Morphine is a highly potent analgesic, or pain reliever, for moderate to severe pain due to injuries, surgery, or some illnesses such as cancer. Though morphine is often given by injection in a hospital setting, it’s also widely used in pill form. But morphine pills come with a long list of side effects and potentially fatal risks, so they should be handled with care.
How Does Morphine Work?
Made from the seed pods of poppy plants, morphine is likely the best known member of that class of drugs known as opioids, or narcotics. These highly addictive medications suppress pain by acting on receptors in the brainstem and limbic system, and by muting pain messages sent by the body to the brain.
Among many other functions, the brain stem manages the activity of the central nervous system, which is responsible for autonomous processes like respiration, heartbeat and digestion. The limbic system is connected to emotions including pleasure and reward. By boosting limbic activity and depressing activity in the brain stem, morphine offers users a break from severe pain. But that relief has a price: morphine’s side effects range from minor to life threatening, and the risk of dependency is high.
A Risky Option for Pain Relief
Morphine pills are not for everyone. Those with breathing or digestive problems, a history of head injuries, seizures or tumors, or bladder, liver or kidney disease are at risk for some of morphine’s more severe side effects and should take a different kind of pain medication.
Even if you have none of these risk factors, morphine can cause blurred vision, trouble seeing colors, chest pain, sweating and dizziness. Some users experience unexplained itching,burning or tingling on the skin, or chills. Other common symptoms include coughing, wheezing and loss of appetite.
Morphine pills can affect just about every system of the body. Because morphine depresses the central nervous system, this medication can also lower blood pressure and inhibit circulation, so users may also experience fainting pallor and blue, cold digits. Digestion is a function of the central nervous system, too, so appetite changes, digestive issues and even black, tarry stools may occur when taking morphine pills. Other problems include unusual bruising and bleeding, a shaky walk and irregular heartbeat.
Morphine also affects the brain’s limbic system, home of emotional responses, so mood changes, intense dreaming, excitement and nervousness can also occur when taking morphine even at prescribed levels.
Use Pills As Directed
Morphine “pills” actually come in both tablet and capsule form, and it’s essential to know what kind you’re taking. Regular morphine tablets are intended to release a dose over time, so it’s essential to take them whole, without crushing or dissolving them. Otherwise you could receive a potentially fatal amount at once. Morphine capsules can be opened and sprinkled over other foods to make dosing easier, though, so it’s important to check with your doctor about the kind of pill and the dosing options you have.
Morphine in all its forms can be highly addictive, and overdosing can cause serious and potentially fatal outcomes, thanks to the drug’s effect of slowing the heart rate and breathing. Symptoms of morphine overdose include excessive drowsiness, unresponsiveness, slow breathing and pulse rate or even coma.
Because of its addictive potential, morphine is a class IV controlled substance, and it’s illegal to let others use your medication, or to use it outside of prescribed dosing. Used as directed – and stopped as soon as possible – morphine can be an effective pain medication that helps people return to normal life. But it’s important to use this potent drug with caution.
If you’re concerned about using morphine pills or other opioids, we’re here to help. Contact us at 800-442-6158 Who Answers? for information, support and assistance to find the options that are right for you.