When many people think of morphine, fears of addiction and serious side effects may come to mind, causing them to shrink away from this form of medication. There are even doctors who hesitate to use morphine mainly due to the myths about morphine and other opiates. However, morphine and other similar opiates are highly effective and safe treatments that can be used to help patients that are dealing with a great amount of pain. When a patient lives with pain, the rest of their life becomes difficult to handle. Fortunately, almost all aspects of pain can be relieved due to the medications we have available today. When used correctly, morphine can help alleviate crippling pain that is causing a patient to not live their life to the fullest. No one should ever have to suffer because of the myths about morphine.


Common Myths About Morphine

When a patient is dealing with a terminal illness, pain is a common occurrence. At Hospice of South Louisiana, our top priority is to provide special attention to the patient and give them the relief they need to alleviate any kind of pain. When it comes to morphine, many misconceptions stand in the way of the patient actually receiving a medication that can help bring relief from pain. These myths about morphine include:

  • Patients that take morphine will become addicted.
  • Morphine has terrible side effects.
  • If morphine is taken too soon, it will not be able to stop pain later on.
  • Morphine lowers your ability to breathe.

Let’s take a look at these one by one.


Myth #1: Patients That Take Morphine Will Become Addicted

While psychological dependence on pain medications is a growing epidemic, the fears of addiction are often exaggerated when it comes to morphine. The abuse of medications is rarely ever seen in patients that are dealing with cancer and other severe pain. For drug addicts, taking the drug is desirable as an end in itself, while hospice patients that are suffering from chronic pain find the only desirable aspect of taking morphine is the relief from pain itself. It is important that patients who are taking strong medications like morphine not to stop it all at once and instead to taper off as this will reduce side effects.


Myth #2: Morphine Has Terrible Side Effects

Most opiates can cause drowsiness and nausea. However, side effects will generally go away after a few days when your body has time to adjust to the medication. Drowsiness is the side effect that may come and go throughout treatment. For those who do suffer from feeling abnormally tired more, most state that the relief they receive from the pain is a much better tradeoff.


Myth #3: If Morphine is Taken Too Soon it Will Not Be Able to Stop Pain Later On

Morphine tolerance usually does not develop when a patient is using the medication to control pain from cancer and other forms of severe illness. As pain increases, the dosage can always be adjusted upward to manage symptoms. There is no maximum amount of morphine that can be given. If a patient’s pain continues to increase, morphine can still be given in higher doses that are safe for the patient while also combating an increase in pain.


Myth #4: Morphine Lowers Your Ability to Breathe

While lowered breathing function known as respiratory depression, is a possible hazard of morphine, this rarely happens when a patient receives initial doses of morphine that are monitored. Morphine is administered in a way that helps the patient achieve an appropriate balance of pain control without any harsh side effects. Patients are never prescribed a large initial dose of morphine. Instead, they receive a small dose and then gradually build up to the amount that works best to manage their pain. This way of monitoring the medication allows the patient to receive relief benefits without having an effect on their breathing. There are times when Morphine is used to help with shortness of breath, it is very effective to alleviate this symptom. Many times morphine is the drug of choice for those that are suffering from terminal heart or lung disease.


Pain Relief From Morphine

There are many myths about Morphine that have caused patients to think twice about using the drug when they are struggling with severe pain. Many caregivers fear that their loved one will die from using morphine, which is a myth. The disease process is what will cause death. Patients will have a much better quality of life with pain and symptoms that are under control. However, morphine is one of the most well-established medications being used today to manage pain during any stage of life. At Hospice of South Louisiana, the type of pain medication hospice caregivers give to patients is always based on their own personal medical history, their preferences, and the level of pain severity.


There are many options for pain medication available to help end-of-life patients spend their time dealing with as little pain as possible. Morphine is only one of these medications, but because it is such an effective form of pain relief it’s important to separate the myths from the facts so patients can receive the best care during these final moments.


Contact Hospice of South Louisiana today to learn more about how we can help your loved one find relief from pain and live a more fulfilling life.