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Drug

Morphine

Pronounced

"MOR-feen"

Uses

Morphine is used to help relieve moderate to severe pain. Morphine belongs to a class of drugs known as opioid (narcotic) analgesics. It works in the brain to change how your body feels and responds to pain.

Warning

Morphine has a risk for abuse and addiction, which can lead to overdose and death. Morphine may also cause severe, possibly fatal, breathing problems. To lower your risk, your doctor should have you take the smallest dose of morphine that works, and take it for the shortest possible time. See also How to Use section for more information about addiction.

The risk for severe breathing problems is higher when you start this medication and after a dose increase, or if you take the wrong dose/strength. Taking this medication with alcohol or other drugs that can cause drowsiness or breathing problems may cause very serious side effects, including death. Be sure you know how to take morphine and what other drugs you should avoid taking with it. See also Drug Interactions section. Get medical help right away if any of these very serious side effects occur: slow/shallow breathing, unusual lightheadedness, severe drowsiness/dizziness, difficulty waking up.

Keep this medicine in a safe place to prevent theft, misuse, or abuse. If someone accidentally swallows this drug, get medical help right away.

Before using this medication, women of childbearing age should talk with their doctor(s) about the risks and benefits. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or if you plan to become pregnant. During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. It may slightly increase the risk of birth defects if used during the first two months of pregnancy. Also, using it for a long time or in high doses near the expected delivery date may harm the unborn baby. To lessen the risk, take the smallest effective dose for the shortest possible time. Babies born to mothers who use this drug for a long time may develop severe (possibly fatal) withdrawal symptoms. Tell the doctor right away if you notice any symptoms in your newborn baby such as crying that doesn't stop, slow/shallow breathing, irritability, shaking, vomiting, diarrhea, poor feeding, or difficulty gaining weight.

How to Use This Medication

Read the Patient Information Leaflet if available from your pharmacist before you start taking morphine and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Take this medication by mouth as directed by your doctor. You may take this drug with or without food. If you have nausea, it may help to take this drug with food. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about other ways to decrease nausea (such as lying down for 1 to 2 hours with as little head movement as possible).

You may swallow this medication whole, or you may open the capsule and sprinkle the contents onto soft food (such as applesauce, yogurt). Swallow the drug/food mixture right away.

The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment. Do not increase your dose or use this drug more often or for longer than prescribed, because your risk of side effects may increase. Properly stop the medication when so directed.

Pain medications work best if they are used when the first signs of pain occur. If you wait until the pain has worsened, the medication may not work as well.

If you have ongoing pain (such as due to cancer), your doctor may direct you to also take long-acting opioid medications. In that case, this medication might be used for sudden (breakthrough) pain only as needed. Other pain relievers (such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen) may also be prescribed. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about using morphine safely with other drugs.

Suddenly stopping this medication may cause withdrawal, especially if you have used it for a long time or in high doses. To prevent withdrawal, your doctor may lower your dose slowly. Tell your doctor or pharmacist right away if you have any withdrawal symptoms such as restlessness, mental/mood changes (including anxiety, trouble sleeping, thoughts of suicide), watering eyes, runny nose, nausea, diarrhea, sweating, muscle aches, or sudden changes in behavior.

When this medication is used for a long time, it may not work as well. Talk with your doctor if this medication stops working well.

Though it helps many people, this medication may sometimes cause addiction. This risk may be higher if you have a substance use disorder (such as overuse of or addiction to drugs/alcohol). Take this medication exactly as prescribed to lower the risk of addiction. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more details.

Tell your doctor if your pain does not get better or if it gets worse.

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Information expires December 2020.