If you are in an immediate emergency, call 911. If you are looking for more information on substance abuse treatment and it is not a medical emergency, call our 24/7 Morphine Helpline at 877-542-1036.
Morphine is an opiate pain medication that affects the central nervous system by decreasing pain signals and the emotional response a person has to pain. Morphine can be prescribed to patients for acute and chronic pain. However, this pain relief can also come with feelings of euphoria or pleasure, which give morphine a high risk for abuse and addiction. Morphine addiction is part of an opioid epidemic in the U.S., but addiction treatment is available for those who need it.
What Is Morphine Used For?
Morphine is used to treat many different medical conditions, including:
- Acute pain
- Chronic pain
- Acute pulmonary edema, or fluid build-up in the lungs
- Neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome
People abuse morphine in different ways. Some may take the drug without a prescription or more often than prescribed. Others may attempt to use morphine in ways other than intended, such as crushing the drug into a powder and snorting or injecting it. However, drug manufacturers have developed abuse-deterrent morphine formulations to counteract this. This makes the morphine more difficult to cause a high when injected or snorted.
Morphine Brand Names
Although some dosage forms of morphine are available as generic drugs, morphine is also available under a variety of brand names. These include:
- Arymo ER
- MS Contin
Morphine doses are highly individualized. The dose a doctor prescribes is often based on how opioid tolerant a person is. For example, for a person who does not regularly take opioids, a typical morphine starting dose is 10 mg by mouth every four hours as needed for pain. However, a person who regularly takes opioids may be prescribed a higher dose of morphine.
To lower the risk of addiction and overdose, doctors generally prescribe the lowest effective morphine dose for the shortest possible period of time.
Morphine comes in a variety of dosage forms so that it can be given to a person in different ways. Although morphine can be used in many healthy patients who need an opioid, the drug is strongly associated with end-of-life care. For this reason, it is available in more dosage forms than other opioids. These dosage forms can, in turn, be easier to administer to a person at the end of their life who has trouble swallowing.
|Brand names||Short-acting or long-acting?||Reserved for hospital use or|
available for outpatient use?
Oramorph, MS Contin
|Available for outpatient use|
Available for outpatient use
|Oral dissolvable tablets||–||Short-acting||Available for outpatient use|
|Oral capsule||Avinza, Kadian||Long-acting||Available for outpatient use|
|Injection||Astramorph, Duramorph , Infumorph||Short-acting||Reserved for hospital use|
|Other Morphine Forms|
|Oral liquid||–||Short-acting||Available for outpatient use|
|Rectal suppositories||RMS||Short-acting||Available for outpatient use|
Is Morphine Addictive?
Yes. As a Schedule II controlled substance, morphine carries a high risk of addiction. The drug is addictive because it triggers the brain’s reward pathways, leading you to keep seeking morphine even when it is not medically necessary.
Beyond addiction, you can also become physically dependent on morphine, where your body feels like it needs morphine to function normally. People who are dependent on morphine also experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking it, which further encourages their addiction.
Morphine Abuse Statistics
Morphine is a prescription opiate that plays a part in the opioid epidemic currently happening in the United States. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse and SAMHSA:
- Roughly 21–29% of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them.
- An estimated 4–6% of people who misuse prescription opioids transition to heroin.
- Overall, almost 8% of Americans age 12 or older misuse their opioid prescriptions. This is equivalent to around 0.2% of the total American population.
- Nearly 50,000 Americans died from opioid-involved overdoses in 2019.
Morphine Side Effects
The potential side effects of morphine are like other opioids. Some of the common short-term side effects of opioids include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Nausea or vomiting
- Visual changes
- Mental fogginess
- Low mood
Morphine can also cause more dangerous, even deadly, side effects. This includes the possibility of an overdose. An overdose is a medical emergency; if you witness any of the following symptoms, administer naloxone (Narcan) if available and call 911:
- Small, pinpoint pupils
- Slow or shallow breathing
- Choking or gurgling sounds
- Limp muscles
- Pale, blue or cold skin
Morphine slows the central nervous system as it binds to mu opioid receptor sites in the brain. Because the brain controls breathing and heart rate, if someone takes too high a dose of any opioid, including morphine, their breathing can slow to a deadly point.
