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Morphine Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, Effects and Treatment

Are You Addicted to Morphine?

Morphine is an opiate medication derived from the poppy plant. It is often used before and after surgery for severe pain relief. 6Morphine can be an effective treatment for pain, but it has both short- and long-term side effects as well as a high risk of dependence.

This page includes the following topics:

  • Whether morphine is addictive.
  • The signs and symptoms of morphine addiction.
  • The cost of treatment and how to pay.
  • Types of treatment and how to choose a program.
  • Short- and long-term effects of morphine abuse.

Is Morphine Addictive?

Yes. Morphine is a controlled, highly addictive substance.

Morphine acts on receptors in the brain, brain stem, spinal cord and digestive tract. When the drug activates these receptors, the result is temporary pain relief as well as sedation and, in some individuals, euphoria – all these effects may lead users to abuse the drug. However, morphine can also produce adverse effects, including constipation and respiratory problems. 5

People who have been abusing morphine – and even people who have been taking it as prescribed – can also develop tolerance and physiological dependence. If you have developed tolerance to morphine, you will require more of it to get the same pain-relieving effect. People who have become dependent on it may experience significant withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop using it. 5

Common withdrawal symptoms from morphine include: 1, 3, 5

  • Agitation or changes in mood.
  • Anxiety.
  • Increased feeling or sensations of pain.
  • Abdominal cramping.
  • Flu-like symptoms, including runny nose and chills with sweating.
  • Vomiting.
  • Nausea.
  • Dilated pupils.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Insomnia.
  • Restlessness.
  • Teary eyes.

According to a survey conducted in 2015 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 19.6 million people reported a past year substance use disorder. Among people aged 12 or older, 2.7% reported using morphine products in the past year and 0.3% of the total population reported any misuse in the past year.2

How to Tell If You or a Loved One Is Addicted

If you or a loved one has exhibited at least 2 of the following symptoms over the past year, you may meet the criteria for a substance use disorder. 4 Consider speaking to someone who can help you find the right addiction treatment program.

  • Consumed more morphine than you intended to.
  • Worried about failed attempts to reduce or quit using morphine.
  • Spent a lot of time consuming morphine, trying to obtain it or recovering from its effects. You may have visited several different doctors to try to get prescriptions for morphine.
  • Often neglected responsibilities at home, at work or at school in favor of morphine use.
  • Craved morphine when you were not using it.
  • Noticed that using morphine was making health problems worse, but you continued using anyway.
  • Used morphine in situations that could have been dangerous or even life-threatening – for instance, while driving or working at a job where your attention was required to prevent injury.
  • Gave up on activities that you once enjoyed to use morphine.
  • Noticed that you were using more morphine to get the same effect or you noticed that morphine did not have the same effect that it once had.
  • Experienced withdrawal symptoms if you tried to stop using morphine.

Paying for Treatment

A number of payment options are available for people seeking addiction treatment – both those with or without insurance.

Paying With Insurance

Insurance coverage for the treatment of a morphine addiction can vary greatly depending on:

  • The state in which you live.
  • The level of coverage that you have.
  • How long you choose to remain in treatment.
  • Which type of facility you choose.
  • Whether the treatment center or program is in-network or out-of-network with your insurance carrier.

For inpatient stays, you are typically responsible for a certain amount plus a specific percentage of the total cost. For example, you may be responsible for $500 plus 10% of the total cost of the inpatient stay for an in-network provider.

For outpatient levels of service, you are typically responsible for a certain percentage of the total cost plus a daily co-pay. For example, you may be responsible for 10% in addition to a $20 copay each day that you attend.

However, if you choose to go with an out-of-network provider, you could be responsible for a majority of the costs associated with that treatment program. As noted above, costs vary.

Seeking coverage for inpatient and outpatient substance abuse treatment from your insurance provider can be time-consuming. Our advisors can assist you with this process. Call to learn more.

Paying Without Insurance

Many facilities will work with you by offering a payment plan that fits with your budget, though there may be interest added to the total cost.

Some facilities will also take on “charity” or scholarship cases. Although these are rare, it is worth asking each facility if it provides these options. Sites such as also provide a way to seek donations for treatment from family, friends and people all over the world.

