Avinza — a brand name prescription for morphine — is similar to any other opioid. It poses the risk of dependence and misuse. Thankfully, Avinza addiction is treatable.

Avinza is a strong, narcotic-based pain medication. While some people may develop an addiction from using the drug recreationally, many people start using it because a doctor prescribed it. As they use Avinza for their pain, their body develops a craving for this opioid and becomes dependent on it. Addiction may not be obvious until you try to stop taking it as your pain improves.

Avinza addiction occurs because the active ingredient, morphine, is an opioid medication. This type of medicine activates opioid receptors in your brain, suppressing pain, but also releasing chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins can create a high, and make you crave the drug more. The highs and cravings caused by Avinza are more likely to occur the longer you are on it.

People who develop an addiction may initially get the medicine as a legal prescription from their doctor. Once their doctor stops prescribing it, they may try other doctors to see if they can find someone else who will prescribe Avinza, even though they do not need it. If this does not work, people sometimes turn to the black market, risking their health by purchasing drugs from an unregulated source.

What is Avinza & How is it Used?

Avinza is an opioid and works by activating opioid receptors in your brain. It is a medication prescribed to patients experiencing severe pain, like pain caused by cancer or severe burns. The receptors in the brain activated by Avinza suppress the brain’s normal function, making you less able to perceive pain.

Avinza is taken orally in capsule form, typically once a day or as prescribed by your doctor. When a patient swallows Avinza, it is absorbed into the body through the digestive tract and begins to relieve pain as it is absorbed. Avinza is an extended-release form of morphine, meaning that it is slowly released over 8-12 hours. It will not relieve pain immediately and should not be used to treat a sudden flare of pain.

This medication may be prescribed at high doses in some situations, making it susceptible to misuse and even overdose. You should never take this medication unless it has been prescribed to you, and then you should only use it as prescribed. Your doctor will personalize your dosage to match your individual pain levels. The maximum daily dose for this medication is 1600 milligrams, although people will only be able to safely reach this maximum dose after long-term use of Avinza. Someone who does not normally use opioids will be at risk of overdose when using 100 milligrams or less of morphine.

Signs, Symptoms and Side Effects of Avinza Abuse

Avinza slows the brain and the systems it controls. The side effects of Avinza are all related to the slowing of systems throughout the body.  Common side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Constricted pupils

More serious side effects are rare but may include hallucinations, confusion, severe stomach pain, loss of appetite, weight loss or trouble urinating. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms.

Symptoms of an overdose may include seizures, fainting, slowed breathing or severe drowsiness. If you or someone you know has any of these symptoms, you should call 911 immediately and administer Narcan if you have any available.

Avinza Long-Term Side Effects

Avinza is normally safe for long-term use, but some patients may experience long-term side effects of the medication, which differ from the side effects mentioned above. In male patients, it may decrease testosterone over time and affect some patients’ sex drive.

Long-term use of opioids like Avinza can also be associated with a higher tolerance to the medication. In rare cases, patients may develop hyperalgesia, which occurs when the opioids themselves can cause the pain to become worse.

Drug Interactions

Some substances have the potential to cause a negative interaction when paired with Avinza. Avinza slows your nervous system, so any other drug or substance that also slows your nervous system can suppress it beyond what is safe. Drugs like benzodiazepines, other opioids, alcohol or street drugs are especially dangerous.

Many other drugs may interact with Avinza. Consult your doctor about your current medications or those you have considered starting if you have any concerns about medication interactions.

Avinza Withdrawal and Detox

If you are no longer interested in taking Avinza, or you wish to taper off of the drug, set up a meeting with your doctor to discuss options. Typically, the doctor will lower your dose over time to help you avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Avinza withdrawal symptoms occur because the suppressive effects of the drug are removed, making systems throughout the body speed up. Symptoms may include:

  • Fast pulse
  • Increased or rapid breathing
  • High blood pressure
  • High body temperature
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Heightened reflexes
  • Sweating
  • Goosebumps
  • Tearing up
  • Yawning
  • Runny nose
  • Muscle spasms
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Bone or muscle pain
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia

Do not stop taking Avinza cold turkey unless told to by your doctor, as this will raise the likelihood of experiencing withdrawal symptoms and could increase the severity of withdrawal symptoms that do occur.

Withdrawal Timeline and Symptom Duration

Although the withdrawal process differs for everyone, several factors will affect these symptoms and their duration. These factors include your Avinza dosage, how often you used Avinza, whether you stopped your treatment cold turkey or gradually reduced the dosage, medical conditions, use of other opioids, use of alcohol, organ function, age and metabolism.

