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Long term effects of morphine on the body (INFOGRAPHIC)

Long term effects of morphine on the body (INFOGRAPHIC)

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Long term effects of morphine on the body

Using morphine can cause both reversible and permanent changes to the body. In fact, morphine affects almost all systems and organs in the human body, and excessive or prolonged use can bring dangerous consequences. However, the greatest risk of using morphine is death resulting from the gradual shutdown of the respiratory system.

What are some of the benign or even the more serious effects of morphine on the body? We explore here. Then, we invite your questions or comments in the section at the end.

Primary effects of morphine on the body

  • abnormal thoughts
  • alterations in personality
  • analgesia (inability to feel pain)
  • constipation
  • cramping
  • dehydration
  • delirium
  • disconnectedness
  • disturbed sleeping
  • drowsiness
  • headaches
  • nausea
  • possibility of seizures
  • reduced gastrointestinal motility
  • sedation
  • severe depression
  • slowed reaction time
  • trouble walking
  • vomiting

How morphine damages the cardiovascular system

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  • chest pain
  • collapsed veins
  • hypotension
  • low blood pressure
  • vasodilation

How morphine damages the heart

  • depressed heart rate
  • endocarditis (inflammation of the inner lining of the heart)
  • fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat or pulse

How morphine damages the mouth

  • dry mouth
  • swelling of lips and tongue

How morphine damages the kidneys

  • difficulties passing urine
  • painful urination
  • renal damage

How morphine damages the lungs

  • respiratory acidosis
  • respiratory depression
  • shallow breathing

How morphine damages the skin

  • flushing of face and neck due to dilatation of subcutaneous blood vessels
  • itching
  • rashes

How morphine damages the liver

  • hepatic damage
  • hepatitis
  • increases in hepatic enzymes

How morphine damages the ear, nose and throat

  • pounding in the ears
  • trouble swallowing

How morphine damages the eyes

  • change in the ability to see colors, especially blue or yellow
  • pupils fixed and constricted
  • red eyes
  • swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes
  • vision problems

Body dependence and tolerance to morphine

Finally, it is important to note that using morphine for longer than a week or two can lead to dependence. When you become dependent on morphine, you experience withdrawal symptoms when you lower or cease dosing. With use over time, morphine also causes tolerance…meaning that more of the drug is needed in order to be effective.

Questions about morphine’s effects on the body

If you still have questions about changes and consequences that long-term morphine abuse can have on your body, please ask them now. We try to respond to all questions with a personal and prompt reply.

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52 Responses to “Long term effects of morphine on the body (INFOGRAPHIC)
Anniee
8:47 am August 6th, 2015

Hi. I have been in an accident three years ago and have been using morphine injection since I am also on trablin and travel for the pain. I am beginning to get worried about the long term effect it will have to my body. I want to get better but the doctor doesn’t seem to know what else to do beside give to me morphine injections to ease the pain. Can you help me in some way. Thank you..

3:32 pm August 6th, 2015

Hello Anniee. In some cases of strong and chronic pain, using medicines for pain relief is the only thing that can help to have as normal as possible life. If there is no other solution your doctor sees to help manage your pain, it’s enough that you are not abusing the medication, but use it as prescribed. Still, it’s better to live and function without the chronic pain. You will still be able to have a productive life.

Diane
3:41 am September 24th, 2015

A few weeks ago my husband, was suffering kidney stones, and I took him to an er, they gave him a shot i-v of dalodid, and I had to take him back once more for the same pain, and they gave him another shot, to my request of please don’t give him anything else like that, the nurse said this is moraphene, and just shot it through his iv, my husband keep complaing of head aches, and fatigue. How can I help get this awful stop out of his body.

Debbie
7:29 pm October 1st, 2015

I have been on 180 mg of MS Contin. (Morphine for 25 years. . Some days I only need 60,I hardly ever take 180. I’m taking it for a severed ulnar nerve. I’m now going to have a neurostimulator put in. I’m worried about getting off the Morphine. I don’t want withdrawals. Would it be painless to slowly cut back now while I’m waiting for the stimulator. I hate to ask what this long term use has done to my body even though I don’t exhibit any signs of damage listed except depression. What am I in for? How slowly can I taper painlessly. Thank you

tiri
11:05 pm October 8th, 2015

i have been treated’for liver cancer so ,my doctor gave me morphine when i complained of bek pains ,now am being treated at home using herbs and stil use morphine for my strong’back’pain. How best can i stop using it?

2:10 pm October 9th, 2015

Hi Diane. It will be out of his system in no time and the effects will diminish shortly. If he is experiencing any other unusual side effect, you can take him to the hospital again. Hope he is feeling a lot better by now.

4:53 pm October 9th, 2015

Hi Debbie. Completely symptom-free withdrawal is something nobody can promise. Even if you do a slow and gradual taper, although significantly lower in intensity, withdrawal symptoms will still be present. Talk to your doctor about what’s the best tapering schedule for you, and abut what over-the-counter medications will be able to treat or manage some of the withdrawal effects as they occur.

2:25 pm November 4th, 2015

Hello Tiri. It is possible to withdraw from morphine at home, particularly if you have the support and help of close friends and family. However it could be difficult because the withdrawal symptoms can be quite troublesome – severe flu like symptoms, sweating, chills, tremors, anxiety, depression, loose stools, vomiting, stomach cramps, various aches and pains. Some of the worst symptoms may be experienced about 2 – 4 days after stopping the drug, while symptoms tend to peak about 72 hours into detox. That is why it is recommended to taper the dosage over the course of 10 days in order to help ease the withdrawal process.

Jandro
8:10 am December 18th, 2015

Hello. I been using expired Morphine sulfate 30mg that I kept from a lower back injury a year and a half back. I have exercised, streched and tried all sorts of different alternatives to releave pain and deal with life. I currently have relocated to a different state, no job or insurance and reinjured my back. I have been taking my old perscription. 60mg in the morning and 30-60mg in later afternoon ( as needed ). It has been close to a month of useage now but I am getting sick of not doing anything active due to being in pain, so I have weened myself down to only 30mg in the morning for close to a week now. I want to get a job and rejoin sosiety. My question is, I no longer have my paper work for the perscription and the rx bottle has faded out. How do I finish the detox so I can pass a drug screen? Tomorrow morning will be the last time I take 30mg, then I want to stop.
I am 39, 5’10” and am pretty healthy. I walk alot and usually have a laborous job. I have been drinking half gallon . Of water, juice, tea, vitamin b3 and c. Diet consists of lean white meats, salad, fruit, little to no carbs.
Do apologise for the lengthy read but I really want to get on with my life.

Thank You

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
9:07 pm December 21st, 2015

Thanks for sharing, Jandro. Detoxing may last from several days to weeks. I believe you’re on the right track. Good luck!

Dianne
6:30 pm January 30th, 2016

I have a morphine pump due to degenerative spine disease. My doctor has told me that the amount of morphine I am receiving is about 1/10th of what I was taking orally when the oral medication stopped working. What are the long term effects of morphine taken this way and what can I expect down the road in five or ten years.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
5:41 pm February 3rd, 2016

Hi, Dianne. Each drug affects each person differently, so the long-term effects of morphine can vary from person to person. Here’s more information on the topic: http://addictionblog.org/tag/morphine-side-effects/

shirley
4:12 am February 6th, 2016

A 78 year old friend of mine with cancer,has been on morphine for pain management for the last 6 months ,,she also has dementia,,,,what effects do morphine have on both,,thanks

Leslie
5:23 am March 1st, 2016

I recently found out my best friend is on morphine for his back pain however he has really bad copd and he is frequently having horrible breathing problems question or comment is who and what kind of doctor puts someone with super bad lung issues on morphine and why Re they still practicing medicine ? He’s an alcoholic that hasn’t taken a drink for over 30 years and now he’s just sadly a full fledge morphine addict because of the doctors !!!! He needs help or he will die

Nikki
6:27 am April 7th, 2016

Hi iv been on left on morphine for over a year now after my old sergeon left me in a mess and iv now got a new sergeon willing to correct the the mess he left me in op is in 4 weeks I am on 80mg oxycodone a day and using 3 bottles of oxynorm a week as well as other meds nearve blockers ect : my gums have shrank and iv had 7 teeth removed and a pallet made iv lost 40% lower jaw bone 30% upper jaw bone am picking up infection after infection i.e. Liver, kidney, pancreites I am only 33 am now worried what else is happening inside when I take my liquid morphine now it burns or uncomfortable as I swallow on the way down there is blood in my stools not from constipation and I had a scan last week they could not find the top of my spleen could someone please give me an honest answer thank you for your time

James
11:46 pm April 8th, 2016

What test should my chronic pain Doctor be giving me and how often . I have been on pain meds of different types for 20 years. I was born with tethered cord. My pain management Doctor is a Anastasiologist not a internal Doctor, which is best for long term care?.

kenneth
11:40 am May 4th, 2016

i have been using morphine for 21 years for pain 100 mg slow release .was taking 200 cut back ,like to get of it all to gether how to do it.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
6:33 pm May 11th, 2016

Hi Kenneth. I’d advice you to consult with your doctor or a pharmacist to help you create an individualized tapering schedule.

Richard
3:38 am June 20th, 2016

I want to know if it was even legal for a dr to instantly stop my meds because I wouldn’t quit smoking cigarettes. My old dr had me up to 5/ 80mg Kadian a day plus 6/ #10 percocet. He retired and another Dr took his place. He hated Smokers and told me if I didn’t quit he would stop my meds. I told him I am a 50 year old man and I want to quit more than anything but Now that you told me i have to I won’t. 2 days later I would have cut off my arm for morphine. I cold turkeyed off that with no help from him at all. Worst week of my life.

jeffery
4:30 am July 11th, 2016

I have been on ms cotin as dr order due to several sever lower back and neck surgeries. I have had oral due to a moler causing server pain, prior to that my upper & lower jaws have been in magor pain. One of my neighbors told me she had to have all teeth pulled due to use of ms cotin longe term. thanks jeffery

Kimberly
5:13 am July 20th, 2016

I have been using oral morphine sulfate 200 mg a day for well over ten years, n have experienced just about every side effects and my physical body is in worse shape it’s ever been, I am going to seek professional help to get off morphine once and for all but I have a question, when I first started the morphine I was able to walk a few miles actually now ten years later I can barley walk the length of my house I have very little quality of life, the pain in my legs is so extreme if I’m on them to long and don’t have a place to sit down I will actually collapse is terrifying n so painful I fear I will have to resort to a wheel chair soon I get awful Charlie horses in my calves n severe muscle burning as if I just climbed the empire state building, could this some how be due to long term morphine use thank you for reading

Frank
1:34 am August 23rd, 2016

Yeah I have been on morphine for approximately eight years I have been taking 60 mg tablets three times a day and I feel as though now I’m starting to get some serious side effects from this medicationI guess my question is can you tell me what medication I could take in place of this without the side effects thank you

patrick
5:20 pm August 28th, 2016

I have been takeing MS contin600mg-800mg for 30yrs along with Valium, Xanax, and Oxycodone instant release everyday I was curious if you have any information on its effects after this many yrs I have been on these meds since a Helio Cash in the Army and the VA just keeps telling me it wil be ok but I have learned they will tell you about anything any information would be greatly appreciated!

Fred
9:22 pm September 23rd, 2016

I have been using morphine for about 3 yrs. 10mg/5ml strength. I am only using it at night, about a tot glass full. Will it have long term effects on my already compromised health. I have absolute Protein S deficiency.

NCBS
7:51 pm October 28th, 2016

I have not had any difficulties with psychological addiction to Morphine Sulfate ER 60 mg 3 times a day .. I’ve been prescribed MS Contin 15mg, 30 mg then 60 mg from 1988-2011 in 2014- changed to OxyConyin CR 60 mg twice a day 9/2014. I’ve also been in Morphine IR now 30 mg 3 times a day.. each year I take medication breaks from 4-7 weeks to a.) evaluate where I really am pain wise and find out if meds are masking anything new b.) to check where I am psychologically after stopping meds. I used to just stop taking them now I do at least a week of tapering because the physical eithdrawal is so hard on my body.
Reading in this article tiger it should not be used more than 12 years is scary to me. It makes me wonder if it is causing the thin / easily torn and bruised skin that I should not have at 47. It concerns me that my pain management Dr. Isn’t open to changing the medications .. I know without it I would not be moving today .. but I’m really concerned now about the negative long-term consequences on my other systems .

fred
6:19 pm November 22nd, 2016

I have been using morpine for over 2 yrs, taking 40ml per day….would this dosage have a negative effect on my body overall…
Thank you

Regards

Fred

Mark
4:06 am December 25th, 2016

I have a neighbor who has been on morphine…dosage unknown for at least 3 years according to him. He is acting in very peculiar ways psychologically and physically. I am more concerned with the psychological being his neighbor and all. He has shown aggression to my roommate, openly threatening him with violence. He acts out toward me with contempt such as he plows the road which I have had many discussions with the road commission as this is a bus route road. He began to plow extra snow into my drive, so I complained to the road commission. As time went on he now plows only his side of the road and the road commission is supposed to do this. He has called me “faggot” and refuses to allow the road commission to do their job. I sit here now with the entire road plowed with exception to the front of my home only. Even the road commission did not come out and finish their work. I am afraid of this man because of his behavior and he “feels” dangerous to be around. Aggressive feeling. I don’t know what to do. It seems the police, road commission and just about everyone else is willing to do nothing to resolve this problem. This is a county maintained road. He has no business plowing it with his ORV to begin with in addition to being a long term morphine user with what seems to be behavioral, dangerous actions. Any advice. I am going to legal aid this week to see what they can do for me. I should not be afraid In my own neighborhood. What can be done. I live in Montcalm County Michigan. Please help.

carol
8:51 pm February 17th, 2017

My sister in law has been on liquid mourphine since last august .for a vascular opp she had.ehes sick cant eat and weighs8stone shes 65.l dont think the doctor should be perscribeing this drug now.

mary
8:53 am February 24th, 2017

ive had a cancerous tumor in my mouth removed, it has returned and removed three times ive been taking liquid morphing short term relief three times a day and long lasting morphine tablets two times a day. im not worried about addiction i stoped taking the tablets and went from three syringes of liquid a day down to two and now just one over a year period of time, i really dont have any side effects except constipation, but what is it doing to my insides organs etc if i continue use

Mr Stephen
3:13 pm March 3rd, 2017

I have been taking 800mg of Zamorph for years now as my broken back was not diagnosed for ten weeks so now they can only control my pain, I started on 100mg but it gradually crept up until I’m on this big dose now, it must be damaging me, I already have problems passing water and I’m fatigued permanently but what else can I do as it’s what the Doctor prescribes for me ?

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
3:55 pm March 3rd, 2017

Hi Mr. Stephen. I suggest that you speak with your doctor about your concerns. And, you may seek for a second opinion if you are not happy with your doctor’s services.

NANCY
5:59 pm March 4th, 2017

need to know affects that ”morphine” has on circulation, the immune system, more detailed on damages to the heart.

Mark
5:23 am March 6th, 2017

Hello I took morphine while drinking alcohol. I know I’d have taken at least three 5mg tablets. Iv never taken morphine before. It was a drunken mistake. I went to sleep shortly after taking them but woke up violently vomiting and in a type state of a fit. It’s less than 24hours since. The fit has gone but do I need to do anything now.? Thanks

Dawn
4:18 pm March 12th, 2017

Hi. My husband was on high doses of morphine and muscle relaxers for 8 years due to multiple back issues. He had been sober for about 7 years when he started the morphine but soon started drinking again (secretly for the first 5 or so years) after getting on morphine. He has now been off the morphine for 3 months. So I’m wondering about “alterations in personality”? I guess we were expecting him to be his old self once he was off everything. Do the alterations in personality tend to be permanent or do we just need to give it more time than 3 months? Thank you for your time.

jennifer
7:02 pm March 17th, 2017

my mom was taking 100 mg 2x’s a day plus 30 mg 2x’s a day of morphine sulfate plus nerve pills and went to the hospital due to a blood infection which caused her to have a seizure.. my question is how can that hospital just cold turkey her off her morphine? she’s going thru severe withdrawals. i feel so bad for her. i thought they would at least detox her.

Helen
1:32 am March 21st, 2017

My husband has been on morphine (180 mgs) per day. This is the lower dose as he was taking 800 Mgs per day. He has been on the 180 mgs for 4 yrs. He had a bad operation on the C2-4 20 years ago and has never been the same. Of course he now has stenosous in that area and the pain is never gone, but morphine apparently makes the pain a little manageable. He now is listless and seems more paranoid as well as of ;course constipation. The Docs are working with him, but it looks as though it I simply palliative care for the pain. His thought processes don’t seem logical.

carol
7:36 pm April 1st, 2017

thankyou for the feedback .l am worried since my sister.in.law came out of hospital last augast
after vascular operation she has been on morphine she says she needs it for the pain,but she looks awfull no weight on her and so pale.l cant understand why the doctor is still prescribing to her/

JoAnn
8:42 pm April 3rd, 2017

I am a 60 year old woman and have been on morphine for over 35 years for sever chronic pain (Hep C side effects, car accidents, surgeries, arthritis & others). I’ve been on as much as 360 mg daily, but am down to 240 mg (60 mg 4 times a day with 15 mg for break thru). With the government getting into the health care business now, they are cutting EVERYBODY down to 120 mg A DAY, which needless to say will do NOTHING for my pain. I have tried EVERYTHING else possible to get OFF the morphine, but unfortunately, morphine is the ONLY thing that my body tolerates. I used the new Hep C drug to get rid of the Hep C, which it did. But, it ALSO killed my immune system (my playlets are at 51 and my WBC are 1.5) and according to the Dr’s, it’s NOT coming back. I live in WA state and have tried the medical marijuana, but my bod doesn’t seem to tolerate that either. What I’m concerned about is the fact I have been on morphine for so long that I’m worried that I will CONSTANTLY be in withdrawal if they take me completely off. I’m sure my body has become so used to the morphine that there is NO way to get off WITHOUT withdrawals for the rest of my life. Any suggestions or advice? Thank you for your time.

Roxanna
4:17 am April 6th, 2017

I have ehlers danlos syndrome, wide spread swelling of my joints, and my body attacks my joints and ligaments which has led to me receiving multiple injections into my spine and my hips as well as over 9 years of physical therapy. As a last resort, they have put me on 60mg morphine 2x a day as well as 15mg immediate release capsules once a day (or as needed) and I have now been on this moedication for over 3 years now and I am concerned about the long term effects. I am moving soon to another country and although I trust and know their health care system well, I am also concerned about receiving my continuous treatment there. Any suggestions would be helpful. I am 29 years old and have been in pain since I was 15. The medicine is all that keeps me going, and I know that sounds terrible, but it’s very true. I can’t even walk without it.

MRSD
6:23 pm April 12th, 2017

My husband has been taking morphine for 30 years for a brain injury that he suffered about 50 years ago. Daily dose at 300 to 500 mg – usually two thirds of that is extended release. Can this cause damage to his body and eventually death? He suffers from some mild COPD recently. That’s about the only thing on your lists that he has had problems with since starting morphine. Before that he was on codeine. He does NOT abuse his medicines and does not drink, smoke, do street drugs, eat mostly greens, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and meat. No bread, sugar nor processed foods for years now. His doctor doesn’t want to prescribe so much morphine any more and I’ve been reading about all the dangers of being on opioids a long time. We don’t know where to turn, his head pain is almost totally debilitating. Without morphine I don’t think he can live. With morphine he may damage his body so bad he won’t live. Dilemma.

