MS Contin: A More Dangerous Form of Morphine

MS Contin: A More Dangerous Form of Morphine

What is MS Contin?

MS Contin is a formulation of morphine that is made in time released tablets. The tablets are prescribed for chronic pain, typically for cancer patients, and are usually taken every twelve hours. MS Contin was designed specifically for inpiduals that need constant pain medication. It is different than the usual dosing of morphine which is usually administered every four to six hours for pain.

Morphine is the principal active agent in opium and acts directly on the central nervous system. Morphine is very addictive, especially when it is compared to other substances as it causes physical and psychological dependences very quickly. MS Contin is considered a Schedule II substance in the United States as it is very addictive.

How is MS Contin administered?

MS Contin is usually administered every twelve hours and is taken by mouth.

How does MS Contin work?

Since MS Contin is essentially morphine in another type of pill casing, therefore it affects a person’s physiology in the same way. Morphine is an opiate which binds to the opiate receptors in the brain and brings on feelings of euphoria and relaxation. It basically distracts both the mind and the body from any pain that may be felt, both real and imaginary. In this case MS Contin, morphine is released from the tablets every twelve hours. This occurs because there is a time release mechanism that is a wax inside of the pill.

This invention, though wonderful when used properly, can still be very dangerous not only because of the many side effects associated with morphine use but also because of the structure of the pill. In order to convert the pill into a legitimate intravenous drug, drug abusers heat up the pills. What many don’t know is the wax inside the pill, when heated then expands and encases the morphine. If an inpidual then injects the melted MS Contin, he or she will essential be injecting wax into his or her vein which can lead to very serious complications.

What are side effects of MS Contin?

It is possible to have an allergic reaction to MS Contin. Signs of this include:

  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Hives
  • Swelling of the face, tongue, lips or throat

If one is experiencing such side effects, a physician needs to be notified immediately.

Other common side effects include:

  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Shallow breathing, slow heartbeat
  • Feeling light-headed, fainting
  • Confusion
  • Severe weakness or dizziness
  • Seizure (convulsions)

Less serious side effects include:

  • Sleep problems (insomnia)
  • Nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, loss of appetite
  • Constipation
  • Warmth, tingling, or redness under your skin
  • Dizziness, headache, anxiety
  • Memory problems


What are risks associated with MS Contin abuse?

As with any drug, there is always the risk of addiction and dependence resulting from prolonged use. Since MS Contin is in a time release form, it is very easy to overdose. Abuse of MS Contin, can cause both liver and renal failure. Psychological and physiological dependence are both very likely to occur, which makes stopping drug use difficult. Stopping MS Contin abuse is a very dangerous part of using MS Contin. Detoxing from MS Contin and other morphine derivates is not only difficult for obvious reasons. Stopping MS Contin use can lead to an extensive list of withdrawal symptoms including:

  • Strong drug craving
  • Insomnia
  • Watery eyes
  • Diarrhea
  • Runny nose
  • Yawning
  • Sweating

As the withdrawal continues other symptoms that may be displayed are:

  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Body aches
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Stronger drug cravings

Depression and vomiting are also very common. In addition, inpiduals may experience:

  • Heart palpitation
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Chills
  • Cold flashes

Pain in the bones, muscles, back and extremities are also very common. During this process, it is possible to administer a narcotic that will in turn alleviate the symptoms associated with withdrawal from the drug. Having said this, withdrawal should occur under the supervision of a trained professional just in case more serious symptoms occur. Though withdrawal from morphine is considered to be less dangerous than alcohol or barbiturates, if an inpidual is in poor health withdrawal could be fatal.

Treatment for MS Contin abuse is very feasible, especially when caught early. As stated prior, treatment should take place under supervision because of the risks associated and there are many different types of treatments available for inpiduals truly wishing to reform.

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Brookoff D. (1993). Abuse potential of various opioid medications. Journal of General Internal Medicine 8:688-90.
Grau LE, Dasgupta N, Harvey AP, Irwin K, Givens A, Kinzly ML, Heimer R. (2007). Illicit use of opioids: is OxyContin a "gateway drug"? American Journal of Addiction. May-Jun;16(3):166-73
Longo, L. P., Parran, T., Johnson, B. Kinsey, W. (2000). Addiction: Part II. Identification and Management of the Drug-Seeking Patient. American Family Physicians.
Loguinov A, Anderson L, Crosby G, Yukhananov R (2001). "Gene expression following acute morphine administration". Physiol Genomics 6 (3): 169-81

