Is Morphine Addictive? Signs and Symptoms

One of the world’s oldest and most effective pain medications is morphine, one of the most addictive substances known to humans. Morphine has provided pain relief for thousands of years, with just as many historical accounts of the signs and symptoms of morphine addiction. As medicine progressed, chemists made morphine more efficient and easier to measure; however, it has maintained its addictive properties.

Morphine is very effective for treating severe or chronic pain, but the relaxing and euphoric effects that it causes also lead to people abusing it, leading to the development of opioid dependence or opioid use disorder. If left untreated, morphine addiction can become a life-long struggle; learn about the risks of addiction and treatment options for overcoming substance abuse.

What Is Morphine?

Morphine is an opioid pain relief medication derived from naturally occurring chemicals in the poppy plant and is considered one of the most effective medications. Doctors prescribe morphine for pain management in people with severe, chronic, or cancer-related pain.

In the United States, morphine is a schedule II drug that comes in tablet, capsule, oral solution, or liquid form. Morphine is highly addictive and causes intense and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

What Does Morphine Do?

Morphine works throughout the brain and body to reduce or block pain signals from the nervous system to produce pain relief and help well-being and relaxation.

When morphine binds to opioid receptors, it slows down the transmission of pain signals and causes the brain to release chemicals that make users feel rewarded or even euphoric. Opioid receptors are located all over the central nervous system and internal organs, including the brain, digestive tract, heart, and lungs.

Morphine, especially in high doses, affects biological functions and can produce unpleasant side effects like slowed breathing, changes in heart rate, confusion, and digestion issues, especially in higher doses.

Is Morphine Addictive?

Morphine is highly addictive. It takes less than 30 days to become dependent on morphine. Even people prescribed morphine who follow the instructions and warnings for use closely can still become addicted to morphine.

Chronic pain requires ongoing treatment, including pain management; however, continued use of morphine causes tolerance, which requires higher doses to get the same effects. Higher doses increase dependence and the likelihood of developing an opioid use disorder.

Repeated and long-term morphine abuse physically alters the brain, causing health problems and physical and psychological dependence. Even for people who want to quit, morphine withdrawal can be so intense that people continue to use morphine to avoid it.

How Long Does Morphine Stay in Your System?

How long morphine stays in your system will be different for every person depending on several factors. Even if you can no longer feel the effects of morphine, it is still present in your body.

Factors that affect how long it takes morphine to leave the body include:

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Genetics
  • Dose taken
  • How long you’ve been taking morphine
  • How you ingested it—swallowed, snorted, smoked, or injected
  • Co-occurring health conditions or substance use disorders
  • Other medications in your system
  • Alcohol

Morphine used to treat chronic pain requires consistent, regular doses, meaning it will build up in the system, and take longer to eliminate. Even in recreational users, morphine will stay in the body after the effects wear off.

A single dose of morphine generally leaves the body within 12 hours; however, depending on the type of test to detect it, it can show up longer.

Here is a general guideline of how long different drug tests can detect morphine:

  • Blood test—12 hours
  • Urine—3 days
  • Saliva—4 days
  • Hair strand—90 days

Time is the only way to eliminate morphine from your system; drinking water, detox kits, and other magic cures advertised will not speed up the metabolization process. More importantly, abruptly quitting morphine or attempting to induce rapid withdrawal can have severe and harmful side effects.

Morphine Side Effects

Generally, the pain relief effects of morphine outweigh any unpleasant morphine side effects for people seeking treatment and relief for chronic pain. However, higher doses are needed with prolonged use to offer the same pain relief effects, increasing the side effects.

For people who abuse morphine by taking more than their prescribed dose, using it without a prescription, or by snorting, smoking, or injecting it, the side effects of morphine can be unexpected and more intense.

Side effects of morphine include:

  • Relaxation
  • Euphoria
  • Sense of well-being
  • A warm sensation throughout the body
  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Changes in heartbeat
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Rash
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Chest pain

Call 911 immediately if you believe the side effects are life-threatening or you are experiencing an overdose.

morphine side effects

Signs of Morphine Addiction

Morphine addiction develops quickly and causes mental, behavioral, and physical changes. Addiction is a physical and psychological dependence on a substance, with an inability to stop using, even when it becomes dangerous, and has negative consequences.

Signs of morphine addiction include:

  • Running out of prescriptions early
  • Asking friends and family members for morphine
  • Visiting multiple doctors to get more morphine
  • Lying about or hiding how often they take morphine
  • Mood changes
  • Confusion
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Weightloss
  • Financial problems
  • Job difficulties
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Neglecting person hygiene
  • Lack of enjoyment in former hobbies
  • Depression
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Memory loss
  • Reoccurring breathing problems
  • Drug paraphernalia if they are snorting, smoking, or injecting morphine
  • Cravings for morphine
  • Inability to stop taking morphine
  • Withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking morphine

Chronic morphine abuse causes physical changes to the brain that contribute to tolerance, dependence, and addiction, so it is not as easy as deciding to quit. People who choose to face their addiction will experience physical and mental distress that requires professional treatment to address and overcome.

Morphine Withdrawal Symptoms

Morphine withdrawal symptoms can range from uncomfortable to life-threatening. Withdrawal will differ for every person based on their physical makeup, addiction severity, co-occurring disorders, and the amount of morphine regularly taken.

People addicted to morphine become physically dependent on it and require a regular supply or fix to maintain their chemical balance and avoid getting “dope sick” or experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

Morphine withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Watery eyes and nose
  • Fever
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Muscle soreness
  • Body aches
  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Brain fog
  • Appetite changes
  • Morphine cravings
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Dehydration
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Trying to quit morphine alone can be dangerous and lead to a relapse if the symptoms are overwhelming. If you want to stop taking morphine, talk to your doctor about the best options; most will recommend professional medical detox with follow-up treatment for morphine addiction and withdrawal.

morphine withdrawal

Can Morphine Kill You?

Morphine can kill you when it is taken incorrectly or abused.

As a central nervous system depressant, morphine slows down vital functions like breathing, heartbeat, and cognitive functions, leading to overdoses and death in high doses. When morphine mixes with alcohol or drugs that depress the central nervous system, the risk of an accidental overdose increases markedly.

One of the most common side effects of morphine is drowsiness and falling asleep. If a person with a lethal amount of morphine or a combination of drugs falls asleep while their body is still processing the drugs, the overdose may go unnoticed until it is too late to get emergency help.

Treatment for Morphine Addiction

Whether you are a chronic pain patient or recreational user who feels like morphine has taken over your life, you are not alone, and a life free from addiction is possible.

At Northridge Addiction Treatment Center, we tailor our treatment plans to each resident’s unique needs, including onsite medical detox to make withdrawal safe before you begin your in-depth treatment and care to address the roots of your addiction.

Our licensed and experienced NATC team is genuinely invested in helping you achieve long-lasting recovery. Your path to recovery is a phone call away. Reach out to speak with one of our treatment specialists now.

Find Meaningful Recovery

Our caring and compassionate specialists are eager to help you comfortably navigate this journey to recovery. Our individualized treatment plan, programs, and therapies may be a perfect match for you or your loved one. Let us assist you in living the happy life you deserve. It starts with a phone call.

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