Know the basics
What is morphine used for?
This medication is used to help relieve moderate to severe pain. Morphine belongs to a class of drugs known as narcotic (opiate) analgesics. It works in the brain to change how your body feels and responds to pain.
How should I take morphine?
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).
If you are using the liquid form of this medication, read the Medication Guide provided by your pharmacist before you start using morphine liquid and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist. Carefully measure the dose using a special measuring device/spoon. Do not use a household spoon because you may not get the correct dose. Ask your pharmacist or doctor if you are not sure how to check or measure the dose.
The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment. Do not increase your dose, take the medication more frequently, or take it for a longer time than prescribed. 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 narcotic medications. In that case, this medication might be used for sudden (breakthrough) pain only as needed. Other non-narcotic pain relievers (such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen) may also be prescribed with this medication. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about using morphine safely with other drugs.
This medication may cause withdrawal reactions, especially if it has been used regularly for a long time or in high doses. In such cases, withdrawal symptoms (such as restlessness, watering eyes, runny nose, nausea, sweating, muscle aches) may occur if you suddenly stop using this medication. To prevent withdrawal reactions, your doctor may reduce your dose gradually. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more details, and report any withdrawal reactions immediately.
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.
Along with its benefits, this medication may rarely cause abnormal drug-seeking behavior (addiction). This risk may be increased if you have abused alcohol or drugs in the past. Take this medication exactly as prescribed to lessen the risk of addiction.
Tell your doctor if your pain persists or worsens.
How do I store morphine?
Morphine is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store morphine in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of morphine that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.
You should not flush morphine down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.
Know the precautions & warnings
What should I know before using morphine?
Before taking morphine,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to morphine, any other medications, or any of the inactive ingredients in the type of morphine tablets, capsules or solution you plan to take. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the inactive ingredients.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention the medications following: antihistamines (found in cold and allergy medications); buprenorphine (Butrans, in Suboxone); butorphanol (Stadol); diuretics (‘water pills’); nalbuphine (Nubain); pentazocine (Talwin, in Talacen); and quinidine (in Nuedexta). Also tell your doctor if you are taking any of the following medications or if you have stopped taking them within the past 2 weeks: monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors, including isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam, Zelapar), and tranylcypromine (Parnate). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you more carefully for side effects.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had any conditions or paralytic ileus (condition in which digested food does not move through the intestines). Your doctor may tell you not to take morphine.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had a blockage in your stomach or intestines; seizures; difficulty swallowing; prostatic hypertrophy (enlargement of a male reproductive gland); urinary problems; low blood pressure; Addison’s disease (condition in which the adrenal gland does not make enough of certain natural substances) or liver, kidney, pancreas, thyroid, or gallbladder disease.
- tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding.
- if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking morphine.
- you should know that this medication may make you drowsy. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this medication affects you.
- you should know that morphine may cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting when you get up too quickly from a lying position. To avoid this problem, get out of bed slowly, resting your feet on the floor for a few minutes before standing up.
you should know that morphine may cause constipation. Talk to your doctor about changing your diet or using other medications to prevent or treat constipation while you are taking morphine.
Is it safe to take morphine during pregnancy or breast-feeding?
There isn’t enough information about the safety of using this medication during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking this medication.
Know the side effects
What are the side effects of morphine?
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:
- shallow breathing, slow heartbeat;
- stiff muscles, seizure (convulsions);
- cold, clammy skin;
- confusion, unusual thoughts or behavior;
- severe weakness, feeling like you might pass out;
- trouble swallowing;
- urinating less than usual or not at all;
- pale skin, feeling light-headed or short of breath, rapid heart rate, trouble concentrating; or
- easy bruising, unusual bleeding (nose, mouth, vagina, or rectum), purple or red pinpoint spots under your skin.
Less serious side effects may include:
- weight loss;
- constipation, diarrhea;
- nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, loss of appetite;
- flushing (warmth, redness, or tingly feeling);
- headache, dizziness, spinning sensation;
- memory problems; or
- sleep problems (insomnia), strange dreams.
Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.
Know the interactions
What drugs may interact with morphine?
Morphine may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.
Taking this medicine with other drugs that make you sleepy or slow your breathing can cause dangerous or life-threatening side effects. Ask your doctor before taking morphine with a sleeping pill, other narcotic pain medicine, muscle relaxer, or medicine for anxiety, depression, or seizures.
