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Morphine Abuse & Addiction Effects, Signs & Symptoms

Medically Reviewed by: Charley Allen

Table of Contents

Morphine, a powerful opiate used to treat severe pain, is among the most addictive prescription drugs.

This article will explore morphine abuse, its effects, signs and symptoms, and recovery options.

What is Morphine?

Morphine is an opioid medication used for severe pain, such as pain from cancer, labor pain during childbirth, or pain from acute trauma or surgery. It is a frequently prescribed medication for pain relief when other treatment options have proven inadequate or are not well-tolerated.

Morphine can be administered by various routes. The most common ways of morphine administration are orally, intravenously, epidurally, and intrathecally. For treating acute and chronic pain, oral formulations are available in immediate and extended-release forms. Severe and uncontrollable pain may be treated with single or continuous IV, epidural, and intrathecal preparations.

Morphine Effects and Abuse

Morphine inhibits pain sensations and the emotional reaction to pain by acting on opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord. People can develop a physical and psychological dependence on the substance after using it for a long period.

Why is morphine highly addictive? Recent studies have shown that several brain regions are involved in morphine addiction, including the nucleus accumbens, the hippocampus, the frontal regions of the cerebral cortex, and the ventral tegmental area. This demonstrates how the brain’s reward circuits are critical in morphine addiction. Specifically, morphine interferes with several brain regions by releasing dopamine into the body, which floods the brain and causes rewarding effects or euphoria, especially when misused or taken recreationally. Repeated drug use or misuse intensifies these alterations, resulting in opioid tolerance and morphine dependence.

The effects of morphine include pain relief, euphoria, sleepiness, and changes in mood and behavior. The duration is determined by various factors, including how the medication is taken, how much is taken, and whether or not a drug tolerance develops.

Pain relief from injectable morphine lasts between 5 and 20 minutes. Typically, this treatment lasts for around three to four hours, with a peak effect occurring within an hour after administration. On the other hand, oral morphine takes a little longer to start working, with pain relief peaking 60 minutes or so after taking the medication. Pain alleviation and other adverse effects normally subside within 4-6 hours.

According to the Controlled Substances Act, morphine is a Schedule II narcotic. Drugs listed as Schedule II are those with a high risk for abuse and can cause severe psychological or physical dependence.

Morphine Symptoms and Warning Signs

Morphine addiction can be difficult to detect, especially if the individual misusing it has a prescription. Nevertheless, taking morphine for purposes other than those prescribed is considered drug abuse.

If you’re concerned that someone close to you may be abusing narcotics, be on the lookout for these warning signs:

  • Slurred speech
  • Dilated pupils
  • Nodding off
  • Shallow breathing
  • Inattention
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Euphoria
  • Neglecting daily responsibilities
  • Legal issues
  • Doctor shopping

Morphine Addiction Statistics

In the United States and worldwide, opioid use disorders are still at epidemic levels. Opioid dependence has affected 3 million individuals in the US and 16 million individuals globally.

Between 1999 and 2020, overdoses involving any opioid, including illegal and prescription opioids such as heroin and morphine, resulted in the deaths of more than 564,000 persons in the US. This data is provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Morphine and Other Drugs

When receiving chronic morphine treatment, taking other drugs may raise your likelihood of developing respiratory problems, severe sedation, or coma. 

It is highly dangerous to mix morphine with other central nervous system depressants since it is a central nervous system depressant. Central nervous system depressants like alcohol and benzodiazepines can cause life-threatening conditions when combined with morphine.

Inform your physician if you are taking or planning to use benzodiazepines, other narcotic painkillers, nausea or mental illness drugs, muscle relaxants, sedatives, sleeping tablets, or tranquilizers. Your doctor will closely monitor you and may need to alter the dosage of your drugs. Call your doctor immediately or go to the emergency room if any untoward symptoms occur when taking morphine with any of these drugs.

The Effects of Geranylgeranylacetone on Morphine Treatment

Studies suggest that Geranylgeranylacetone (GGA) is found to be a potential therapy option for morphine-induced relapse.

