Morphine is a powerful and highly-addictive prescription pain medication. Even accidental overdoses of morphine can cause severe injury or death.
What is Morphine?
Morphine is a narcotic opiate medication that is used to relieve moderate or severe pain. It comes in many forms, such as intravenous (IV) injection, oral liquids, extended-release pills, and epidurals during a cesarean (C-section) delivery in pregnancy.
Some brand-name morphine medications include:
- Astramorph PF®
- Arymo ER®
- MS Contin®
- MS Mono®
How Does Morphine Work?
Morphine activates opioid receptors that exist naturally in the brain and body. When morphine attaches to an opioid receptor, it provides pain relief, slows down breathing, and causes tiredness and constipation. Morphine also decreases transmission of pain signals.
What is the Problem?
Morphine can cause serious or life-threatening breathing problems, especially during the first 24 to 72 hours of treatment and any time the dose is increased. Over time, anyone who takes morphine continuously will develop a physical tolerance, which means their body is physically dependent on morphine. They may experience intense cravings for a higher dose, which can lead to overdose or addiction.
Taking certain other medications during treatment with morphine may increase the risk of an overdose, breathing problems, sedation, coma, or other serious side effects. Accidental overdoses commonly occur when patients unintentionally use morphine with alcohol or medications that slow down breathing or depress the nervous system.
Symptoms of Morphine Overdose
- Difficulty breathing
- Excessive drowsiness
- Loss of consciousness
- Loss of muscle tone
- Cold and clammy skin
- Slow heartbeat
Morphine addiction can develop after using it continuously, especially at doses that exceed what a doctor recommends. The signs of addiction include tolerance to morphine and continued use of it, even when it causes severe life disruption. Addiction can cause devastating harm to a person’s health, relationships, finances, job, and more.