Topic Discussion

  1. Addict

    I have been treated with Morphine contin for chronic pain for over three years. I am now on 60 mgs. every 8 hours and I still suffer a great amount of pain. I am afraid of not taking morphine and I don't know what I would take in it's place as I am in a great amount of pain every day. My back and neck hurts so much that I don't want to get out of bed and it hurts so much when I do stay in bed, that I can't stay in bed. Before I began morphine, I used to have very regular bowel attacks, that have been diagnosed as colitis, spastic bowel, crone's and a couple of other names I can't think of right now but most of those attacks have stopped even though my back and neck pain are still very bad.The more I do the better I feel but the more I do the more I am in pain for the following few days. What is in my future???
    Susan Leslie

  2. Addict

    I have been taking MS Contin for the past 20 months for bone pain associated with Multiple Myeloma.Fortunately radiotherapy helped greatly with seven spinal fractures and I was able to reduce my daily intake to 40grams a.m. and 30 grams p.m..My failure to take any one morning recently led to horrible withdrawal symptoms.As you do not say why the pain is occurring I cannot offer any solutions,nor am I qualified to do so.I suggest you get yourself a specialist pain Doctor and he or she would be able to sort out your dilemma.May you get relief sooner rather than later because pain is dreadful.

  3. Addict

    One of the major negative elements associated with this form of drug is it slows down the respiratory system, in small doses this can be very beneficial to users but in greater doses, this can start to slow people down.

  4. Addict

    i was on MS-Contin for years prescribed by my doctor who knew i am a recovering alcoholic. I instantly got addicted to this drug and had increased tolerance quickly.I also detoxed on my own but did not know how sick i would become.I quit because i had relapsed on alcohol every time i cut down dose of MS-Contin..Happy to report i am off this drug over three years i am now clean and sober.

  5. Addict


    I am taking MS Contin 30-3 a day. Since I always get generic, I get them in either light blue tabs, pink, or maroon (darker pink) tabs. I noticed when taking the blue generic MS Contin, my pain was helped very little. If I took a pink or maroon generic MS Contin, my pain was treated. I asked my pharmacist about this because I was at first concerned I was imagining the difference. I certainly did not want to increase my dose for a reason as silly as color! The pharmacist told me generics had a percent range of the active ingredients in their medicines. For instance, the range may be 5% to 10% of a tablet should contain a certain active ingredient. Many times, (to save money?-my opinion) the company would keep the amount as low as only 5%. With MS Contin in particular, he said I was not the only patient finding the blue generic MS Contin to be weak. I also had this same conversation with the physician who prescribes MS Contin for me. He confirmed it all. Since my insurance only allows me generics of MSC, I now always ask the pharmacy to be sure to give me any color generic, but blue. I have had no trouble with my pain treatment since I avoid those blues. There have been a few times the pharmacy had to order the medicine so I had a day's wait, but I always ran my script through when I had a day's worth left, just in case. I would love to hear anyone's input on this subject, positive or negative. And I hope it helps someone, too. [NOTE: If I remember, non-generic MSC is blue, too. I refer here ONLY to generic MSC.]

  6. Addict

    I am only 23 years old and I have been on pain medication since I was 18 or 19 years old. I first was put on Percocet due to a car accident then the doctor changed me to oxycodone, so the Tylenol wouldn't mess up my stomach and then now she has put me on ms contin (morphine) 30mgs 3 x days, and now I cannot go more than 24 hours with my medicine. I recently was in another car accident and I haven't increased my medication use but I am DYING to get off all medications. I truly rather be in pain for ever than be dependent on any medications.. It's horrible! I never saw myself as an addict but I have to admit even though I take my medicine as prescribed.. I am addicted! And I am so young, my husband doesn't even know because I am afraid how he will look at me. I really need help.

    • Addict

      If you were truly in pain, you wouldn't say you would take pain over being addicted. If you wish to be clean, you have to first be honest with yourself. If your husband doesn't know about the meds, you're not taking the meds for pain; you're taking them for the euphoria.
      When I was a woman in my early 20's, I was injured at work and lost bone in both my shoulders. I couldn't even hold my newborn child. Serious pain, but I still worked through it for many years. There were days I'd almost kill for one pain pill. I was again seriously injured in my 30's. More pain piled on and I still worked. Now this has all been heavy labor jobs too. About 6 years ago, I was seriously injured (again) in a train accident at work. I broke my neck and back. I've had severe pain ever since. Now I am a woman in my late 40's, in severe pain and unable to work. I will never apologize for taking pain meds, even if I am considered addicted.
      I have the right to have a decent quality of life. I have had to suffer 20+ years with debilitating pain. I have earned the right to walk without crying from the pain. Sleep a whole night (which is now 5 hours) instead of awaking every 2 with shooting sharp pain. Simply sit for more than 10 minutes without having to move from pain.
      Live with REAL pain and let's see if you say again you'd take pain over meds. If you have to hide it, you don't need it. Be honest with yourself and those around you. If your husband loves you, he will stand beside you. If he doesn't, it should make you understand WHY you're dependent on drugs. Time to stand on your own two feet and take the life you want. Only YOU can make the choice to change. If not, you're just making the choice to continue as you are.

