Morphine Side Effects | Adverse Effects Of Morphine Use

Kimberly Langdon, M.D.

Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly Langdon, M.D.

on December 9, 2022

Morphine/morphine sulfate is a natural opiate/opioid analgesic used for the pain management of severe pain and cancer pain. It works by binding to opioid receptors in the central nervous system and changes how the body responds to pain. 

As with most prescription pain medications, morphine comes with quite a few side effects and warnings about how it should be used and what it can’t be taken with. When morphine is abused, these adverse effects can become more intense. 

If drug abuse continues over a period of time, the chances of overdose, physical dependence, and addiction become more likely.

Side Effects Of Morphine Use

Morphine is a very potent opioid medication and it comes with quite a few side effects. These effects range in intensity from mild to severe.

The most common side effects that can come with the use of morphine may include:

  • drowsiness
  • dizziness
  • constipation
  • dry mouth
  • stomach pain
  • nausea 
  • vomiting
  • headache
  • mood changes
  • small pupils
  • difficulty urinating

While not as common, morphine can also lead to serious side effects such as:

  • fever
  • confusion
  • fast heartbeat
  • severe muscle stiffness
  • loss of coordination
  • loss of appetite
  • shallow breathing

If you experience any of these side effects while taking morphine, let a healthcare professional know as soon as possible. They should be able to find you an alternative medication to help with pain relief.

Warnings Of Morphine Use

Morphine also comes with quite a few warnings that, if not taken seriously, can lead to dangerous consequences. 

If you get your morphine from a drug dealer instead of a doctor, it doesn’t come with a list of warnings. This can cause people to unknowingly mix incompatible drugs or take morphine when they have a medical condition the drug actually makes worse. Not following these warnings can be life-threatening.

Morphine Overdose

One of the major warnings that comes with this pain control medication is the risk of a morphine overdose. If you abuse morphine in any way, your risk of an overdose increases significantly. 

If you notice any of the following signs and symptoms in yourself or a loved one, call 911 immediately:

  • cold, clammy skin
  • bluish fingertips and lips
  • constricted pupils
  • blurred vision
  • vomiting
  • severe constipation
  • respiratory depression
  • breathing problems
  • limp muscles
  • changes in heartbeat
  • extreme sleepiness
  • sedation
  • coma

When you arrive at the hospital with a morphine overdose, they are likely to give you naloxone (Narcan). It quickly reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.

Opioid Dependence & Addiction

While your morphine use may start by getting prescriptions from your doctor because you’re struggling with legitimate chronic pain, that may change over time. 

The drug has a very high potential for abuse and once you start abusing it, it can be very hard to stop. Opioid use increases your chances of building up a physical dependence that can lead to addiction.

The FDA/DEA classifies morphine as a Schedule II controlled substance because of how at risk people who take it are for abuse, dependence, and addiction.

Medical Conditions

On top of abuse and overdose, morphine can also make several different medical conditions much worse. If you abuse the drug and have one of the following health issues, the consequences can be very serious:

  • blockage in your gastrointestinal tract
  • seizures
  • head injury
  • prostatic hypertrophy
  • urinary problems
  • low blood pressure
  • Addison’s disease
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • liver and kidney disease
  • pancreas, thyroid, or gallbladder disease

Morphine is also not recommended for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. 

Drug Interactions

There are also quite a few drugs that shouldn’t be combined with morphine as they don’t react well with each other, including:

  • nutritional supplements
  • antihistamines
  • benzodiazepines like Xanax and Valium
  • buprenorphine
  • lithium
  • medications for migraines
  • other opioids like oxycodone and fentanyl
  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors like citalopram (Celexa)
  • serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors like duloxetine (Cymbalta)

Morphine Withdrawal Symptoms

If you build up a physical dependence on morphine, either by using it or taking higher doses of morphine, your body gets to a point where it no longer knows how to function properly without it. 

If you do try to quit, morphine withdrawal symptoms are likely to occur and may include:

  • runny nose
  • irritability
  • anxiety
  • difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • back, muscle, or joint pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhea

If you need help treating morphine addiction, please contact us today.

  1. Mayo Clinic — Morphine (Oral Route)
  2. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Morphine
  3. National Library of Medicine: StatPearls — Morphine

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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