MS Contin is a time-released brand of morphine sulfate marketed by Purdue Pharma. It is used as a treatment for chronic pain, and in the US it is a Schedule II controlled substance that can only be administered and prescribed by a medical professional.
Due to the fact that MS Contin is routinely used over a long period to treat the symptoms of chronic pain there is a high potential risk of users developing a tolerance for the drug. As with all opioids the body eventually adjusts to a steady dosage, reducing the efficacy of the MS Contin with time, and though many doctors will be reluctant to increase the dosage it is often the case that users will develop a dependence on the drug to such an extent that they will seek out alternative sources in order to increase their dose.
Due to the nature of MS Contin it is common for users to develop a gradual addiction over the long periods of use, and many users may find themselves reliant on their dosage even when their pain is no longer a problem. More troubling is the fact that many users may not realize that they have a dependence problem, and especially if they are taking only the dosage prescribed by their doctor.
The signs of MS Contin addiction include cravings shortly before a scheduled dose. If these cravings begin to occur earlier and earlier before the scheduled time, or if the user find excuses to take their medication outside of the twice-daily dosage times, this may be a sign that they have developed a tolerance for MS Contin, in which case they should seek medical advice.
Users often complain of increased pain as a justification for taking their dose earlier than the prescribed time, but the reality may be that the level of pain remains the same while the dosage is now not enough to produce the same effect as it once did.
Another common sign of MS Contin addiction is shopping for multiple prescriptions or attempting to obtain a supply of the drug (or another brand of opioid) by illicit means. Any effort to supplement the prescribed dosage is a likely indicator of addiction.
Addicts may experience violent moods swings and irritability, especially in the hours approaching the next scheduled dose. They may also withdraw from friends, family and former hobbies, and may begin taking their medication in secret.
As MS Contin depresses the entire body it is common for users to experience shortness of breath and decreased heart rate. This depressing effect is more prominent in users who take a high dosage and users who supplement the prescribed dosage. They may also suffer from problems such as loss of concentration, disturbed sleep patterns, drowsiness and difficulty retaining memories.
While any user of MS Contin may experience symptoms of withdrawal when they stop taking the drug, severe symptoms are more likely for those who have developed a dependence on their dose or have taken it over a long period.
As with most opioids the symptoms of withdrawal can be severe and prolonged, and while MS Contin withdrawal should not be life threatening in otherwise healthy individuals it can take a terrible toll on the body. In rare cases withdrawal can trigger strokes or heart attacks, and some individuals may consider or attempt suicide.
Stage I of MS Contin withdrawal begins up to 14 hours after the last dose as the last of the drug leaves the system. The user will experience cravings, irritability, depression, anxiety and perspiration. As the usual scheduled time of the next dose passes without medication the symptoms may worsen.
Stage II is an elevation of Stage I, during which the user's depression and anxiety deepens. They may become tearful and depressed, bargaining for another dose of MS Contin or any other opioid.
Sixteen to twenty four hours after the final dose the user will enter Stage III of withdrawal with a further escalation of symptoms matched with a running nose, dilated pupils, bone and muscle pains, uncontrollable muscle movement, a loss of appetite and abdominal cramping.
Stages IV and V take the user through second and third days following the final dose, during which they will experience diarrhea, severe cramping, insomnia, high blood pressure, nausea and vomiting and rapid weight loss, in addition to the previous symptoms.
Finally, after recovery from all of these symptoms the user will enter Stage VI, during which they will recover their appetite and resume normal bowel function. Once the physical symptoms are over the user must deal with the ongoing psychological symptoms caused by their MS Contin addiction in order to avoid a relapse.