How Is Morphine Used?
In general, morphine and similar drugs are used not only as aids for physical pain, but those who are drawn to long-term opiate use often suffer from emotional pain or hypersensitivity. Morphine acts as a buffer on both pain and emotions, and can quickly lead to dependence.
Morphine is a prescription drug but also has high potential for abuse due to the euphoria and relaxation effects that it causes.
It is highly recommended that one research a drug as thoroughly as possible before starting or stopping to avoid any serious health risks. One can plan for the safest navigation possible through withdrawal side effects that may result if tolerance, dependence or addiction has developed.
While injections of morphine are not uncommonly used in a hospital setting for chronic and severe pain, it is sometimes given in a form that can be used at home. Patients should become as knowledgeable as possible about any medication that is being used regularly to ensure that any health risks can be avoided.
Morphine Side Effects
Morphine induces a euphoric effect that a person may develop cravings for, hence morphine has a high risk for addiction.
Morphine Side Effects
- Slowed respiration, shallow breathing*
- Lowered heart rate
- Cravings, addiction
- Changes in mood
- Disturbed sleep
*FDA warns that more severe side effects6 may signal an overdose or other serious issues may have occurred, requiring immediate medical intervention.
Signs of morphine overdose:
- Coma, loss of consciousness, inability to awaken*
- Severe agitation
- Painful urination
- Hallucinations both visual or auditory
- Stiff or rigid muscles
- High or sudden fever
- Twitching muscles, uncontrolled movements
- Severe stomach cramps
- Severely slowed breathing, gasping
- Cold, clammy skin
* If you or someone else begin to experiences these symptoms get medical attention immediately, including Naloxone treatment if available, or by ambulance if needed, to avert potential death.
Morphine Withdrawal Symptoms
Morphine has similar withdrawal symptoms compared to other opiates and these can range from moderate to intense, sometimes, unfortunately, leading to relapse.
Morphine Withdrawal Symptoms:
- Flu-like symptoms, i.e., headache, tearing eyes, runny nose, chills, fever, sweating, aches
- Nausea, vomiting
- Stomach cramps, constipation
- Irritability, agitation
- Disoriented or confused
*Tachycardia means racing heartbeat (over 100 bpm) even when the person is resting. According to the American Heart Association, an irregular or fast heartbeat 7 can mean something is wrong with the way electrical impulses and signals are firing.
What Is Morphine Used for?
Morphine has been in use as a pain reliever since its discovery in the early 1880s. When the hypodermic needle was invented, injectable morphine became more frequently used.
Today, morphine is used medicinally as an analgesic narcotic pain medication for moderate to severe pain. The U.S. DEA has classified the drug as a Schedule II narcotic. However, significant numbers of people use the drug recreationally for its euphoric effects.
Today, nearly three-quarters of all morphine is imported to be used in the pharmaceutical synthetic opiate industry, in the production of drugs such as Oxycodone, Oxycontin, and similar synthetic opioid drugs that are licensed for use by the FDA in the US.
Many countries produce the opium poppies from which morphine and other opium alkaloids are made, including Japan, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Indochina, Afghanistan, and Greece.
Business in the opium poppy fields is booming.2
Morphine Alternative Names and Slang
Drugs often develop a vocabulary of code words or slang to avoid detection or suspicion, especially where they are being illegally bought and sold. Morphine is not legal when bought or sold without a prescription in the US.
Some of the slang or street terms for morphine include these:
- Mister Blue
- God’s Drug
- Miss Emma
- White Lady
- Salt & Sugar
- White Stuff
Brand names for pharmaceutical morphine products include Morphabond, Oramorph, Roxanol-T, Morphine Sulfate, AVINza, Kadian, Kadian ER, MS Contin, MSIR, and Roxanol. The drug comes in tablets, capsules, dissolving powders for injection, and a liquid syrup form.
Quitting morphine can be difficult to do without preparation, precise guidance, and help. Done on one’s own, the withdrawals can be severe and may be too difficult to bear, resulting in relapse. It is recommended that morphine be gradually reduced to mitigate the severity of withdrawals, and an inpatient program designed to provide adequate support and comfort through the process may be the best choice for successful cessation.
Specific factors will determine how intense morphine withdrawals may be, such as dosage, length of time on the drug, how often it has been used, and also the person’s general health, certain genetic factors, and metabolism rates.
In general, the longer a drug is used the more severe the withdrawals and the longer they can be expected to last. More information on safely withdrawing from morphine is contained further on this page.