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Mixing morphine with alcohol

Mixing morphine and alcohol increases the effect of both of these central nervous system depressants. Not only is this type of drug abuse a sign of morphine addiction, mixing the tow can put you at risk of respiratory depression or death. Here, we review the possible harms of mixing morphine with alcohol, side effects of co-administration, as well as prognosis and morbidity rates. Your questions about treatments for morphine addiction or  getting help for morphine addiction are invited at the end.

Morphine and alcohol effects

Opiate medications like moprhine SHOULD NEVER be mixed with alcohol. Poly drug use can begin accidentally. But other times, people start drinking and doing drugs somultaneously as an intentional choice. But before you decide to drink and take morphine together, you need to consider their individual effects as well as the interaction between the two substances. Alcohol can trigger the increase of the intensity of morphine’s severe side effects and may even lead to coma or death. In fact, users have reported really strange experiences when taking morphine while they have been drinking.

Let’s say that you drink about 4 beers at the time you take your first dose of morphine. The feeling after the first pill can be very soothing and relaxing, not strong and terrifying as if something dangerous might happen. However, a few hours after administration, a very strong head rush and dizziness can occur. Panic, fear, anxiety, or paranoia can also occur. You will probably have pinpoint pupils and your face can turn pale. Nausea and the strong urge to vomit are also in common when you are mixing alcohol and morphine, but may not be able to vomit at all, only fight with the cramps.

Dangers of mixing morphine and alcohol

On branded morphine tablets, labels warn that morphine is not a suitable pain relief medication for alcoholics, people intoxicated by alcohol at the time of administration, or for use by opioid addicts. When you are taking morphine you need to be that careful that even your food does not contain any amount of alcohol. Why such discretion and warning?

Opiate effects are facilitated by ethanol. In fact, ethanol induces increased morphine metabolism. When alcohol is taken with opiates such as morphine, heroin, codeine or methadone there can be an increase in the CNS (Central nervous system) depressant effects of these drugs. The reason for that is that alcohol may speed up the process of releasing morphine in your system. And alcohol enhances the effects of morphine to a point where the user’s life may be in danger. By releasing morphine too quickly you can experience serious health problems such as:

  • chronic liver infection and disease
  • deep unconscious-like sleeping
  • high blood pressure
  • severe drowsiness
  • slow troubled shallow breathing

Morphine, on the other hand, induces acute release of endorphins by alcohol. Alcohol effects and symptoms can dominate the experience of concurrent use, but keep in mind that side effects of morphine interaction may remain latent for several hours.

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Morphine and alcohol overdose

Cases of overdose when mixing alcohol with morphine are the result of central nervous system depression. In fact, there is no safe dosage recommended for co-administration of alcohol and morphine. The levels of morphine in plasma are seriously increased due to the faster metabolism caused by ethanol in alcohol. Overdose is a possible outcome of this situation because morphine is usually designed as long-release formula. Therefore, patients are examined in detail before given a morphine prescription, in order to avoid the potential for risky behavior, such as taking morphine when you are drunk.

Morphine and alcohol deaths

Approximately one in four opiate deaths involves a combination of opiates and alcohol. Death from mixing morphine and alcohol usually comes really fast after overdose symptoms occur, leaving almost no time for family and friends to properly react to the situation. Things can get easily out of hand, especially when you lose track of the amount of alcohol you’ve had. Furthermore, you should also consider the time it takes for the long-release morphine to wear off and make sure you do not put yourself in danger.

Is it safe to drink on morphine?

No, it is definitely not safe to drink on morphine. These two substances should be avoided concurrently. The risk is too high and the side effects can be lethal. And making a well-informed decision about mixing alcohol and morphine can be a life saver. So, if you’re in the habit of drinking every now and then, be sure to inform your prescribing doctor of the frequency of alcohol use so that s/he can correctly prescribe medications better suited for you.

Mixing morphine alcohol questions

Do you still have questions about mixing morphine and alcohol? We hope that we have covered the basic points about its dangers and side effects. But if there is something else you would like to know, please leave your question(s) in the comment section at the end of the article. We try to respond to all legitimate concerns with a personal and prompt reply.

