What Are the Differences between Methadone and Morphine?

Article Details
  • Written By: Rhonda Rivera
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 25 January 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
Archaeological evidence suggests that ancient Roman soldiers sometimes wore socks with their open-toed sandals.  more...

February 22 ,  1980 :  The US hockey team made the "Miracle on   more...

Some differences between methadone and morphine are their half life, cost, and uses. Methadone and morphine are a lot different solely based on how long they last, since methadone lasts at least ten times longer than the morphine. Health professionals sometimes favor methadone because of its comparatively low cost. Methadone is also favored in situations where current or former drug addicts need pain medication, because patients are not as quick to become dependent on it.

Methadone lasts much longer than morphine in the body. The half life of morphine is two to three hours, while the half life of methadone is 24 hours or longer. As the body processes these drugs, they also exit through different ways. Methadone exits through a patient’s urine, while morphine goes through the kidneys and bile ducts first.

Another difference between methadone and morphine is that methadone is much cheaper in general. Morphine is expensive to produce and must be used in larger amounts than methadone. Some doctors prefer methadone for this reason, especially when dealing with financially unstable patients. The medication has faced criticism, however, because it has occasionally been prescribed for minor pain. Methadone should not be used for minor pain, nor should be it be casually used, since overdose is comparatively easy.


Methadone and morphine are used in different situations. In general, methadone is used in situations where morphine has either not worked or the patient has abused narcotics in the past. If morphine is given to patients who once abused narcotics, the patient may feel a similar high and relapse. While methadone can cause withdrawal symptoms if taken for a long period of time, it is considered safer than morphine.

Morphine is an addicting drug, which is why it is a controlled substance in most places. On the other hand, while methadone can perform some of the same functions, it is not considered as addictive. Both medications are often heavily controlled, with regular checkups on out-patients to make sure the drugs are being used properly.

On the other hand, methadone and morphine have plenty in common. They are both used to relieve moderate to severe pain, in addition to both being available in liquid and capsule form. Both pain medications can also have life-threatening side effects, such as slowed breathing or severe dizziness. If severe side effects are observed, the person should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Neither medication should be taken with alcohol, which can increase the odds of having side effects like dizziness.


You might also Like


Discuss this Article

Post 3

@simrin-- One is not necessarily superior, they're just different.

Methadone, per dose, is stronger than morphine. It stays in the body longer and is less likely to cause addiction. But this doesn't mean that methadone is a better alternative to morphine in all cases.

In situations where a fast acting, strong pain reliever is required for a short treatment, morphine works well. Plus, everyone tolerates and responds to drugs a little differently. So even someone with chronic pain might have better results with morphine. Sometimes you just have to try a medication to know how well it will work for you. I'm sure your doctor has good reason to prescribe you morphine rather than methadone.

Post 2

@simrin-- Does this mean that methadone is a superior pain reliever than morphine? If so, why did my doctor prescribe me morphine?

Post 1

The fact that methadone has a longer half-life, makes it much easier to withdraw from the medication.

I'm a chronic pain sufferer and have been put on various different pain relieving medications by my doctor. I used morphine for a short while but became addicted to it very quickly. I had a very hard time withdrawing from it because the withdrawal side effects kicked in so quickly.

I did not have this issue with methadone, tapering off was so much easier.

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?