How Long Does Morphine Stay in Your System?

Morphine Abuse and Addiction in Ohio

How Long Does Morphine Stay in Your System?

Morphine, or morphine sulfate, may not be the most widely abused opioid medication, but it is one of the most well known. People have used morphine and other poppy extracts for hundreds of years.

On the one hand, morphine is a critical and life-saving medication used to treat pain. Morphine and other drugs it allow for surgery and more invasive procedures that we could not perform centuries ago. It is even listed on the World Health Organization’s list of essential medicines.

On the other hand, morphine and its chemical cousins have devastated the United States during the opioid epidemic.

Morphine is an addictive substance, the same as other opioids. Its potential for addiction and abuse is a primary contributor to its harmful qualities.

What is Morphine?

Morphine is an opioid and an opiate that occurs naturally in poppy plants. All opiates are considered opioids, though not all opioids are opiates, so morphine can be considered both an opiate and an opioid. 

Naturally occurring opioids are opiates. Synthetic and semi-synthetic opioids are opioids and not opiates.

Morphine works by activating mu-opioid receptors on the surface of nerve cells. Once activated, mu-opioid receptors stop us from perceiving pain. A side effect of treating pain is that morphine also creates feelings of pleasure and this is the source of its addictive potential.


Morphine is both a prescription medication and a controlled substance.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), morphine is a Schedule II medication. This type of medication has a recognized medical use but a high potential for addiction and abuse.

What is Morphine Used For?

Morphine is prescribed to manage pain.

Morphine is usually used during surgical procedures, labor and delivery. It can also be prescribed for post-surgical pain and is sometimes used in the management of chronic pain conditions.

Dosage and Administration

Morphine can be given orally, through injection and through an epidural injection, which is when the drug is injected into the space around the spinal cord.

The dose of morphine varies greatly the opioid tolerance of the person taking it.

Normal doses for immediate-release release oral morphine are 15 mg to 30 mg every four hours. Extended-release oral morphine is dosed 30 mg to 120 mg per day for people without an opioid tolerance.

Tolerance to morphine can develop quickly, some people require over 120 mg daily. Doses can increase up to 1,600 mg or more for people with a high tolerance. For most people, a dose this high would be fatal.

Prescribed Methods

Morphine is commonly prescribed in oral or injectable formulations.

Oral formulations may be solid (tablets or capsules) or liquid morphine solutions. Morphine pills are immediate-release or extended-release versions. Immediate-release formulations last between three to five hours and extended-release lasts between eight and twenty-four hours.

Injectable forms can be injected into a vein (intravenous), into a muscle (intramuscular), under the skin (subcutaneous) or into the space around the spinal column (epidural).

Morphine Abuse

A common way to abuse morphine is to crush a tablet or open a capsule to create a powdered form. Morphine powder is then heated into a liquid for injection or snorted.

People may crush the extended-release versions of morphine to break the extended-release mechanism and release all the drug at once.

What Does Morphine Look ?

Morphine tablets and capsules vary in appearance and anyone with questions about a morphine product should speak with their pharmacist.

Oral liquid morphine is usually blue, and liquid for injection is clear.

Morphine powder is white and crystalline in appearance.

Brand Name

Most oral morphine products have been generic for years and no longer have a brand name. However, specialized formulations of morphine have brand names, and some examples include:

  • Avinzo (extended-release oral tablet)
  • Arymo ER (extended-release oral tablet)
  • Astramorph (injection)
  • Depodur (extended-release injection)
  • Duramorph (injection)
  • Infumorph (for use in continuous infusion devices)
  • Kadian (extended-release oral capsule)
  • Mitigo (for use in continuous infusion devices)
  • MorphaBond (extended-release oral tablet)
  • MS Contin (extended-release oral tablet)
  • Roxanol (oral liquid solution)

Other Names and Street Names for Morphine

Morphine has gained a number of street names over the years, some of morphine’s street names include:

  • Dreamer
  • Emsel
  • First Line
  • God’s Drug
  • Hows
  • M
  • Miss Emma
  • Mister Blue
  • Monkey
  • Morpho
  • MS
  • Unkie
  • White Stuff

Side Effects of Morphine Use

Common morphine side effects include:

  • Abnormal mood changes
  • Blurred vision
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Nervousness
  • Pupils smaller than normal
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Stomach pain and cramps

A common and dangerous side effect of morphine (and opioid) abuse is an overdose. Overdose is a medical emergency, so if you see someone with the following symptoms, call 911 immediately:

  • Blurry vision
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Fainting
  • Irregular breathing
  • Limp muscles
  • Lips or fingers blue or purple
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nausea
  • Sleepiness or fatigue
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Small (pinpoint) pupils
  • Vomiting or gurgling noises

Overdose is a life-threatening emergency and people can experience permanent harm, coma or death. Prompt medical treatment can reverse the effect of opioids with opioid reversal agents naloxone.

How Long Does Morphine Stay in Your System?

morphine’s half-life, it will stay in the body for about 10 to 20 hours for most adults. 

Extended-release products stay in the body between 55 to 65, but their effects usually last only a maximum of 24 hours.

Morphine Half-Life

The half-life of a drug is how long the body takes to metabolize half of it. Morphine’s half-life is two to four hours.

So, for example, if someone takes 30 mg of morphine now, then in two to four hours they will still have 15 mg in their system.

Is Morphine Addictive?

Yes, morphine has a high potential for addiction and abuse. Morphine and other opioids are some of the most addictive substances that we are aware of.

In 2017, an estimated 1.7 million people in the United States struggled with a substance use disorder (SUD) related to opioid and morphine addiction. That same year, 47,000 people died as a result of opioid overdoses.

Despite these staggering numbers, SUD is treatable and people with a previous addiction often go on to live normal and stable lives.

