Is morphine addictive?

YES. Morphine is highly addictive. This is even the case when morphine is prescribed by a doctor. We review what morphine is made of and how you get addicted to morphine here.

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YES. Morphine is addictive.

But what makes morphine addictive?Is addiction related to how long morphine stays in your system?  And how do you know if you’re a morphine addict? We’ll review and answer these questions here. Then, we invite your questions about the addictive potential of morphine at the end.

What is morphine used for?

A narcotic painkiller, morphine is used to help manage pain that is moderate to severe in nature. Morphine alters the body’s perception of pain by binding to opiate receptors in the brain. The way that morphine works in the brain and central nervous system can also cause feelings of euphoria, along with dizziness, lightheadedness, and even mood changes.

What is morphine made of?

Morphine is derived from the opium poppy. A naturally-occurring substance, morphine is simply extracted from the plant and concentrated to create a powerful opiate medication.

How addictive is morphine?

Morphine is very addictive. The addictive potential of morphine based on its chemical properties alone makes morphine a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act. In fact, morphine has a similar abuse liability to other opiate and opioid substances such as opium, methadone or oxycodone. Morphine’s strong effects on the central nervous system cause it to be frequently abused in an attempt to “get high”. Because of how frequently morphine is abused, it’s available only with a doctor’s prescription.

Morphine dependence vs. addiction

Morphine dependence is not necessarily the same as morphine addiction. Nonetheless, even while using morphine responsibly and for legitimate medical reasons you can still become physically dependent on the pain medication. A physical dependence simply means that you are unable to stop taking morphine without side effects.

An addiction to morphine is more complicated than chemical dependence. A morphine addict will experience the same withdrawal effects upon abruptly stopping or reducing morphine doses, but this withdrawal syndrome is combined with strong cravings for the drug, and compulsive use of the drug, despite negative consequences. In other words, the characteristic sign of morphine addiction is a psychological dependence on morphine.

How do you get addicted to morphine?

Are you taking morphine for pain, not to get high? If you’re taking morphine as directed by your doctor, you probably don’t have a problem with morphine even if you’re dependent. It’s far less likely that you’ll get addicted this way, however.

But if you’re taking larger doses than prescribed to try to achieve psychoactive effects, you’re misusing the drug. In general, you can get addicted to morphine if you take it in a manner other than normally prescribed. You’re also much more likely to become addicted this way. Plus, you’re at a higher risk of morphine addiction if you’ve been addicted to other drugs or alcohol in the past.

So how do you get addicted to morphine? If you make a conscious decision to misuse morphine, it’s very likely you’ll become addicted. Some ways that people misuse and abuse morphine are:

  • chewing morphine to prevent controlled release
  • crushing morphine into a powder and snorting morphine
  • crushing morphine to dissolve in water and inject
  • taking morphine in higher doses than prescribed
  • taking morphine more frequently than prescribed

Signs of morphine addiction

It’s true that morphine dependence and addiction can be hard to tell apart. But morphine addiction involves a psychological craving for the drug. You may be addicted to morphine if you need to take it to deal with daily stress. Other signs of morphine addiction include:

  1. Continued morphine abuse despite negative consequences.
  2. Craving morphine and using it compulsively.
  3. Seeking morphine in order to stimulate the “reward center” of the brain.

Morphine addiction potential questions

Do you still have questions about morphine addiction potential? Please leave them here. We are happy to help answer your questions personally and promptly. If we do not know the answer to your particular question, we will refer you to someone who does.

Reference Sources: ToxNet: Morphine
Medline Plus: Morphine Oral
PubChem: 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.
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