Morphine is a strong prescription-based painkiller with fast-acting effects, making it a desirable drug when faced with acute pain. Usually, you only feel the effects of morphine for a few hours. But how long does morphine stay in your system? Much longer than you might realize.
As misusing morphine can cause adverse health problems, including addiction, it should be taken as prescribed by licensed medical professionals. If you have a morphine addiction, you will need a detox to clear your body of all substance traces.
Addiction is not just physical; it is also psychological. To completely recover, you will need to work on why you began misusing morphine in the first place. With addiction treatment and ongoing support, recovery is possible.
What Is Morphine?
Morphine is a medication belonging to the opiate drug family. A strong form of pain relief derived from the opium poppy plant, all opiates, including morphine, are depressants. This means morphine slows down the central nervous system, reduces neural activity and cognitive function, and blocks pain receptors in your brain.
Typically distributed by medical professionals following an operation, during cancer treatment, or for an injury such as a broken bone, you may have been prescribed morphine to relieve moderate or severe pain. Common brand names of morphine include Oramorph SR, MS Contin, Kadian, Morphabond, and Roxanol.
The immediate effects of morphine are generally pain relief, drowsiness, and a feeling of well-being or euphoria. Although you may not realize it, prescription opioids are as dangerous as street drugs when misused. If you are at risk of addiction, ask your medical provider about other pain medications available.
What Does Morphine Abuse Look Like?
When taking morphine, it is essential to stick to professional medical advice, especially when considering how much to take and for how long. Deviating from these instructions is considered misuse.
People often begin to misuse morphine for the euphoric high it brings. However, this may not be a conscious decision, which is why it is important to stay vigilant about your morphine use and adhere to the recommended dose.
Misuse can include:
- Taking a higher dose than prescribed.
- Using morphine for longer than recommended.
- Taking morphine not prescribed to you.
- Using morphine for reasons other than to treat pain, such as for the high.
- Continued use of morphine despite adverse effects on your health.
Abusing morphine can lead to health problems, addiction, and overdose. If you suspect you might be suffering from a morphine overdose, call 911 immediately. If acted upon quickly, overdose can be reversed with naloxone.
How Long Does Morphine Stay in Your System?
Morphine can be taken in a liquid solution, pill, or injection. A morphine injection has rapid onset effects that are felt almost immediately. In contrast, the effects are usually felt within thirty to sixty minutes when morphine is taken in other forms.
As morphine has a relatively short half-life of approximately two to three hours, you will stop feeling any effects after four hours to six hours. Though this is true, the half-life varies depending on how morphine is administered. For example, morphine taken intravenously has the shortest half-life.
If you are asked to complete a drug test, you may fail it even if you no longer feel the effects of morphine. This is because morphine stays in your system much longer than you think and can be detected for a long time by specific tests.
How Long Can You Detect Morphine in a Drug Test?
There are many reasons why people might need to take a drug test. Two typical examples are for employment or legal reasons.
Common testing methods are blood tests, urine tests, saliva tests, and hair tests. Typically, urine tests are the most popular due to their accessibility and low cost. Drug tests can roughly detect how long ago you last used morphine; however, this varies and depends on the test used.
Below, we have shared how long morphine is detectable via a test:
- Blood tests – Up to three days after use.
- Urine tests – Up to three days after use.
- Saliva tests – Up to four days after use.
- Hair follicle tests – Up to ninety days after use.
Urine testing can sometimes produce a false positive drug test, especially when detecting opiates. This is rare, but it has been known to happen. Certain medications also cause interference with the testing process and show a false positive.
Saliva tests and blood tests have a similar window for drug detection. This is because drugs found in saliva are on their way to the blood. Meanwhile, hair tests can identify morphine and other drugs for up to ninety days as the drugs that enter your bloodstream can transfer to your hair follicles. However, it is not a common testing method.
Ultimately, trying to beat a test is risky at best. If you have recently used drugs, you will likely be caught out. Failing drug testing can have several devastating consequences, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Help is available if you have lost control of your drug use.
What Does Addiction Look Like?
No one intends to develop a dependency on morphine or any other drugs. But if you abuse substances, this is the risk. Morphine is a Schedule II narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act because it has a high potential for addiction.
Although you might think that you can only develop an addiction if you use morphine over a long period, this is not true. It is possible to develop a dependency from as little as a single dose of morphine. This is because the instant high from morphine interrupts the brain’s natural reward system and causes cravings to arise.
Sadly, opioid addiction is at epidemic levels. As of 2021, three million US citizens have or have had an opioid use disorder.
Common symptoms of morphine addiction are:
- Mood swings
- Poor judgment
- Memory problems
- Paranoia and defensiveness
- Anxiety or depression
Having a substance use disorder is nothing to be ashamed of, and you shouldn’t suffer in silence. However, many people hide their addiction due to denial, shame, stigma, or a fear of being called out. Once you are deep into addiction, quitting seems daunting. To recover, appropriate medical treatment is required via rehab centers.
How Can I Tell if Someone Has an Addiction?
If you are worried that a loved one is struggling with an addiction, you might notice changes in their behavior, such as:
- Poor performance at work or school
- Limited commitments to things they once enjoyed or considered important
- Withdrawal from family, friends, and social engagements
- Exhibiting poor hygiene and self-care
- Financial difficulties
- Becoming secretive or dishonest
- Engaging in risky or law-breaking behavior
If you suspect someone you know has an addiction to opioids or any other drugs, seek advice.
What Are Morphine Withdrawal Symptoms?
When you or a loved one begin addiction treatment, the first step is detoxification. This treatment rids the body of all morphine traces and ceases the physical side of addiction.
The detox process usually starts around twelve hours after the last dose, peaks around day three, and eases after seven to ten days. However, this timeline will depend on factors such as your body’s ability to metabolize morphine and the severity of your drug use.
Detoxing can be uncomfortable, and almost all people who enter a detox experience withdrawal symptoms, such as:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Nausea and sickness
- Increased blood pressure and heart rate
- Sleeping problems, including insomnia
- Anxiety and depression
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Drug cravings
While it is possible to detox from morphine at home, this is never usually recommended, especially if you are thinking about quitting cold turkey. Detoxing alone without medical supervision can be dangerous and even fatal. There is also a risk that you may be tempted to turn to morphine again to deal with any withdrawal symptoms you experience. It is best to complete treatment in a rehab center under medical supervision for these reasons.
Here, you will be able to detox in a safe and secure environment and receive medication-assisted treatment. This will ensure that your detox is as comfortable as possible, with medications available to alleviate some side effects.
Get Help for Morphine Abuse Today
The best way to avoid failing a drug test is to abstain from drugs. If you are losing control over your morphine use, reach out and ask for help. Admitting you have a problem is a brave and positive step towards addiction recovery.
Remember, many treatment programs are available to aid you in getting clean from substances and starting recovery.