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Signs and symptoms of morphine addiction

How do you know if someone is addicted to morphine? Here, we explore the signs and symptoms of morphine addiction and its treatment.

3
minute read
Reviewed by: Dr. Dili Gonzalez, M.D.

Do you think you know someone who may be addicted to morphine?

Morphine is an extremely addictive painkiller.  In fact, morphine addictive properties make it a Schedule II narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act.  When addicts try to quit morphine, they often experience severe cramps, pains and anxiety which can result in using the drug again in order to avoid withdrawal. But what are some clear signs of morphine addiction?

Here, we will explore the signs and symptoms of morphine addiction and let you know what you can do to help someone who is addicted. Then, we invite your questions about treating morphine addiction in the comments section at the end.

Symptoms of morphine addiction

Morphine addiction can start as a prescribed medication to solve real pain issues. However, having morphine in the system can lead to habitual drug seeking or using morphine other than intended. Many users find that they cannot stop after even a few weeks of regular dosing.

Morphine addiction can result in a range of symptoms from weight loss to vomiting and memory problems. There are also obvious emotional signs of morphine addiction which can include anxiety, hallucinations, depression and irritability. Morphine addiction also reduces the addict’s level of consciousness, which affects their ability to be fully aware of their surroundings.

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In addition to morphine withdrawal symptoms after a missed dose (lack of appetite, irritability, weight loss, drowsiness and sweating), Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders clinical criteria for morphine addiction include:

  1. A strong desire to take morphine
  2. Difficulties controlling morphine use
  3. Entering a psychological withdrawal state when the drug use is stopped
  4. Increased doses due to tolerance
  5. Neglect of alternative interests because of morphine use
  6. Persistent morphine use despite harmful consequences physically or mentally

Morphine addiction symptoms: Can they be treated?

Morphine addiction symptoms can be treated through several different types of therapies and/or the use of prescription medications.

Psychological treatments – Psychotherapy and behavioral therapy are two of the most successful interventions for morphine addiction. These treatments address the emotional and cognitive aspects of addiction to resolve and change past behaviors.

Opiate replacement therapy – Replacement therapy attempts to curb addiction to morphine by replacing morphine with a less euphoric opioid, such as methadone or buprenorphine, which is taken under medical supervision. Replacement therapy helps addicts to lead a normal life while being treated with a substance that stops them from experiencing the harsh morphine withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

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Prescription medications – There are medications available for morphine addiction and when used in combination with behavioral treatment programs increase chances of quitting morphine significantly. Prescription medications include anti-anxiety meds, antidepressants, and drugs such as nalexone or buprenorphine used to address withdrawal symptoms. Patients are less likely to become dependent on buprenorphine and when they stop the withdrawal symptoms are much weaker.

Morphine addiction support groups – Morphine addiction support groups can be useful for helping treat morphine addiction symptoms. Many addicts can find a sense of community by joining a support group and get further assistance psychologically months down the road to help prevent relapse. Support groups can be found at your local rehab center.

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Signs and symptoms of morphine addiction questions

We welcome your questions below about how the signs and symptoms of Morphine addiction manifest for morphine users. We will try to answer any questions you have about morphine addiction personally and promptly.

Reference Sources: NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse: Medical treatment for opioid addiction
MedlinePlus: Prescription drug abuse
NHTSA: Morphine
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
Medical Reviewers
Dr. Dili Gonzalez, M.D. is a general surgeon practicing women's focused medici...

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a licensed medical professional.

23 Comments

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  1. I’ve been taking between 40-80 mg sevredol for the last 2-3 weeks which ain’t mine but they make me relax but now I’m worried they’re doing me harm I’m always itchy I’ve got bad stomach all the time and I can’t sleep what can I do to stop

    1. Hi Mark. I suggest that you consult with your doctor first about your symptoms. Also, call the helpline you see on the website to get in touch with a trusted treatment consultant.