Reference Sources: Erowid: Morphine and alcohol, strange
MedLine Plus:Morphine Oral
Drug Abuse DrugFacts: Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction
Food and Drug Administration: Using medicines safely
Government of Western Australia: Drug and Alcohol Office

Photo credit: Arthur Caranta

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54 Responses to “Mixing morphine with alcohol
Christine
9:17 am July 24th, 2014

How long after stopping morphine sulphate 25mg in total per day can I have a moderate drink from time to time ?

1:35 pm July 24th, 2014

Hello Christine. Once you have passed through the acute phase of morphine withdrawal (usually 7-10 days), I’d suggest that you consult with your doctor about moderate drinking. Moderate drinking for women = no more than 7-8 drinks per week or more than one drink per day.

dawn
11:12 pm October 12th, 2014

I do not drink usually but after the unexpected death of my 3 yr old Great Dane who was my baby, 6 weeks ago I had 1 glass off wine.I did not take my daily MXL60 pill or tramadol 1 4 times daily or oramorph 4 times daily but I did take my other pills paracetamol.losec and missed out on prozac & amatriptolene. However I woke the next morning unable to remember if I was in Aberdeen or Inverness where I used to stay, I did not know if I was in my current house or my previous marriage home and I was really scared. I thought missing the pills would make it safe. Is that a normal reaction.i have an Al anon councillor and a mental health councillor should I discuss this with them.i have never been so afraid as both my mum and gran died of dimentia.

2:47 pm October 17th, 2014

Hi Dawn. It could be both. Either your organism didn’t like the mix, or there is another problem. I read that you already have someone you can talk to, it’s best to do so. And see if you can get examined by a doctor, he/she can make a more accurate diagnosis.

Margaret
6:35 pm November 14th, 2014

I have just had my hip replacement cancelled. The anaethetist wants an echo test on my heart before proceeding. Could the combination of morphine and alcohol be partly responsible?

Curious
5:12 pm January 4th, 2015

What about if you’re on long-term morphine (most days, not all, maybe 5 days per week) for chronic pain, and wish to drink alcohol on the days where you have either had a very small dose of morphine, or none at all (but had some on a previous day)?

I’m on long term morphine for pain, and it would really suck if I could never drink alcohol again. I rarely do, and I have no problems with substance issues… on the days I know I might drink, I try really hard not to use morphine unless I’m absolutely desperate so I rarely mix the two, and if I do drink I stick to two or three drinks and am very aware of the risk of overdose so I don’t go wild. Mixing the day often gives me cracking headaches anyway.

5:16 pm January 14th, 2015

Hi Curious. I understand what you are saying, I’d feel the same way too. However, it really isn’t recommended to mix the two, so please try your best not to put yourself in any risks.

Gemma
1:58 am March 25th, 2015

Can taking oral morphine affect the reading of a breathalyzer texts. Would it show a higher amount of alcohol/ethanol in ones breath?

sky
1:07 am July 20th, 2015

oh im a little scared iv pls help im ok for now but I did not no this after reading this website ..now first tim im on morpine pain patches. and I had like 4 units of alcohol so im worid to tell enyone I did not no irs dangours Im in so much spine pain I cant bear I needed to do somtjong as almost all tablet pr liquid pain relief will not stay down ….I hop I do vimit this out beacuse im scared now o feel fine but I feel week so not sure if il be ok ao I decided to keep my phon by me on speed dail now I scared cuz im a muslim I should not drink but I had no other pain relief I had som wine this websit info has terified me I was even feeling low cuz I was too unwell to celebrate my speacail occasion so I wanted to discard eny pain real quick so il keep carfull and if I feel I cant breaty or enytjing I will go hospital im worid shall I tal the bu trans morphin patch off ? will I b e more safe ? even tho im in pain ?

Linda
8:52 pm July 24th, 2015

My sister who has Pancreatic/Liver cancer is on morphine want to know if she can have a glass of wine whilst taking morphine?

