What is Morphine?
Morphine is a member of the opiod family of drugs which is prescribed by physicians to help manage moderate to severe pain in patients who are suffering from chronic illnesses like cancer. While most patients who are under supervised care use the drug as prescribed, when taking the medication at home or away from a hospital environment, morphine can be easily abused.
Although morphine is primarily used for medical purposed, it is also abused as a “recreational drug.” Morphine can be administered either orally in tablet form or intravenously through an injection. The longer a person takes morphine, the more they need to experience the same level of effect. This is because over time, the individual will develop a tolerance to the drug which coincides with morphine abuse.
Morphine is not for treating short-term pain just after surgery unless you were already taking morphine before the surgery. Morphine is a Schedule II Drug.
Morphine may cause serious or life-threatening breathing problems, especially at the beginning of your treatment and any time your dose is increased. Your doctor will monitor you carefully during your treatment. Your doctor will adjust your dose carefully to control your pain and decrease the risk that you will experience serious breathing problems. Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had slowed breathing or asthma. Your doctor may tell you not to take morphine. Also tell your doctor if you have or have ever had lung disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD; a group of lung diseases that includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema), a head injury, any condition that increases the amount of pressure in your brain, or kyphoscoliosis (curving of the spine that may cause breathing problems). The risk that you will develop breathing problems may be higher if you are an older adult or are weakened or malnourished due to disease. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately or get emergency medical treatment: slowed breathing, long pauses between breaths, or shortness of breath.
Taking certain other medications during your treatment with morphine may increase the risk that you will experience breathing problems or other serious, life-threatening side effects. Tell your doctor if you are taking or plan to take any of the following medications: cimetidine (Tagamet); other narcotic pain medications; medications for anxiety, seizures, depression, mental illness, or nausea; muscle relaxants; sedatives; sleeping pills; or tranquilizers.
Drinking alcohol, taking prescription or non-prescription medications that contain alcohol, or using street drugs during your treatment with morphine increases the risk that you will experience breathing problems or other serious, life-threatening side effects. If you are taking Avinza brand long-acting capsules, it is especially important that you do not drink any drinks that contain alcohol or take any prescription or non-prescription medications that contain alcohol. Alcohol may cause the morphine in Avinza® brand long-acting capsules to be released in your body too quickly, causing serious health problems or death. Talk to your doctor about the risks of drinking alcohol or using street drugs during your treatment with other morphine products.
Morphine may be habit-forming. Do not take more of it, take it more often, or take it in a different way than directed by your doctor. Tell your doctor if you or anyone in your family drinks or has ever drunk large amounts of alcohol, uses or has ever used street drugs, has overused prescription medications, or if you have or have ever had depression or another mental illness. There is a greater risk that you will overuse morphine if you have or have ever had any of these conditions.
Do not allow anyone else to take your medication. Morphine may harm or cause death to other people who take your medication, especially children. Keep morphine in a safe place so that no one else can take it accidentally or on purpose. Be especially careful to keep morphine out of the reach of children. Keep track of how many tablets, or capsules, or how much liquid is left so you will know if any medication is missing.Dispose of any unneeded morphine capsules, tablets, or liquid properly according to instructions. (See STORAGE and DISPOSAL.)
Without the proper treatment, morphine abuse can develop into a much more dangerous and potentially life-threatening addiction. If you or someone you love is dealing with a morphine abuse situation, it is essential that you seek quality help immediately. You can start the process by calling our toll-free drug abuse helpline at1-888-925-8523. Our counselors are highly trained and will listen to your story with non-judgmental compassion. Your consultation will be one-on-one and confidential, and our counselors are available to help you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Act now and prevent further addiction. Call the helpline now!
Extended release tablets
Swallow the extended-release tablets or capsules whole. Do not split, chew, dissolve, or crush them. If you swallow broken, chewed, crushed, or dissolved extended-release tablets or capsules, you may receive too much morphine at once instead of receiving the medication slowly over time. This may cause serious breathing problems or death. If you are unable to swallow the capsules whole, follow the instructions in the “HOW should this medication be used?” section below to dissolve the capsule contents in applesauce.
Morphine oral solution (liquid) comes in three different concentrations (amount of medication contained in a given amount of solution). The solution with the highest concentration (100 mg/5 mL) should only be taken by people who are tolerant (used to the effects of the medication) to opioid medications. Each time you receive your medication, check to be sure that you receive the solution with the concentration prescribed by your doctor. Be sure that you know how much medication you should take and how to measure your dose.
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. If you take morphine regularly during your pregnancy, your baby may experience life-threatening withdrawal symptoms after birth. Tell your baby’s doctor right away if your baby experiences any of the following symptoms: irritability, hyperactivity, abnormal sleep, high-pitched cry, uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body, vomiting, diarrhea, or failure to gain weight.
Your doctor or pharmacist will give you the manufacturer’s patient information sheet (Medication Guide) when you begin treatment with morphine and each time you fill your prescription if a Medication Guide is available for the morphine product you are taking. Read the information carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions. You can also visit the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website (http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm085729.htm) or the manufacturer’s website to obtain the Medication Guide.
Before using morphine
You should not take this medicine if you have ever had an allergic reaction to morphine or other narcotic medicines, or if you have:
- severe asthma or breathing problems
- a blockage in your stomach or intestines
- a bowel obstruction called paralytic ileus.
Do not use morphine if you have used an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days. A dangerous drug interaction could occur. MAO inhibitors include isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue injection, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, tranylcypromine, and others.
You may not be able to take morphine if you are NOT already being treated with a similar opioid (narcotic) pain medicine and are tolerant to it. Talk with your doctor if you are not sure you are opioid-tolerant.
To make sure morphine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
- any type of breathing problem or lung disease
- a history of head injury, brain tumor, or seizures
- a history of drug abuse, alcohol addiction, or mental illness
- urination problems
- liver or kidney disease
- problems with your gallbladder, pancreas, or thyroid
Morphine is more likely to cause breathing problems in older adults and people who are severely ill, malnourished, or otherwise debilitated.
FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether morphine will harm an unborn baby. Morphine may cause breathing problems, behavior changes, or life-threatening addiction and withdrawal symptoms in your newborn if you use the medication during pregnancy. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant.
Morphine can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.
Side Effects of Morphine Abuse and Overdose
Morphine is a dangerously addictive drug and it presents the patient with a wide range of potential side effects, even when it is prescribed and the administration is monitored. Of course, when morphine abuse is taking place, the following side effects may be more pronounced than what is normally experienced.
- Depression or irritability
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Trouble sleeping or insomnia
- Abdominal pain including cramps
- Memory loss
- Tremors or seizures
- Vision problems including involuntary movement of the eyeball
- Rash, hives and/or itching
- High or low blood pressure
The signs and symptoms of a morphine abuse overdose can include:
- Fluid in the lungs
- Cold, clammy skin
- Flaccid muscles
- Slow breathing
- Slow heart rate