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Morphine Abuse

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What Is Morphine?

Morphine is the primary chemical component in opium. It is an opioid analgesic drug that is used to treat severe pain, and it is regarded as the gold standard of pain relievers. Use can create a high that includes feelings of euphoria and reduced tension. As an opiate, it can addictive. This means that:

  • The body develops a tolerance to the drug and as use continues, it requires more and more to achieve the desired effect.
  • Certain reinforcing brain patterns may develop as a person obsesses over the drug and its effects and, in turn, compel the user to compulsively seek it out.

Morphine, like other prescription opiates, can quickly lead to abuse and dependency, even when the user begins taking it for legitimate medical reasons.

Misusing morphine by taking excess doses and/or combining it with street drugs, alcohol, or even other prescription drugs can have dangerous health effects and may even be fatal.

If you suspect that you or someone you love may be misusing morphine, don’t wait until it’s too late to get treatment. Call to speak to someone today.

Signs and Symptoms

Morphine is sold under several brand names, including:

  • Avinza.
  • MS Contin.
  • Kadian.
  • Oramorph.

Street Names

  • Morf.
  • Mister Blue.
  • Dreamer.

Misuse of morphine can have a number of side effects, including:

  • Lowered blood pressure.
  • Confusion.
  • Dizziness.
  • Itchy skin.
  • Extreme drowsiness.
  • Pinpoint pupils.
  • Difficulty breathing (or inability to breathe).
  • Loss of consciousness.
  • Weak pulse/poor circulation.
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Cyanosis, or blue tint to lips and fingernails.
  • Coma and death in overdose situations.

Note that one of the main symptoms of morphine abuse is constipation. Morpine and other opiates slow the normal movement of the digestive tract.

A serious complication of morphine abuse is depressed respiratory function. In some situations, this can cause asphyxia and death. Combining it with alcohol or other drugs significantly increases this risk.

Effects of Morphine Abuse

When assessing whether you or someone you know has a morphine addiction, it is important to know the signs and symptoms of morphine abuse. These can include the immediate side effects on someone’s health and personality and lifestyle changes often associated with abuse.

Morphine Abuse Treatment


When quitting morphine, consider detoxing under the supervision of a qualified physician or other medical professional. They will talk you through the process, so you know what to expect. Withdrawal from opiates such as morphine can be quite uncomfortable, and the unpleasant symptoms sometimes diminish one’s resolve to quit using in the first place. Symptoms of withdrawal from morphine may include:

  • Anxiety.
  • Chills.
  • Gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea and cramps.
  • Fast heartbeat and breathing rate.
  • Insomnia.
  • Joint or muscle pain.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Restlessness.
  • Runny nose.
  • Sneezing.
  • Sweating.
  • Weakness.


Medical supervision can help minimize the difficult withdrawal symptoms listed below and increase one’s chances of successfully completing detox. Because of high rates of relapse and the many intense withdrawal symptoms, detox and inpatient rehab programs are great options for someone suffering from morphine addiction who wants immersive care through the detox and recovery process.

Inpatient rehab programs offer 24/7 supervision decrease the risk that the user will halt detox in the middle of the process. However, outpatient programs incorporate many aspects of inpatient treatment with the flexibility of living at home and often at a significantly cheaper price point. It’s important to consider what you or your loved one will need for recovery before choosing your program.

You don’t have to suffer alone. Through detox programs and inpatient rehab facilities, you can get off morphine under medical supervision, through which your symptoms will managed to maximize your comfort.

Worried about yourself or someone you love?
Learn how treatment can kickstart recovery.

Key Statistics

The problem of morphine abuse and addiction is a significant one. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC):

  • The rate of opioid analgesic use is the highest among males between the ages of 20-64 and poverty-stricken populations.
  • The increase in death rates due to accidental drug overdose has been driven by an increased use of drugs like morphine.
  • Prescription opiate abuse has affected a huge portion of our population: For every unintentional overdose death related to an opioid analgesic;
    • 9 people are admitted for addiction treatment.
    • 35 more are admitted to the ER.
    • 161 others report drug dependence or abuse.
    • 461 others report active, non-medical use.

Teen Morphine Abuse

Teens have a number of ways to obtain morphine. More often than not, teens will obtain the drug by accepting or taking it from family members and/or friends who have or can access a prescription. The Internet is also an increasingly used method of purchasing morphine.

Alarmingly, according to The Foundation for a Drug-Free World, 50% of teens surveyed believed that prescription drug use is significantly safer than illegal drug use.

Teen drug use


There are some measures you can take to prevent drug abuse in your child:

  • Discuss the risks of morphine abuse with your children.
  • Make clear to your teen that prescription drugs can be equally or more addictive than illicit drugs in many cases.
  • Keep prescriptions locked up and track your use, making notice of abnormal changes in the amount you have left.
  • Know your teens’ friends and where they are spending their time.

Additional Resources

See the following articles to learn more about morphine addiction and recovery:

You can also visit our DrugAbuse.com Forum to join the conversation about morphine addiction and recovery today.

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Eric Patterson, MSCP, NCC, LPC, is a professional counselor who has been working for over a decade to help children, adolescents, and adults in western Pennsylvania reach their goals and improve their well-being.

Along the way, Eric worked as a collaborating investigator for the field trials of the DSM-5 and completed an agreement to provide mental health treatment to underserved communities with the National Health Service Corp.

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