1:49 pm August 7th, 2015

Hi Linda. It’s never recommended to drink any amount while on morphine. You can read the text above and discuss it with a doctor, but the extent of effects on the CNS can never be predicted in individuals.

Karen
5:28 pm August 11th, 2015

If I stop taken the drug for a day .can I drink wine

Alex
7:45 pm August 15th, 2015

How long untill I stop feeling like sh*t I drank morphine and had 2 shots of jack Daniels please help

Barbara
1:50 pm August 19th, 2015

Before being prescribed morphine 15mg ER, I had two wines. I waited 3 hours to take the Morphine and will not drink again. I read that wine is out of your system in 3 hours. I will not drink alcohol again while taking this med. This morning I was unusually dizzy when I got up I am a 66 yr old woman being treated for continuing pain 20 months after C3-T6 fusion due to MVA. I started a reply but it went prematurely, sorry. Thanks

Gareth
10:29 pm August 27th, 2015

mu mother has terminal cancer – about 2 months to go, she is on fairly high dose of morphine tablets. What’s the risk of a glass of wine with her dinner?

4:34 pm August 31st, 2015

Hello Gareth. I’d most honestly advise you to consult a doctor concerning this issue. I wish you and your mom all the best!

JZ
5:30 am September 5th, 2015

I know better to never drink alcohol while on opiates. However, I do have a social events where I do want to have a couple of drinks (1-3). I’m currently taking 15mg of Morphine Sulfate ER per 12 hours. I’m definitely looking for a concise answer but how long should I stop taking the pills so that the Morphine Sulfate ER is out of my system before drinking so that they won’t react with each other? In addition, please factor both someone taking it recently vs someone taking it for a while as I understand that these ER drugs build in the system after a while. I am very aware there will be withdrawal that will occur. I understand it’s not recommended, particularly due to the pain coming back rather than the interaction with ethanol and Morphine Sulfate ER (even though that of course is a huge concern). Alas, I’m still looking for an answer so that I can be safe in knowing what’s the minimum waiting period rather than chancing it.

11:55 am September 7th, 2015

Hi Barbara. You will be ok, but drinking and taking your medication is definitely not recommended in the future.

Michelle
12:31 pm September 13th, 2015

Hi just two months ago my stepdad suddenly pastaway with no warning! He enjoyed a drink everyday and was on life long medication for pain an injurys, two weeks before he died he was prescribed morphine for painful cracked ribs! Do you think because the morphine was added to his daily medication and drinking was the cause of his death? Post mortum came back inconclusive so were waiting on blood an skin results to come back! Thankyou

Lucie
6:31 pm September 21st, 2015

How would taking morphine and alcohol affect someone’s behaviour? Could it lead to aggressive behaviour?

3:59 pm September 22nd, 2015

Hi Michelle. It may be and it also doesn’t have to be the cause. I am very sorry for your loss and would advise you to wait for the test results to come back. Speculating over the cause of a person’s death is something I personally find not OK, so I cannot give an answer when I don’t have the needed scientific evidence to make a conclusion. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

JZ
8:45 pm September 22nd, 2015

Hi I was wondering if you can answer my question:

I know better to never drink alcohol while on opiates. However, I do have a social events where I do want to have a couple of drinks (1-3). I’m currently taking 15mg of Morphine Sulfate ER per 12 hours. I’m definitely looking for a concise answer but how long should I stop taking the pills so that the Morphine Sulfate ER is out of my system before drinking so that they won’t react with each other? In addition, please factor both someone taking it recently vs someone taking it for a while as I understand that these ER drugs build in the system after a while. I am very aware there will be withdrawal that will occur. I understand it’s not recommended, particularly due to the pain coming back rather than the interaction with ethanol and Morphine Sulfate ER (even though that of course is a huge concern). Alas, I’m still looking for an answer so that I can be safe in knowing what’s the minimum waiting period rather than chancing it.

Vikki
12:44 am October 8th, 2015

Hi, I took 15ml of oramorph and drank a bottle of wine and I’ve felt really wierd since. Should I be worried?

