Opioid Addiction - Drug and Alcohol

How Long Does Morphine Stay in the System?

How Long Does Morphine Stay in the System?

How long does morphine stay in your system? Morphine can be detected a surprisingly long time. Learn more about morphine in our blog.

Morphine abuse has been a significant problem in the United States for many years. Morphine is a potent opioid drug commonly used to manage severe pain, particularly in cancer patients, surgery patients, and individuals with chronic pain. However, because of its strong addictive properties, it can be misused, leading to opioid addiction and overdose.

By the Numbers:

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) conducted in 2020, an estimated 1.7 million people aged 12 or older in the United States had misused prescription pain relievers, including morphine, in the past year.

Morphine abuse remains a significant public health concern in the United States, and ongoing efforts are necessary to prevent and treat opioid addiction and overdose. To address morphine addiction, the federal government has launched several initiatives, including increased access to addiction treatment, improved prescription drug monitoring programs, and expanded availability of overdose-reversal medication like Narcan.

What Is Morphine?

Morphine is a powerful opioid analgesic, which is a drug primarily used for pain relief. It is extracted from the opium poppy plant and is named after Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams. Morphine is a controlled substance classified as a Schedule II drug in the United States, meaning that it has a high potential for abuse and dependence.

Morphine works by binding to specific brain and spinal cord receptors known as mu-opioid receptors, which regulate pain signals in the body. When morphine binds to these receptors, it can reduce the intensity of pain signals, leading to feelings of pain relief and euphoria.

It can be administered in various forms, including pills, injections, and intravenous infusions. It is often used in hospitals for patients with severe pain, such as those recovering from surgery or cancer. However, it is also sometimes prescribed for chronic pain conditions, although this is becoming less common due to the risk of dependence and addiction.

While morphine can be very effective for pain relief, it is also associated with several side effects, including drowsiness, nausea, constipation, and respiratory depression. In addition, in high doses, morphine can be dangerous or even fatal, particularly if taken with other depressant drugs, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines.

Because of its high potential for abuse and dependence, morphine is strictly regulated and is only available by prescription. Therefore, when prescribed for pain relief, it is essential to use it exactly as directed by the doctor and be aware of the risks and side effects associated with the drug.

What Are Brand Names for Morphine?

Morphine is prescribed under several brand names, including:

  • Avinza

  • Kadian

  • MS Contin Roxanol

  • Morphgesic

  • Oramorph SR

  • Sevredol

  • Anymo ER

  • MorphBond ER

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How Does Morphine Work?

Morphine works in the brain by binding to specific receptors called mu-opioid receptors. These receptors are found in many brain areas, including those responsible for pain perception, mood regulation, and reward processing.

When morphine binds to mu-opioid receptors, it activates a series of chemical signaling pathways that reduce the transmission of pain signals and increase feelings of pleasure and euphoria. Specifically, morphine inhibits the release of neurotransmitters such as substance P and glutamate, which are involved in transmitting pain signals in the spinal cord and brain.

In addition to reducing pain, morphine can produce various other effects on the brain and body, including feelings of pleasure, sedation, and respiratory depression.

Thus, morphine works on the brain by binding to mu-opioid receptors and altering the activity of neurotransmitters involved in pain perception, mood, and reward.

Symptoms of Morphine Addiction

Morphine is a powerful opioid drug that is prescribed for pain management. When used for an extended period, morphine can lead to physical dependence, tolerance, and addiction. Morphine addiction is a serious condition that can profoundly affect an individual's physical and mental health, relationships, and overall quality of life.

Here are some of the common symptoms of morphine addiction:

Withdrawal Symptoms

When a person is physically dependent on morphine, they will experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop or reduce their drug use. Withdrawal symptoms can include sweating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches, anxiety, and insomnia.

Increased Tolerance

Over time, a person addicted to morphine may need to take higher drug doses to achieve the same level of pain relief or euphoria. This is known as tolerance, a common symptom of addiction.

Continued Use

An individual addicted to morphine may continue to use the drug even if it is causing problems in their personal or professional life. They may neglect responsibilities, miss work or school, or engage in risky behaviors to obtain more of the drug.

Loss of Interest in Activities

A person who develops an addiction may become disinterested in things they find enjoyable. They may withdraw from friends and family, neglect hobbies, and become isolated.

