How Long Does Morphine Stay in Your System? Get The Facts

Last Medical Review On: June 17, 2024
Updated On: June 17, 2024
4 min read
Written by:

Amanda Stevens, B.S.

Medical Review by:

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu, M.D., M.S.

How Long Does Morphine Stay In Your System?
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    What you will learn

    • Morphine is a narcotic derived from opium from the poppy plant and is used to treat pain.
    • Morphine is classified as a Schedule II drug due to its high potential for abuse.
    • Morphine’s effects are felt for 4-6 hours, but the drug can be detected in your system through hair for up to 90 days and urine tests for two to five days.

    Morphine is an opioid drug used to treat pain.  Its effects peak 60 minutes after taking it and last four to six hours. Despite its short-lived effects, it can be detected in urine two to five days after use and up to 90 days in hair follicle tests. Morphine can have serious side effects and long-term health consequences. Overdoses can be fatal.

    What is morphine?

    Morphine is used to treat moderate to severe pain when other pain relief medications have not been effective. Morphine is an opioid medication that can provide significant pain relief for short-term or chronic pain.

    Morphine is an opiate analgesic that works by changing how the brain and nervous system respond to pain. It binds to the mu-opioid receptors within the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS). [1]

    Morphine can be administered as an oral liquid, extended-release tablets and capsules, intravenous (IV), suppositories, and epidural.

    Morphine is a Schedule II controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). [2]  This means that morphine has a high potential for abuse but has an accepted medical use as a treatment or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions. Abuse may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. Morphine may also be abused and may be considered contraindicated for people with a history of substance abuse or abusing opioids.

    How long does morphine stay in your system?

    Morphine can have a half-life between 1.5 to 4.5 hours, with the accepted average half-life for most people being in the 1.5-2 hour range. [3]  The majority of morphine is excreted via the kidneys and urine, while about 10% is eliminated in the feces. A drug’s half-life is how long it takes for the active drug to be eliminated from your system. With the use of morphine for pain treatment, once it begins to wear off, you would want to administer more morphine to manage the pain. Morphine’s short half-life is one of the factors that make it addictive.

    How long morphine can be detected in your system depends on the drug testing used. Morphine can be detected by a saliva test for one to 36 hours. It can be detected in urine for two to five days and in sweat for seven to fourteen days. Hair follicle tests can detect up to 90 days from the last morphine use.[4]

    How quickly do you feel the effects of morphine?

    How quickly you feel the effects of morphine depends on several factors, including how you take the drug, how much you take it, and if you have developed a tolerance to morphine.

    The fastest route of administering morphine is intramuscular injection, with the effects being felt in five to twenty minutes, reaching its peak effectiveness in sixty minutes, and overall effects being felt for three to four hours. [5]

    Oral ingestion of morphine takes longer to feel its effects initially, but it has similar peak pain relief at sixty minutes and overall effects being felt for four to six hours before beginning to wear off.

    What are the side effects of morphine?

    What are the side effects of morphine?

    Common morphine side effects include: [6]

    • Drowsiness
    • Dizziness
    • Tiredness
    • Anxiety
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Stomach pain, gas, or constipation
    • Sweating
    • Low oxygen levels, shortness of breath
    • Feeling light-headed
    • Feelings of extreme happiness or sadness.

    Serious morphine side effects require emergency medical attention. Opioids, including morphine, can slow or stop your breathing and cause drowsiness. [7]  This can become life-threatening, especially if you drink alcohol or use other drugs that are depressants.

    Warning signs that you are experiencing a life-threatening event due to morphine include slow breathing and long pauses between breaths, blue-colored lips and skin, or if you are having difficulties waking up. If you are experiencing this, you should take a dose of naloxone, or if you are with someone experiencing this, you should administer a dose of naloxone and call 911 for emergency medical assistance.

    Other serious morphine side effects include: [8]

    • Allergic reactions: hives, difficulty breathing, swelling in face, lips, tongue, or throat.
    • Slow heart rate, slow breathing, weak pulse
    • Chest pain, pounding, or fast heart rate
    • Extreme drowsiness, feeling like you might pass out, fainting
    • Decreased adrenal gland hormones: stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, craving salty foods, muscle or joint pain, tired or light-headedness, skin discoloration.

    Morphine Overdose

    When not used properly, morphine can cause fatal results. The most frequent life-threatening issue with morphine is depression of the central nervous system, which results in severe respiratory depression. This is the most frequent complication that results in death in morphine overdoses. [9]

    Naloxone is a medicine used to reverse an opioid overdose. If you are prescribed morphine, you can also discuss receiving a prescription for naloxone to have on hand in case of an overdose emergency. Many states no longer require a prescription for naloxone, which can be purchased over the counter at a pharmacy. Many people are more familiar with Narcan, the brand name of naloxone.

