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Morphine – long acting

Long acting Morphine (controlled release) is used to control on-going pain. This page explains what it does, how to use it and the potential side effects.


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Long Acting Morphine (controlled release)

Other names: Zomorph, Morphgsic, MST Continus, Oxycontin, Oxylan

What is it for?

Morphine is used for moderate to severe pain. Long acting Morphine is used to control on-going pain.

Isn’t Morphine something that’s only used right at the end?

No. Morphine is given for different sorts of severe pain. This may sometimes be as a result of a heart attack or after a major operation. If you have cancer, treatment with Morphine may be needed to allow you to continue as pain free a life as possible. You will be able to go on taking Morphine for as long as you need to. The effects do not wear off with time and the dose can be increased if needed.

When do I take it?

This type of Morphine is taken every 12 hours to prevent pain. When you are at home you can take your morning dose when you wake up and then the evening dose about 12 hours later. Do not stop taking Morphine suddenly.

What do I do if I forget to take a regular dose?

Take a dose as soon as you remember. Do not take a double dose to make up for the missed one. If you are sick and bring up the medicine, repeat the dose as soon as you feel better.

Are there any side effects from taking Morphine?

Sleepiness

This is most common when you first take Morphine or when the dose is increased. It should settle after a few days.

Constipation

This is a very common side effect. It is important to drink plenty of fluids and always take a laxative regularly, as prescribed by your doctor. The dose of laxative can be increased or reduced to make sure you pass a soft motion regularly.

Sickness

If you feel sick when you first start to take Morphine, try taking it with food. Your doctor may need to give you some anti-sickness medicine for a few days until the sickness goes away.

Will I become addicted to Morphine and unable to stop taking it?

If you no longer need your Morphine, the dose can be reduced gradually by your doctor without any problems.

Will Morphine always relieve my pain completely?

A. Although Morphine is a very good painkiller, it is not helpful for all types of pain. Other treatments may be needed and suggested by your doctor or nurse.

What do I do if I get pain between the regular 12 hourly doses?

If the pain is mild, Paracetamol may help. If it is more severe you should take a dose of quick acting Morphine (liquid or tablets). Wait about 30 minutes and if you still have pain take another dose of quick acting Morphine. If you need more than two extra doses in a day, you may need the long acting Morphine dose increased. Tell your doctor or nurse.

Some people find that doing certain things like having a bath or going for a walk brings on the pain. Your doctor or nurse may suggest you try taking a dose of quick acting Morphine before you start doing something that brings on the pain.

How will I know if the Morphine is not going to work for some of my pain?

You may still have pain despite taking bigger doses of Morphine and may feel unwell in one or more of these ways:

• more sleepy than usual

• feeling sick more of the time

• restlessness or jumpiness

• bad dreams

Do not worry if this happens. Tell your doctor or nurse. Your doctor may reduce your dose of Morphine and suggest other treatments to help the pain.

Can I drive?

Once you get used to taking Morphine and do not feel sleepy or unwell, you may be able to drive. Please ask for a copy of the St Barnabas House Patient Information Leaflet “Strong Painkillers and driving”.

Can I drink alcohol?

A small glass of wine, beer or a sherry may help you feel better and improve your appetite. It is best to avoid taking more than this, as you may become too drowsy.

How do I store my drugs?

Like all medications, controlled drugs should be kept in a secure place out of the reach of children and vulnerable adults. They should be kept somewhere cool and protected from light.

How do I dispose of my drugs?

Only drugs currently in use and within their expiry date should be kept. When drugs are no longer needed or are not being used, you must return them to a chemist to be destroyed.

Reference

Lothian Palliative Care Guidelines January 2002

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