Patients who experience difficulties managing withdrawal symptoms may want to seek a medically-assisted detoxification program.

Avinza Addiction Treatment and Rehab

Rehab helps people detox from Avinza safely get the support and resources they need for lifelong recovery. After a comprehensive assessment, The Recovery Village’s medical team develops a personalized treatment plan based on their client’s needs, which can include inpatient and outpatient treatment for addiction.

Patients at The Recovery Village attend individual and group counseling sessions to get to the root of their addiction and address any co-occurring mental health conditions. They also participate in recreational therapy programs to support holistic health as they recover.

Avinza Detox

Detoxing is the first step for treatment for Avinza addiction. Detox allows the body to fully process all the remaining drugs while not taking any further doses. Detox can be a difficult stage of recovery. This is when withdrawal symptoms start and when drug cravings are the strongest. During a medical detox at a rehab facility, staff monitors the patient to make the process as comfortable as possible.

Regardless of whether a patient enters the inpatient or outpatient program, they will be required to detox from Avinza before they proceed to the next phase of treatment.

Inpatient Avinza Rehab

Once Avinza has been safely removed from the patient’s body through detox, inpatient rehab is the next step in more intensive addiction treatment programs. Inpatient rehab involves checking into a rehab center and staying there for a period of time, typically 30 days.

Inpatient rehab allows those seeking recovery to recover outside of their normal environment, making recovery easier. Inpatient rehab also provides you with 24-hour support, with medical and addiction professionals who can help you cope with the unpleasant side effects of withdrawal as you detox.

Once you have finished inpatient detox, treatment focuses on teaching you coping mechanisms and strategies to help you to avoid using Avinza in the future. The sense of community in an inpatient rehab center will help support you as you focus on overcoming addiction.

Outpatient Avinza Rehab

After a patient completes the inpatient program, they will usually enter the outpatient treatment option. During outpatient treatment, patients come to the rehab facility for scheduled treatment appointments while they live at home or in sober living housing.

Some patients with mild or less severe addiction and stable home situations may be able to entirely skip the inpatient therapy and begin their recovery with outpatient rehab.

Choosing a Rehab Center

Finding the rehab center that’s right for you or a loved one is an important step in each patient’s recovery process. To make the most informed decision possible, it is recommended that patients set up a meeting with their doctor to discuss what they need in a center. You may want to bring up certain factors such as the duration of your Avinza treatment and dosage levels when having this important discussion with your doctor.

If you or someone you know is suffering from substance use disorder, you are not alone and it is not too late to get help.

The Recovery Village offers a wide selection of resources and recovery programs that can be tailored to fit every patient’s unique needs. Contact us today to learn more about these life-saving programs and resources.

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Editor – Melissa Carmona
Melissa Carmona puts years of writing and editing experience to work helping people understand substance abuse, addiction and mental health disorders. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Benjamin Caleb Williams, RN
Benjamin Caleb Williams is a board-certified Emergency Nurse with several years of clinical experience, including supervisory roles within the ICU and ER settings. Read more


How long does Avinza stay in your system?

The length of time Avinza stays in the system varies from patient to patient. In most cases, Avinza will be naturally cleansed from the body within a matter of days. On average, Avinza has a relatively short half-life of about 24 hours. However, it is an extended-release medication, so it takes longer to release into the body after taking it. Some patients may take longer to rid their bodies of Avinza due to physiological factors such as age, dosage levels, duration of use, metabolism and organ function.

The time frame to detect Avinza in the body varies by what kind of test is administered. For example, medications and substances can be detected longer in your hair follicles than in your urine samples. Here are some estimates regarding how long Avinza’s active ingredient, morphine, will stay in your system if you are given a urine, hair or saliva test.

  • Urine: In most cases, morphine can be found in a patient’s urine test up to five days after taking it.
  • Hair: Hair follicles can hold traces of morphine for up to 90 days after it has been taken.
  • Saliva: morphine can be detected in a patient’s blood sample within 36 hours of taking the medication.
Is it safe to drink while prescribed Avinza?

No. Opioids like Avinza should not be taken with other pain medications or alcohol. Alcohol suppresses your nervous system, adding to the suppressive effects of Avinza. If you drink alcohol while taking Avinza, you could experience cognitive and coordinative impairment, as well as fatal consequences. The possible interactions are so dangerous that even things with trace amounts of alcohol, like cough syrup, should be avoided when taking this medication.

What are opioids?

Man-made opiates are called opioids. Collectively, opiate and opioid derivatives of the poppy plant include morphinecodeineoxycodoneheroin, and many other opioid drugs.

