Morphine is a powerful narcotic that is sometimes prescribed for severe pain. However, as a Schedule II opioid, the drug is prone to addiction, dependence, and abuse. Taking too much morphine can lead to overdose, which can be deadly. Fortunately, help is available to overcome a morphine addiction.

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What is Morphine?

Morphine is a Schedule II opioid that is derived from the opium poppy. It is FDA-approved to treat severe pain. However, as a narcotic, morphine puts people at high risk of abuse, dependence and addiction. Drug dealers can make morphine directly from the opium poppy. Legitimate morphine prescriptions may also get diverted to the street with nicknames like:

  • Dreamer
  • Emsel
  • First Line
  • God’s Drug
  • Hows
  • M.S.,
  • Mister Blue
  • Morf
  • Morpho
  • Unkie

Morphine Administration

Morphine doses come in many different forms to meet a person’s pain needs. These include:

  • Long-acting capsules, sold under the brand name Kadian
  • Short-acting tablets
  • Long-acting tablets, sold under the brand name MS Contin
  • Oral liquids, which may be useful if a person has trouble swallowing tablets or capsules
  • Injectable liquids, which are often restricted to hospital settings. These are sold under the brand names Infumorph and Mitigo
  • Rectal suppositories, sold under the brand name Arymo, which can be useful if a person cannot swallow

When someone is given a legitimate prescription for an opioid, they are often started on a low dose of a short-acting opioid. Typically, long-acting opioids are given if a person is taking opioids chronically over the long term. The CDC recommends that doctors use caution when prescribing more than 50 mg of morphine daily, and does not recommend doses of more than 90 mg in a day.

Signs of Morphine Abuse

Signs of substance abuse often become evident when someone starts to struggle with a drug like morphine. Warning signs can show up in the person’s mood, behavior and even their physical appearance. Because many people dependent on morphine prefer to inject the drug, warning signs can also include paraphernalia like syringes. Some warning signs include:

  • Bloodshot eyes and changes in pupil size
  • Changes in eating or sleep habits
  • Runny nose
  • Relationship problems with peers, employers, teachers and loved ones
  • Falling short of meeting responsibilities
  • Financial or legal strain
  • Sudden changes in friends or hobbies
  • Personality changes
  • Mood swings

Signs of Morphine Overdose

Deaths from opioids like morphine have hit New Jersey hard. In 2018 alone, more than 2,500 New Jersey residents died from opioid overdoses. Signs of morphine overdose include:

  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Extreme sleepiness
  • Slowed breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Slowed pulse
  • Coma

If not treated immediately, a morphine overdose can be deadly. Like other opioids, morphine overdoses are treatable with naloxone, often sold under the brand name Narcan. If you suspect a morphine overdose, you should give naloxone immediately and then seek emergency medical attention. Naloxone can wear off within as little as 30 minutes. If the person does not get medical attention, they can go back into a potentially fatal overdose.

Side Effects of Morphine Use

Like all drugs, morphine has side effects. The most common morphine side effects include:

  • Constipation
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache

Taking morphine chronically can also reduce the levels of hormones called androgens. This can cause complications like:

  • Low sex drive
  • Impotence or erectile dysfunction
  • Menstruation problems
  • Infertility

As the body gets used to morphine, physical dependence can develop. This process can take days to weeks. When you are physically dependent on morphine, your body expects its presence. This means that if you suddenly stop taking morphine, you can experience withdrawal.

Withdrawal from Morphine & Detox Process

Withdrawing too fast from morphine has been linked to withdrawal symptoms, uncontrolled pain, and suicide. For this reason, it is important to not stop morphine cold turkey. Withdrawal symptoms begin after you stop taking morphine. If you are taking a short-acting form of morphine, withdrawal symptoms can start anywhere from 8 to 24 hours after you stop the drug and can last up to 10 days. If you are taking a long-acting form of morphine, withdrawal symptoms can start 12 to 48 hours after your last dose and may last up to 20 days. 

Because opioid withdrawal and abstinence can be so challenging, strategies to manage withdrawal and sobriety include a slow taper of the opioid and medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, with methadone or buprenorphine. These strategies can help you stop taking morphine in a comfortable way while minimizing withdrawal symptoms. A medically-monitored morphine detox program can wean you off morphine and may be able to place you on MAT therapy to help you stay sober.

Morphine Treatment Options

In 2018, more than 5,300 New Jersey residents sought help stopping non-heroin opioids like morphine. The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper offers a variety of services to help you win your struggle with morphine in a comfortable and caring environment.

  • Medical Detox: In medical detox, you can be admitted to our detox center where our specially trained health care team can help to comfortably wean you off morphine.
  • Medically-Assisted Detox: While you undergo detox from morphine, our medical team can discuss options including MAT with methadone or buprenorphine to keep you sober long-term.
  • Residential Rehab: Detox is only the first step of the recovery process. After your body is clear of morphine, inpatient or residential therapy can help you learn strategies for living life without morphine and explore why you became reliant on morphine in the first place.
  • Outpatient Rehab: After inpatient rehab, you may be ready to start re-entering the world without morphine. Our outpatient rehab will continue to offer therapy and support you as you navigate your morphine-free life. Teletherapy may also be available.
  • Aftercare: After rehab is complete, the process of aftercare begins, setting you up for continued success with support groups and relapse prevention plans.
  • Dual Diagnosis: Many people who struggle with substances like morphine also have an underlying mental health issue they are trying to overcome. Our dual diagnosis program addresses both your morphine addiction and underlying mental health struggle.

Related Topic: Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehab 


It is common to have questions while you are learning how to overcome a reliance on morphine. Frequently asked questions include:

The Drug Enforcement Administration lists morphine as a Schedule II drug. This means the narcotic is prone to addiction, dependence and abuse. 

Morphine is an opioid that is FDA-approved for severe pain. Morphine blocks pain sensations and relaxes the central nervous system, slowing different autonomic functions to calm the patient. 

Morphine comes in many different dosage forms lasting different lengths of time. Some of its dosage forms are short-acting, while others are long-acting. Typically, a short-acting dosage form like injectable morphine can last up to 4 hours and is, therefore, often dosed every 4 hours as needed. Conversely, a long-acting dosage form like morphine capsules can last all day.

Morphine is detectable in your body for different periods of time, depending on what is being tested. For example, the drug can show up in urine for up to 3 days. It can show up in the saliva for up to 2 days. A 1.5-inch section of hair can also show the past 90 days of drug use.

A morphine overdose can be deadly. Although morphine can be fatal on its own, the risk is further increased when morphine is mixed with another central nervous system depressant like a benzodiazepine. 

Get Help for Morphine Addiction

If you or a loved one struggle with morphine, help is here. Our addiction experts at The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper are available to help you start on a road to a morphine-free life. Contact us today to discuss treatment options and answer your questions.

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