  2. I have been on prescribed msn (morphine ) for about five years. I am taking for chronic pain associated with severe degeneration of my spine and neck. I was taking 100 mg twice a day but by choice I have reduced it to 30 mg twice a day. I do not like the idea of taking morphine but alternatives have all been unsuccessful in covering or reducing the pain. The reduced dose does not cover the pain but it reduces it to a copable level. I do not like the idea of long term effects on my body. I am 77 years of age and male. I would appreciate your comments.

  3. Just had total hip replacement surgery on 3/13/18 then I developed a severe infection 3/28/18 during all this just the past 7 days all I’ve been on morphine every 4hrs and oxycodone 10mg every 4hrs.too,now I’m home but have started throwing up is this normal please help

  4. I have decreased from 190mgs to 20mgs a day which I’ve done over a period of 2months & have struggled with each drop esp as I dropped 60mg straigjt away. I have rhiematoid arthritis & fibromyalgia but started to hate morphine esp the unbearable sweats. My final drop will be the last 20mg so ill post an update soon. I have done all of this at home without support, so trust me it is possible after being on this drug for 11yrs. I feel so much better!!!!

  5. I still need to know about reduction of morphine suatained release from 3 60mg pills a day…to 2 60 mg sustained release and 2 15 mg Immediate Release.
    Like I’ve stayed I’m a Chronic Oain Sufferer…taken 3 a day dosage 12+ yrs. And my pain is NOT UNDER CONTROL & HAS NOT BEEN FOR SOMETIME!!
    PLEASE ADVISE!!

  6. I have been taking Zomorph for 6 years due to phantom limb pain following an above knee amputation.

    I am actually prescribed 400mg a day (200mg x 2). Due to tolerance, I have learned to optimize the dosage whereby I can get 3 almost pain free days a week. I take 800mg (yes seriously) on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The remaining 4 days I take 100mg which just about keeps the lid on severe withdrawal symptoms. My GP is not aware of the high doses that I take. I actually lie and say the High dose is only 400mg and she is not really happy with it.

    I have recently started taking 1,000mg 3 times a week due to increased tolerance. I am scared I may end up killing myself at this rate. I need it as the pain becomes unbearable. What am I to do??? Please help me.

    Sincerely,
    Mike

  7. I am a addict, i have never used anything to quit will power anyways how much can the human body take if they are shooting 100mg of morphine per pop i did 2000 mg in lest then 24hours

    1. Hi, Rick. That amount of morphine can cause OD to some person, which can lead to death. If you feel unwell, call 1-800-222-1222 to speak with an expert from the Poison Control Center, or call 991 ASAP.

  8. I have been taking routine pain management for many years ( MS15mg SR (2) in the am (1) in the pm & (2) @HS…I also take Norco 10/325 usually 4/day for BTP…I have overlapping mixed connective tissue disorder with positive titers for Systemic Lupus, Scleraderma, RA, and Sjogrens…I also have RSD…I have sustained 18 bone fractures from low bone density…. I have recently moved in with my daughter and her family.. They do not believe in medications…they want me to do a natural approach …I tried medical marijuana… It is not for me…my question is: if I titrated by 15mg every month will this prevent withdrawal symptoms?… And when I get down to the last 15mg’s should I ask my Dr. for smaller doses to keep titrating down? Thank you very much

  9. I am currently taking between 40 to 60 mgs of morphine per day and have been doing so for 4 to 5 months. I wish to know an effective and safe way to remove myself completely from the drug. I have been taking it to calm osteo arthritic and pinched nerve pain but now feel that I can manage without. I have already consulted with my doctor who states that reducing 10% per day would be a reasonable plan but I wish a second opinion as I am not sure over how long a period this needs to continue and since it is the week-end I am unable to reach him

    1. Hi Frank. I do believe a 10% dose decrease at a time is a reasonable way to do it, I just don’t believe it should be done each day, since this way you will probably get a lot of withdrawal discomfort. Doctors generally suggest a slower taper, so you’d be dropping 10% of your dose every week or every other week. Such tapering schedule will cause significantly less stress and withdrawal symptoms and actually increases chances to successfully stay off morphine for good. See if you can get a second doctor’s opinion, or ask your doctor if he’s willing to support you through a slower taper.

