Morphine

  • Generic Name or Active Ingridient: Morphine
Drug Class: Morphine > Opiate > Opioids > Opioid Agonist > Analgesic.

Uses

Morphine is included in a group of drugs called narcotic pain relievers. Doctors prescribe morphine to control moderate to severe pain. Morphine is considered the gold standard when it comes to controlling cancer pain. Physicians typically suggest morphine to only those patients whose pain is not well-managed with other opioids or for people who are already tolerant to other opioids. Learn More About Morphine Uses

Other, off label uses for this medicine

Nebulized morphine, which is liquid morphine converted to a spray, may provide some benefit to terminally ill people with lung disease who suffer from severe breathlessness and the resulting exercise limitations.

Morphine is not typically prescribed to treat post-operative pain unless the patient was using this opioid before surgery. More Off-Label Uses for Morphine

Administration/Dosage

Morphine is available in liquid, tablets and capsules. Your doctor can prescribe morphine in one of several forms; you can take morphine orally, rectally, in an IV, by injection into a muscle or just under the surface of your skin, or in an epidural. An oral dose of regular release morphine ranges in strength from 5 to 30 mg every four hours as needed. MS-Contin, otherwise known as morphine sulfate controlled release, is prescribed in doses between 15 and 60 mg, to be taken by mouth as needed every 8 to 12 hours. For around the clock pain relief, a physician will order sustained- or extended-release tablets of 30 to 120 mg of morphine four times each day, regardless if the patient currently has pain.

The daily dose of morphine should never exceed 1600 mg per day. Doses exceeding 1600 mg daily may contain enough fumaric acid to cause kidney disease.

Never crush, chew or break an extended-release morphine tablet. Swallow extended- and controlled-release medications whole to avoid unexpected results and possible overdose. Extended-release caplets may be opened and the contents sprinkled onto applesauce to make swallowing easier.

If you take morphine only when you need it for pain, you won't have to worry about missing doses. If you are supposed to take morphine on a regular schedule and miss a dose, take a dose as soon as you remember. However, if it is nearly time to take another dose, skip the missed dose and resume your regular schedule. If you have trouble staying on schedule, talk with your doctor.

Read More About Morphine Administration and Dosage

Action

Morphine works by dulling the pain receptor area in the brain. More About How Morphine Works

Precautions

Do not take morphine if you are allergic to this medication. Tell your doctor about all your allergies, especially any allergies to narcotics, such as codeine and methadone.

Tell your doctor if you are allergic to Morphine or any other medication.

Before you take morphine, discuss your medical history with your physician. It is especially important for your doctor to know if you have ever had:

  • Breathing Disorders, Such as Asthma, COPD and Sleep Apnea.
  • Liver or Kidney Disease.
  • Underactive Thyroid.
  • Curvature of the Spine.
  • Head Injury.
  • Brain Tumor.
  • Seizure Disorder, Epilepsy.
  • Low Blood Pressure.
  • Gallbladder Disease.
  • Addison's Disease, Other Adrenal Gland Disorders.
  • Enlarged Prostate, Urination Problems.
  • Mental Illness.
  • Drug or Alcohol Addiction.

Morphine may impair your decision-making. Do not drive a car, operate heavy machinery or engage in potentially dangerous activities that require you to be awake and alert until you know how your body reacts to morphine.

This drug can be habit-forming, especially if you take it for long periods of time or in large doses. Talk with your doctor or qualified rehabilitation specialist if you suspect you are growing physically or mentally dependent on morphine.

Read More About Morphine Precautions

Warnings

Morphine may be harmful to an unborn child, causing withdrawal symptoms in newborns. Talk with your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while taking morphine. Morphine may pass into breast milk. Do not take morphine while you are breastfeeding a baby.

Morphine can be habit-forming. Morphine should only be taken by the person for whom it was prescribed.

Older people can be more sensitive to the effects of morphine. Physicians should monitor elderly patients closely for signs of sensitivity and adjust dosage accordingly.

Do not drink alcohol while taking morphine. Alcohol and morphine can interact in dangerous ways to cause serious side effects or even death. Check the labels of all food, beverages and medications to be sure they don't contain alcohol.

Do not stop morphine use abruptly as sudden cessation may cause uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Whenever possible, slowly wean yourself from morphine by taking increasingly smaller doses further apart. If you cannot comfortably stop using morphine using this method, consult with your doctor or qualified in-patient or out-patient rehabilitation center.