Morphine is widely used as a clinical pain treatment, while GGA is a common treatment for ulcers. GGA stimulates the production of thioredoxin-1 (Trx-1), a redox-regulating protein that also has a protective role in the nervous system. In the study, researchers used animal models to discover the effects of GGA on the opioid receptor of morphine-dependent rats. The study demonstrated that GGA significantly protected against hyperlocomotion, rewarding effects, and withdrawal syndrome induced by morphine in the treated rats.

This new discovery sheds light on the potential benefits of GGA in treating withdrawal symptoms from morphine.

Types of Opioids

Opioids are a wide family of drugs structurally linked to the natural plant alkaloids present in opium, which are generated from the resin of the opium poppy, Papaver somniferum.

Natural opiates, such as codeine and morphine, are also referred to as alkaloids. Heroin, fentanyl, hydromorphone, buprenorphine, and methadone are examples of synthetic derivatives. Because morphine can only be legally obtained through prescription, many drug users switch to heroin, its synthetic counterpart.

The Dangers Of Morphine

Morphine is a powerful pain reliever that can create life-threatening problems and even death. With continued use, it can cause dependence.

Moreover, the drug can cause morphine tolerance in people. If tolerance develops, this means that the drug becomes less effective. For instance, if you take a sedative to sleep, it can be highly effective at first. Yet you may build up a tolerance over time, meaning a higher dosage is required to get the same effects. When tolerance is reached, stopping morphine can be difficult since withdrawal symptoms will start to appear.

Also, morphine overdose happens when a person purposefully or unintentionally consumes an excessive amount of the drug.

In the event of an overdose, the following common effects may appear:

  • Severely slowed or irregular breathing
  • Constricted (small) pupils
  • Bluish hue on the lips and fingertips
  • Slow heartbeat
  • A cold or clammy feel to the skin
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Limp muscles
  • Severe constipation
  • Blurry vision
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Severe sleepiness
  • Coma

Get emergency medical assistance immediately if you think you or someone you know may be having a morphine overdose.

Short-term Side Effects of Morphine

While taking opioids like morphine, the negative effects you encounter will vary depending on the amount, potency, and duration of treatment.

Short-term side effects of initial morphine use may include:

  • Lower body temperature
  • Changes in heart rate
  • Dizziness upon standing up
  • Slow breathing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation
  • Itching
  • Sleepiness
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Nervousness/ anxiety
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Erectile dysfunction

Long-term Side Effects of Morphine 

The risks of addiction and overdose from morphine use are significant concerns. One in four patients who get long-term opioid treatment, according to the CDC, develop an opioid use disorder.

Long-term morphine use can have negative consequences on your gastrointestinal tract, hormones, and immune system, among others:

  • Poor appetite
  • Chronic constipation
  • Stomach pain
  • Reflux
  • Bloating
  • Weight loss
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased blood sugar
  • Osteoporosis and risk of fractures
  • Immune-related problems, including the risk of infection
  • Problems with menstruation
  • Sexual dysfunction

Morphine Withdrawal, Treatment, and Next Steps

You may be struggling to suddenly quit using morphine after using it for a while. That being said, opioid withdrawal symptoms may manifest as early as 6 to 12 hours following the last dose. These early withdrawal symptoms may include yawning, sneezing, watery eyes, anxiety, inability to sleep, restlessness, and muscle aches. On the other hand, later symptoms (after 24 hours) include abdominal cramping, diarrhea, dilated pupils, blurry vision, goosebumps on the skin, rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, and nausea and vomiting.

Opioid dependence is a serious, crippling issue, but recovery is still possible. Through detoxification and inpatient or outpatient therapy, which helps lower the risk of recurrence, morphine withdrawal symptoms may well be managed.

Fortunately, several treatment centers around the country have had great success in assisting individuals with substance abuse to become sober. 

Discuss with your healthcare provider to get an in-depth assessment of your morphine or heroin addiction and information about the first step in your recovery journey.

Recognizing a Morphine Addiction

It’s important to identify the warning signals of morphine addiction in a loved one or yourself since addiction can happen quickly. The earlier you recognize these symptoms, the sooner you can get assistance and cut short a protracted period of suffering from opioid use disorder.