While there is no major difference in their effectiveness, opioids are synthetic or partly synthetic drugs that act similarly to naturally-made opiates. With opioids, the active ingredients are synthesized by chemical processes.

However, because they are similar in how they affect the body and brain, the terms opiate and opioid are often used interchangeably. Now, when people say “opioid,” they are usually referring to any substance that is naturally or synthetically derived from the poppy.

All of these drugs can be abused and cause addiction to develop, even if they are prescription medications. Even when used as prescribed, tolerance and physical dependence are common and expected consequences of opioids.

Can naloxone save a life in the case of an Avinza overdose?

Yes. In some cases, you may have access to an overdose treatment drug called naloxone (Narcan). Naloxone is a drug that can successfully suppress an Avinza overdose by temporarily reversing the effects of Avinza. If you have access to naloxone and someone is overdosing on Avinza, do not hesitate to use this life-saving drug.

Keep in mind that the effects of Avinza will last for much longer than the effects of naloxone. You may have to administer multiple doses while waiting for EMS. You cannot treat an Avinza overdose with naloxone by yourself, as it is an extended-release medication that will last for several hours, and will require hospital treatment.

How much is too much and how to spot an Avinza overdose?

The amount that causes an overdose will be different for everyone and may be influenced by the person’s gender, weight, metabolism and other medications or substances they are using.

Someone who has overdosed on Avinza will have slowed or absent breathing, and be less responsive. They may have a slower heart rate and lower blood pressure. If someone you know has taken Avinza and is having problems staying awake during a conversation or is slow to respond, they may have overdosed. If their breathing is slower or if they appear to be snoring, an overdose is also likely.

If you or someone you know begins to exhibit signs of an Avinza overdose, seek medical attention immediately by calling 911 and administer naloxone if you have it available.

What is an opioid overdose?

Opioid overdoses are extremely dangerous events that affect thousands each year. Overdoses occur when the amount or potency of opioids overwhelm the body, leading to a slow down of the heart and lungs. Among the current and former opioid users surveyed, 48% had gone to the hospital for an opioid-related emergency, and 37% overdosed without getting to medical care in time.

Though they survived these dangerous situations, many more did not: overdoses involving opioids led to nearly 50,000 deaths in 2019.

Some of the most common signs and symptoms of opioid overdose include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Trouble speaking
  • Weak or slowed heartbeat
  • Clammy skin
  • Purple or blue fingernails and lips
  • Losing consciousness

Drug overdose can be fatal. If you suspect someone is experiencing an overdose, call 911 immediately. Do NOT be afraid to seek help. If you do not have access to a phone, contact Web Poison Control Services for online assistance.

Why does long-term use of prescription opioids lead to addiction for many?

A study published in the journal Pharmacoepidemiology & Drug Safety (PDS) examined trends in prescription opioid use in the United States from 1999 through 2000, and from 2013 through 2014, and results were compared. Specifically, this study looked at long-term opioid use, which was defined as the use of prescription opioids for 90 days or longer.

In 1999-2000, 4.1% of adults were taking prescription opioid medications, and from 2013 through 2014, 6.8% of US adults were taking prescription opioids. The increase was mostly driven by an increase in the long-term use of prescription opioids, which increased from 1.8% of adults to 5.4%. Long-term use of opioids correlates with many negative health consequences.

Long-term use of opioids is associated with worse physical health, a higher incidence of benzodiazepine use, and higher rates of heroin addiction. Therefore, the study concludes, it is essential that doctors carefully weigh the risks and benefits of long-term opioid use in their patients before prescribing it.

A CDC study from 2017 reported that the sharpest increase in the likelihood of long-term dependency on prescription opioids came just five days after the initial prescription. Another spike in dependency was seen after one month. In general, however, the longer a prescription, the greater the risk of long-term addiction.

Long-term opioid use was also associated with other types of addictions. For example, the study published in PDS found a higher risk of alcohol abuse and heroin abuse among people who had been prescribed opioids for long periods.

2016 study published in Addiction Science & Clinical Practice reported that alcohol misuse among people in medication-assisted addiction treatment for opioid use disorder was common and was associated with a greater risk of death.


U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Medication Guide AVINZA.” April 2014. Accessed June 6, 2020.

O’Mally, Gerald; O’Mally, Rika. “Opioid Use Disorder and Rehabilitation”. Merck Manuals. May 2020. Accessed June 6, 2020.

O’Mally, Gerald; O’Mally, Rika. “Opioid Toxicity and Withdrawal”. Merck Manuals. May 2020. Accessed June 6, 2020.

Hadland, Scott; Levy, Sharon. “Objective Testing – Urine And Other Drug Tests.” Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, July 1, 2017. Accessed June 6, 2020.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.