More Warnings About Using Morphine

Drug Interactions

Give your doctor a complete list of all medications you take, prescription drugs as well as over the counter and herbal remedies. Avoid taking morphine if you have taken MAO inhibitors like isocarboxazid, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, or tranylcypromine in the past 14 days. Brand names of these MAO inhibitors includes Marplan, Nardil, Azilect, Eldepryl, Emsam and Parnate. You may suffer serious side effects if you take morphine before these drugs have cleared from your body.

Your doctor may change your dose of morphine or recommend an alternate to morphine if you are taking certain other drugs, like pentazocine, nalbuphine, butorphanol, or buprenorphine. The brand names of the above drugs include Talwin, Nubain, Stadol, Buprenex and Subutex.

More Drug Interactions

Side effects

You may experience moderate to severe side effects while taking morphine. Go to the emergency room or seek immediate medical assistance if you experience the following serious side effects:

  • Shallow Breathing.
  • Slow Heartbeat.
  • Seizures, Convulsions.
  • Cold, Clammy Skin.
  • Confusion.
  • Severe Weakness, Dizziness.
  • Light-headedness, Fainting.

Morphine may cause less serious side effects. Make an appointment with your physician to discuss less serious side effects that become acute in nature or those side effects that don't go away on their own. These less serious side effects include:

  • Constipation.
  • Warmth, Tingling or Redness under the Skin.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Stomach Pain.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Loss of Appetite.
  • Dizziness.
  • Headache.
  • Anxiety.
  • Memory Problems.
  • Sleep Problems, Insomnia.

Learn More About Morphine Side Effects

Overdose

If you suspect that you or someone you know has taken an overdose of morphine, seek emergency assistance immediately, as overdose of morphine can be a life-threatening situation. Contact your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222 or go to the emergency room right away. While at the hospital, you can expect emergency, life-saving treatments like activated charcoal, artificial respiration, intravenous fluids, laxatives, medicine to lower morphine levels in the blood or reverse the effect of the morphine or a tube through inserted the mouth into the stomach to wash morphine from the stomach. Overdose symptoms include:

  • Extreme Drowsiness.
  • Pinpoint Pupils.
  • Confusion.
  • Cold, Clammy Skin.
  • Weak Pulse.
  • Shallow Breathing.
  • Fainting.
  • Breathing that Stops.

Learn More About Morphine Overdose

Abuse

Morphine is a Schedule II drug, which means it carries a significant risk for abuse and physical as well as psychological dependence. Pharmaceutical companies legally manufacture morphine for licit use as a pain reliever but abusers obtain morphine through forged prescriptions, bogus prescription call-ins to pharmacies, "doctor shopping" as well as theft from pharmacies and friends. Let your doctor know if your prescription stops working to control your pain. You may be developing an increased tolerance to morphine. Tolerance sometimes leads to increased or improper morphine use that raises your risk for becoming dependent or even addicted to morphine. Do not increase the number of pills or the frequency in which you take morphine without first talking to your physician. She may prescribe a stronger dose or a different medication. Read More About Morphine Abuse

Withdrawal

You may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking morphine, especially if you have been using high doses or taking the opioid for a long period of time. Symptoms vary in intensity. Withdrawal is a normal, predictable, physical sign of dependency, not necessarily a sign of willful abuse. Withdrawal symptoms may prevent you from quitting morphine without medical assistance. Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Sweating.
  • Yawning.
  • Chills.
  • Watery Eyes.
  • Insomnia.
  • Runny Nose.
  • Strong Cravings for Morphine.
  • Headaches.
  • Irritability.
  • Body Aches.
  • Tremors.
  • Elevated Heart Rate.
  • Elevated Blood Pressure.
  • Hot Flashes.
  • Bone and Muscle Pain.

Detox

Dependency and addiction to Morphine is often difficult to overcome on your own, especially if you have been taking large doses or using these opioids for a long time. Fortunately, there are in-patient and out-patient treatment facilities where trained professionals can minimize withdrawal symptoms, detoxify your body and give you the tools you need to live drug-free. Detoxification, rehabilitation and counseling are effective therapies to treat addiction to Morphine and other opiates.

Learn More About Morphine Detoxification Programs

Storage

Keep Morphine away from excessive heat, moisture and light. Do not keep this drug in your bathroom, car or other environment that fluctuates in temperature or humidity levels. Store Morphine away from children, pets and adults who might consume the drug accidently or on purpose. Do not share Morphine with other people, especially with those individuals with a history of substance abuse. Keep track of your medication, taking note of any missing doses. Flush any unused morphine down the toilet. Flush the commode several times to be certain all the tablets are gone. Throw away liquid morphine that is older than 90 days old.