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The following are symptoms of addiction:

  • Ignoring important social activities
  • Spending excessive time obtaining, abusing, or recovering from the drug
  • Requiring a higher dosage of morphine to achieve the same effect
  • Irritation and aggression
  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Intense cravings for the drug
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Financial difficulties
  • Neglecting duties (at home and work) due to drug use

Getting help from a medical professional can improve your life. Recovery from addiction is a lifetime journey since it is a chronic condition.

Intervention for a Morphine Problem

The effects of morphine addiction may be severe for the abuser and those close to them. With the help of qualified professionals and the support of loved ones, achieving sobriety is a realistic goal.

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Get help immediately if you, your friend, or a family member are addicted to morphine. Abuse of prescription opioids carries its own risks and, sadly, frequently leads to heroin addiction. It’s essential to remember that withdrawal from morphine and other opiates may be difficult and stressful on the body and mind. 

Seeking help from a medical professional, who would most likely recommend a treatment center, can be very helpful to the user.

Overcoming Morphine Addiction

Watching a loved one struggle with morphine addiction can be heart-wrenching, and trying to get them the help they need may feel overwhelming. Anybody who has experienced and witnessed addiction knows how difficult it is, and the first crucial step in the recovery process is to ask for help.

Due to the challenging nature of opiate addiction and the severe side effects associated with morphine addiction and withdrawal, achieving sobriety often requires medical intervention through inpatient or outpatient care.

With the assistance of medical experts in a structured setting, users frequently find it simpler to get through the challenging withdrawal symptoms and stop using morphine permanently.

Looking for a Place to Start?

It takes time and effort to overcome a substance use disorder and lead a healthy, sober life. For many, it involves a lifetime commitment to hard work and dedication. Although the path to sobriety may be challenging, many people begin their recovery journey with the assistance of professional services.

Treatment options for morphine addiction are frequently inpatient rehab, outpatient rehab, or a combination. Your healthcare provider will work with you to establish the ideal treatment program for you depending on the duration of your addiction, the amount you abused, and so on.

Treatment centers can assist you with quitting drugs and offer various therapy services, including detoxification, cognitive behavioral therapy, and group therapy. The treatment aims to determine what caused the addicted behavior and how to prevent future triggers for a drug-free life. 

Finding recovery is important, but it’s as vital to pick the best treatment center that works for you. Get in touch with your healthcare provider to find out more about the treatment process.

Center Offering Treatment For Morphine Addiction

Addiction is a complicated condition, and rehabilitation is a lifelong commitment. After completing an inpatient treatment program, many people find it challenging to immediately return to life, with all its responsibilities and possible triggers and stress. Such transition can be facilitated by sober living. 

There are two main types of treatment: inpatient treatment, in which the patient lives at the facility, and outpatient treatment, in which the patient stays in their own home (or a sober living home).

Inpatient treatment programs require patients to enroll themselves in a controlled setting to address substance use or alcohol use disorderco-occurring mental disorders, and other behaviors that may be causing them problems. 

Outpatient treatment is another phase that enables you to continue receiving addiction treatment while living at home or in a sober living home. Patients often live in a sober living homeand continue attending outpatient treatment at an outpatient facility. 

Most patients start their therapy at an inpatient facility before moving on to a sober living home. Some patients require ongoing structure and support, which they can receive from outpatient treatment. In this case, inpatient facilities may refer patients to outpatient facilities to continue therapy.

Finding treatment may seem daunting, especially with many treatment centers available. Thankfully, some professionals can guide you or a loved one toward rehabilitation. For additional information, speak with your doctor.

Get Started on the Road to Recovery.

sober living home serves as a link between an inpatient treatment center and the outside world.

You may struggle to adjust to normal life after leaving inpatient treatment and returning home. Sober living houses provide an in-between rehabilitation alternative that allows you to practice and apply the lessons you learned in inpatient rehab.

