MS Contin Addiction

  • Generic Name or Active Ingridient: Morphine

The White House calls prescription drug abuse, "the Nation's fastest-growing drug problem." After marijuana, prescription medications like MS Contin are the most abused drugs among young people in the United States. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 7 million people in the United States were using psychotherapeutic drugs non-medically in 2010, which means they took it to get high or for a condition other than the one for which the doctor had intended.

Abusing prescription painkillers like MS Contin for a long time can lead to physical dependence and addiction. Physical dependence and MS Contin addiction are serious diseases, requiring the help of a qualified professional.

Treatment rates for MS Contin addiction and other substance abuse problems are up. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports the U.S. admission rate for opioids other than heroin skyrocketed by 414 percent between 1997 and 2007, from 7 per 100,000 people to 36 per 100,000. This rise in opioid abuse is due, in large part, to the fact that Americans take more opioids than another other nation on earth. Even though Americans represent only about 5 percent of global population, they consume 80 percent of the world's supply of opioids, according to the Institute of Addiction Medicine.

MS Contin is a controlled-release formula of morphine sulfate. MS Contin is available in 15 mg, 30 mg, 60 mg, 100 mg and 200 mg formulas. The 100 mg and 200 mg MS Contin preparations is intended only for patients who have been taking opioids for a long time and, as the result, have built up a tolerance to this prescription painkiller. Someone who has battled an MS Contin addiction for a long time has probably built up a significant tolerance to opioids and may seek out these stronger preparations.

Long-acting morphine is only for patients needing round-the-clock relief from moderate to severe pain for more than a few days. This long-acting formula is especially attractive to recreational drug abusers and those battling opioid dependence and addiction. Someone with an MS Contin addiction would need to take fewer doses of long-acting medications.

Some drug abusers dissolve MS Contin and then crush, chew, snort or inject this powerful opioid. This dangerous practice results in uncontrolled morphine delivery, which can cause overdose and death. Others may take MS Contin along with alcohol or other drugs to enhance the effects of morphine.

The Definition of Addiction

MS Contin addiction is a disease affecting the brain's reward, motivation, memory and related functions. MS Contin addiction is a chronic condition, requiring long-term care. Addiction is a primary disease, which means it arises on its own, and not the result of another condition.

The disease of addiction alters the cells of the central nervous system, or CNS, in a way that results in physical, psychological, social and cognitive changes. These neurological changes makes a person engage in certain specific behaviors associated with addiction. Doctors diagnose MS Contin addiction if the patient seems unable to stop using this drug consistently, craves MS Contin, and is unable to control his behavior in other ways. A person with MS Contin addiction does not recognize the significant problems with his behavior or refuses to see how his addiction affects his relationships with others.

As with other chronic diseases, MS Contin addiction frequently involves cycles of relapse and remission, even with long-term treatment. Without treatment, MS Contin addiction grows worse and may eventually result in disability or premature death.

Addiction versus Dependence

Addiction and dependence are two distinct and independent medical conditions. With continuous use, anyone can become addicted to MS Contin, dependent upon it, or both.

Your body responds to all the various substances you put into it, such as food, cigarette smoke or medicine like MS Contin. Your body adapts to these foreign substances by adjusting its own chemical balance. If you continue to use MS Contin for a long time, your body will begin to depend on a certain level of MS Contin to feel "normal." Once the level of MS Contin drops, your body will struggle to maintain chemical balance. You will feel this battle for stability through unpleasant, flu-like withdrawal symptoms.

Doctors diagnose a patient as being opioid-dependent if he experiences withdrawal symptoms after the level of opioids decline. A rapid decline in opioid levels could be caused by missing a dose, taking an insufficient dose or using a medicine such as naloxone that counteracts the effects of opioids.

MS Contin withdrawal symptoms are similar to other opioids and include:

  • Abdominal Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever, Runny Nose or Sneezing
  • Goose Bumps and Abnormal Skin Sensations
  • Hot Sweats and Cold Sweats
  • Insomnia
  • Low Energy Level
  • Muscle Aches or Pains
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Pain
  • Rapid Heartbeat
  • Rigid Muscles
  • Runny Nose
  • Shivering, Tremors
  • Teary Eyes
  • Yawning

A person who is dependent on opioids will experience physical withdrawal symptoms when she runs out of MS Contin, while the person with an MS Contin addiction will express behavioral symptoms such as cravings and drug seeking when her supply runs low.