1:38 pm October 9th, 2015

Hi Vikki. If you are feeling unusual symptoms, it’s best to call the Poison Control Center on 1-800-222-1222 to speak to a poison expert who will advise you on what you should do next if you are in a risk of overdosing.

Materialmomny
11:06 pm October 31st, 2015

I have the same concerns as JZ. I’m taking ER’s and I was thinking if I take the first dose at maybe 3 AM it will be safe to have 2 drinks at about 7 PM. Then get back on after waking the next day. Is that anywhere near safe? I’m usually candid with my doctor but I don’t want to frighten him :-(

Maureen
2:50 am November 4th, 2015

Hi, I am very worried about my neighbor. We live in senior housing and my neighbor uses morphine and drinks wine together. I told her that is extremely dangerous and she said that she has done it for a long time. I cannot even imagine a doctor prescribing morphine for this 65 year old woman. I refuse to go to store to get wine for her!

Randy
2:42 am November 12th, 2015

Are females at more of a risk if using alcohol and morphine simultaneously, and what would the interaction be?

1:17 pm November 12th, 2015

Hi Materialmomny. And, no! There is no way mixing alcohol and morphine can add up to a desirable outcome.

7:34 pm November 12th, 2015

Hi Randy. Mixing morphine with alcohol is dangerous for males, as well as, females. Everyone is at risk when you combine these two.

Maureen
1:20 am November 16th, 2015

Thank you for responding to my questions concerning someone that I know whom is taking morphine and drinking wine with it. Although she does not want any help I very much appreciate your quick response. Thanks again!

11:35 am November 16th, 2015

You are welcome Maureen. I hope your friend seeks help and gets well soon. Thank you for writing us!

martin
11:53 pm November 27th, 2015

hi i had three glasses of port at night i was on 90 mills of morphine i was stop by the police and i was over the drink drive limit this was at 3 o.clock in the after noon i know the port would not have put me over the limit would the morphine have don so thanks martin

Robin
6:50 pm December 1st, 2015

Hi – I have a close relative who has been taking morphine for approximately 15 years, prescribed by a doctor. This person also drinks wine regularly, sometimes a bottle every day and maybe more. This person also takes Ambien and Benadryl. We know that they are addicted and her loved ones are in the process of securing an interventionist. I’ve read about the combination of alcohol and morphine, do you have any facts of combining the 4 above drugs? Not sure where to start. From what I understand, her doctor prescribes the morphine and Ambien a probably has no idea that she’s taking the Benadryl and alcohol. I understand the risk of combing alcohol and morphine can put her at risk of respiratory depression or death. Please share what you can so I can best understand what we are dealing with.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
6:14 pm December 3rd, 2015

Hello, Robin. Your relative has a serious problem mixing drug with alcohol. This person puts her/his life is a huge risk. I suggest you talk with the doctor about all medications that s/he uses. Maybe, some of them shouldn’t be combined with each other. Also, s/he should consider treatment, or counseling sessions. Good luck!

Amy
1:10 am December 27th, 2015

If I’ve only taken one morphine is it safe to have one drink today… I took the pill last night

I take...
2:25 am January 26th, 2016

I take 50mg of morphine three times a day. Is it okay to have a few (3) alcoholic drinks? If not,can I fore go one dose at the time?

Colleen
10:36 pm February 17th, 2016

My partner wears morphine patches for a back injury and has been wearing them for over 10 years, sometime when he drinks alcohol excessively he changes like a Jekyll and Hyde he’s like a different person and he can’t remember in the morning, is this normal

carolyn
9:12 pm February 21st, 2016

I have a friend who just had double knee replacement surgery. he is recovered alcoholic for 20 yrs…sober all that time. why can he not have most pain meds including morphine? he is in so much pain. what will happen. he is hosp and is very very good with not drinking. will morphine bring on addiction? I don’t understand. thanks

Lorraine
9:02 am February 27th, 2016

Can a person become aggressive when drinking fairly regularly up to 6pints while on morphine patches also very moody

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
4:20 pm March 2nd, 2016

Hi, Lorraine. Each addiction affects a person’s personality and behavior differently. Some people may become aggressive, or verbally abusive, while some may be calm and relaxed.

