Heroin and Morphine

What is Heroin and Morphine?

  • Heroin and morphine are drugs from the opiate group.
  • Morphineis an alkaloidderived from thepoppyplant, Papaver somniferum
  • Morphine is commonly used as an analgesic drug to relieve pain. Heroin is also known as diamorphine. Heroin is a synthetic drug produced by adding two groups of acetyl to the morphine structure.
  • Heroin and morphine are among the drugs that are commonly abused in Malaysia.

Heroin and morphine are listed in the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, which ban the cultivation, production, distribution, import, export, possession and abuse. 

heroin morphine Heroin Street Names

  • Fit
  • Fun
  • Cik Puteh
  • Barang

Morphine Street Names

  • M
  • Monkey
  • Dreamer
  • Morpho
  • Tab
  • Cubes
  • Emsel
  • Melter

Effect of Heroin and Morphine Use

Morphine binds to opioid receptors that are present in the brain and in other parts of the body.Chronic use leads to addiction and physical dependence.

Symptoms of Heroin and Morphine Use

  • Nofeeling of pain
  • Euphoria
  • Feeling calm
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Wateryeyes
  • Runnynose
  • Lethargy

Effects of Heroin and Morphine Misuse on Health

Heroin and morphine abuse can result in weight loss, difficulty in breathing and Infection for example hepatitis and HIV due to needle sharing. They cause fatality when taken in excessive dose.

Metabolism of Heroin and Morphine

  • Heroin and morphine are commonly administered into the body by injection
  • . Heroin may also be   smoked, snorted, used as a suppository or orally ingested. Metabolism rates vary according to type of drugs and route of administration into the body.
  • Heroin absorbs quickly into the blood plasma within a few minutes after ingestion.
  • Heroin and morphine metabolism occurs in the human liver. Metabolism converts the parent drug into the metabolites. Heroin is converted to 6-acethylmorphine (6-MAM) which is then converted to morphine.

Morphine can be detected in blood plasma approximately 45 minutes after administration.

Excretion of Heroin and Morphine

  • Major metabolites found in urine after heroin and morphine intake are 6-monoacethylmorphine (6-MAM) and morphine
  • Heroin is rarely detected in the urine of a person taking this drug.
  • 6-MAM is an indicator of heroin use. Urine is the most common specimen used to detect opiate abuse due to the presence of its metabolites in high concentrations. Time of urine collection is important to ensure drug detection. The best time to detect morphine in urine is between 48 to 72 hours after intake.

Detection of Heroin and Morphine Abuse

Heroin and morphine abuse can be detected through a drug test. There are two main categories of urine drug testing that is screening and confirmatory.

Screening Test

Screening tests are initial, qualitative drug tests conducted to identify classes of drugs present in the urine. Immunoassay based on the principle of competitive binding is the common technique used. Urine drug screening test kits are available as on-site tests or laboratory analysis. Rapid test are often used as on-site tests and is often used in clinics and by law enforcers. The screening test rely on a set threshold cut off value. Cut-off” is a concentration that is used to distinguish a positive or negative result. Specimens with drug concentrations of above or equal to the cut-off level are considered positive while specimens with drug concentrations lower than the cut-off level are considered negative. Screening test cut-off value for morphine in urine is 300 ng/ml. Screening tests are not specific for the drug tested and therefore for legal or medico-legal purposes, all positive screened specimens have to be retested using confirmatory test methods.

Confirmation Test

  • Confirmatory tests are used to confirm a positive screened result. Confirmatory test is able to determine the presence of specific drugs in urine.
  • Confirmatory test is mostly done using chromatographic techniques.

The common chromatography techniques used to confirm morphine are Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GCMS) and Liquid Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC/MS/MS).

Gas Chromatography Mass SpectrometryGas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GCMS)

 Liquid Chromatography Tandem Mass SpectrometryLiquid Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC/MS/MS)


  1. http://www.adk.gov.my
  2. Garis Panduan Ujian Pengesanan Dadah Dalam Air Kencing.Pekeliling KPK Bil. 6/2002
  3. Goldberger B.A. Opiates: Abused Drugs Monograph Series, Abbott Laboratories, Diagnostic Division, Texas, 1994.
Last Reviewed : 04 January 2016
Writer : Dr. Norlida bt. Harun
Accreditor : Dr. Raja Elina bt. Raja Aziddin