  7. Addict

    I agree with above titled pain hurts. I too was in a car accident ejected through back window of s10 pickup. I have been on pain meds since 1999; I only take enough to relieve the pain never completely alleviating it. If the pain medicine prescribed increases the quality of your life that's a good thing. If you are taking pain meds to the point it's detraining your quality of life well that's a problem. So the rule I use if your pain meds are improving your quality of life continue, it's no different than taking blood pressure for high blood pressure or diabetes meds for a diabetic. If they are worsening your quality of life then you need to look at avenues of stopping or finding something that works for you pain or realizing that you are taking for a different reason like euphoria, most of us that have been on pain meds for many years no longer feel euphoria as you might in the beginning. Bottom line I believe you either have an addictive personality (which you tend to take for the wrong reasons) or you don't have. Thank God I'm the latter.

  8. Addict

    I have a factor V liden-protein "S" deficient - my leg veins are used up from over 100 surgeries with this gene bprn issue. Stated with problems in 1978. I was a competitive Bodybuilder from 1984-2009. Both my knees have less than 20% cartledge left. I need both of them replaced but not a candidate due to factors with veins. Since 2009 I had to take 100% disability and am bed-ridden 23 hrs. a day sometimes 24 hrs. a day.
    I had to have 3 back surgerys-2 CT surgeries and most of my teeth pulled out.

    I stared going to a pain mgmt. MD in 1985 after I started getting "VENOUS ULCERS" if you have ever had one or know someone who has you will know that the pain is always at least a 4-5 and when infected a 10+. I have spent over 18 months in the hospital from all these problems.

    HOWEVER the one problem I have not had is the use of Oxycontin, MS Contin and Vicidon since 1984. I currently use 60 mg MS Contin and 10/325 Hydro both in a cocktail ever 8 hrs. So that is 25+ YEARS folks. So as far as side effects Oxy gave me constipation 1-2 times a year. Ms Contin ZERO ISSUES!

    I will be on it until I die my MD has been with me for over 15 yrs. now and tells me I do great cause I don't abuse it. But will need it till I die. I am now 53.

  9. Addict

    I am 72 years old and this year have been having hip and leg pain due to disc problems and arthritis. My Neurosurgeon says that surgery is not an option. He has just given me a prescription for MS Contin and Lyrica. The MS Contin concerns me as I have read so much about the addiction problem. I do not drink and have never had any problems with any drugs including Hydrocodone; I take as little as possible. I have been prescribed 15mg of MS Contin 4 times a day: Question - am I going to be able to drive with this starting dosage and go about my normal routine? Any comments from someone who is just starting this drug? Thanks so much

    • Addict

      No problem, if you are really in pain the morphine does not make you "high" or feeling "euphoria". It will help you not notice the pain as much. This small does should not interfere with your driving, but...if you have any doubt, do not drive.

      • Addict

        As a young man of twenty in 1966, I broke my lumbar spine in an auto accident. After spending a year and ten days in a naval hospital, I was discharged and led a fairly normal life until 2001. Around 2004 I was put on 15mg SA morphine sulphate 1 tablet every twelve hours for the constant pain in my lower back. I've been able to function normally with the pain now made tolerable. I have pretty much decided that I'd rather take the pills than be constantly in pain. I also have 15mg instant relief pills for breakthrough pain. I don't overdo it with these for fear of building a tolerance to it. To answer your question, you will be okay at this dosage. I worked on machinery for 6 years with no problems. Good luck.

  10. Addict

    I have been on MS Contin 100mg twice a day for chronic back and neck pain. I have had back surgery but it did not help. I have been going to a pain clinic where the doc is giving me the MS Contin and Hydrocodone 10 for breakthrough pain but I am at a point where I just don't like having to take MS Contin. I stopped taking those 8 days ago and the withdrawals liked to have killed me. I am better now but I still take the hydros the lesser of the two evils in my mind but I am realizing that I am not sleeping anymore and I'm having to take more of the hydros to stop the pain for a little while. The way it's going I'm gonna run out of my hydros trying to stay off of the MS Contin because the pain is so bad. Is it still just the withdrawals or am I'm just destined to hurt and have to take the MS Contin. Before the MS Contin I could get out and do something but now if I don't have it there is no way I'm able. I'm just so confused at what is right for me to do.

