This medication is used to help relieve severe ongoing pain (such as due to cancer). Morphine belongs to a class of drugs known as opioid analgesics. It works in the brain to change how your body feels and responds to pain.
The higher strengths of this drug (100 milligrams or more per tablet) should be used only if you have been regularly taking moderate to large amounts of opioid pain medications. These strengths may cause overdose (even death) if taken by a person who has not been regularly taking opioids.
Do not use the extended-release form of morphine to relieve pain that is mild or that will go away in a few days. This medication is not for occasional ("as needed") use.
How To Use
See also Warning section.
Read the Medication Guide provided by your pharmacist before you start using morphine and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Take this medication on a regular schedule as directed by your doctor, not as needed for sudden (breakthrough) pain. Take this drug with or without food as directed by your doctor, usually every 8 hours or 12 hours. Some brands should only be taken every 12 hours. 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 nausea lasts, see your doctor.
Swallow the tablets whole. Do not break, crush, chew, or dissolve the tablet. Doing so can release all of the drug at once, increasing the risk of morphine overdose.
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.
Before you start taking this medication, ask your doctor or pharmacist if you should stop or change how you use your other opioid medication(s). 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.
See also Warning section.
Nausea, vomiting, constipation, sweating, lightheadedness, dizziness, or drowsiness may occur. Some of these side effects may decrease after you have been using this medication for a while. If any of these effects last or get worse, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
To prevent constipation, eat dietary fiber, drink enough water, and exercise. You may also need to take a laxative. Ask your pharmacist which type of laxative is right for you.
To reduce the risk of dizziness and lightheadedness, get up slowly when rising from a sitting or lying position.
An empty tablet shell may appear in your stool. This effect is harmless because your body has already absorbed the medication.
Remember that this medication has been prescribed because your doctor has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including:
- interrupted breathing during sleep (sleep apnea)
- mental/mood changes (such as agitation, confusion, hallucinations)
- severe stomach/abdominal pain
- difficulty urinating
- signs of your adrenal glands not working well (such as loss of appetite, unusual tiredness, weight loss)
Get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, including:
- slow/shallow breathing
- severe drowsiness/difficulty waking up
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including:
- itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat)
- severe dizziness
- trouble breathing
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
In the US -
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch.
In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Before taking morphine, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or to other opioid pain medications (such as codeine); or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of:
- brain disorders (such as head injury, tumor, seizures)
- breathing problems (such as asthma, sleep apnea, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease-COPD)
- kidney disease
- liver disease
- mental/mood disorders (such as confusion, depression)
- personal or family history of a substance use disorder (such as overuse of or addiction to drugs/alcohol)
- stomach/intestinal problems (such as blockage, constipation, diarrhea due to infection, paralytic ileus)
- difficulty urinating (such as due to enlarged prostate)
- disease of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
- gallbladder disease
This drug may make you dizzy or drowsy. Alcohol or marijuana (cannabis) can make you more dizzy or drowsy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs alertness until you can do it safely. Avoid alcoholic beverages. Talk to your doctor if you are using marijuana (cannabis).
Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).
Older adults may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially confusion, dizziness, drowsiness, and slow/shallow breathing.
During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. It may harm an unborn baby. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor. (See also Warning section.)
This drug passes into breast milk and may have undesirable effects on a nursing infant. Tell the doctor right away if your baby develops unusual sleepiness, difficulty feeding, or trouble breathing. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
See also Warning section.
Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.
Some products that may interact with this drug include:
- certain pain medications (mixed opioid agonist/antagonists such as butorphanol, nalbuphine, pentazocine)
The risk of serious side effects (such as slow/shallow breathing, severe drowsiness/dizziness) may be increased if this medication is taken with other products that may also cause drowsiness or breathing problems. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking other products such as other opioid pain or cough relievers (such as codeine, hydrocodone), alcohol, marijuana (cannabis), drugs for sleep or anxiety (such as alprazolam, lorazepam, zolpidem), muscle relaxants (such as carisoprodol, cyclobenzaprine), or antihistamines (such as cetirizine, diphenhydramine).
Check the labels on all your medicines (such as allergy or cough-and-cold products) because they may contain ingredients that cause drowsiness. Ask your pharmacist about using those products safely.
This medication may interfere with certain laboratory tests (including amylase/lipase levels), possibly causing false test results. Make sure laboratory personnel and all your doctors know you use this drug.
If someone has overdosed and has serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, give them naloxone if available, then call 911. If the person is awake and has no symptoms, call a poison control center right away. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Alberta residents can call PADIS (Poison and Drug Information Service) 24 hours a day at 1-800-332-1414. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center. Symptoms of overdose may include: slow/shallow breathing, slow heartbeat, coma.
Do not share this medication with others. Sharing it is against the law.
This medication has been prescribed for your current condition only. Do not use it later for another condition unless told to do so by your doctor. A different medication may be necessary in that case.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose. Take your next dose at the regular time. Do not double the dose to catch up.
If you have questions about missing a dose or you don't have more medication, contact your healthcare provider or pharmacist.
Store at room temperature away from light and moisture. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep all medications away from children and pets. See also Warning section.
Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. For more details, read the Medication Guide, or consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company.