Morphine is a fast-acting opioid drug that produces more potent, but similar, effects than codeine. It is prescribed to treat moderate to severe acute pain in situations where other medications cannot be used to treat pain. Like other opioids, morphine carries a high risk of abuse and dependence.
How long the effects of morphine last and how long it stays in your system depend on several variables, such as how long you’ve been using morphine, the dose you took, and how it was administered. Typically, a urine test can detect morphine in your system for 1-3 days after you last used the drug. However, your age, weight, metabolism, and more factors may influence this timeline.
How Long Do the Effects of Morphine Last?
Prescription morphine can be taken orally via tablet or injected intravenously. When taken orally, the effects appear after 30-60 minutes, peaking at 60 minutes, but when taken intravenously, the effects will appear within minutes and peak shortly after injecting it. People who use morphine illicitly may also crush and snort the drug, allowing the effects to begin 15-30 minutes after snorting it.
The effects of morphine as well as pain relief usually last 4-6 hours or 8-12 hours with extended-release morphine (MS Contin, Arymo ER, and Kadian ER). Common side effects may include:
- Dry mouth
- Slowed heart rate
- Low blood pressure
Although the effects of morphine only last for a few hours, the drug can be detected in your system for much longer.
The Half-Life of Morphine
A drug’s half-life describes how long it takes 50% of the substance to be metabolized and fully eliminated from the body. Morphine has a relatively short half-life of 2-4 hours, so it takes 2-4 hours for your body to eliminate half of the dose of the drug. It takes 4-5 half-lives for a substance to leave your body completely, so it can take between 8 and 20 hours to leave your body.
Understanding Morphine Metabolism
When morphine is broken down (primarily in the liver), it turns into metabolites. The major metabolites of morphine that are found in humans are morphine-3-glucuronide (M3G) and morphine-6-glucuronide (M6G). These glucuronides are eliminated via bile and urine, and it can take longer than 8-20 hours for them to no longer be detectable in urine.
Factors that Influence How Long Morphine Stays in Your System
The half-life and elimination rate of morphine can vary from person to person based on several variables, including:
- Age, weight, body fat content, and metabolism – People who are younger, have less body fat, and faster metabolisms may be able to eliminate morphine and other drugs from their system at a faster rate.
- Kidney and liver function – Poor kidney or liver function can slow down the metabolism of drugs like morphine.
- Nature of morphine use – Using morphine in higher doses, more frequently, and for longer periods of time can greatly increase how long morphine stays in the body.
- Method of administration – Morphine may leave your system faster if you inject it versus swallowing or snorting it.
- Drinking alcohol – Mixing alcohol and morphine can not only cause the drug to stay in your body longer, but it can also increase the risk of overdose.
- Certain medical conditions – Some physical health conditions may impact how quickly your body can eliminate morphine.
How Long Can Drug Tests Detect Morphine?
You may have to take a drug test for personal, legal, or employment reasons. There are four different types of drug tests (urine, blood, saliva, and hair follicle) that can be used to detect morphine and other drugs in your system.
Urine tests are the most widely used for employment purposes because they are accurate, affordable, and relatively non-invasive. Blood tests may be used to confirm intoxication or in medical settings. Saliva tests may be used for legal or medical purposes. Hair tests can be used for a variety of purposes, but they don’t always have the highest rate of accuracy. Each of these drug tests can detect morphine for different periods of time.
Morphine can be detected in urine 1-3 days after the last dose.
Morphine can be detected in blood for up to 3 days after the last dose.
Morphine can be detected in saliva for up to 4 days after the last use.
Morphine can be detected in hair for up to 90 days after the last dose.
Signs of a Morphine Overdose
Taking too much morphine at once will overload your body with it, resulting in respiratory depression and organs shutting down. This is when an overdose occurs. Symptoms of a morphine overdose include:
- Small, pinpoint pupils
- Extreme drowsiness
- Blu-ish colored lips or fingernails
- Cold, clammy skin
- Muscle stiffness
- Slowed heart rate
- Slow pulse
- No breathing
If you suspect someone is overdosing on morphine, do not leave the scene. Call 911 immediately and administer naloxone (if available).
Symptoms of Morphine Withdrawal
If you are addicted to morphine, you may start experiencing symptoms of withdrawal as it leaves your system. Morphine withdrawal is usually not life-threatening, but it can be uncomfortable and even painful. Symptoms of morphine withdrawal include:
- Runny nose
- Hot flashes
- Abdominal cramping
- Muscle and body aches
Unfortunately, there is no way to speed up morphine withdrawal or the rate at which it leaves your body, but there is help available. Opioid detox centers in California can prescribe medications to alleviate your symptoms and provide you with the support you need to begin your recovery journey.
Find Help for Morphine Abuse and Addiction
Overcoming morphine addiction isn’t easy, but with comprehensive addiction treatment, achieving long-term recovery is possible. ARISE Treatment Center offers medically-supervised detox as well as inpatient and outpatient rehab programs and uses evidence-based treatments that are clinically proven to improve patient outcomes.
If you or someone you love is struggling with morphine addiction, please contact us today to verify your insurance and learn about your opioid addiction treatment options.