Symptoms of MS Contin addiction include:

  • Inability to Consistently Abstain from MS Contin Use
  • Other Behavioral Control Problems
  • Cravings for MS Contin
  • An Inability to Recognize Significant Problems with One's Own Behaviors and Interpersonal Relationships
  • Inappropriate Emotional Response

You can be addicted to something and not dependent upon it, and vice versa. For example, you could be dependent on an anti-hypertensive; if you do not take your medication, your blood pressure will rise and your body fights to maintain chemical stability, but you will not crave the drug and engage in drug-seeking behaviors. In comparison, using cocaine for a long time may cause you to become addicted but not physically dependent on it - you will crave cocaine if you stop using it but you will not suffer the typical flu-like symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal.

Drug seeking activity

A person with an MS Contin drug addiction will learn how to get prescription drugs from doctors and pharmacists. One drug-seeking tactic is to place an emergency call or visit just as the physician is closing up the office and then refusing examination, testing or referral to another facility. Someone with an MS Contin addiction may seem to lose her prescriptions frequently; she may even tamper with her written prescription to get more pills in each bottle. She may be reluctant to provide her prior medical records or contact information for her other caregivers. Many people with an untreated MS Contin addiction will go "doctor shopping" to get as many written prescriptions as they can.

Addiction: What Family Members Should Know

Addiction is a disease that affects the central nervous system, and not an indication of poor child-rearing skills or that a child has a weak moral character. As with any other medical condition, your family member relies on your love and support to help him through his attempts at recovery. Because MS Contin addiction usually involves cycles of remission and relapse, you will need to be patient and as committed to recovery as he is.

Everyone within your immediate family shares a risk for developing an addiction. Scientists now know that heredity plays a large role in the development of addiction to substances such as MS Contin and other opioids. Researchers have also established that stresses within the home environment raises everyone's risk for developing an addiction sometime in their lives.

Stress and Other Environmental Factors

Stress within the home or at the workplace increases the risk for addictive behaviors for everyone within that environment. Researchers think some people suffer from hypersensitivity to stress that increases their odds for developing an addiction. Parents may pass this hypersensitivity onto a child.

Children also pick up behaviors from their parents. Adults who do not know how to deal with stress teach their children poor coping mechanisms. Children who watch parents deal with stress by drinking or taking drugs such as MS Contin are likely to cope with pressure the same way.

Reducing environmental stress decreases the risk of MS Contin addiction for each member of the family. It is important to learn how to resolve conflicts without resorting to arguments or violence, balance household responsibilities fairly and reduce the ambient stress levels within the home.

MS Contin addiction affects the entire family and puts everyone in danger. MS Contin addiction inflicts collateral damage to a large radius surrounding the addicted person, including his children, spouse, family members, friends and co-workers.

MS Contin addiction takes money away from your family's grocery budget, rent and childcare. A parent battling MS Contin addiction cannot give his children the guidance, support and financial care they need because the addiction steals an ever-increasing share of his time and resources.

MS Contin addiction prevents you from doing your job well on those days you are able to show up at all. Your boss loses patience as you lose your ability to give him a fair day's work for your money. MS Contin addiction may cause you to lose the job your family depends on.

MS Contin addiction leads you to associate with people you probably would have avoided in the past. Doctor shopping, filing phony prescriptions or other drug-seeking behaviors stop working after a while; MS Contin addiction forces you to buy your opioids from drug dealers. At first, you may keep your drug dealer at a safe distance from your family but as your disease progresses, you invite this criminal element into your home. This endangers everyone in your house.

Without a job, you may have to resort to crime to feed your drug habit. Criminal activity ultimately ends in arrest, jail time and possible conviction. Participating in the legal system is expensive, diverting still more money from the family.

MS Contin addiction can also drive up medical costs, especially if it results in overdose or an infectious disease commonly associated with drug use.

Addiction: What Parents Should Know

Teenagers and young adults are abusing prescription painkillers more frequently now because these drugs are widely available. Teenagers get opioids such as MS Contin free from the family medicine cabinet, from friends or relatives. Because prescription drugs are legal, young people attach less of a social stigma to opioids such as MS Contin than to marijuana or heroin.

