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 which 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 liquid syrup form.
Morphine Side Effects
Morphine induces a euphoric effect which a person may develop cravings for. Other effects include any or all of these:
- Slowed respiration, shallow breathing
- Lowered heart rate
- Changes in mood
- Disturbed sleep
More severe side effects may signal an overdose or other serious issues may have occurred, requiring immediate medical intervention. These can include:
- Skin turns blue or white
- Severe agitation
- Painful urination
- Extreme drowsiness or inability to awaken, loss of consciousness
- Hallucinations both visual or auditory
- Stiff or rigid muscles
- High or sudden fever
- Does not respond to sound or touch
- Twitching muscles, uncontrolled movements
- Severe stomach cramps
- Severely slowed breathing
- Cold, clammy skin
If you or a your loved one experience these symptoms it would be prudent to get medical attention immediately, 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. These include:
- Flu-like symptoms, i.e., tearing eyes, runny nose, chills, aches
- Stomach cramps
- Disoriented or confused
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 a 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.