Kadian Addiction

  • Generic Name or Active Ingridient: Morphine

Kadian capsules contain an extended-release formula of morphine sulfate, an opioid drug derived from the poppy plant. According to the manufacturer's website, doctors prescribe this powerful opioid to treat severe, round-the-clock pain they expect to last for a long time. Physicians usually prescribe Kadian to reduce pain in patients battling serious, chronic conditions such as cancer. Using high doses of an opioid such as morphine for a long time may result in physical dependence and Kadian addiction.

Patients with occasional pain or those who take pain medicine only as needed should not use Kadian. Only patients who have already developed a tolerance for opioids should take Kadian. People who are not tolerant to opioids may experience severe and sometimes fatal breathing problems.

Kadian is extremely potent. Physicians typically suggest patients take this medication only once every 12 hours.

Illicit use of various morphine formulas such as Kadian may also result in physical dependence to opioids or addiction. While the extended-release formula of morphine is sold by prescription only, illegal users divert Kadian from its prescription use. The US Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA, calls this practice "diversion."

The definition of addiction

Kadian abuse may lead to physical dependence or addition to morphine, two independent medical conditions. Addiction to opioids such as extended-release morphine or other substances is a chronic, which means the individual will need to participate in long-term treatment. Kadian addiction is a primary disease; this means that, even though a person may become addicted to Kadian because he used it upon a doctor's advice to treat real pain from a legitimate illness, Kadian addiction is caused by the opioid use itself and not as the direct result of cancer or another disease.

Opioid addiction is a neurobiological disorder, which means addiction to Kadian affects the cells of the central nervous system. A variety of factors affects the development of addiction, including genetic, psychosocial and environmental influences. These factors influence the ways addiction affects each person.

Using Kadian for non-medical purposes, either to get high or to treat a condition without a prescription, increases the risk for addiction to this powerful opioid. Addiction to Kadian manifests itself through behaviors such as inability to control opioid use, compulsive use, continued use despite the known dangers and craving for Kadian.

Addiction is often mistaken for physical dependence, but there are distinct differences between being addicted to Kadian and being physically dependent upon it.

The Definition of Dependence

Dependence on Kadian means the body needs to maintain a certain level of this opioid in order to feel normal. If the level of opioids drops below this level, the body struggles to regain a "normal" chemical balance. This chemical battle manifests itself through uncomfortable, flu-like withdrawal symptoms that can last for days or weeks.

Medical professionals diagnose a patient as physically dependent on Kadian if he suffers symptoms once levels of this opioid decline in his system. This dip in opioids levels happen by not taking Kadian or through the administration of certain drugs, such as naloxone.

Addiction versus Dependency

Both addiction and dependence cause real changes in the brain and body but addiction and dependence to Kadian manifest themselves in different ways.

Dependence on Kadian is a state where a person's body needs this opioid in order to feel normal. In contrast, addiction is the compulsive use of the drug, Kadian. Addiction and dependence on drugs such as Kadian are separate and independent from one another: an individual can be addicted to a substance without being physically dependent on it and vice versa.

For example, a person may need an anti-hypertensive drug to keep her blood pressure at safe levels; if she were to stop taking the medication, her body would struggle to maintain blood pressure but she would not crave the medicine.

In contrast, an individual can be addicted to cocaine without being physical dependent upon it. A person addicted to cocaine will crave the drug once he runs out, but a sharp drop in cocaine levels will not disrupt his body chemistry or cause withdrawal symptoms.

Addiction: What Family Members Should Know

Family member should know that they might inherit an addiction. Researchers are still working to establish the exact cause of abuse and dependence on drugs such as Kadian, but most experts agree that heredity plays a significant role.

Children who grow up in an environment where illicit drug use is acceptable are more likely to develop addictions. A child will adopt a parent's positive attitude toward drug abuse and be more likely to abuse drugs when he is older. Furthermore, a child who grows up in a household where drug use is tolerable faces little to no parental resistance or punishment when he begins to abuse drugs.

Environmental factors, such as peer pressure, emotional distress, anxiety or depression and environmental stress, can be the cause, as well as be the result, of addiction to opioids such as Kadian. A child learns how to deal with stress by watching his parents. A parent with a Kadian addiction passes poor stress management skills to his child; this is especially true if both the parent and child are hypersensitive to stress. Scientists believe addiction is more likely in people who are hypersensitive to environmental stress, such as relationship or financial problems.