If morphine is combined with other central nervous system depressants, the risk of overdose increases. For example, if someone takes morphine with another opioid, a benzodiazepine like Xanax or combines it with alcohol, the risk of an overdose increases significantly. For this reason, morphine carries a Boxed Warning against using benzodiazepines and opioids together.
If you stop an opioid like morphine cold turkey or significantly decrease your dose all of a sudden, you will likely experience withdrawal symptoms. Morphine withdrawal symptoms can be very uncomfortable, which often tempts the person to start using morphine again. Undergoing a medical detox can ensure you have support to address withdrawal symptoms, making the process as comfortable as possible and ensuring you don’t relapse during detox.
Morphine Withdrawal Symptoms
Morphine withdrawal symptoms are similar to other opioids and include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Hot and cold flashes
- Muscle cramps
- Runny eyes and nose
If you take a short-acting form of morphine (which are generally dosed “as needed”), withdrawal symptoms may start as little as 8 to 24 hours after the last dose and can last for up to 10 days.
If you take a long-acting form of morphine (such as Kadian, MS Contin or Avinza), withdrawal often starts between 12 and 48 hours after the last dose and can last between 10 and 20 days.
How Long Does Morphine Stay in Your System?
Long after morphine’s pain-relieving effects wear off, the drug can remain detectable in your system. How long it is detectable depends on what is being tested:
- Urine: Morphine is present in urine for up to three days after the last dose.
- Blood: Morphine shows up in blood for up to 6.7 hours after the last dose.
- Hair: A 1.5-inch sample of hair can detect morphine use within the past 90 days.
- Saliva: Morphine can be found in saliva for up to two days after the last dose.
These timeframes are rough estimates of how long morphine can be detected. Other factors can influence whether morphine shows up on a drug test, such as:
- The morphine dose you take
- How frequently you take morphine
- How you take morphine (for example, injection versus by mouth)
- Your age
- Your body composition
- Your sex
- Any health conditions you have
- Whether or not you take other medications
- Your overall hydration and nutritional status
The first step in stopping morphine use involves detox. Morphine detox is the process by which your body removes the morphine from its system. Medical detox programs exist that offer around-the-clock supervision from doctors and nurses so you can recover from morphine in the most comfortable way possible and avoid an immediate relapse. While in a medical detox, the medical team monitors and treats you for withdrawal symptoms as they occur.
Morphine Addiction Treatment
However, detox is merely the first step in the lifelong process of overcoming morphine. Detox is typically followed by addiction treatment in a rehab program. In rehab, you can examine why you relied on morphine in the first place and learn coping skills to avoid morphine use in the future.
Multiple addiction treatment programs are available, including:
- Inpatient rehab: In this program, you live on-site at the rehab facility. This allows you to focus on your recovery without outside distractions.
- Partial hospitalization program: After inpatient rehab, this program offers a transition step with less structure and more freedom before moving on to outpatient care.
- Intensive outpatient rehab: In this program, you live at home or in a sober living environment but come back to the facility for treatment for a set number of hours per week.
- Outpatient rehab: In this program, you live at home or in a sober living environment and continue your rehab with fewer hours per week while readjusting to regular life.
Morphine, like other opioids, is very potent and can quickly lead to abuse and addiction. If you or your loved one is struggling with morphine abuse, contact Orlando Recovery Center. Our licensed team of addiction professionals provide evidence-based compassionate care to start your life without opioids.
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National Institute on Aging. “Providing Care and Comfort at the End of Life.” December 17, 2021. Accessed February 6, 2022.
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National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Opioid Overdose Crisis.” March 11, 2021. Accessed February 3, 2022.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.