  11. Addict

    Has someone who takes morphine x 400mg daily and have done so for many years I would say anyone truly suffering real pain will take whatever kills their pain at any time over just suffering...many people have said the same to me over the years and I just realize that they aren't actually having severe pain in their lives, no one can tolerate severe pain on long term basis and it makes sense to take whatever takes it away. The first time I took my morphine it was like a magic wand had been waved such was the relief going through my body has I lay on my bed. Thanks to this drug I now have a quality of life previously denied me. To anyone worrying about addiction etc. I would say choose life over anxiety of addiction. Do not be afraid of the drug, treat it with respect and if you need more to ease your pain then see your doctor and have it increased until it works...there is no limit to the amount you can take. Whatever takes the pain away for you is obviously the dose for you. Do not abuse it. Used properly you will be able to live pain free without ever getting high with it.

  12. Addict

    So quick question. I took 1 100mg MS Contin. I also just weaned myself off of Suboxone. Since I haven't been using every day and just did 1 pill how long do you think it would take to get out of my system.

    • Addict

      I have been on both Norco 10/325 3 times a day and MS Contin 60 mg 3 times a day for 10 years due to degenerative disc disease and other problems associated with my career in Martial Arts which I am paying for now. I have tried and tried to detox but I get so sick I cannot go more than a couple of days only taking half the dosage. My pain management doctor tried to get me off by using methodone and I ended up in ICU having serious Ventricle Tachycardia-5 days before my heart finally returned to normal rhythm but now have a pacemaker. I can't afford a Clinic and Medicare could care less. Don't end up like me-Take The Pain.

  13. Addict

    I am a petite female who was prescribed 10/325 Norcos 8 times per day along with 60 mg of Methadone for pain. My doctor is no longer prescribing Methadone for pain and switched me to 100 mg Ms Contin 2xper day (200 mg total). He also has had to cut back my Norco to 6 per day since the laws have changed and 6 is the maximum allowed. All these changes are horrible for my pain!

    I am a little scared since I'm only 5'5 and 110 pounds that I may overdose on this MS Contin stuff if my doctor ups my dose to 3xper day. I've done the calculations and with a loss of 20 mg of Hydro and a 60mg loss of Methadone, my dose of MS Contin should be 277 mg. That sounds so scary, but 200 mg per day is not cutting it! I also notice that I want to eat a lot more which is odd. I basically starved myself while taking Methadone for 3 years just to stay at my normal weight. I was used to it, but now with the MS Contin I'm always hungry and lack energy I once had. I've only taken it for 4 days now.

    If anyone has made the switch from Methadone to MS Contin please share your experience with me. If upping a dose to 300 mg per day seems high for a petite person along with 60mg of Hydrocodone, tell me. It seems so weird to go from 60mg of Methadone to 200mg of Morphine, but not feel the pain relief I had while taking the 60mg of Methadone. I'm sure losing 20mg per day of Hydro is not helping matters. I'm very scared of this high milligram stuff though I've read it's not as easily absorbed like Methadone is. I'm so tired and feeling like crap since I've switched my meds!

  14. Addict

    I am almost finished with the M.S.Contin I have been on for the past 16 years and it has not been easy. I am a professional musician and Martial Artist and I tore my trapezoid muscle which started deterioration of the large disc. I had emergency surgery and I was fine for the first 6 or 7 weeks; then IT started; the pain. I can take a lot but this was unbearable. I couldn't walk or sit; just lay. I started out with the usual Percocet 8 - 10 a day. I couldn’t sleep; common thing with chronic pain; so after 8 or 9 visits to my doctor; I said yes to M.S. Contin. percs and 15mgs. of m.s.contin; specialists; etc. I ended up taking 5x200mgs. of m.s.contin and threw up and sweated so much I made a mix and match of 100; 60 and 30 mg tablets. This was much better because I knew it would be easier to get off them one day. Acupuncture; prayer and vision- I take 45 mgs. now!

    My new doctor [8 1/2 yrs. now] sent me to a pain clinic and I got down to 400 mgs. It has taken exactly 2 yrs. now; to get to 45mgs. on my own. I rarely get any sleep and my energy is zapped most of the time that I have to drag myself upstairs. I get little windows of faith and some energy and the self-loathing and pity seem to vanish. I really wouldn't be so hard on yourself; take 400 mgs. of the m.s.contin and nothing else. The human body is quite amazing at adapting. I don't drink; yet I do a couple of bang bangs of weed to take away the sickness I feel some days; 2 tokes; that is all I need!! I am 63 yrs. younger now; it is 5:35 a.m. still awake and I hope you will keep it simple and not complicate a perplexing thing as chronic pain. Peace to you.

  15. Addict

    Aloha to all, I'm 60 years young and live in Hawaii. I've been taking 400mg of MS Contin for 20 plus years. I having a problem with my pharmacy not excepting my Dr's prescriptions and the other pharmacys not taking in new patients! Can I die from not having my meds? HELP, please!

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