Family members should look for and reduce stress within the household to help an adult currently facing Kadian addiction and to reduce the risk for child developing an addiction in the future. Opioid addiction increases stress within the family, as the addicted person spends more of his time looking for, abusing and recovering from Kadian use and less time fulfilling his household duties, such as work, raising children, paying bills or doing chores.

Family members should know that Kadian addiction puts everyone in danger. Using Kadian without a prescription is illegal. Addiction introduces the entire family to the justice system, from police drug raids to visiting a loved one in prison. Addiction frequently results in job loss, leaving the household in a financial crisis.

Having Kadian or other opioids in the house, whether illegally or by prescription, increases the risk for drug abuse or addiction by another member of the family simply because the opioid is easily available. Keeping Kadian or other drugs in the house also makes the household a target for drug trafficking or theft, endangering the safety of every family member.

Caring for a Family Member with an Addiction

Living with Kadian addiction is not easy for any member of a family, but it is important to remember that the person suffering addiction needs compassion of his entire family now more than ever if effective recovery is going to take place. The family can perform as a safety net for the addicted individual if everyone agrees on a common direction toward recovery. The family unit should meet frequently, whether or not the person facing addiction chooses to be there, to help one another deal with the stress and emotional drain of addiction.

Addiction to Kadian or other opioids puts a terrible strain on a marriage or other intimate relationship, even if the bonds of love are strong. Without appropriate family counseling, addiction and the long road to recovery may result in separation or divorce.

The family should develop a plan where each member participates in the recovery effort in his own way. It takes a group effort to help one individual face an addiction to Kadian or other opioids. Each member of the group should commit to caring for the addicted individual, himself and the rest of the family. Family members can share household chores, childcare and financial responsibilities so that no one individual carries the burden of opioid addiction.

Family members should know that talking about addiction is acceptable - addiction to Kadian is a disease, not a dirty little secret. It is all right to learn about addiction by visiting websites, asking questions and seeking referrals.

Family members can talk about addiction with each other, even before the addicted person is ready to share his feelings about his disease. Sharing common emotions and experiences unites family members and communications helps forge a common, well-planned path to recovery. The support and guidance of a strong family unit is a powerful influence over addiction to Kadian. Counseling strengthens the bonds between family members while opening lines of communication between the supportive family unit and the addicted individual.

Addiction to Kadian alters pathways in the brain in a way that causes the addicted individual to resist talking about his disease. Addiction is a very personal issue, and the person will likely be very resistant to talk about substance abuse. He will typically voice feelings of anger and betrayal at first, and will likely refuse treatment. It is vital that family members ignore passionate protests from the addicted individual and continue to urge professional treatment.

Signs of addiction: For those around

Family members, co-workers, friends and members of the community may notice an abrupt or slow, subtle change in the individual addicted to opioids. Onlookers may notice how Kadian addiction changes a person's behavior, thinking patterns, emotions and interactions with others. Addiction changes an individual's executive functioning, or the way a person thinks. These alterations cause noticeable trouble with perception, learning, impulse control and decision-making.

Friends and co-workers might see subtle indications a person is addicted to drugs such as Kadian. He may be constantly running to the pharmacy to get prescriptions filled for himself or for family members. He seems to be perpetually in an emotional crisis or have frequent arguments or violent outbursts.

He may begin to participate in abnormal, illegal or anti-social activities. He may engage in unpredictable behavior, such as inappropriate spending or disappearing for days at a time.

Addiction to Kadian or other opioids can cause an individual to withdraw from relationships with friends and family. Activities involving opioids become priority while family functions or work responsibilities take a back seat. He may even begin to neglect his children or fail to fulfill professional responsibilities. Friends and co-workers may notice unexplained absences from work or social commitments.

Addiction Symptoms: Physical and Psychological

The disease of addiction makes changes to the brain and body in a way that causes specific physical and psychological symptoms. A person addicted to Kadian may start to look different, including an unexplained change in weight, deteriorating physical appearance and diminished hygiene. Her sleep patterns may change and she may suffer a nagging cough. She may also have bloodshot eyes with very large or very small pupils. She may shake with tremors or have slurred speech.