Parents of teens or young adults should look for warning signs including:

  • Unusual loss of interest in things that once were important
  • Drop in academic or athletic performance
  • Loss of motivation or energy
  • Finds ways to sneak off
  • Money issues
  • Items missing from the home

Caring for a Family Member with an Addiction

MS Contin addiction can unravel the fabric of a tightly knit family. Family members must work together to maintain a supportive network that helps the individual recover from his MS Contin addiction. Each member of the family participates in his own way, according to his age and abilities. For example, a grandparent might prepare meals, a younger child can do some light housework and an older child with a license can run errands.

A family must communicate if they are going to function as a team. This communication can happen between just two or three individuals, but it works best if the whole family shares ideas and viewpoints. Hold family meetings on a regular basis to discuss progress and treatment options.

The addicted person does not have to participate in family meetings at first - he may be reluctant to talk about his illness in the beginning. He might even become angry when he learns his family wants to become involved in his MS Contin addiction. Fortunately, anger and resentment typically fades as the addicted individual breaks free from the grips of his addiction.

MS Contin addiction inflicts plenty of collateral damage on innocent bystanders but recovery efforts can affect a family in a positive way. Treatment for MS Contin addiction tends to bring a family closer together. Working as a team to reduce stress, the family resolves any issues that put them all at risk for developing addictions.

The family unit plays a critical role in recovery from MS Contin addiction. Family members are frequently the first to encourage the addicted individual to seek and complete treatment for his MS Contin addiction. It is common for a family member to have chosen the treatment facility the addicted individual eventually attends.

The treatment and recovery experience works best when the individual feels physically, emotionally and spiritually safe in his home environment. Family members must recognize MS Contin addiction as a disease and work to avoid blaming the individual for his illness.

When to Suggest Treatment

It is possible to arrest the disease's progression at any time. As with many medical conditions, recovery from addiction may be easier with early treatment, before it can make lasting changes to the nervous system.

Do not let your loved one hit rock bottom before encouraging her to seek treatment. The rock bottom of MS Contin addiction could include a lengthy prison sentence, disease, toxic overdose, divorce, unemployment, homelessness or even death. Each consequence of MS Contin addiction puts recovery one more step further out of reach.

Recovery often starts when the individual feels the full brunt of the problems her addiction causes. Frequently, caring family members try to cushion their loved one from the consequences of her MS Contin addiction. This allows the addictive behaviors to continue. It is important to know how to support your loved one without enabling her addiction. Family counseling can give you the skills you need to help the one you love without harming her.

Signs of Addiction

MS Contin addiction causes neurological changes that alter the way a person thinks, feels and behaves. Doctors use these cognitive, emotional and behavioral changes to diagnose a patient as having an MS Contin addiction.

Behavioral, Cognitive and Emotional Changes


A person with an MS Contin addiction uses this opioid excessively, often at higher doses and more frequently than she intends. She might say she wants to cut down or stop completely, even while she is taking more MS Contin. She may try to quit MS Contin several times but seem unwilling or unable to abstain permanently.

Someone with an MS Contin addiction spends a great deal of time looking for this opioid, getting high or recovering from drug abuse. MS Contin addiction takes time away from work, engaging in a relationship or taking care of a child.

A person with an MS Contin addiction continues to abuse this drug, despite the terrible toll on her life. Left untreated or poorly treated, MS Contin addiction will change the reward circuitry of her brain so that she eventually loses passion for everything she used to love. Soon, she only finds a feeling of reward when she uses MS Contin.


MS Contin addiction changes the way a person thinks. Someone with an MS Contin addiction is preoccupied with MS Contin - it is all she can think of. Her view of the relative benefits and risks associated with MS Contin shift so that she recognizes only the positive aspects of MS Contin and none of the harm. She may blame other people or situations for her problems rather than attributing them to her MS Contin addiction.


MS Contin addiction changes the way a person feels. An addicted person often expresses increased anxiety, unhappiness and emotional pain. MS Contin addiction often makes the world seem more stressful.

A person addicted to MS Contin or other opioids may have difficulty identifying or expressing his feelings. He may be unable to distinguish emotions from bodily sensations.

Symptoms of Addiction

Addiction manifests itself in a variety of physical and psychological symptoms. These symptoms can be obvious or subtle, and vary from person to person.

