Morphine overdose

Poisoning from an overdose of morphine.

Poisonous Ingredient 
Morphine sulfate

Where Found 

  • Morphine  
  • M S Contin  
  • Roxanol  
  • Astramorph

Note: This list may not be all inclusive.


  • Body as a whole       o Muscle spasticity  
  • Respiratory       o Difficulty breathing       o Slow and labored breathing       o Shallow breathing       o No breathing temporarily  
  • Eyes, ears, nose, and throat       o Pinpoint pupils  
  • Skin       o Bluish colored fingernails and lips  
  • Gastrointestinal       o Spasms of the stomach and/or intestinal tract       o nausea       o Vomiting       o Constipation  
  • Heart and blood vessels       o Weak pulse       o Low Blood pressure       o Palpitations  
  • Nervous system       o Drowsiness       o Coma

Home Treatment 

  • DO NOT INDUCE Vomiting.  
  • Perform mouth-to-mouth breathing if the person stops breathing.

Before Calling Emergency 
Determine the following information:

  • The patient’s age, weight, and condition  
  • The name of the product (ingredients and strengths if known)  
  • The time it was swallowed  
  • The amount swallowed  
  • If the medication was prescribed for the patient

Poison Control, or a local emergency number 
They will instruct you if it is necessary to take the patient to the hospital. See Poison Control centers for telephone numbers and addresses. Take the container with you to the emergency room.

What to expect at the emergency room 
Some or all of the following procedures may be performed:

  • Use gastric lavage.  
  • Administer activated charcoal.  
  • Administer a laxative.  
  • Give a counteracting drug (narcotic antagonist). Multiple doses may be needed.  
  • Administer intravenous fluids as needed.  
  • Monitor breathing.  
  • Treat the symptoms.  
  • Naloxone hydrochloride intravenously.

Expectations (prognosis) 
If an antidote can be given, recovery from an acute overdose occurs within 24 to 72 hours.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 5, 2012
by David A. Scott, M.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.