Morphine: An Overview

Morphine is a narcotic medicine use to treat moderate to severe pain. It was first isolated by a German chemist in 1804 and is the first attempt to isolate the medicinal properties of the opium poppy plant from which it derives.

Since then, many manufactures have modified the substance–attempting to reduce its addictive qualities and increase its utility in a variety of applications and settings. As a prescription, morphine comes in a variety of forms including capsules tablets, dissolving salts and fluids.2 Immediate release morphine medication lasts approximately 4 hours while extended-release morphine is generally taken every 8-12 hours in a day.4

Commonly believed to be safer than other illicit substances, morphine and other prescription opioids still present a serious risk of dependency and abuse. This is due to how these drugs interact with areas in the brain that regulate pleasure and reward behavior.

For this reason, prescription opioids like morphine should only be used under medical supervision and while exercising extreme caution.

Morphine’s Side Effects

  • Drowsiness or Fatigue
  • Headache or Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Stomach Cramping
  • Sweating
  • Suppressed Appetite
  • Difficulty Urinating or Urinary pain
  • Mood Swings
  • Constricted Pupils

orphine use can sometimes result in severe and sometimes life-threatening side effects such as: seizures, difficulty breathing, menstrual irregularity, rapid or slowed heartbeat, sudden loss of consciousness and swelling of the face and throat.4 These side-effects are not normal; if you experience any of these symptoms contact your doctor immediately.

Signs of Morphine Addiction and Abuse

As a medication, morphine tolerance and dependency play a significant role in the development of morphine addiction–also included in the DSM-V under Opioid Use Disorder (OUD).

People who are taking prescription morphine over longer periods of time are at an increased risk of misusing the drug. Tolerance can build up in as little as 30 days and the onset of physical and psychological dependency can occur just two weeks after first use.

Morphine abuse can start a number of ways: A patient misuses their prescription; a youth finds an unwitting family member’s prescription in a medicine cabinet; another buys morphine tablets off the street.

Whatever the case may be, behaviors associated with morphine addiction such as doctor swapping, faking symptoms, and other illegal behaviors such as stealing and driving while intoxicated can result in serious life-altering consequences.

Other signs that your loved one might be abusing morphine include:

  • Not showing up for work or school
  • Making plans and canceling them without
  • much notice or explanation
  • You see them taking their medication too often
  • They appear disoriented, confused, or high
  • They have difficulty holding down a job
  • They are constantly asking to borrow money
  • Things such as valuables or medication goes missing when they are around.


Morphine and Other Substances

People who abuse morphine put themselves at a higher risk for developing health complications such as long-term brain damage and severe dependency.

As the risks of morphine increase when mixing it with other drugs, those who were not prescribed it are at a particularly high risk for harm as they are usually unaware of the dangers of mixing morphine with other drugs.

Using morphine with the following medications can be harmful and even fatal.

  • Antihistamines (Commonly used in allergy medications like Dimetane, Zyrtec, Benadryl and Claritin)
  • Buprenorphine (Medications like Subutex, naloxone, Suboxone and Zubsolv are used to treat opioid dependance)
  • Dextromethorphan (Commonly found in cough syrups for flu, cold and fever symptoms such as Robitussin, Coricidin, Delsym and Mucinex)
  • SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors are commonly found in anxiety and depression medications such as Zoloft or Prozac)
  • MAO inhibitors (Also found in depression and anxiety medication includes Marplan, Nardil, Parnate and Emsam)

Heath risks such as serious breathing complications can occur when morphine is used alongside alcohol.3 If you are planning to use morphine to treat chronic pain, discuss the risks and any other medications you are using with your doctor.

The Dangers of Morphine

Abusing morphine can cause hypoxia: a condition where the body is not getting the oxygen it needs. This condition can occur suddenly and can be life threatening. Overtime, respiratory depression and shallow breathing can cause permanent damage to brain. Lack of oxygen to the body’s vital organs is the largest contributor to overdose deaths from opioids.

When a person is overdosing from morphine, they are usually totally unresponsive or semi lucid. As a result, their bodies may appear droopy. If they are awake, their demeaner has been said to mirror drunkenness.

Other symptoms of morphine overdose include:

  • Dizziness and Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Tightly Constricted Pupils
  • Coming In and Out of Consciousness
  • Breathing Stops or is Intermittent
  • Extremities and Skin are Clammy and Without Warmth
  • Skin Has a Bluish Hue

Facts and Statistics on Morphine Abuse

  • Overdose deaths due morphine and other opioids totaled 3.8 per every 100,000 individuals in the US1
  • Approximately two thirds of all drug overdoses involve an opioid like morphine.5
  • It is estimated that in 2019, 10.1 million people misused morphine and other opioids.

Overcoming Morphine Addiction

Because morphine and other opioids can severely impact critical processes such as decision making, motivation, and the production of key neurotransmitters–quitting morphine can be difficult.

As the body becomes reliant on the drug function, regular morphine use can also lead to withdrawals. The symptoms of withdrawal can vary from moderate to severe and include:

  • Insomnia
  • Sweating and clamminess
  • Achiness
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased heartrate
  • Stomach cramping
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Irritability

Get Help Today

Are you or a loved one struggling with opioid addiction? drugs like morphine can dissolve a person’s ability make safe and healthy choices. To avoid the disastrous consequences of drug abuse it is often necessary to seek the help addiction professionals. For more information on addiction treatments available in your area see the link below.

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