Morphine is a drug from the opiate class. This molecule has a strong analgesic effect and is often used in very painful conditions, such as during advanced stages of cancer or  herpes zoster .
The word morphine comes from the Greek god Morpheus, god of sleep.
Morphine is an alkaloid extracted from the latex of the unripe fruit (opium) of the poppy. Codeine is another widely used opium alkaloid.

In the early 19th century, German chemist Friedrich Wilhelm Sertürner first isolated morphine from opium.

Morphine was first used in the civil war in the 19th century in the United States as a pain reliever for the wounded. The class of opiates includes other molecules such as codeine, fentanyl, oxycodone and oxymorphone. Fentanyl has the advantage that it can be used as a skin patch.

morphine effects

This molecule is a powerful pain reliever. Morphine acts on μ and κ type opioid receptors.

morphine indications

Morphine is used to treat a variety of pains, the WHO has defined three levels of pain (see infographic below), according to their intensity.

Level III corresponds to severe pain or when treatments indicated for phase II have failed. At this stage, the doctor will prescribe strong opioids such as morphine and its derivatives.

Morphine can be used in severe pain in the following situations (non-exhaustive list):

– Chronic diseases: cancer and severe form of herpes zoster.

– Surgeries: post-surgery and for anesthesia.

– Acute pain: after an accident.

Main side effects of morphine

– Addiction to morphine and other opiates, including dependence caused by euphoria (with a strong feeling of pleasure). There is a risk and the patient may return to using drugs, such as heroin.

Note: For many pain specialists, the risk of morphine addiction is very low if treatment is done properly on site with healthcare professionals such as physicians and a multidisciplinary team.

– Constipation. Note: With long-term (several weeks or longer) morphine treatment, doctors often prescribe laxatives to prevent constipation, a common side effect of morphine.

– Nausea and vomiting

– Dry mouth

– Fatigue.

– respiratory depression

– Vasodilation

– Psychological disorders: anxiety, hallucinations

– muscle stiffness

Forms of administration of morphine

– In injectable forms (subcutaneous, intramuscular, intravenous), oral (tablets, drops) and rectal forms (suppositories).

interesting information

Morphine regulation is governed by international law. In fact, because of the risk of drug addiction and trafficking (such as heroin, which is a synthetic derivative of morphine), a global regulation was established. The United Nations is responsible for developing and implementing such laws.

In most countries of the world, morphine requires a special prescription. The doctor usually uses a prescription pad dedicated to prescribing narcotics such as morphine. The country’s health authorities then control these prescriptions, including the amount issued by the doctor or pharmacy (inventory management, accounting) to prevent abuse.

Some of the doctors in the world, including Brazil, complain about excessive bureaucracy related to issuing morphine prescriptions. In other words, patients suffering from cancer, for example, must fill out many forms, as do doctors, before receiving this drug, which delays the medication.

In the USA, issuing morphine seems easier. However, due to the number of cases of dependence, the US government is following in the footsteps of Brazil and the UN recommendations, with more bureaucracy to delay the consumption of the drug. It is estimated that 80% of the world’s consumption of morphine is carried out in the United States, with two thirds of this consumption being illegal.


Jeanne Kenney
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I’m a stylist trainer, a content creator, and an entrepreneur passion. Virgo sign and Pisces ascendant, I move easily between my dreams, the crazy world I want, and my feet on the ground to carry out my projects.

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