morphine sulfate addiction and abuse

What is Morphine Sulfate?

Morphine is a prescription drug used to relieve ongoing pain. Morphine sulfate affects how the brain interprets and responds to pain. Morphine sulfate is generally used for moderate to severe pain caused by ailments like cancer, severe accidents, or other serious medical conditions.​​​1

Is Morphine an Opioid?

Morphine sulfate belongs to the opioid drug class. Morphine is one of the stronger opioid drugs and, similar to other opioids, it does have a high risk for addiction. Morphine sulfate should only be taken at the recommended doses from a medical professional.

Brand Names

Morphine sulfate does come under different brand names.​​​​​​2 Common morphine brand names include:
  • AVINza
  • Kadian
  • Kadian ER
  • Morphabond
  • MS Contin
  • Oramorph SR
  • Roxanol
  • Roxanol-T

Liquid Morphine

Liquid morphine, also known by the brand name Roxanol, is a short-acting pain treatment. It’s also used to treat shortness of breath since it dilates the bronchioles in the lungs, increasing their capacity.​​​3

Dilaudid vs. Morphine

There are numerous forms of morphine and dosages to cover different patients’ needs. In a medical situation, the dosage for morphine tablets ranges from 5mg – 30mg every four hours, or as needed by the patient.​​​4 If the morphine is delivered in an injectable form, the dosages are usually lower and needed less frequently.​​​5 There are instances where the pain is less severe or more severe and the patient would need lower or higher doses than what is in that range. Since morphine sulfate has a high risk of addiction, morphine should only be taken when medically necessary and under guidelines provided by a medical professional.

Morphine Dosage

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than 81,000 people across the U.S. died from drug overdoses between June 2019 and May 2020, the highest number of deaths ever recorded in twelve months. The jurisdictions with the largest increase in overdose deaths between July 2019 and July 2020 included Louisiana with a 53.1% increase, South Carolina with a 43.6% increase, the District of Colombia with a 59.9% increase, Maine with a 40.6% increase, and Arizona with a 35.9% increase.

Signs and Symptoms of Morphine Sulfate Addiction

It can be difficult to recognize addiction if one tries to cover it. However, some symptoms indicate if someone is suffering from addiction. Signs of morphine sulfate addiction may include physical or behavioral symptoms.​​​6

Physical Signs

Common physical signs of morphine addiction may include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Slurred speech
  • Shallow breathing
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Chest pain
  • Rapid heartbeat

Behavioral Signs

Common behavioral signs of morphine addiction may include:

  • Trouble paying attention
  • Neglecting daily responsibilities
  • Being withdrawn from everyday activities
  • Multiple doctor visits to obtain morphine
  • Acting nervous
  • Having a false sense of well-being

Morphine Side Effects

There are many short-term, long-term, and even dangerous health effects that may occur due to morphine addiction.​​​7


Common short-term morphine side effects may include:

  • Nausea
  • Itching
  • Loss of appetite
  • Slowed breathing
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Changes in heart rate

These side effects can cause a morphine addict distress and can lead to harsher long-term side effects down the road.


Common long-term morphine side effects may include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Bloating
  • Chronic constipation
  • Weight loss
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Osteoporosis and a higher risk of fractures
  • Lowered immune system
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Problems with menstruation

Morphine Overdose

If a morphine tolerance is built up, then it will take increasingly higher doses overtime to get the same effect. This can lead to a morphine overdose. Common signs of a morphine overdose are:

  • Slipping into unconsciousness
  • Erratic eye movement or pinpoint pupils
  • Slowed breathing
  • Inability to speak
  • Pale skin
  • Bluish complexion on lips and fingernails

If someone is experiencing any of these signs it’s important to seek immediate medical attention by calling emergency services.

Morphine Withdrawal

When going through the detox process, morphine withdrawal symptoms can be serious and even life-threatening. Common morphine withdrawal symptoms may include:​​​8

  • Restlessness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Dilated pupils
  • Body aches
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Shaking
  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing or hyperventilation
  • High blood pressure
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

How Long Does Morphine Stay in Your System?

Most morphine medications go through many half-lives before the drug is fully out of a body’s system. A dose of morphine can be detected in urine for up to three days, saliva for up to four days, and hair for up to ninety days.​​​9

Treatment Options

There are many options and resources available for morphine addiction recovery. Speaking with a medical professional or going to a treatment center is a good first step.


The detox stage is an important part of the recovery process. Detox can be difficult since there is a range of withdrawal symptoms. The detox process should occur in a proper treatment system so that the addict has constant medical support and can go through withdrawal safely and comfortably.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

During treatment, medications may be used to help ease withdrawal symptoms or prevent relapse.​​​10 For morphine addiction, common medications that would be used are Methadone, buprenorphine, and Naltrexone. Methadone and buprenorphine are both maintenance medications that help ease the withdrawal symptoms of opioid addiction by tapering off opioid use. Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist that blocks the effects of opioids when they’re taken.

Inpatient Rehab

Due to the serious nature of opioid withdrawal symptoms, inpatient rehab is usually recommended for the best results. Inpatient treatment allows one to live at a treatment center for a duration of time while detoxing and receiving addiction therapy. Inpatient rehab provides around-the-clock medical support, a structured recovery program, and therapy to provide coping mechanisms and seek the underlying problem causing addiction.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment allows you to continue living at home while receiving treatment for anxiety and addiction. This can be a good option for those experiencing less severe symptoms or those who need to keep up with work or family responsibilities. Outpatient treatment requires commitment, as this option obliges you to check into the treatment center at designated times and manage temptations at home.


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