Key Points: Understanding Morphine

Keep the following key points in mind regarding morphine:

  • Morphine is a naturally occurring opiate and an opioid medication
  • It is a critical medication in healthcare, allowing the performance of surgeries and invasive procedures
  • Morphine has been available in medical products for almost 200 years, but people have used versions of it for much longer
  • It is a Schedule II substance, so despite its medical use it can be addictive
  • Half of a dose of morphine is metabolized from the body in two to four hours
  • If you see someone with symptoms of an overdose, calling 911 immediately may save their life

Contact The Recovery Village Columbus to speak with a representative about how professional addiction treatment can help address your substance use disorder. You deserve a healthier future, call today.


Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village Columbus aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes.

We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.


How Long Does Morphine Stay in Your System? (Blood, Urine, and More) | DBH

How Long Does Morphine Stay in Your System?

Although there are several narcotic drugs, both prescription and illicit, the original synthetic opioid drug is morphine.

This substance was derived from the opium poppy in 1803, to have a more refined painkiller for medical treatment than organic opium. Morphine is more potent than opium.

While it proved to be an effective treatment during and after surgery or injury, it also led to addiction and abuse, which was first noticed among Civil War veterans.

Since morphine’s invention, medical researchers have tried to find an opioid drug that is as effective at killing pain without the addiction risks.

Morphine is the precursor to all synthetic opioids now, including hydrocodone, codeine, oxycodone, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), and heroin. Unfortunately, there is a risk of addiction associated with taking any opioid medication, including morphine, which is available in various forms for prescription use.

Several immediate-release and extended-release versions of morphine are available for prescription use. It is not prescribed as widely as hydrocodone, oxycodone, or codeine, so it is not misused or abused as often as these modern opioids are.

Extended-release versions of morphine provide eight to 12 hours of analgesia, while immediate-release formulas provide four to six hours of pain relief.

Peak effects in immediate-release morphine occur in one to two hours after the drug is ingested; however, metabolites from the medication remain in the body for longer than the substance’s analgesic effects ease the pain, so it is important to take morphine doses only as prescribed by a physician.

Taking more than prescribed, or taking it more often than prescribed, is misuse and can lead to overdose or addiction.
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How Long Does Morphine Stay In The Body?

Morphine’s half-life is between 1.5 to 4.5 hours, although it can remain present in the body for longer if extended-release versions were taken. This means it can take eight to nine hours for morphine to metabolize the body completely.

If you quit taking morphine, you may develop withdrawal symptoms after eight hours, as the drug completely leaves your body, if no replacement dose follows that. Withdrawal symptoms are associated with physical dependence on a substance.

You might experience withdrawal symptoms if you took morphine as prescribed because your brain may become reliant on the presence of the drug, but you may not crave it or abuse it.

However, if you do develop an addiction to morphine and compulsively take larger doses of it over time, you are more ly to experience withdrawal symptoms after morphine is eliminated from your body.

Working with a detox program that has medical supervision from a physician can ease the morphine withdrawal process.

During detox and rehabilitation, you may be tested for drugs consistently so that your doctor can understand how long you took a substance, how long it is taking to leave your body, and if you have relapsed.

Drug testing is also important for law enforcement proceedings and workplace safety.

There are several different kinds of drug tests. Urine tests are the most often used, but blood, saliva, hair, fingernails, and even sweat can all be analyzed for intoxicants.

Types of Drug Testing for Morphine

Hair: Drug testing that uses hair strands does not show current intoxication or recent intoxication; however, hair tests can provide a history of substance abuse. A strand of hair can provide a 90-day record of repeated substance abuse or prescription drug consumption.

It is unly a detox program would use a hair test, but some employers may use a hair test to determine if any undisclosed, dangerous drug abuse has occurred in the past three months.

Fingernails: hair testing, fingernail testing will not show recent substance abuse.

hair, fingernails are made of keratin, which absorbs chemicals from the bloodstream during the growth process. This can show a history of drug abuse for three to six months after the substance was consumed. Biomarkers for some drugs and alcohol can be found in the fingernails as soon as one to two weeks later.

Illicit drugs in the environment, smoke, can be detected on fingernails immediately after exposure.

Urine: This is one of the most common forms of drug testing because it is minimally invasive and can show a recent history of drug abuse within a few hours after the substance is consumed. Opioids morphine can be detected in urine for up to three days after use.

Because samples must be sent away to labs, in most cases, confirmed results are not usually available on the same day. Instead, urine testing is most ly to be applied to determine if someone has relapsed back into morphine abuse.

Blood: This form of drug testing is most often used to determine if someone is intoxicated.

Active metabolites from a substance morphine remain in the blood for several hours, so someone who is pulled over for driving while intoxicated (DWI) may receive a blood test in jail if the arresting officer believes the person is under the influence of a substance. It is considered an invasive procedure, so it is not ly that blood testing will be the first approach to testing in most situations.

Saliva: This is also a rarely used testing method. Saliva testing can detect the presence of opioids morphine starting after the drug was abused — especially if residues from morphine remain in the mouth — to about four days later.

Sweat: This type of testing is becoming more prominent, although it is most ly to be used in drug court cases than in other situations. A patch is applied to the body, which collects sweat to be analyzed later.

Drugs can be detected from sweat one to 14 days after they were consumed, allowing a history of substance abuse within that window to be determined or to show that the person has remained sober during that time.

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Manage Withdrawal as Morphine Metabolizes the Body

In general, withdrawal from opioids morphine takes between three and 10 days. The process can be uncomfortable, but it is not life-threatening.

Working with a detox program reduces your risk of relapse — not just because you will be consistently drug tested and monitored, but because a physician will work with you to monitor your withdrawal symptoms and determine how best to manage them. This may include medication-assisted treatment (MAT).


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