Physical Symptoms

While specialists normally describe MS Contin addiction as a behavioral problem, a person addicted to MS Contin does display certain physical symptoms.

Physical symptoms of drug addiction include:

  • Unexplained Weight Gain or Weight Loss
  • A Change in Sleep Patterns
  • Deteriorating Physical Appearance - Looks Sickly
  • Nagging Cough
  • Diminished Hygiene Care
  • Body or Clothing May Have an Unusual Odor
  • Bloodshot Eyes with Large or Small Pupils
  • Tremors
  • Slurred Speech

Psychological Symptoms

The psychological symptoms of MS Contin addiction can be difficult to recognize because this disease often separates the addicted individual from those people who know him best. Psychological symptoms of MS Contin addiction can perpetuate drug abuse and increase resistance to treatment. Left undiagnosed, untreated or poorly treated, psychological symptoms of MS Contin addiction may prohibit a successful recovery.

Psychological symptoms of addiction to opioids include:

  • Inability to Abstain Consistently
  • Impairment in Behavioral Control
  • Cravings for Drugs or Intense Reward Experiences
  • Diminished Capacity to Recognize Significant Personal or Relationship Problems
  • Dysfunctional Emotional Response

Gender Differences

MS Contin addiction affects men and women of all races, economic and educational levels. While anyone can become addicted to MS Contin or other substances, scientific studies have shed light on some surprising gender differences when it comes to substance abuse, dependence and addiction.

According to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, twice as many men abused illicit substances or were dependent on drugs such as heroin, cocaine or marijuana as women. In 2010, just over 5 percent of females admitted to using these types of illicit drugs, as compared to 11.6 percent of males.

While fewer women abuse illegal drugs such cocaine or heroin, females are more apt to use prescription drugs. Females are also more likely to combine prescription drugs like MS Contin with alcohol, marijuana or other opioids.

Men abuse their drug of choice differently than women do. Men tend to get high in social settings, while women abuse drugs alone, in the privacy of their own homes. Women with substance abuse problems hold very few friendships, whereas addicted men have wide social circles. The way the two genders abuse drugs such as opioids could be because men feel comfortable getting high while women face strong social stigmas against drug use and addiction among females.

Men and women may come to opioids addiction differently. Men abuse drugs for recreational purposes while women often begin opioids addiction after using this medication as prescribed. For example, studies suggest physicians prescribe mood-altering drugs more frequently to female alcoholics than to male alcoholics because the healthcare providers attribute the cause of the female's condition to be rooted in depression, anxiety or some other emotional difficulty. 

Treatment Options

The American Society of Addictive Medicine warns that MS Contin addiction can cause "disability or premature death, especially when left untreated or treated inadequately." Without proper medical treatment, you may fall into a dangerous cycle of recovery and relapse.

Your treatment for MS addiction consists of two parts: detoxification and rehabilitation. Detoxification is the medical process of lowering the level of opioids in your body. You can expect five or more days of intense withdrawal symptoms as your body adjusts to lower levels of MS Contin.

Your rehabilitation focuses on restoring the neurological function disrupted by MS Contin addiction. This phase of treatment includes behavior modification and counseling that teaches you how to live without MS Contin.


At some point in your MS Contin addiction, you may be tempted to "go cold turkey." This phrase refers to your skin will appear cold and clammy with goose bumps, much like a plucked turkey. Your skin will return to normal after a few days.

During self-detoxification, you will experience the full brunt of withdrawal symptoms and face an increased risk for suffering complications associated with the flu-like symptoms.

Withdrawal symptoms, known in the medical world as opiate abstinence syndrome, often come in two waves several hours after your last dose of MS Contin.

Early symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle Aches
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Watery Eyes
  • Yawning

After a day or two, you may experience additional symptoms, including:

  • Abdominal Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Goose Bumps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

The goal of self-detoxification is to last five or more days, with the worst symptoms occurring on or about the fourth day. Many people succumb to overpowering physical and mental withdrawal symptoms and take another dose of MS Contin just to ease the discomfort.

Some people create treatment plans that include medicine to ease withdrawal symptoms. One such treatment is The Thomas Recipe, which includes valium or some other benzodiazepine to calm the nerves and help with sleep. Imodium eases diarrhea while mineral supplements relieve muscle aches. Hot baths help too.

