could stay on their treatment plan more easily due to fewer side effects and cravings. So, medicinal marijuana can not only replace MS Contin, but it can also help patients who do become addicted to it through their recovery.
For more information on addiction treatment with cannabis, read our guide to marijuana medicine and opioid dependence. To stay up to date with developments in medical marijuana for the opioid crisis, follow our social media and read our blog frequently.
Check out our resources on specific opiates and medical marijuana: