How Long Does It Take to Get Addicted to Morphine?

Addiction is a hard disease to predict. Some people develop a substance use disorder after just a few uses. Others can use a drug for extended periods of time and then quit with minimal difficulty. So what influences this timeline? And how do you know if you or a loved one is at risk for morphine addiction?

Tolerance, Dependence and the Morphine Addiction Timeline

Morphine is a highly addictive drug. It causes feelings of pain relief, relaxation and euphoria. At the same time, it begins to rewire neural pathways. When you use morphine, it activates your opiate receptors more strongly than your natural body chemistry can. However its effectiveness diminishes over time.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains: “After repeated activation of the opiate receptor by morphine, the enzyme adapts so that the morphine can no longer cause changes in cell firing. Thus, the effect of a given dose of morphine or heroin is diminished.”1 As morphine begins to affect you less, you may be tempted to take more.

The more of a drug you take, or the more frequently you take it, the less time it takes to become addicted to morphine.

Adaptations in brain and body chemistry also mean that your body has grown used to morphine’s presence. When you don’t take the drug, your body is still functioning as if it’s there. This is when and why withdrawal symptoms occur.

You may experience migraine headaches, paranoia, vomiting and more. It’s easy to take more morphine to make these symptoms stop. However this only delays eventual withdrawal. Once you’re physically dependent on morphine to feel good or even “normal,” addiction isn’t far off.

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Risk Factors and Morphine Addiction Development

One in four adults with a mental illness are also reported to have a substance abuse disorder.Anyone can become addicted to any drug. However some risk factors make addiction more likely, or a faster process, for some individuals. Your unique body chemistry changes if and when you become addicted to morphine. For example Behavioural Brain Research explains that your initial sensitivity to morphine affects addiction development.2

Your mental health also influences morphine addiction. Preexisting mental health issues make addiction more likely. Past trauma and personal history can influence the rate at which addiction develops. Your body, your brain and the life you’ve experienced all change how long it takes to get addicted to morphine. But none of these change the fact that anyone can find help, health and recovery.

Stopping Morphine Addiction Development

No one “has to” or is fated to become addicted, but no one is immune either. Understand your risk factors. Take a look at how, when or why you or a loved one uses morphine. Take immediate action to prevent use or dependence from becoming addiction, or take immediate action to stop addiction in its tracks. You can heal physically, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually. The more personalized your treatment plan is, the more effective it will be.

So no matter where you are on the spectrum of substance use, reach out to Talbott Campus.

We’re here for you any time. We’ll help you determine your best options and the next steps you can take to move forward. We can walk you through selecting an effective treatment center, determining insurance coverage and getting enrolled. Morphine doesn’t have to be your life. Call 678-251-3189 and discover the greater things waiting for you today.

By Alanna Hilbink, Contributing Writer


1 The Neurobiology of Drug Addiction.” National Institute on Drug Abuse. Jan. 2007.

2 Nishida, Kevin, et al. “Individual Differences in Initial Morphine Sensitivity as a Predictor for the Development of Opiate Addiction in Rats.” Behavioural Brain Research. 15 Oct. 2016.