Morphine is an opioid drug that is commonly used in the treatment of pain and as a recreational substance. Recreational morphine users seek out this drug for its euphoria-producing effects, its ability to produce a relaxing effect, and its ability to block out pain signals. Like other opioids, morphine carries a high risk of addiction, and there are significant dangers to its use.

Morphine is a naturally occurring chemical derived from opium, which comes from the poppy plant. While morphine can be synthesized in a laboratory using organic chemistry techniques, most commercial formulations still use the poppy plant as a source. Heroin is further derived from morphine and is also known as diamorphine or diacetylmorphine.

Some branded morphine products include:

  • MS Contin
  • Kadian
  • MorphaBond
  • Oramorph
  • Roxanol
  • Arymo
  • Avinza
  • Embeda
All of these medications contain the active ingredient of morphine, which provides pain-relieving effects.

Medical Use of Morphine

Morphine is a powerful analgesic, meaning it can provide substantial relief for people experiencing pain. As a long-acting opioid, morphine can provide pain relief for four to six hours. Certain morphine formulations, often denoted by the addition of SR (sustained-release) or ER (extended-release), will provide pain-relieving effects for 8 tp 12 hours.

Morphine is typically prescribed for moderate to severe pain. Extended-release formulations are prescribed for around-the-clock pain that doesn’t respond well to other medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil).

Medical morphine comes in a variety of different forms, including:

  • Pills
  • Capsules
  • Oral solution
  • Intravenous liquid
Typically, morphine is delivered via the oral route, meaning it is intended to be swallowed. Intravenous morphine is often delivered in hospital settings but is not typically prescribed for at-home use.

Drug Action of Morphine

Opioid drugs such as morphine block pain by attaching to opioid receptors in the brain, spine, and other parts of the body. By latching on to these receptors, pain messages sent from the body to the brain get blocked, providing substantial relief to people experiencing severe pain. These opioid receptors are also responsible for producing the effects of euphoria and the reduction of consciousness that make opioids a common drug of abuse.

Non-Medical Morphine Use

As one of the first opioids discovered and used for medical purposes, morphine has a long history of use as a recreational substance dating back to the 1800s. Physicians quickly saw the addictive potential of morphine and first derived the drug heroin in an attempt to create a less addictive form of this medicine.

People use morphine non-medically for several reasons:

  • To create a sense of euphoria
  • To create feelings of relaxation
  • To get pain relief from chronic injury
  • To cope with emotional stressors
  • To socialize with others
  • To use as a performance-enhancing drug
Recreational morphine users often report feeling warm, comfortable, and relaxed when using morphine. They may also feel itchy across their entire body, experience drowsiness, and may experience microsleeps, where the brain switches rapidly between being awake and asleep. To the outside observer, this can appear as if the person is falling asleep while sitting or standing up.

Morphine Dangers and Risks

Whether morphine is used medicinally or as a recreational substance, there are several dangers, side effects, and risks to be considered.

Morphine Side Effects

The primary side effects of morphine include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Stomach pain
  • Mood changes
  • Constricted pupils
  • Headache
  • Constipation
These side effects are common and not necessarily cause for concern. But there are more severe side effects that are signs of impending danger, including:
  • Trouble breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Seizures
These effects may indicate that you have taken too much morphine or that you are having a negative reaction to the drug’s effects. If you experience any of these symptoms while taking morphine as prescribed, contact your doctor immediately.

Morphine Addiction

Morphine addiction is one of the most serious side effects of taking this medication, and it can happen even when you take it as prescribed. The symptoms of morphine addiction include:

  • Loss of interest in activities outside of morphine use
  • Intense drug cravings for morphine
  • Inability to stop or cut down your morphine use on your own
  • Increasing tolerance to morphine, meaning you need to take more to achieve the desired effect
  • Morphine use is getting in the way of fulfilling other roles or responsibilities
  • Continued morphine use despite harmful consequences
As an opioid, morphine’s addictive potential is very high. If you’re struggling to stop morphine use on your own, you may need the help of professional addiction treatment services in order to stop completely.

Morphine Overdose

The most dangerous risk of morphine use is the possibility of overdose. Morphine overdose occurs when a person takes too much of the drug at one time or mixes it with other central nervous system depressants, such as alcohol, other opioids, or benzodiazepines. The signs of morphine overdose include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Slowed or stopped breathing
  • Blue skin, especially around the lips and hands
  • Unresponsiveness
If you or somebody you know is experiencing a morphine overdose, contact emergency services straight away. Paramedics may be able to arrive in time to save the person’s life.

There is a medication available to treat morphine overdose. Narcan, also sold under the generic name naloxone, is an opioid overdose reversal medication. If you have Narcan on hand when seeing somebody overdose, administer it according to the instructions immediately and repeatedly until they wake up or emergency medical services arrive.

Street Value of Morphine

The street price of morphine varies significantly between regions. StreetRx uses a crowd-sourced and anonymous system to track the street value of morphine across the entire globe and can give you an indication of an accurate morphine price on the street.

In the United States, the street price of morphine is between $0.50-$1.00 per milligram of morphine, but some people have reported prices both much higher and much lower. Morphine prices in Canada are similar to those in the United States. To find morphine prices in your country or to share information on the price you paid for morphine, visit the StreetRx main page.

MedlinePlus: Morphine Information

NIH: Morphine Information