Morphine is a relatively fast-acting opiate drug, with effects that can last for 4-6 hours. Morphine is cleared from the blood in about 15 hours, but some drug screens can identify the presence of morphine for a longer period.
Morphine can also be detected in a person’s body using the following standard tests:
- Urine test: From 1-4 days
- Saliva test: Between 24-36 hours
- Hair follicle test: Up to three months
It can take as long as 72 hours after the last dose for the body to completely clear morphine. After this time, the drug cannot be identified in saliva or urine. Hair follicle tests may be able to detect the drug for as long as 90 days, but neither would-be employers or addiction treatment centers commonly use these because they are expensive.
Rehab centers do sometimes use other types of drug screens to motivate clients to stay sober. Inpatient programs also use the tests to ensure residents haven’t discovered a way to sneak substances into the facility. If you are afraid you are going to fail a drug test and you have so far been unable to stop using, you may have a dependence on or addiction to morphine.
Metabolism is the method that the body uses to break down substances. Morphine can be swallowed, snorted, or injected, and the method of use determines how rapidly morphine enters the bloodstream. For instance, when injected, peak levels of morphine accumulate in the blood within 20 minutes. However, it typically takes between 30-90 minutes for morphine levels to peak in the blood when the drug is ingested orally.
A person will also experience the effects of morphine faster and more intensely when it’s injected because it travels straight to the brain, bypassing other systems that could delay the process. When ingested, morphine first goes through the liver, which then metabolizes it and breaks it down into other chemicals known as metabolites.
Some metabolites are expelled from the body through urine. The remaining morphine stays in the blood and travels to the brain, where it induces pain relief, feelings of calm and relaxation, and various other effects. The drug then advances through the body until it once again reaches the liver. This cycle continues until all morphine is eliminated from the person’s system.
Codeine and heroin are also converted to morphine in the body. Moreover, a positive drug test for morphine may also indicate the use of either of these other opiates.
Half-Life of Morphine
The “half-life” of a substance refers to the amount of time required for half of a dose to be cleared from the body. For example, if a person ingests 10 mg of morphine, the half-life is the amount of time it takes for his or her body to eliminate 5 mg.
The half-life of morphine usually falls between 2 to 3.5 hours. Half-life varies because some people metabolize morphine faster than others.
Factors that influence how long morphine stays in the body include the following:
- Height and weight
- Body fat composition
- Drug purity/quality
- Liver function
- Overall health
- Sex (male or female)
A minuscule amount of morphine—only about 3 percent of the original dose—will stay in the blood after five half-lives. Depending on a variety of factors, morphine stays in the blood for between 10-15 hours. It can still be identified on tests, however, because it takes up to four days for the body to release the drug through urine.
Is Morphine Addictive?
Morphine is considered to have a relatively high potential for both abuse and addiction. People who are dependent on opioids will likely experience several mental, physical, and behavioral problems. Once addicted, they will also begin to compulsively seek drugs despite encountering adverse health, legal, and social consequences.
Medicinal use of morphine isn’t inevitably associated with addiction, but abusing morphine for recreational purposes increases a person’s risk. Some individuals abuse morphine to get high and experience feelings of euphoria and relaxation.
Morphine use is also associated with numerous short- and long-term side effects, including drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Even under a doctor’s direction, chronic morphine use can result in dependence. People dependent on morphine will experience highly unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to discontinue use.
Side Effects of Morphine
Morphine can cause severe side effects when taken in excessive doses. When used as prescribed, morphine is intended to alleviate pain, coughing, and may allow a person who would otherwise be suffering from these symptoms to rest and experience some relief.
Common side effects of morphine use include the following:
- Stomach pain and cramps
- Dry mouth
- Slowed heart rate
- Mood changes
- Difficulty urinating
People who abuse morphine are more likely to experience severe side effects, especially those who use it in high doses or inject it. Excessive doses of morphine can slow breathing to perilously low levels, possibly resulting in hypoxic brain damage, coma, and death.
Other effects of morphine misuse include the following:
- Constricted pupils
- Reduced response to stimuli
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased thirst
- Muscle pain and spasms
- Impaired coordination
- Impaired cognition
Although morphine stays in the system for multiple days, the drug’s effects typically subside within just a few hours.
Morphine Withdrawal Timeline
The length of morphine withdrawal can be influenced by a number of factors, including the amount used, frequency of use, and the usual method of administration. For instance, a person who injects morphine will experience a more rapid and intense high than a person who ingests it orally. For this reason, these individuals are also more likely to experience severe withdrawal symptoms.
Morphine withdrawal timeline:
- Short-term side effects wane after about 4-5 hours
- Early withdrawal symptoms manifest within 8-12 hours
- Symptoms peak 36-72 hours after the last dose
- Symptoms subside after 7-10 days
The length of withdrawal also depends on how a person stops using the drug. If the dosage is slowly decreased or tapered, less severe symptoms will be encountered, but the time spent undergoing withdrawal will also be longer.
If a person quits suddenly, or “cold turkey,” he or she will likely suffer from intense symptoms, but they won’t last for as long.
Symptoms of morphine withdrawal include the following:
- Anxiety and depression
- Chills and goosebumps
- Hot flashes
- Nausea and vomiting
Undergoing morphine withdrawal without professional help is unnecessary and may not be entirely safe. Many rehab facilities, like Just Believe Recovery, feature detox services that can minimize the amount of discomfort associated with withdrawal.
Please seek medical help immediately if any of the following symptoms occur associated with morphine use:
- Decreased awareness
- Unresponsiveness, stupor
- Extreme drowsiness/sleepiness
- Increased blood pressure
- Lower back or side pain
- Muscle cramps and spasms
- Muscle stiffness
- No muscle tone or movement
- Swollen face, fingers, or legs
- Slowed or stopped breathing
- Cyanosis (bluish fingers, lips, etc.)
Recovery from Morphine Addiction
Recovering from morphine addiction often requires detox and comprehensive treatment. Just Believe Recovery offers programs in both residential and partial hospitalization formats that feature a variety of evidence-based services, including psychotherapy, individual and family counseling, group support, aftercare planning, and more.
Our caring staff is dedicated to ensuring that each client receives the tools, education, and support they need to achieve abstinence and foster a healthier, more satisfying life, free from the use of drugs and alcohol.
If you or someone you love is suffering from an addiction to morphine or other substances, contact us today and find out how we help those who need it most break free from the bonds of addiction for life!