Kadian addiction also causes psychological symptoms. An addicted person has trouble abstaining from Kadian consistently; he may also seem unable to control his behavior in other aspects as well. His cravings drugs and other rewarding experiences, such as gambling or thrill seeking, seem to become more important to him than family or friends. He might display a dysfunctional emotional response, blowing into a rage over small things or completely ignoring catastrophic events. He may be unable to recognize significant problems in his personal life or relationships with others. He often blames other people or events for his problems, instead of recognizing the devastating effects of Kadian addiction.

Addiction causes changes in brain structure and function, especially in those areas of the brain associated with reward, in a way that changes the way the brain remembers rewards. Eventually, the individual's brain incorrectly makes a connection between Kadian and reward. This incorrect thinking pattern alters an individual's behavior so that he shifts away from the things that used to bring him pleasure and towards increased opioid abuse.

Behavioral, Cognitive and Emotional Changes

Addiction to Kadian changes the way a person behaves, thinks and feels. These changes might appear suddenly or gradually, and may linger long after the person has discontinued Kadian. Because they are long lasting and can be hard to spot, behavioral, cognitive and emotional changes raise the risk for relapse after the individual has received treatment for physical dependence.

Behavioral changes can be subtle or obvious. A person battling addiction may take higher doses of Kadian more often than he intends, even though he says he intends to quit or cut down in the future. He wastes hours, days or weeks looking for Kadian, getting high or recovering from opioid use. He progressively loses interest in things he used to be passionate about; eventually, he only cares about opioids. He continues to abuse Kadian, even though he says he understands the damage drug abuse causes. He may seem unwilling or unable to quit.

Opiate addiction changes a person's thinking patterns. She becomes preoccupied with opioids, ignoring everything else she used to enjoy. Her views of the advantage and dangers of opioids change; eventually she ignores the perils of Kadian. She may blame all her problems on other people or events rather than as a predictable consequence of opioid abuse.

Kadian addiction affects emotional well-being. Addiction increases anxiety, sadness and emotional pain. Addiction also makes an individual more sensitive to stress, especially those individuals already hypersensitive to stress.

Addiction and gender: how women and men are affected differently

More males over the age of 12 years use illicit drugs than females of the same age, according to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Females between the ages of 12 and 17 years, however, were more likely than males of the same age to abuse pain relievers such as Kadian.

An earlier survey by the same group shows that men are more likely to admit to abusing drugs than women are. Women also have a lower rate for entry into treatment, staying in treatment and completing treatment. Experts believe social stigmas, economic barriers and family responsibilities prevent women with addiction from seeking or completing treatment programs at the same rate as men.

Treatment options

Kadian addiction requires professional treatment. Addiction can cause "disability or premature death, especially when left untreated or treated inadequately," warns the American Society of Addictive Medicine. Since Kadian is an extremely potent form of morphine, risk for overdose is extremely high. Nearly 15,000 people die in the United States each year from overdoses on prescription painkillers such as Kadian; researchers expect this number to rise as opioid use and abuse continues to increase. Many thousands more suffer physical, emotional, social, economic and criminal affects from addiction to opioids such as Kadian. Treatment offers hope for these individuals.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 23 million people in the United States over the age of 12-years needed treatment for alcohol or substance abuse in 2010; of these, only about 11 percent received treatment at a specialty facility.

Just over 5 percent of admissions to publicly funded substance abuse programs were for treatment of opioid abuse. Many individuals try to kick the opioid habit alone, without the help of drugs that reduce withdrawal symptoms. This practice is self-detoxification, commonly called "quitting cold turkey." Unpleasant and overwhelming withdrawal symptoms, such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, cold sweats and muscle pain can last for five days or more. Withdrawal symptoms are associated with complications that can become serious without proper medical intervention. For example, an individual may vomit and inhale stomach contents, a dangerous complication known as aspiration. He also faces dehydration from excessive vomiting and diarrhea. These complications, coupled with the lengthy and overpowering symptoms of withdrawal force many people who attempt self-detox to return to Kadian abuse.