Design for Recovery sober living homes are drug and alcohol-free environments where people can maintain sobriety. Through peer support, peer empowerment, established recovery principles, and individual responsibility, residents can achieve sobriety and prepare to transition back into living with their families or independently, free from the constraints of addiction.

Opioid Addiction: Take Your Life Back at Design for Recovery

The opioid epidemic is still widespread, and Design for Recovery sober living is a great alternative to living a life free from addiction. Our goal is to support residents in transitioning away from their previous drug-filled environment and provide them with a safe, supportive atmosphere where they can recover without external pressures influencing their progress.

People in recovery can gain freedom, establish themselves, and flourish in a sober setting. Design for Recovery will combine this independence with the advantage of accessible, attentive care available around the clock in treatment settings. 

Residents have the chance to develop lasting and healthy relationships. They will eventually become their own influences, make sound life choices, and develop into the best versions of themselves by committing to living soberly.

You are not Alone. We are Here to Support you on your Sober Living Journey.

We at Design For Recovery are dedicated to assisting you or your loved one in leading a productive life free from drug and alcohol addiction. Our compassionate team will be at your side to guide you throughout our programs. You may contact us if you or someone you care about is battling addiction.

Questions About Treatment?

For inpatient services, you may directly contact your medical provider. Your doctor is well-informed about treatment programs and support groups that are available in your local area. Starting your recovery journey may seem challenging, but it’s worth it for your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

If you want to know more about morphine addiction, other substance use disorders, and sober living homes, contact us at Design for Recovery right now for more details.

Common Questions About Rehab

Am I Covered for Addiction Treatment?

All insurance plans in the United States include coverage for treating addictions, mental health issues, and substance abuse. Health insurance companies are required by the Affordable Care Act to cover addiction treatment costs. This suggests that no matter which health insurance provider you choose, you can expect to receive coverage for addiction treatment.

Besides this requirement, insurance plans still differ regarding how long they will cover drug or alcohol rehab and even the rehabs they will pay for. Even so, ensuring that your health insurance covers any form of care or rehab facility you are considering is crucial.

For more information on what is covered in terms of your benefits for treatment, contact the insurance company or the rehab facility.

Other Articles Related to Addiction:

[1] Fentanyl Addiction

[2] Opioid Addiction

[3] Heroin Addiction

[4] Suboxone Addiction

[5] Alcohol Addiction

[6] Tramadol Addiction

[7] Synthetic Weed Addiction

[8] Sex Addiction

[9] Methadone Addiction


  1. Murphy, P.B., Bechmann, S., & Barrett, M.J. Morphine. (2022, June 20). In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from:
  2. Kim, J., Ham, S., Hong, H., Moon, C., & Im, H. I. (2016). Brain Reward Circuits in Morphine Addiction. Molecules and cells39(9), 645–653.
  3. United States Food and Drug Administration. (2016). Morphine Sulfate.
  4. Drug Enforcement Administration. (2020). Morphine.
  5. Azadfard M, Huecker MR, Leaming JM. Opioid Addiction. [Updated 2022 Sep 9]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from:
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, June 1). Opioid Data Analysis and Resources.,opioids%2C%20from%201999%2D2020.&text=This%20rise%20in%20opioid%20overdose,outlined%20in%20three%20distinct%20waves.
  7. Guo, N., Zhang, X., & Bai, J., et al. (2018). Geranylgeranylacetone blocks the reinstatement of morphine-conditioned place preference. Neuropharmacology, 143, 63–70.
  8. Opioids. (2020). In LiverTox: Clinical and Research Information on Drug-Induced Liver Injury. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
  9. CDC. (2014). CDC Guideline For Prescribing Opioids For Chronic Pain.


Edited by: David Beasley

David Beasley - Design for Recovery

David Beasley is a certified RADT (Registered Alcohol/Drug Technician). David, moved to California from North Carolina after many failed attempts to get sober.

Medically Reviewed by: Charley Allen

Charley earned his Masters of Clinical Psychology from Antioch University, Los Angeles, and is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT).He teaches mindfulness to both adults and children in group setting such as schools, corporate workplaces, and medical treatment facilities.

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