Lilly
11:30 am March 8th, 2016

If i take oramorph on a tuesday is it safe to have a drink on a friday evening ? Will it be out of my system by then ??

Karen
4:41 am March 14th, 2016

I have a friend that drinks 4 bottles of wine a day for many years. She is an alcoholic. She also takes ambien,oxycodone, morphine 15 mg 3 times a day. Plus sometimes a 30 mg pill.A bunch of us old girlfriend are very worried about her O’Ding. She also takes Dilatin 2 mg right now, as she broke her leg. She buys the morphine and oxycodone off the streets. She drinks from the moment she gets up. What do you think? She has gone to Rehab twice for drinking. She drinks whiskey sometimes when she goes out. She also lies to each friend, a different story. And gets very moody.

Sue
8:09 pm March 25th, 2016

My mum wears a 50mg patch can she have a small glass of Baileys? I ‘m not sure if she is having a small glass every night anyway but she sleeps a lot & has bouts of sickness now &then

Fay
9:30 pm March 28th, 2016

I took one 5ml of oramorph at 2pm today would I be alright to have a glass of wine tonight?

Bruce
10:07 am May 12th, 2016

I am going to have an intrathecal pump, probably using dilaudid, surgically implanted very soon. The clinic prohibits any use of alcohol whatsoever and will do random drug testing, with removal of the device should I test positive.So it isn’t a question of my continued use of whiskey or beer.But I am curious. My question is whether even very moderate intake of alcohol, say 2 oz of whiskey once every other week would conflict with such a device and its use of dilaudid? I cannot find an answer on the web. Thank you.

Canissa
1:16 am May 15th, 2016

My cousin was rushed to the ER with stomach pains. She was extremely drunk because she is an alcoholic. While in the ER they gave her a shot of morphine for the pain even though she was extremely intoxicated. They kept her in the hospital for 4 days for her stomach pain. While in there they gave her morphine every 6 hours and vicodine every four hours. My question is should she have been given morphine since she was highly intoxicated when she was emitted?

debra
8:57 am May 27th, 2016

Hi there I am a drinker but doctor as put me.on morphine I usually drink every night .I am starting my morphine on Monday .but will be having a drink on Sunday .Will it be ok because maybe still alcohol in my sistem

deborah
7:29 am June 1st, 2016

I am on morphine 30mg 2 x day. I used to be on it 60mg 3 x day. I also got on ativan a couple months ago. I was drinking 4-8 beers a day. I want to get off completely. Last 2 days I have had 2 beers a day half way between my morning & evening dose. Is it safe to go cold turkey off the alcohol as long as I have the ativan?

laura
11:09 am June 21st, 2016

Ive just stopped taking zomorph 10mg twice a day when will it be safe to drink alcohol?

Tamara
11:11 am July 2nd, 2016

My dad passed away mixing alcohol and morphine ,he fell asleep to never wake up again . Mind you he was an alcoholic but still it doesn’t matter .Never ever risk it !

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
5:25 pm July 7th, 2016

Hi, Tamara. I’m really sorry for your loss… Hope others will get your message.

Dan
8:16 pm July 9th, 2016

Hi there I took my last oral morphine of 10 ml about 36 hours ago will it be ok to have a couple of beers about 4.0% it might be a stupid question but I’m a bit paranoid about it
I got given it for pain relieve but haven’t needed it if you could advise I will be very great full

G
7:36 pm August 11th, 2016

Hi, I am currently on 60mg morphine sulphate for my pain. I am wondering how much is lethal?
My work requires me to drink some wine with I am with my clients for business. Apart from that, I don’t drink.

Just wanted to be sure.

tricia
2:17 am August 13th, 2016

someone i know takes 15mg of morphine 4 times a day. He drinks either 2 glasses of red wine or 1 to 2 22oz beers a day. Or a glass of wine and a 22 oz of beer. I am very concerned. Do I have reason to be concerned?

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