Mood Swings

Morphine addiction can cause mood swings and changes in behavior. People may become irritable, anxious, or depressed when they cannot use the drug. However, they may also experience euphoria and a sense of well-being when they are under the influence of morphine.

Drug Cravings

One of the hallmark symptoms of addiction is cravings for the drug. A person may experience intense urges to use morphine, even when they know it is not in their best interest.

Physical or Mental Health Problems

As addiction progresses, a person may experience physical or mental health problems related to drug use. They may continue to use morphine despite these problems, which can lead to further deterioration of their health.

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How Long Does Morphine Stay in the System? A Timeline

Morphine is a powerful opioid drug that is used for pain management. The length of morphine stays in the system can vary depending on several factors, including the individual's age, weight, metabolism, liver and kidney function, dosage, and frequency of use.

How long does Morphine stay in your system? This chart shows how long Morphine stays in urine, saliva, blood, and hair

Here is a breakdown of the estimated duration of morphine's presence in different parts of the body:

  • Blood: Morphine can be detected within 15-30 minutes of administration. The drug has a half-life of around 2-4 hours, which means it takes this time for half of the drug to be eliminated from the body. This means that it typically takes 8-12 hours for morphine to clear completely from the bloodstream.

  • Urine: Morphine can be detected in urine for 2-4 days after use. The detection time can be affected by several factors, including the individual's metabolism, liver and kidney function, and the frequency and duration of use.

  • Saliva: Morphine can be detected in saliva for up to 1-4 days after the last use, depending on the sensitivity of the testing method. Saliva testing is less commonly used for detecting morphine use than blood and urine testing.

  • Hair: Morphine can be detected in hair for up to 3 months after the last use. Hair testing is more reliable for detecting long-term drug use than blood or urine testing.

The length of morphine stay in the system can vary widely depending on several factors, including the individual's age, weight, metabolism, liver and kidney function, dosage, and frequency of use. Therefore, the abovementioned detection times are estimates and may not apply to all individuals.

Chronic or heavy use of morphine can lead to the accumulation of the drug in the body, prolonging its elimination time. In addition, morphine's metabolites, such as morphine-6-glucuronide (M6G), can also be detected in blood and urine for more extended periods than morphine itself.

What Is the Half-Life of Morphine?

A drug's half-life is how long for a dose of morphine to reach 50% in the system. Basically, it's a way to tell how long it takes for half of a dose of morphine to be metabolized by the system.

For morphine, the half-life of morphine depends on how it's used. Most people who are given morphine in a clinical setting use morphine sulfate. This form of morphine is a powder that dissolves easily in water...which means it's easier for the body to absorb.

Morphine sulfate comes in a variety of strengths:

  • 15 mg

  • 30 mg

  • 60 mg

  • 100 mg

  • 200 mg

In general, the half-life of morphine sulfate lasts around two to four hours. Morphine given via IV, however, has a longer half-life. IV morphine half-life can last between 90 minutes to three hours.

What half life of Morphine
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How Long Does Morphine Last?

Again, multiple factors determine how long morphine lasts. A person’s weight, age, physiology, and more also play a role in how quickly morphine’s effects are felt, and how long a dose of morphine lasts. In general, an injected dose of morphine means a person will feel the effects much sooner. An oral dose of morphine, on the other hand, can take up to an hour to feel. Plus, certain formulations of morphine, like extended-release tablets, mean morphine will stay in a person’s system far longer.

In general, a dose of morphine can last for up to six hours. An extended-release dose of morphine can last for up to 12 hours.

Reasons for Addiction to Morphine

Morphine addiction is a complicated condition that can arise from various factors. However, here are some of the most common reasons for morphine addiction:

Pain Management

Morphine is a powerful pain reliever for pain after surgery, injury, or chronic conditions such as cancer. Individuals prescribed morphine for pain management may develop a dependence on the drug, which can lead to addiction.


There is evidence to suggest that genetics play a role in the development of addiction. Individuals with a family history of addiction may be more susceptible to developing an addiction to morphine.

Trauma or Mental Health Issues

Individuals who have experienced trauma or who have underlying mental health issues such as depression or anxiety may be more likely to develop an addiction to morphine to cope with their symptoms.

Social and Environmental Factors

Social and environmental factors such as peer pressure, exposure to drugs in the community, and a lack of support or resources can contribute to the development of addiction.

