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Morphine Signs, Withdrawal Symptoms, & Side Effects

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Morphine is a potent opioid medication commonly used to relieve severe pain. While it can provide effective pain relief, it is essential to be aware of the potential side effects and risks associated with its use.

If you or someone you care about struggles with dependence on morphine or another substance, Guardian Recover can help. We will work with you to develop an individualized and effective program to help you recover from addiction and get you on the road to long-term recovery. We believe in the benefits of a full curriculum of clinical care, beginning with medical detoxification, transitioning into a higher level of treatment, and concluding with personalized aftercare planning. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment options in your area.

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How Does Morphine Work?

Morphine binds to opioid receptors in the brain, altering pain transmission and activating the reward system. When morphine binds to opioid receptors in the reward system, it triggers the release of a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine is associated with feelings of pleasure and reward, contributing to the analgesic (pain-relieving) and euphoric effects of morphine.

The interaction between morphine and the brain’s reward system can also lead to potential risks. Prolonged use or misuse of morphine can lead to tolerance, where the brain becomes less responsive to the drug’s effects. As a result, you may require higher doses of morphine to achieve the same level of pain relief or euphoria.

Physical & Psychological Side Effects of Using Morphine

Morphine use can lead to various physical and psychological side effects, which may occur in the short term or manifest over a more extended period of use. Understanding these effects is crucial to ensure the safe and appropriate use of morphine.

Short-Term Side Effects

After taking morphine orally, the effects usually start within 30 minutes to an hour. When administered intravenously or intramuscularly, the onset of effects may be faster, typically occurring within a few minutes. The duration of morphine symptoms can range from four to six hours, but it may vary based on personal circumstances.

Short-term morphine side effects may include:

  • Pain relief.
  • Sedation.
  • Respiratory depression.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Constipation.

Long-Term Effects

The development of long-term side effects from morphine use can vary depending on individual issues, including the duration and dosage of use. It’s important to note that long-term side effects generally occur with prolonged or chronic use.

Long-term side effects include:

  • Tolerance — With prolonged use, the body can develop tolerance to morphine, requiring higher doses to achieve the same pain relief, increasing the risk of dependence and addiction.
  • Physical dependence — Your body adapts to the continued presence of morphine in your system. Sudden discontinuation or significant dose reduction can lead to morphine withdrawal symptoms.
  • Hormonal imbalances — Morphine use may disrupt the normal production and release of hormones, potentially affecting reproductive and endocrine function.
  • Sleep disturbances — Long-term use of morphine can lead to insomnia or excessive daytime sleepiness.

How Long Do Morphine & Opioid Side Effects Last?

The duration of morphine and opioid side effects can vary depending on your health and the duration of use. While some side effects may subside after a short period, others may persist for an extended period.

It is important to note that chronic use of morphine can lead to a higher risk of adverse effects and prolonged withdrawal symptoms.

Morphine Withdrawal Symptoms Associated with Dependence & Addiction

If you use morphine for an extended period or misuse the drug, you may develop dependence or addiction. Withdrawal symptoms can occur when attempting to reduce or stop the use of morphine abruptly.

Morphine Withdrawal Timeline

The timeline for morphine withdrawal can vary depending on many factors, including your metabolism, dosage, and duration of use. Common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Early stage (within 6-12 hours) — Agitation, anxiety, muscle aches, insomnia, sweating, and teary eyes.
  • Peak stage (within 72 hours) — Increased intensity of symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, goosebumps, and dilated pupils.
  • Later stage (after 7 days) — Symptoms start to improve, although you may experience prolonged withdrawal effects such as mood swings, depression, and difficulty concentrating.

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What Are the Symptoms of a Morphine Overdose?

An overdose of morphine can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms of a morphine overdose may include:

  • Extreme drowsiness or loss of consciousness.
  • Slow and shallow breathing.
  • Cold, clammy skin.
  • Pinpoint pupils.
  • Weak pulse.
  • Bluish lips or fingernails.

Signs Someone May Be Dependent on Morphine

Recognizing signs of morphine dependence can help identify individuals who may require intervention or treatment. Common signs include:

  • Increasing tolerance.
  • Withdrawal symptoms.
  • Continued use despite negative consequences.
  • Loss of control.

Morphine Abuse & Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders

Morphine use and co-occurring mental health disorders can have complex interactions and implications. It is not uncommon for people with mental health disorders to turn to substances like morphine to cope with their symptoms. Prolonged morphine use can also contribute to developing or worsening mental health disorders. Conditions such as anxiety disorders, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are commonly associated with morphine abuse.

Addressing substance abuse and any underlying mental health conditions is essential to ensure a successful recovery and prevent relapse.

Morphine Addiction Treatment for Withdrawal Symptoms & Effects

If you or someone you know is struggling with morphine dependence or addiction, seeking professional help is crucial. Treatment options may include:

Medical detoxification — This supervised process allows you to safely manage withdrawal symptoms under medical supervision, ensuring their safety and comfort.

Behavioral therapies — Various counseling approaches, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can help you understand your addiction, develop coping strategies, and prevent relapse.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) — Certain medications, such as buprenorphine, can be used in combination with counseling to help manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings.

Support groups — Participating in support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA), can provide you with a compassionate network of people who understand their struggles and can offer guidance and encouragement.

Morphine, a powerful opioid medication, relieves pain but carries potential risks and side effects. Understanding the physical and psychological impacts, withdrawal symptoms, signs of dependence, and available treatment options are crucial for safe and responsible morphine use.

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If you or someone you know is experiencing difficulties related to morphine use, seeking professional help is vital for a path towards recovery and improved well-being. Guardian Recovery can help. We will work with you to develop an individualized and effective program to help you recover from addiction and get you on the road to long-term recovery. We believe in the benefits of a full curriculum of clinical care, beginning with medical detoxification, transitioning into a higher level of treatment, and concluding with personalized aftercare planning. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment options in your area.


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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.


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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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