Does food or alcohol interact with morphine?
Morphine may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug, especially with Ethanol.
What health conditions may interact with morphine?
Morphine may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have, especially:
- Addison’s disease (adrenal gland problem) or
- Alcohol abuse, or history of or
- Brain tumor, history of or
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or
- Cor pulmonale (serious heart condition) or
- Depression, history of or
- Drug dependence, especially with narcotics, or history of or
- Enlarged prostate (BPH, prostatic hypertrophy) or
- Gallbladder disease or gallstones or
- Head injuries, history of or
- Heart disease or
- Hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) or
- Hypovolemia (low blood volume) or
- Increased pressure in the head or
- Kyphoscoliosis (curvature of the spine with breathing problems) or
- Mental illness, history of or
- Problems with passing urine or
- Stomach or bowel problems (eg, blockage) or
- Trouble swallowing or
- Weakened physical condition—Use with caution. May increase risk for more serious side effects.
- Asthma, severe or
- Breathing problems, severe (eg, hypoxia) or
- Paralytic ileus (intestine stops working and may be blocked) or
- Respiratory depression (very slow breathing)—Should not be used in patients with these conditions.
- Hypotension (low blood pressure) or
- Pancreatitis (inflammation or swelling of the pancreas) or
- Seizures, history of—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
- Kidney disease or
- Liver disease—Use with caution. The effects may be increased because of slower removal of the medicine from the body.
Understand the dosage
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. You should ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using this medication.
What is the dose of Morphine for an adult?
Usual Adult Dose for Pain
Immediate release tablets:
Initial dose: 15 to 30 mg orally every 4 hours as needed
Initial dose: 10 to 20 mg orally every 4 hours as neededSubcutaneous/IM:
Initial dose: 10 mg every 4 hours as needed
Dose range: 5 to 20 mg every 4 hours as needed
-For relief of pain and as preanesthetic:
Initial dose: 4 to 10 mg every 4 hours administered slowly over 4 to 5 minutes
Dose range: 5 to 15 mg
Daily dose range: 12 to 120 mg
Alternate dose: 2 to 10 mg/70 kg of body weight
-Acute myocardial infarction:
Initial dose: 4 to 8 mg
Maintenance dose: 2 to 8 mg every 4 to 15 minutes as needed
-Open heart surgery: 0.5 to 3 mg/kg IV as the sole anesthetic or with an anesthetic agent
-Severe chronic pain associated with terminal cancer:
Continuous IV Infusion: Prior to initiation of the infusion (in concentrations between 0.2 to 1 mg/mL), a loading dose of 15 mg or higher of morphine sulfate may be administered by IV push to alleviate pain.
-IV patient controlled analgesia or subcutaneous patient controlled analgesia:
1 to 2 mg injected 30 minutes after a standard IV dose of 5 to 20 mg. The lockout period is 6 to 15 minutes.
Initial dose: 5 mg in the lumbar region may provide satisfactory pain relief for up to 24 hours. If adequate pain relief is not achieved within one hour, careful administration of incremental doses of 1 to 2 mg at intervals sufficient to assess effectiveness may be given.
Maximum dose: 10 mg per 24 hr
-Dosage is usually one-tenth that of epidural dosage
-Initial dose: 0.2 to 1 mg may provide satisfactory pain relief for up to 24 hours. Repeated intrathecal injections are not recommended.
What is the dose of Morphine for a child?
Usual Pediatric Dose for Pain
Subcutaneous: 0.1 to 0.2 mg per kg as needed. Not to exceed 15 mg per dose.
-IV: 50 to 100 mcg (0.05 to 0.1 mg) per kg, administered very slowly. Not to exceed 10 mg per dose.
How is Morphine available?
Morphine is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:
Epidural, Injection: 10 mg/mL, 15 mg/1.5 mL.
What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?
In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.
Symptoms of overdose may include:
- slow, shallow, or irregular breathing
- loss of consciousness
- limp muscles
- cold, clammy skin
- small pupils
- slow heartbeat
- blurred vision
What should I do if I miss a dose?
If you miss a dose of morphine, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017
Morphine. https://www.drugs.com/morphine.html. Accessed July 14, 2016.
Morphine Injection. http://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-3891/morphine-injection/details. Accessed July 14, 2016.
Morphine for pain relief. http://patient.info/medicine/morphine-for-pain-relief. Accessed July 14, 2016.