While morphine may work for pain management, it also has a high potential for abuse which is why it’s classified as a schedule II controlled substance.
The drug works by binding to opioid receptors in the central nervous system (CNS) and produces analgesia, reducing incoming pain signals to the brain, thus decreasing our perception of pain.
Morphine is available under multiple brand names including MS Contin, Astramorph, Oramorph, Depodur, Duramorph, Kadian, and Arymo ER.
Chronic use of morphine can lead to tolerance and physical and psychological dependence. If you build up a dependence and try to quit the drug, serious withdrawal symptoms may occur.
Morphine Drug Classification
Morphine’s drug classification is as an opioid analgesic. This means the drug is an opioid and a type of pain medication. Since it’s a natural opioid, it’s also classified as an opiate (narcotic) which means it’s made from the opium plant. It’s not synthetic or made in a lab.
It’s also considered an opioid agonist which means taking it results in the full opioid effect of euphoria and pain relief.
It comes in a couple of different forms: tablet, extended-release tablet, extended-release capsules, oral solution, and a morphine sulfate injection (often given as an epidural during labor). Some are long-acting while others only work short-term, depending on the formulation.
The FDA and DEA classify morphine as a schedule II controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). This means the drug has a high potential for abuse and can lead to both physical and psychological dependence.
Besides morphine, other schedule II controlled substances include hydromorphone, methadone, meperidine, oxycodone, fentanyl, codeine, and hydrocodone.
Side Effects Of Morphine
Morphine also comes with a lot of different adverse effects. They range from mild to severe and even life-threatening if a high enough dosage is consumed.
Some of the most common side effects can include:
- urinary retention
- loss of appetite
- numbness and tingling
- dry mouth
- respiratory depression
- constricted pupils
- kidney/renal damage
- changes in heartbeat
Morphine Drug Interactions
There are also some substances that shouldn’t be taken with morphine. Adverse drug interactions can occur, as well as an increased risk of overdose.
The drugs you shouldn’t take with morphine include:
- certain pain medications like butorphanol, nalbuphine, and pentazocine
- drugs for sleep or anxiety such as alprazolam, lorazepam, zolpidem
- benzodiazepine sedatives like Valium, Klonopin, or Xanax
- antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
- muscle relaxants
If you’re breastfeeding, caution is also recommended. A small amount of the drug can transfer to breast milk and ingestion by your baby could affect their health.
Because of how high the potential for abuse is, morphine has a high risk for overdose or toxicity. Whether you take a very high dose of morphine or mix the drug with alcohol or another medication like buprenorphine, a morphine overdose can be life-threatening.
With an overdose comes a number of serious symptoms that may include:
- cold and clammy skin
- lowered blood pressure/hypotension
- slowed breathing
- slow pulse rate
- possible death
If you are on morphine, you should talk to your healthcare provider about having naloxone on hand. It can reverse the symptoms of an overdose and save your life.
Morphine Withdrawal Symptoms
Since morphine can also lead to a tolerance and/or a psychological or physical dependence, stopping use can lead to opioid withdrawal syndrome. Withdrawal symptoms for Morphine can include agitation, anxiety, restlessness, stomach cramps, and nausea/vomiting.
It’s not recommended to quit morphine all of a sudden or to do it cold turkey. A medical professional can taper the dosage over a period of time to ease symptoms. This tapering can either be done with the help of your doctor or in a detox program.
If you or a loved one is struggling with morphine abuse or another form of substance abuse, please contact Northeast Addiction Treatment Center today.