  10. I am currently being weaned from morphine which I have taken 65 Mgs. 3 x a day for 3 years is this a successful way. And am I likely to go back to using morphine or drug seeking other drugs, the reason I am being weaned is because the morphine no longer helps with my neuropathic pain so after I am weaned off my doctor is going to try phentenyl patches for the pain. Do you think they will help control my neuropathic pain.? Thanks for this useful information.

    1. Hi Louise. No matter how successful a medication is when you just start taking it, our organisms are great at adapting (which is generally a great ability). However, the same happens with medications we take to treat certain conditions. Our bodies become used to the presence of the substances supplied by the medication and we no longer feel the positive effects, and this is called tolerance. Along with tolerance, our bodies develop physical dependence to these medicines, which is why we experience withdrawal symptoms if usual doses are abruptly lowered or stopped. Now, as you are weened off morphine, your tolerance will drop and your body will get used to functioning without the substance present in your system. But, the same process will happen with the patches. They will be great at relieving pain at first, and then, as your organism gets used to the presence of chemicals your tolerance will grow, making that medication also inefficient. I’m not saying you should give up, but I hope this information will help you better understand how medicines work and how or bodies react to them. However, no medication will be a long-term solution and you will always have to be subjected to a gradual taper (to lower your tolerance and dependency levels), so pain meds will be efficient as they were in the beginning. I hope this answers your question, and feel free to send us another comment if there is anything else we can help you with.

  11. This guy meant a lot to me. He had a past with drug use and recently had tried Meth a few times. He had a close friend who was hanging around him asking for help. He had been depressed but I was surprised to find that it was Morphine he had in his system. He had not mentioned using that to me. He wasn’t sleepy or anything the day he shot himself. He had threatened to do this many times before and I was trying to help him. We were in a long distance relationship. We had met several times and were planning on marrying but it was complicated as he lived in the States and I in Canada. I would never have guessed Morphine. Why didn’t he just take enough to go to sleep if he wanted to die? I don’t understand the need for a gun. He had lost a lot of weight and he had become isolated. I am wondering if he was a chronic user and if that raised his tolerance. The use of Morphine just leaves me puzzled about why he wouldn’t use more of it to stop his breathing. Why not use that as a means of suicide instead of a gun? I expected to find Meth in his system. That would have explained his behaviour and him being out of control and capable of doing this while I was in his house with him. I had gone to the basement and when I came upstairs I found him on the floor of his bedroom. Horrific. I am trying to find closure. I did get the report and the toxicology to help me understand but the finding of a high level of Morphine in his system has left me puzzled. I didn’t see him take anything but that doesn’t mean anything really. He was ramped up not sleepy. Please help me

  12. I was with someone who killed themselves. The toxicology report showed a 1333 level of Morphine in his system. It was a high reading. He shot himself. I don’t understand why he would need to do that if he had access to Morphine in the first place. He had placed his hand on a hot burner I had warned him was hot and he felt intense pain. Again, with that level of Morphine I don’t understand how he could have felt this kind of pain? Can you help me understand what a level of 1333 actually means?

  13. I want to stop taking my 60 mg dose of morphine I take for pain( prescribed) and have not take it yet today . It is extended release and I have been taking this as well as 2 mg oxycodone for ” break out”. Am I likely addicted? I really don’t like taking stuff like this. Pain has not been really noticble yet do no problem there ,,,yet!

  14. Hello Tracy. Opiate addiction can affect ALL parts of your life, including motivation, self-esteem, and will to live. I’d suggest that you speak with a doctor who can refer you to both a detox clinic and then inpatient OR outpatient treatment. You can really benefit from the psychological counseling that treatment offers…especially in coping with grief. You are not alone, but you need to be brave enough to reach out for help. It is out there.

  15. i really need some help ever since my died last year i felt like i couldnt go on so out of my stupidity i i found it hard to sleep and carry on and i knew my dad had loads of morphine pills as well as the morphine liquid and h used it to help his pain and sleep so i took one it made me feel better in some ways and help me sleep since then i cant stop using even through i have tried but i cant deal with the withdrawal and im taking more more every day now i believe i would be better of dead please could u give me some advice to stop using

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