Availability and Accessibility

The availability and accessibility of morphine can also contribute to the development of addiction. Individuals who have easy access to morphine, whether through prescription or illegal means, may be more likely to develop an addiction.

Tolerance and Dependence

With prolonged use, individuals may develop a tolerance to morphine, meaning they need higher drug doses to achieve the same effects. This can lead to dependence, characterized by withdrawal symptoms when the drug is discontinued.

Pleasure and Reward

Morphine can produce feelings of pleasure and reward in the brain, leading to a cycle of use and addiction as individuals seek to replicate these feelings.

The reasons for morphine addiction are complex and multifactorial. Therefore, addressing the underlying factors contributing to addiction is vital to effectively treat the condition and prevent relapse.

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Treatment of Morphine Addiction

The treatment of morphine addiction involves a multi-disciplinary approach that addresses the addiction's physical, psychological, and social aspects.


The first step in treating morphine addiction is detoxification. This involves stopping morphine use and allowing the body to clear the drug from the system. Detoxification must be done under medical supervision to manage opioid withdrawal symptoms. A drug detox center is always the best choice for morphine withdrawal.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medications such as methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone can be used to manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. Medication-assisted treatment is an evidence-based form of addiction treatment. These medications are used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes counseling and behavioral therapy.


Counseling is an important part of the treatment of morphine addiction. It can help individuals identify the underlying causes of their addiction, develop coping mechanisms, and learn new behaviors to replace old drug use patterns.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy can be used to help individuals modify their behaviors and develop new skills to cope with stress and other triggers that may lead to drug use. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective type of therapy in treating addiction.

Support Groups

Support groups can provide individuals with a supportive community of peers going through similar experiences. These groups can provide encouragement, accountability, and a safe space to share experiences and feelings.

Lifestyle Changes

Making lifestyle changes such as improving diet and exercise habits, getting enough sleep, and reducing stress can help individuals in recovery manage their cravings and stay sober.

How to Help Someone Struggling With Heroin Addiction

It can be difficult to deal with someone struggling with morphine addiction, but several steps can be taken to help them on their journey toward recovery.

  • Educate yourself: The first step in dealing with someone struggling with morphine addiction is to educate yourself about the nature of addiction, its causes, and its impact on individuals and their families. This can help you understand the person's behavior and the challenges they face.

  • Be supportive: Individuals struggling with addiction often feel isolated, ashamed, and alone. Being supportive and understanding can help them feel that they are not alone and that there are people who care about them. Let the person know that you are there for them and willing to help them on their journey towards recovery.

  • Avoid enabling: While it is essential to be supportive, it is also vital to avoid enabling the person's addictive behavior. This means not providing them with money or other resources that they may use to obtain drugs and not covering up or making excuses for their behavior.

  • Encourage them to seek treatment: Encouraging the person to seek treatment is one of the most important things you can do to help them overcome their addiction. Offer to help them find a treatment program, accompany them to appointments, and provide emotional support.

  • Create a safe environment: Creating a safe and supportive environment can help the person feel comfortable and secure. This may involve removing any drugs or paraphernalia from the home, establishing clear boundaries and expectations, and creating a routine that provides structure and stability.

  • Practice self-care: Dealing with someone struggling with addiction can be emotionally and physically draining. It is important to practice self-care by seeking support from others, taking time for yourself, and engaging in activities that help you feel relaxed and rejuvenated.

Helping someone struggling with morphine addiction can be difficult, but with patience, understanding, and support, you can help them overcome their addiction and achieve long-term recovery.

The Edge Treatment Center Provides Expert Treatment for Morphine Abuse

The Edge Treatment Center provides individuals with the comprehensive care and support they need to overcome morphine addiction and achieve lasting recovery. At the center, individuals can receive various services and support to help them overcome addiction. 

We provide a safe and supportive environment for individuals to undergo detoxification and manage withdrawal symptoms. In addition, the medical staff at our outpatient drug rehab is experienced in providing personalized treatment plans tailored to each individual's unique needs. 

The Edge is committed to helping individuals overcome morphine addiction and achieve a healthier, more fulfilling life. Want to learn more about how we effectively treat morphine addiction? Contact The Edge Treatment Center today.

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Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Opioid Addiction

Drug and Alcohol

March 22, 2023