Others attempt self-detoxification by developing a treatment plan that includes a variety of products that reduce symptoms associated with Kadian withdrawal. Once such remedy is The Thomas Recipe, in which a person takes medication to ease anxiety and induce sleep, anti-diarrhea medication, plus vitamins and supplements to ease muscle aches and fatigue. While The Thomas Recipe addresses withdrawal symptoms, the individual is still at risk for developing dangerous complications. Furthermore, self-detoxification addresses only the physical dependency of opioid abuse; self-detox does not address the behavioral aspects of opioid addiction, increasing the risk for relapse.

Relapse is the largest complication associated with quitting Kadian. An individual who has recently gone through detoxification is in greater danger for overdose, as detoxification lowered the body's tolerance to Kadian. Detoxification makes it possible for a person to overdose on a smaller dose than he used to take.

Overdose requires emergency treatment, often including lifesaving measures. Doctors administer naloxone and other medications to reduce Kadian below lethal levels. Once the patient is out of mortal danger, she may participate in behavioral therapy as an inpatient or outpatient to address her addiction to Kadian.

Some people participate in outpatient drug replacement therapy, or DRT, in which physicians prescribe drugs such as methadone, Suboxone or buprenorphine to replace Kadian. These drugs bind to the same opioid receptors within the body as Kadian; this reduces withdrawal symptoms. DRT drugs last longer than opioids and do not produce the euphoric effects, allowing participants to avoid a hospital stay. After the individual learns how to live without Kadian, he weans himself from the replacement drug. Proponents of DRT recognize the flexibility of outpatient treatment while opponents say DRT merely trades one addiction for another.

Medication-Assisted Treatment, or MAT, refers to any substance abuse treatment plan that includes pharmacological intervention. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMSA, this intervention:

  • Improves Survival Rates
  • Increase Retention in Treatment Prgrams
  • Decreases Illicit Opiate Use
  • Reduces the Risk for Hepatitis and HIV
  • Decreases Criminal Activities
  • Increases Employment
  • Improves Birth Outcomes for Pregnant Women Battling Addiction

Inpatient MAT programs uses medicine to ease withdrawal and facilitate detoxification. During inpatient detoxification, physicians administer certain drugs that decrease the level of Kadian and other medications to address the subsequent symptoms of withdrawal. Medical personnel watch for dangerous complications, such as dehydration or aspiration, and respond appropriately.

While standard detox eases the physical aspects of addiction to Kadian, individuals must still endure the demoralizing process of detoxification. Experiencing uncomfortable and protracted withdrawal symptoms is disheartening. The negative aspects of detoxification increase the risk for return to opioid abuse.

Rapid detox is the most humane method of detoxification. During rapid detox, board-certified anesthesiologists administer standard detoxification and anti-withdrawal medications alongside anesthesia and sedatives so that the patient rests in a comfortable "twilight sleep." When the patient awakens, he will have no recollection of the grueling and demoralizing detoxification and withdrawal period and can move onto the rehabilitation process.


Medical treatment and behavioral modification are independently helpful, but an individual who chooses a treatment plant focusing on both the physical and behavioral aspects of addiction offers the best hope for recovery.

Behavioral therapy, like medical treatment, may take place at an inpatient or outpatient facility. For the best chance of success, it is important to match the type of facility to the person's individual needs. Both pharmacological and behavioral treatments work to restore normalcy to those brain function and behavior. Treatment improves employment rates, reduces risk for relapse and lessens side effects associated with Kadian addiction.

After successful detoxification or drug replacement therapy, patients may participate in drug rehabilitation treatments offering behavior modification techniques designed to change the behaviors that caused physical dependence or improve the environmental factors that led to the initial dependence on drugs and reduce the risk for relapse. Rehabilitation may be inpatient or outpatient, and programs can be as short as 28 days or as long as 6 months or a year.

New behavioral therapies show particular promise in the treatment of opioid addiction. Contingency management therapy is a voucher system in which a patient earns points for negative drug tests. He may redeem these points for items that enhance a healthy lifestyle.

Cognitive-behavioral interventions modify a patient's expectations and behaviors related to opioid addiction and give him new tools to deal with stresses that may cause relapse.

Long-term recovery from opioid withdrawal depends on success during both the detoxification and rehabilitation phases. A significant number of individuals suffer relapse, especially those who engage in self-detoxification or do not participate in rehabilitation.