How Long Does Morphine Typically Stay In Your System?

Morphine is ubiquitous in many of today's cultures. It appears in everything from movies to novels to song titles. Even then, those appearances don't really scratch the surface of this drug's presence in our lives.

It's not surprising that it's so common. The National Library of Medicine states that it is the active ingredient in opium, a compound that humans have been using for at least 8,000 years. Morphine, as we know it, was isolated early in the 19th century. By 1947, the medically necessary drug many rely on today was available.

And, despite its risks, morphine is medically necessary. A 2022 paper simply titled "Morphine" lists several important clinical uses for the drug. Each situation is one that requires pain relief, but they include sickle cell crises, ongoing cancer treatments, and end-of-life or palliative care.

Unfortunately, even substances created with the best intentions can have dire consequences when misused. And very little can highlight this fact better than the ongoing opioid crisis. The American Council on Science and Health states that the current opioid epidemic began in the 1990s with the introduction of Oxycontin. Various opioids then flooded the market, leading to the widespread addiction that we are still confronting today despite a government crackdown in 2011. The widespread usage of morphine also led to more people to wonder how long the drug stays in a person's system.

The morphine timeline

Those who use morphine medically and those who engage in unhealthy morphine use are not always two distinct groups, however. There are many instances where they overlap — and opioid deaths may not always be the result of morphine misuse.

The American Council on Science and Health states that most opioid deaths occur not from the opioid alone, but from mixing it with other substances. This means that someone using morphine (as prescribed by their doctor) can potentially mix it with other, contraindicated medications, leading to complications.

For this reason, among many others, it is helpful to know just how long morphine stays in a person's system. That answer is unfortunately a little more complicated than some may expect. American Addiction Centers lists several factors that can affect how fast a person processes morphine. Such factors include the person's age, the health of their liver and kidneys, their metabolism, the amount of water in their body, and more.

Still, the organization gives a few general timelines for how long morphine stays in the body. It will stay in the blood for approximately 12 hours. After that, it is detectable in urine for around 3 days and can be detected in hair for roughly up to 3 months.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).