Chsd
2:49 am April 20th, 2017

hi
Due to a long term back pain and surgery doctors prescribed me hydromorphone and I was on it for past 6 years but even she prescribed 4-6 times per day each pill of (8. Mg) but I rarly went up to one pill (8mg)/day also a couple of times I let it down and didn’t take it for 1 to 3 weeks ,
so does still this amount make changes in my body ? or I will have only Withdrawal when I get off of it . Thanks

Rick
10:01 pm April 25th, 2017

I’ve been on morphine for 3 years I take 3 pills a day every 8 hours 15 mg I take it for chronic pain through a pain clinic should I be looking for an alternative to the morphine

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
1:56 pm April 27th, 2017

Hi Rick. First, I suggest that you speak with your doctors about your state, and if it’s time to quit morphine, ask them to help you plan an individualized tapering schedule. You may try some alternative methods for treating pain. Here’s some reading:
https://nccih.nih.gov/health/pain/chronic.htm
https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/pdf/alternative_treatments-a.pdf
https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002064.htm
http://www.rehab.research.va.gov/jour/07/44/2/pdf/tan.pdf

Michael
1:56 am May 2nd, 2017

I have been taking oramorph for ten years and seem to take more and more each month,I have been experiencing sever cramps every day.I am scared to tell my doctor in case he takes it from me.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
12:52 pm May 4th, 2017

Hi Michael. Tell your doctor ASAP. You may have serious problems.

Wayne
7:56 pm May 6th, 2017

Does morphine cause permanently damaged tissue in the bladder or any where else in the body. I have been taking 360 mg of morphine for at least 5 years for pain. I have had 5 back surgeries. I am still waiting for 2 more surgeries. One for the cervical spine and the other for the sacroiliac in both hips. Please give me any and all information on any permanent tissue damage that morphine causes. Thank you.

Roberto
1:22 am May 7th, 2017

Hello, My question is this 1st I would like to say I have endured more than one person’s body should have in a lifetime, 17 operations to my left leg alone most recent a second amputation below the knee after falling from a roof. and countless others. Right now i am on 32 Mg of MORPHINE TWICE A DAY AND 4 1000 Mg of Norco a day I am not just feeling the effects after 4 months of use I am bed ridden and have reached a point where the body hurt all the time regardless of meditations and now need to increase mg to deal with pain, I know this is killing me even more now CAN SOME ONE HELP ME TO SLOWLY CHANGE THIS BECAUSE OF THE WITHDRAWS PLEASE

ManicWhiteRabbit
2:50 am May 8th, 2017

I was on morphine for 8 years due to serious back disease and came off “cold turkey” about 8 months ago. I still have difficulty sleeping and was wondering if there are any permanent changes to your body that can occur due to long term use ?

Katherine
7:38 pm May 22nd, 2017

I have been on morphine for eight years to control chronic pain, (Which, not surprisingly, it does a poor job of by now.) I am currently using 75mg a day on a four to six hour grid. My physicians seem reluctant to do otherwise. I am 83 years old, in otherwise good health, and of a very long lived family. I am very uneasy with this, and in addition, the pain control is extremely poor. Thoughts? Ideas?

Brenda
3:00 pm June 6th, 2017

My hubby has cancer and he uses about 4 ml of morphine a day for pain. Will this further weaken his body or is it ok? He has brain cancer

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
3:01 pm June 6th, 2017

Hi Brenda. Morphine may help you husband with the pain. I suggest that you speak with his doctors about your concern.

joyce
7:14 am June 10th, 2017

my grandson was hit by a car in a regulated crosswalk when he was 16, is now 20 and they still have him on 10mg. of morphine daily.is there any hope of getting him off this so no long term damage occurs,,,,,,,,,,,,,,what to take for his withdrawl?

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