On or about the fourth day, the individual awakens with overwhelming malaise and lack of energy that makes it difficult to move around. The patient takes L-Tyrosine with B6, which gives him a surge of energy.

While the Thomas Recipe eases withdrawal symptoms a bit, the individual is still at risk for complications such as aspiration, dehydration and relapse. Relapse to opioid abuse may result in life threatening overdose. Tolerance to MS Contin drops throughout the detoxification process; as a result, he can overdose on a smaller amount of MS Contin than he used to take before attempting detoxification.


MS Contin addiction may result in overdose, which can be fatal. Symptoms of MS Contin overdose include:

  • Breathing that Stops
  • Cold, Clammy Skin
  • Confusion
  • Extreme Drowsiness
  • Fainting
  • Pinpoint Pupils
  • Shallow Breathing
  • Weak Pulse

MS Contin overdose is a serious, life threatening medical emergency requiring immediate care. In the emergency department, doctors give the patient naloxone and other medications to reduce MS Contin to safe levels. Nurses establish an airway to help the patient breathe and monitor his vital signs. Nurses may empty the patient's stomach or administer charcoal to absorb excess MS Contin. If necessary, nurses and doctors perform life-saving measures such as CPR.

Some people with a MS Contin addiction who are in otherwise stable condition might benefit from Drug Replacement Therapy, or DRT. Patients in DRT replace illegal drugs with medications such as methadone, Suboxone or buprenorphine. DRT medications act similarly to opioids, so the patient does not experience withdrawal symptoms, but DRT drugs do not cause euphoria - the patient does not get high on them. This allows a person with a MS Contin addiction to put off the detoxification stage while he begins behavioral modification. After the patient learns how to live without MS Contin, he weans himself from the replacement drug.

Many patients passionately support DRT because it allowed them to work and live at home during treatment. Opponents of DRT say it is merely trading one addiction for another. Many people have trouble quitting the replacement drug. Harvard Medical School cites estimates that 25 percent of methadone DRT patients eventually abstain, another 25 percent continues to take the DRT drug and 50 percent go on and off methadone.

DRT is just one kind of Medication-Assisted Treatment, or MAT. Medications reduce the overpowering symptoms of withdrawal, enabling the patient to tolerate the process long enough to successfully detoxify his body.

Rehabilitation professionals say that MAT is an important and effective treatment approach because it:

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

Standard MAT involves a hospital stay. Doctors administer naloxone and other medications to reduce MS Contin levels, and other medications to ease the ensuing withdrawal symptoms. While standard inpatient MAT relieves the strength and duration of symptoms a bit, patients still face a lengthy, uncomfortable and demoralizing battle that leaves psychological scars that can interfere with rehabilitation. Medically assisted detoxification is only the first stage of addiction treatment and by itself does little to change long-term drug abuse or MS Contin addiction.

Rapid detox is cutting-edge and well-established approach to treatment, thought by many to be the most humane form of detoxification available today. During rapid detox, board certified anesthesiologists administer the standard detoxification and anti-withdrawal drugs alongside sedatives and anesthesia, so that patient dozes in a pleasant "twilight sleep." When the patient awakens, she will have no memory of the grueling detoxification process. Instead of a few days, she is ready for meaningful behavior modification in a few hours.


Because MS Contin addiction is a neurological disease that manifests itself through behaviors such as craving and drug-seeking, behavioral modification is essential for recovery. Addiction is a complex but treatable disease; each person experiences addiction differently, therefore no single treatment is appropriate for everyone. Effective treatment addresses the individual's multiple needs, not just her drug abuse. Many who suffer addiction to MS Contin or other drugs have other mental disorders, legal trouble, social problems or relationship issues that compound addiction and increase the risk for relapse.

Treatment programs should assess patients for diseases such as HIV/ AIDS, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases. Rehabilitation programs should include counseling to help patients modify or change behaviors that place them at risk of contracting or spreading infectious diseases.

Individual counseling, group therapy and other behavioral modification programs are commonly used to treat drug abuse. Treatment needs to be readily available to encourage maximum participation. Remaining in treatment for an adequate amount of time is critical to prevent relapse. Rehabilitation professionals need to monitor the patient's treatment course and progress to make sure treatment meets the individual's needs. Relapse is common and professional monitoring reduces the risk for return to MS Contin abuse.