Morphine Addiction

Morphine addiction occurs when someone compulsively seeks the prescription drug despite harmful consequences. Misusing morphine changes the way the brain works, making people crave the drug and diminishing their ability to practice self-control.
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Morphine is an opioid pain reliever commonly prescribed to people suffering from moderate to severe pain. Misuse of the drug can cause euphoria and relaxation. Some people abuse morphine to get high, increasing the risk of addiction

Fast Facts: Morphine

Abuse Potential
Drug Class
Brand Names
Avinza, Kadian, Ms Contin, Morphabond
Street Names
Dreamer, Emsel, First Line, God's Drug, Hows, M.S., Mister Blue, Morf, Morpho, Unkie
Side Effects
Drowsiness, Swelling of Face or Fingers, Increase Blood Pressure, Fever, Impaired Focus, Trouble Breathing, Blue Nails or Lips
How It's Used
Swallowed, Injected, Rectally
Legal Status
Schedule II

Addiction to morphine can be debilitating and life-threatening. It inhibits self-control, and it causes painful withdrawal symptoms. Recovery from the disease requires rehab, support and dedication.

What Is Morphine?

Used as early as the Civil War, morphine is one of the most well-known pain relievers in the world. Doctors prescribe morphine for the short-term treatment of pain.

It’s also used preventatively before surgeries and to aid in anesthesia. Extended-release pills containing morphine include Avinza (discontinued), Kadian, MS Contin and Morphabond

Morphine is an opiate that affects the way the central nervous system responds to pain. Opiates, which many people refer to as opioids despite the differences between opiates and opioids, are powerful drugs that occur naturally in the opium poppy plant.

Morphine is the standard for comparing the strength of opioids. For example, hydrocodone and morphine are similar in strength, but oxycodone is 1.5 times as strong as morphine. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine.

Doctors usually administer morphine by injection, but it also comes in pill form. Although morphine can lead to physical dependence when used for extended periods of time, people taking the drug to treat pain rarely develop an addiction.

Is Morphine Addictive?

Morphine is an addictive prescription drug. People who are addicted to opioids experience numerous physical, mental and behavioral problems.

They compulsively seek drugs despite the health, legal and social consequences of their actions. In some cases, they do not recognize consequences related to morphine use.

Therapeutic use of morphine isn’t associated with opioid addiction, but misusing morphine increases a person’s risk of addiction. Some people abuse morphine to get high. A morphine high feels like overwhelming happiness and relaxation

Morphine also causes several short- and long-term side effects, such as cravings, withdrawal symptoms and addiction. Even under a doctor’s supervision, long-term morphine use will cause dependency. People dependent on morphine experience withdrawal when they quit taking the drug.

Doctors will slowly reduce the dose for morphine-dependent patients to avoid withdrawal symptoms. People addicted to morphine are unable to stop taking the drug without intensive treatment.

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Side Effects of Morphine

Doctors are careful when determining the dosage of morphine to give a patient because the drug can cause severe side effects in high doses. When taken as prescribed, morphine usually relieves pain, decreases hunger and decreases cough

Common morphine side effects include:

  • Cramps
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Relaxation
  • Weight loss

People who abuse morphine are more likely to suffer dangerous side effects of the drug, especially those who take it in high doses or inject it intravenously. Excessive doses of morphine can slow breathing to the point of death, but a drug called naloxone can reverse the effects of morphine overdose if it is administered quickly.

Other effects of morphine abuse include:

  • Constricted pupils
  • Decreased responsiveness
  • Fever
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased thirst
  • Swelling
  • Muscle spasms
  • Muscle pain

Morphine stays in the system for multiple days, but the effects of the drug usually wear off within a few hours. The length of time morphine stays in the body depends on the dosage and method of administration.

People who abuse morphine may display signs of addiction. They may make risky decisions to get drugs. Their work performance and relationships may suffer as morphine becomes the top priority in their life. They may switch to other dangerous drugs — such as heroin, which breaks down into morphine — if they are unable to obtain morphine.

Recovery from Morphine Addiction

Recovering from morphine addiction requires opioid addiction treatment. Treatment centers provide medical detox to make the experience as safe and comfortable as possible.

Some medications, including methadone and buprenorphine, can ease opioid withdrawal symptoms. Morphine withdrawal symptoms include restlessness, irritability, tremors and diarrhea

Withdrawal is different for everyone, and the severity of symptoms depends on the severity and length of addiction. After morphine detox, clinicians offer clients a variety of behavioral therapies to help them learn how to live without the drug. Clinicians also introduce patients to support groups and resources that help them adjust to life without morphine.

Morphine addiction is a serious disease. It changes the way people think and act. It causes devastating mental and physical side effects. But recovery from the disease is possible with treatment and effort.

Medical Disclaimer: 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.

Chris Elkins, MA
Senior Content Writer,
Chris Elkins worked as a journalist for three years and was published by multiple newspapers and online publications. Since 2015, he’s written about health-related topics, interviewed addiction experts and authored stories of recovery. Chris has a master’s degree in strategic communication and a graduate certificate in health communication.
Kim Borwick, MA

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