Morphine Addiction and Abuse - North Jersey Recovery Center - Morphine prescription pill bottles, a syringe and white pills sit on a table.

Is Morphine an Opiate?

What is morphine, and is morphine an opiate? The answer is yes, morphine is an opiate.

Morphine is a prescription medication used to treat severe pain.

For example, morphine might be given in a hospital setting following surgery.

Opiates like morphine are non-synthetic narcotics.

There are also synthetic narcotics with the same effects, called opioids.

Opiate and opioids are often used interchangeably.

How Does Morphine Work?

When someone takes morphine or any other opiate or opioid, they work in specific ways.

When you use morphine, opioid receptors throughout the body, including in the brain, are activated.

When opioids attach to receptors in the brain the effects include:

  • Pain relief
  • Slow breathing
  • Slow heart rate
  • Feelings of calm or relaxation

Opioids can also target the reward system in the brain, especially at higher doses.

For example, the brain can be flooded with dopamine when someone takes opioids.

Dopamine regulates feelings of pleasure, motivation, and emotion.

The dopamine flood may lead to feelings of euphoria, which is known as being high on opioids.

Is Morphine an Opioid that can be Addictive?

Morphine is an opioid that can be addictive. When the brain is flooded with dopamine and other “feel-good” neurotransmitters, it activates the brain’s pleasure and reward centers in the brain.

That activation means that your brain will want to keep seeking out the activities associated with pleasure.

Your brain starts to remember and then automatically wants the pleasurable feelings of being high again and again. That is an addiction.

You may initially take morphine by choice. When you are addicted, it is no longer a choice. It is compulsive and out-of-control.

There is also dependence. Morphine dependence occurs with repeated exposure. Your body and brain become adjusted to the high amounts of dopamine in your brain and the other effects of opioids.

If you are dependent, and you stop taking morphine suddenly, you may have symptoms of withdrawal.

Morphine withdrawal symptoms can be like the flu. They are severe for some people.

Morphine Addiction and Abuse - North Jersey Recovery Center Close up photo of a Morphine prescription pill bottle.

Signs and Symptoms of Morphine Addiction

Addiction is a chronic brain disease. An addiction is diagnosable based on certain criteria, as is the case with other medical and mental health conditions.

Some of the symptoms of a possible morphine addiction include:

  • Lying or stealing to obtain more morphine
  • Trying to hide use
  • Continuing to use morphine despite knowing about the negative effects and consequences
  • An inability to stop using morphine even if one wants to
  • Developing an obsession with taking morphine
  • Taking risks either to get morphine or when under the influence
  • Giving up other priorities, including work and relationships

How is Morphine Used?

Morphine can be used in a few different ways. As a prescription, it comes as an injectable. There are also oral versions, including tablets and capsules. There are also suppository forms of morphine. While some opioids are smoked, smoking morphine is not as common.

What Happens if you Overdose on Morphine?

When you take morphine or another opioid, it slows down your central nervous system. The central nervous system controls breathing, heart rate, and other life-sustaining functions. It also ensures that you get oxygen to your brain.

If you take too much morphine—more than your body can handle—you might overdose. A morphine overdose means you stop breathing. Signs of an overdose can include bluish lips and skin, gurgling sounds, or being non-responsive to stimuli.

Mental Illness and Morphine Addiction

Unfortunately, opiate abuse and addiction tend to be linked to mental illness. When someone has a mental illness and a diagnosable addiction, it is considered a co-occurring disorder. Specialized treatment is important for a co-occurring disorder. For some people, signs or symptoms of a mental illness might not arise until after their addiction too.

Treatment for Morphine Addiction

It can be lonely to deal with an addiction to morphine or any substance. If your loved one struggles with addiction, you may feel scared and not know where to turn.

What is important to know is that treatment is available. Opioid addiction treatment can help someone tackle not just their substance use but underlying mental health conditions.

There are different types of treatment programs. Some people will participate in one type of treatment. For others, a continuum of care may be best.

A continuum of care means they work through phases in their treatment. For example, they might start with inpatient treatment and then gradually move down into outpatient rehab.


With morphine dependence, withdrawal symptoms can be challenging to deal with. Sometimes they can lead to medical complications. A supervised detox program reduces the risk of morphine withdrawal.

Supervised detox can also help you feel more comfortable. These factors increase the likelihood you will successfully go through withdrawal to begin your actual treatment program.

Morphine Addiction and Abuse - North Jersey Recovery Center A man stands to the right side of the image in a dark jacket with the hood pulled up his hand is raised up by his darkened face with a needle of morphine.

Inpatient Rehab

Inpatient rehab is a residential form of treatment. You live onsite for a period, which can range from weeks to months. Benefits of inpatient rehab for morphine addiction include:

  • The environment is safe and secure
  • There is a sense of structure
  • You can be away from triggers or things that remind you of your morphine use
  • Treatment is intensive and in-depth
  • You receive a personalized treatment plan
  • You can get a fresh start and a fresh perspective

Outpatient Rehab

Another option is outpatient treatment. During outpatient treatment, you can continue living at home and working or living as you normally would.

While generally, outpatient rehab is not as intensive as inpatient treatment, some programs are similar in many ways to a residential program.

For example, the North Jersey Recovery Center offers what is called a partial care program.

A partial care program is a unique hybrid between in- and outpatient treatment. Participants go for clinical addiction treatment throughout the week for four to six hours at a time but return home in the evening.

Relapse Prevention

Having a concrete and specific relapse prevention plan in place is important after you finish treatment.

A relapse prevention plan will help guide you after treatment and connect you with community resources.

For example, many relapse prevention plans will include regular participation in support groups, like a 12-step program.

This will help facilitate a sense of support and keep you on track with your recovery.

Paying for Morphine Addiction Treatment

Worrying about how to pay for addiction treatment should not be something you have to do.

Most major insurance providers do cover the cost of behavioral health care and addiction treatment.

This was expanded with the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

If you are unsure whether your insurance will cover treatment, reach out to the North Jersey Recovery Center.

Our team can verify your insurance company and work directly with them to help you get the treatment that you need and deserve.

Final Thoughts—Is Morphine an Opiate that is Addictive?

Morphine is an opiate. It is a naturally derived prescription drug.

Morphine comes from opium. It acts as other opioids do on the brain and body.

When you take morphine, particularly in high doses, it is possible to become addicted.

This is because of the effects on the brain, such as a flood of dopamine it can provide.

If you are dealing with opioid addiction, reach out to North Jersey Recovery Center today.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Laura Riley

Medical Reviewer

Laura comes to NJRC with 23 years of vast clinical experience in hospital, residential, outpatient, and community outreach settings where she has worked, supervised clinical teams, and volunteered. She has provided substance abuse and mental health counseling, clinical coordination, and advocacy to individuals, families and groups, and specializes in co-occurring disorders for both adults and adolescents.