Morphine: What You Need to Know

Morphine is in a group of drugs called narcotic pain relievers and is derived from the opium poppy. It is used to treat moderate to severe pain after surgery, injury, or pain that is caused by a chronic condition. Morphine is a potent analgesic drug and works by changing the way the brain and body perceive pain.

Morphine comes in a short-acting form for use on an “as needed” basis or an extended-release form for pain that requires ‘round-the-clock control. Because of its highly addictive nature, doctors will not prescribe morphine unless your body has built up a tolerance to other opioid medications.

Because morphine is so habit forming, it is important to only take what is prescribed to you by your doctor to avoid developing tolerance to the drug.
It is also important to keep Morphine in a safe place away from children and those who have had addiction problems. Morphine is a popular drug of choice for teenagers who want to do drugs because it is often available in their parents’ medicine cabinets. When a person develops dependence on Morphine, the drug should be stopped gradually to decrease withdrawal symptoms.

Morphine Side Effects

People who use morphine to control pain may experience side effects. When morphine is abuse, the side effects increase. Some of these include the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea1

>>> READ THIS NEXT: How Long it Takes Become Addicted to Morphine

Forms of Morphine

Morphine can be found under some of the following generic and brand names:

  • MS-Contin®
  • Oramorph SR®
  • MSIR®
  • Roxanol®
  • Kadian®
  • RMS®2

Morphine is used through injection for preoperative sedation and to help with post-operative pain. Traditionally, morphine was almost exclusively used by injection. Today morphine is taken in a variety of forms. Some of these forms include:

Oral Solutions

The liquid form of morphine is commonly used on hospice patients because it is easier to take when people have difficulty swallowing pills. It is often concentrated so that a greater dose can be given with less liquid. Many users prefer this kind because it begins working within 15 minutes and only lasts for around four hours. The disadvantage to this form is that it has a very bitter taste.

Morphine Tablets and Capsules

This form of morphine comes in extended-release as well as rapid release. Do not break, crush or chew the extended-release tablets. They have been designed specifically to give the patient the correct amount of morphine over a period of time. Breaking, crushing, or chewing the tablets will release too much morphine into the bloodstream at one time. Rapid release tablets can be crushed and mixed into food such as applesauce or pudding. Crushing and snorting morphine pills is a popular thing to do when abusing morphine because it creates a strong high.

Morphine Injections

Injections are not as common with morphine because the other methods are quite effective. Injections are typically used for surgery preparations but not as a method of pain control unless delivered through an IV.

Morphine Suppositories

This form of morphine, although not used often, works for patients who have difficulty swallowing and need a longer-lasting dose for pain control.3

Morphine Interactions

Morphine can have strong interactions with other medications. Avoid using the drug if you have taken an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days. MAO inhibitors are the family of medications used primarily for treating depression and Parkinson’s disease. The two-week period suggests that the chemicals in the MAO inhibitor will have cleared your body after two weeks. Exactly what period of time your body processes a medication completely out of your system varies per person, so just using a basic timeframe as a point of reference could be insufficient.

It is also recommended that you do not take morphine with other narcotic pain medications, sedatives, tranquilizers, muscle relaxers or other medicines that can make you sleepy or slow your breathing. There are other prescribed medications that may or may not interact with your use of morphine including most medications prescribed for the treatment of pain.

With morphine being such an effective treatment for severe pain, physicians and scientists continue to evaluate the benefits of prescribing the drug in spite of the risk of addiction. Ongoing research to further understand how morphine works may provide insights on how to better manage the drug’s addictive qualities.

Finding Help for Morphine Addiction

If you or a loved one is addicted to morphine, it is important to seek help. Morphine is a highly habit-forming drug. Once a person is addicted, the effects are devastating. But with the right treatment, there is hope for recovery.

If you or a loved one struggles with morphine abuse, we are here for you. Call our toll-free help line, 678-251-3189 24 hours a day to speak to an admissions coordinator about available treatment options.

1Morphine (Oral Route) Side Effects.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 1 Mar. 2017.
2Morphine: MedlinePlus Drug Information.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine. Accessed July 26, 2018.
3 Morrow, Angela, and Richard N. Fogoros. “How and Why to Use Morphine in End-of-Life Situations.” Verywell Health, 19 Aug. 2017.

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