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What Does A Morphine High Look Like?

By WebMD Connect to Care Staff
Medically Reviewed by Yilang Tang, MD, PhD on June 28, 2021
A depressed breathing rate and other serious consequences can result from getting high on morphine.

While morphine is not as potent as other opioids such as fentanyl, it is still possible to misuse the drug in order to experience a high. What are the signs that someone is high on morphine?

Proper vs. Improper Use of Morphine

If you take morphine in pill, tablet, or liquid form, you will typically start feeling effects in roughly 30 minutes and reach peak morphine concentration in your bloodstream in 60 minutes, Deni Carise, PhD, a clinical psychologist and chief science officer of Recovery Centers of America, Pennsylvania, tells WebMD Connect to Care. However, you can feel the effects of injectable morphine in just 1 to 3 minutes, Carise says.

How long should you expect to feel morphine in your system? The answer depends on the morphine formulation you've taken. The effects of a normal dose of instant-release morphine tablets or capsules generally last for a period of 3 to 4 hours in adults, Michael Coburn, MD, medical director at AdCare Rhode Island, tells WebMD Connect to Care. However, according to Coburn, for extended-release tablets or capsules, that period is often 8 to 12 hours. “Ninety percent of people will fall into those two time increments,” Coburn says.

It can be normal to experience high-like symptoms—including lightheadedness, dizziness, and drowsiness—while using morphine properly. Unhealthy use of morphine begins when the drug is misused. One example of misuse is when someone uses the drug in order to feel its effects while they are not in any pain. Another form of misuse is taking more than the prescribed dose, or repeating a dose before it is the proper time to do so. In such cases, a reaction to morphine that exceeds the normal efficacy time windows could indicate a morphine high. Additionally, if a person exceeds the recommended dose of morphine, given their prescription and factors like age and weight, then the high will be more powerful, both Carise and Coburn agree. “The higher the dose, the higher the potency,” Coburn says.

Morphine High Symptoms

“The most common way people describe the high from morphine is a feeling of utter euphoria, a joy exceeding any other experience they have had in life. They may also describe feelings of being protected, warm, and safe,” Carise says. According to Coburn, that euphoria may not be obvious to others. The surge of energy that accompanies a morphine high may also be undetectable.

“What’s more obvious is the rapid change from euphoria to crashing on the couch during withdrawal,” Coburn says. “Relief from depression and anxiety is the other feeling that accompanies a morphine high most often,” Coburn adds. But the discomfort of withdrawal, as well as the possibility of misuse turning into an opioid use disorder, counter any of the momentary positives of a morphine high. While the effects of a morphine high can sound appealing, it's important to know that misusing the drug can have a serious impact on your health and well-being. 

Additionally, according to Carise, the following are unfavorable symptoms of a morphine high that are more apparent to onlookers:

  • A depressed breathing rate
  • Constricted pupils
  • Reduced gastrointestinal activity
  • Drowsiness

Don’t Wait. Get Help Now.

If you or a loved one are struggling with misusing morphine or a morphine addiction, WebMD Connect to Care Advisors are standing by to help.

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