For further information about low-cost treatment options, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.

Getting Treatment and Starting Recovery

If you believe that you or your loved one has a morphine dependency, it is important to find a professional who can help guide you through the process of recovery.

You can choose from several levels of treatment, and each facility will offer different amenities and approaches. Therefore, you should contact the facility you are interested for more information prior to making a decision.


Detox facilities can help you or your loved one through the withdrawal symptoms that will occur after you stop using morphine. These facilities mainly offer medication therapy and support during withdrawal. But some programs offer group therapy, individual therapy and recreational therapy.

Partial Hospitalization (PHP) or Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP)

Staying abstinent from morphine after detox can be difficult. Often, triggers in your immediate environment can cause you to relapse if you do not have the proper support.

PHP and IOP programs can help you through this transitional phase, which is critical to long-term sobriety. You can expect group therapy to be the primary focus of these programs, but some offer weekly family sessions or individual sessions as needed.

PHP is a full-day group therapy program in which medications are prescribed and monitored. By contrast, IOP is a half-day group therapy program in which medications are managed by your outside provider. You return home at the end of treatment and do not live at the facility.

Residential Treatment Facility

If a professional has told you that your morphine use is severe, or if you have relapsed several times in the past, then you may want to consider a longer-term residential detox and treatment facility.

The most common treatment facility, and the one most likely to be covered by your insurance, is a 28- or 30-day program. However, morphine addiction may require more than 28 days of treatment, so it is important to know what your insurance coverage is.

Residential treatment facilities typically offer individual therapy, family therapy and group therapy. Some offer classes on nutrition, a healthy and balanced diet while in treatment, assistance with lifestyle changes, and exercise and relaxation classes. Some facilities also include step-down levels of outpatient care.

These facilities can vary greatly in price and location, so it is important to find out how much it will cost and how much you can afford.

Factors to Consider

Below are a few other things to keep in mind when seeking substance abuse treatment.

  • Accreditation. Look for facilities that are accredited. Accreditation ensures that the facility is providing the most up-to-date treatment for substance abuse and that it is accountable to a third party for maintaining higher standards of practice. The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) and the Joint Commission are two accrediting bodies for morphine rehab programs.
  • Dual diagnosis. If you or your loved one has also been given a mental health diagnosis – such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder – look for facilities that offer dual diagnosis treatment programs.
  • Medication-assisted treatment. When speaking to various treatment centers, you may want to ask if they provide medication-assisted treatment. Two drugs have proven effective at managing the withdrawal symptoms of morphine and treating opioid dependence. Clonidine has been used successfully to help treat withdrawal symptoms, and buprenorphine has been successful in helping to ease withdrawal symptoms and shorten the length of detox. 3 The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides a Buprenorphine Treatment Physician Locator that may be useful in selecting a program.

Short- and Long-Term Side Effects of Morphine Dependency

The short-term side effects of morphine use include but are not limited to: [1,3,5]

  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Abdominal cramping.
  • Moderate to severe constipation.
  • Sedation.
  • Changes in skin (warm and flushed or cold and clammy).
  • Constricted pupils.
  • Dizziness.
  • Confusion.

Other long-term effects may include:
  • Risk of infections such as HIV or hepatitis from intravenous use. 4
  • Depression. 4
  • Insomnia. 4
  • Increase in risk-taking behaviors such as seeking illicit drugs to help with cravings or using opiates intravenously.
  • Neglecting responsibilities at home, work or school.
  • Financial difficulties related to spending on morphine and other opiates.

In some people, constipation can become chronic due to persistent activation of opioid receptors throughout the digestive tract.

Find a Treatment Program for Morphine Addiction

If you believe that you or a loved one needs treatment for morphine addiction, call . Speak with a recovery support advisor to learn about various treatment options and to get assistance in choosing a treatment center that is right for you.

[1]. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2015). Substance Use Disorders.

[2]. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2016).Result from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables Table 2.46A (HHS Publication No. SMA 16-4984, NSDUH Series H-51).

[3]. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2013). Opiate Withdrawal.

[4]. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. Washington, D.C: American Psychiatric Association.

[5]. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2015). Morphine Oral.

[6]. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). What are opioids?