    Morphine Addiction

    Morphine is extremely addictive, and studies show it to be as addictive as heroin. The effects of morphine that lead it to be addictive are its ability to cause extreme euphoria, feelings of inspiration, and relaxation.

    Morphine is a significant cause of emergency department admission due to drug-related issues.[10] Morphine addiction costs more than $500 billion per year in the United States in health care costs, lost employment, accidents, crime, and criminal justice costs.

    Long-term morphine abuse can result in abnormal sleep patterns, chronic exhaustion, depressive moods, difficulty concentrating, constipation, hallucinations, slurred speech, and sexual dysfunction.[11]

    Morphine Treatment

    The amount of time morphine stays in your system varies depending on the dose and administration. The effects of morphine can be felt even when the substance has exited your body through cravings and drug withdrawal symptoms.

    Morphine use can be detected through drug tests up to 90 days after last use if a hair follicle test is used. Typical urine tests can detect morphine use for two to five days after your last dose of morphine.

    If you have concerns about a loved one’s or your morphine use, talk to your healthcare provider. They can assess your use and provide referrals, if necessary, to addiction treatment. If detoxification is needed, it should be done in an approved addiction treatment center due to the potential for serious health complications during the detox process and to avoid as many withdrawal symptoms as possible.

    Having a solid detox, rehab, and post-treatment plan is imperative for those with a morphine substance use disorder. Without proper treatment and post-treatment care for substance use disorder, the chance of relapse may be higher.

    Our Bowie addiction treatment guide offers addiction programs specifically designed to meet your needs. Contact us today to find out more about our personalized approach and how we can help you on your journey to recovery.

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    Frequently Asked Questions About Morphine Use


    What are morphine’s common street names?


    Common street names for morphine include Dreamer, Emsel, First Line, God’s Drug, Hows, M.S., Mister Blue, Morf, Morpho, and Unkie.[12]


    What is morphine prescribed for?


    Morphine is prescribed to treat pain that has been unresponsive to other pain management treatments. The health conditions it is most often used for are the management of palliative/end-of-life care, active cancer treatment, and vaso-occlusive pain during a sickle cell crisis.


    Can I take morphine while pregnant?


    Taking morphine while pregnant can harm your baby. [14] Talk to your healthcare provider if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Using morphine while pregnant can cause your baby to be born with life-threatening withdrawal symptoms that may require medical attention for several weeks to months.

    You should not breastfeed while taking morphine as it can be transferred to your baby via breastmilk and result in life-threatening health conditions for your baby.

    Taking morphine for a long period can potentially impact fertility in both men and women. This can make it harder to get pregnant if either partner is using morphine when trying to conceive.


    What should I avoid while taking morphine?


    Do not drink alcohol while taking morphine. Morphine and Alcohol are both system depressants and can result in dangerous side effects or death when consumed together.

    You should avoid driving or potentially hazardous activities until you know how morphine will affect you. Common side effects of dizziness and drowsiness can cause falls, accidents, or severe injuries. Avoid getting up too fast from sitting or lying position to reduce dizziness.

    [01] (2024). Morphine. Retrieved from on May 28, 2024.

    [02] (2024). Morphine. Retrieved from on May 28, 2024.

    [03] (2016). MORPHINE SULFATE INJECTION Label. Retrieved from on May 28, 2024.


    Hadland, S.E., Levy, S. (2016). Objective Testing: Urine and Other Drug Tests. Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am. 2016 Jul;25(3):549-65. doi: 10.1016/j.chc.2016.02.005. Epub 2016 Mar 30. Retrieved from on May 28, 2024

    [05] (2016). MORPHINE SULFATE INJECTION Label. Retrieved from on May 28, 2024.

    [06] (2024). Morphine. Retrieved from on May 28, 2024.

    [07] (2024). Morphine. Retrieved from on May 28, 2024.

    [08] (2024). Morphine. Retrieved from on May 28, 2024.


    Murphy, P.B., Bechmann, S., Barrett, M.J.. (2023). Morphine. [Updated 2023 May 22]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Retrieved from on May 28, 2024.


    Moini, J., Koenitzer, J., & LoGalbo, A. (2021). The opioid epidemic. Global Emergency of Mental Disorders, 401-418. Retrieved from on May 28, 2024.


    Moini, J., Koenitzer, J., & LoGalbo, A. (2021). The opioid epidemic. Global Emergency of Mental Disorders, 401-418. Retrieved from on May 28, 2024.

    [12] (2020). Morphine. Retrieved from on May 28, 2024.

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