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Morphine Addiction & Abuse

Written by Abby Doty

& Medically Reviewed by Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD

Medically Reviewed

Up to Date

This article was reviewed by a medical professional to guarantee the delivery of accurate and up-to- date information. View our research policy.

Last Updated - 6/17/2022

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Morphine is a powerful opioid medication used to treat pain. It is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning that it carries a high risk of abuse, dependence and addiction.

What Is Morphine Used For?

Morphine is a natural opiate derived from the opium poppy. It is also an FDA-approved medication to treat a variety of pain-related conditions, including:

  • Acute pain, including pain following surgery or heart attack
  • Chronic pain
  • Anxiety related to having fluid in the lungs, a condition known as pulmonary edema
  • Neonatal opioid withdrawal in newborns

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Morphine Dosage

Morphine doses can vary widely and depend not only on the type of pain a person is experiencing but also on whether they already take an opioid or not. In addition, morphine is available in different dosage forms, including oral tablet, oral capsule, oral solution, rectal suppository and injectable medication (for hospital use only). Each dosage form has a variety of dose ranges. This means that different people who are prescribed morphine may have vastly different dose requirements.

In general, short-acting morphine is prescribed at a dose of 10–30 mg every four hours as needed for pain.

Long-acting dosage forms of morphine exist and can be prescribed once a day in the case of morphine brands like Avinza, or twice a day in the case of brands like MS Contin, Kadian and Oramorph SR. The doses of long-acting morphine range from a low of 10 mg to a high of 200 mg.

How Long Does Morphine Last?

Morphine tends to start working quickly and lasts around seven hours, although the onset and max effect vary based on how the drug is given:

Route of morphine administrationMax effect
OralWithin 60 minutes
RectalWithin 20 to 60 minutes
Injection (hospital use only)Within 90 minutes

Is Morphine Addictive?

As a Schedule II controlled substance, morphine carries a high risk of abuse, addiction and dependence. For this reason, it is important to only take morphine that has been prescribed to you and never take more doses than prescribed or a higher dose than prescribed.

Morphine Side Effects

Morphine’s side effects are similar to other opioids. Common adverse reactions include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Sedation
  • Weakness
  • Fever
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Tremor
  • Sweating
  • Lethargy
  • Feeling warm
  • Slowed breathing
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Appetite loss
  • Abdominal pain
  • Chest pain
  • Anemia
  • Rash
  • Swelling

These side effects can be more common when morphine is combined with other central nervous system depressants like alcohol or benzodiazepines, which can increase the risk of a potentially fatal overdose.

Morphine Overdose

An opioid overdose is a medical emergency and can be potentially fatal. Morphine overdose can occur if you take too much morphine, take it too frequently or mix morphine with other central nervous system depressants.

Morphine overdose symptoms include:

  • Small, pinpoint pupils
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Slow or shallow breathing
  • Choking or gurgling sounds
  • Limp muscles
  • Pale, blue or cold skin

If you think someone is overdosing on morphine, time is of the essence. Give naloxone (Narcan) if available and immediately call 911. You can save a life.

Morphine Withdrawal Symptoms

Any opioid that is stopped will cause withdrawal symptoms, including morphine. This is especially true if you quit cold turkey. Without medical supervision, as soon as the morphine withdrawal symptoms become bad enough, you may be tempted to relapse and use the substance once more.

Some morphine withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Hot and cold flashes
  • Sweating
  • Muscle cramps
  • Runny eyes and nose
  • Diarrhea

Morphine withdrawal can start as soon as 8–24 hours after the last dose for short-acting morphine and last for up to ten days. For long-acting morphine, withdrawal can start between 12 and 48 hours after the last dose and last 10–20 days.

Morphine Detox

An alternative to quitting morphine on your own is to go to an accredited detox facility. At a medical detox center, doctors and nurses will provide you with round-the-clock care to manage your withdrawal symptoms. You may be prescribed medication-assisted treatment like methadone or buprenorphine to help ease your withdrawal and prevent cravings.

At The Recovery Village Ridgefield’s 16-bed detox center outside Portland, Oregon, our team goes a step further and offers nutritional counseling and treatment for co-occurring disorders like anxiety or depression.

Are you or a loved one struggling with addiction?

Our Recovery Advocates are available 24/7 to help.

Morphine Addiction Treatment

If morphine addiction controls your life or the life of someone you love, it’s essential that you seek the treatment you deserve. You don’t have to suffer any longer. You can take back control and live your life as a free person; you no longer have to be chained down by morphine.

Morphine addiction treatment may mean that you need to have medical detox, residential treatment, partial hospitalization or outpatient treatment. The Recovery Village Ridgefield is an excellent option for any of those programs. Located in the Pacific Northwest — close to Vancouver, Washington and Portland, Oregon — the addiction specialists and medical professionals at our facility are dedicated to supporting you. Our team can provide you with the opportunity you need to focus on your own healing so you can discover the way to long-term recovery. You don’t need to wait any longer. Contact us today.


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