Morphine Acetate

  • Generic Name or Active Ingridient: Morphine
Drug Class: Morphine Acetate > Morphine > Fully Synthetic Opioid > Opioids > Opioid Agonist > Analgesic.


A patient could use morphine acetate for the same reasons as he might use other forms of morphine - to relieve pain, soothe a cough, slow diarrhea, cause relaxation and sedation, or to get high.

General Drug Information

Morphine acetate is a derivative of the opium poppy plant, Papaver somniferum. Growers cut a slit in young poppy seedpods then harvest the sap that bleeds out of the pod. Processors then cook the opium and press the product into bricks before selling it to legal buyers or clandestine laboratories.

Opium contains three active opiate alkaloids, morphine, codeine, and thebaine. Drug manufacturers isolate these base alkaloids and use them to create other drugs. Chemists do this by mixing the alkaloid bases with other substances to change its chemical structure. Drug makers often combine morphine with acetic acid, a process known as acetylation, to create morphine acetate and other water-soluble morphine salts.

Acetylation helps morphine reach the brain faster. This intensifies the effects of morphine, making even small doses extremely effective. The effects of acetylated morphine do not last as long as semi-synthetic derivatives of opium, such as OxyContin.

An illicit lab uses acetylation to convert a morphine base into heroin. The chemist will add acetic acid to change the molecular structure of morphine in two places to create heroin acetate. He will then convert heroin acetate into a hydrochloride salt to produce the end-product diacetylmorphine hydrochloride, otherwise known as heroin. The seller can cut heroin with practically any water-soluble product before offering it to consumers for intravenous use.

A drug maker creates morphine acetate by mixing fresh morphine with water and acetic acid before evaporating the solution into a solid form. The chemist then dries the remaining salt over a low heat to turn morphine acetate into powder.

The drying process causes decomposition, releasing some of the acetic acid. The preparation should contain a small amount of acetic acid to prevent further decomposition, as morphine acetate tens to be unstable.

A newly opened container of freshly prepared morphine acetate will release a faint acidic odor. The product loses some of its acetic acid as it ages, turning the product a darker brown.


A recreational drug user typically administers heroin intravenously, but someone could snort or smoke morphine acetate products. Smoking or snorting drugs like morphine acetate or heroin do not cause the fast onset of intense euphoria that intravenous injection provides. Intravenous administration requires the consumer mix heroin with a water-soluble base before use.

A typical dose of morphine acetate may be 8 to 30 milligrams, or 1/8 to grain. A chemist could create a liquid solution by mixing morphine acetate with diluted acetic acid and distilled water.


Morphine acetate works like heroin, morphine, codeine, opium, and other derivatives of the poppy plant.

Morphine acetate is a more potent and faster acting painkiller than raw morphine or other morphine products because it passes more readily from the bloodstream into the brain. Its effects, however, do not last as long as morphine.


Morphine acetate is highly likely to cause physical dependence and addiction. In 2010, about 2 million Americans were addicted to prescription painkillers such as OxyContin and another 359,000 addicted to the product of morphine acetate, heroin.

As with heroin, quitting morphine acetate suddenly can be dangerous. In some cases, heavy heroin users in very poor health died after quitting abruptly.


Morphine acetate makes the consumer dizzy, drowsy, and impairs with decision-making; using morphine acetate along with other drugs or alcohol enhances these effects. Consumers should not drive or operate heavy machinery while using morphine acetate.

Patients who are allergic to other opioids, such as morphine or codeine products, should not use morphine acetate. Symptoms of an allergic reaction to morphine acetate include hives, rash, itching and swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat.


Morphine acetate is unsafe for some consumers. Pregnant women should not take morphine acetate.

Pregnancy, Labor and Delivery, Breastfeeding

Pregnant women should not take morphine acetate. This drug may cross the placental barrier to cause harm to the unborn baby. Babies born to women who take morphine acetate during pregnancy may be born dependent on opioids and suffer withdrawal symptoms in the first weeks or months of life. These babies typically struggle with serious effects including low birth weight, seizures, feeding difficulties, trouble breathing, and even death.

Morphine acetate may pass into breast milk and onto a feeding infant. Mothers should not breastfeed while taking morphine acetate.

Drug Interactions

Opioids like morphine acetate can interact with other medications to produce unwanted or unsafe effects. Patients taking MAO inhibitors to treat depression or blood pressure should not use morphine acetate. Individuals should not use morphine acetate if they have used an MAO inhibitor like isocarboxazid, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, or tranylcypromine in the past 14 days. Brand name MAO inhibitors include MAO inhibitors includes Marplan, Nardil, Azilect, Eldepryl, Emsam and Parnate. Taking morphine products with an MAO inhibitor can cause a serious and sometimes fatal drug interaction.

Side effects

Morphine acetate, like other drugs, can cause side effects such as trouble breathing, pinpoint pupils and nausea. Using drugs like morphine acetate and its derivative, heroin, is associated with serious health conditions, such as fatal overdose, spontaneous abortions, collapsed veins and infections of the lining of the heart and heart valves. Breathing problems may result in pneumonia. Injecting morphine acetate and sharing needles increases the spread of infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.

Other side effects of morphine acetate can include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Euphoria
  • Disorientation
  • Delirium
  • Weak pulse and lowered heart rate
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Muscle spasms
  • Confusion
  • Rash and itching
  • Physical and psychological dependence


Prescription painkiller overdose kill nearly 15,000 people every year in the United States, claiming more lives than overdoses of cocaine and heroin combined. The risk for morphine acetate overdose increases dramatically when the consumer combines this drug with other opioids, another drug, or alcohol.

Anyone possibly suffering an overdose of morphine acetate should seek emergency medical help by going to the nearest hospital or contacting poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Victims should not wait for symptoms of morphine acetate overdose to appear before getting help.

Overdose symptoms include:

  • Slow, difficult, or shallow breathing
  • No breathing
  • Dry mouth
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Tongue discoloration
  • Low blood pressure
  • Weak pulse
  • Bluish-colored nails and lips
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pain and intestinal spasms
  • Coma
  • Delirium
  • Disorientation
  • Drowsiness
  • Muscle spasticity


Some people abuse morphine acetate to get high. The United States DEA classifies heroin and other derivatives of morphine acetate as schedule I narcotics, meaning there is no current acceptable use for these drugs in that country. All schedule I drugs carry a substantial potential for abuse.

Anyone who uses morphine acetate regularly for more than a few weeks can become physically dependent on this drug and suffer withdrawal symptoms when he stops using it.


Withdrawal symptoms from morphine acetate and other opioids usually appear in two phases, with the first set of symptoms beginning about 12 hours after the last dose of morphine acetate or heroin.

Initially, the patient might experience:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle aches
  • Increased tearing
  • Insomnia
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Yawning

Other symptoms may develop later, including:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Goose bumps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Left uninterrupted, these symptoms persist for five days or longer before subsiding as the body complete the detoxification process. Withdrawal symptoms do not return unless the individual relapses to an opioid-dependent state. Someone can reduce the severity of symptoms without disrupting the detoxification process with over-the-counter drugs, such as Imodium for diarrhea and ibuprofen for body aches. He could stop withdrawal symptoms completely by taking more morphine acetate, but relapse reverses the detoxification process and returns the patient to an opioid-dependent state.


According to the Institute of Addiction Medicine, almost 2 million Americans are dependent on opioids including morphine acetate. Each of these individuals will require some form of detoxification to remove the toxic effects of morphine acetate. Morphine acetate detoxification can occur at home without professional guidance, with the help of an outpatient clinic, or at a hospital or dedicated detoxification facility.

Rapid detox is the most humane and efficient approach to morphine acetate. During rapid detox, anesthesiologists sedate and anesthetize patients before administering the usual detoxification and anti-withdrawal drugs. Rapid detox patients rest in a comfortable “twilight sleep” during the procedure and awaken with no memory of the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that may have prevented successful in the past.


Morphine acetate should be stored in tightly closed container to prevent acetic acid decomposition. Consumers should store morphine acetate products away from moisture.

Miscellaneous information

According to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 140,000 people in the United States tried heroin for the first time within the past year; it is not known how many abused other forms of morphine acetate.