Morphine Sulfate | Morphine Sulfate Side Effects and Dosage

Certain associations are universal. Yin and Yang. Right and left. Eggs and bacon. The same holds true in the world of medicine. When most people think about pain, and the subsequent relieving of said pain, one drug always seems to come to mind: morphine. This has been the case for over 200 years, ever since the medication was first synthesized in the early 1800s. Morphine is the ubiquitous painkiller.

This isn’t just true for the collective conscience either; morphine is equally universal in its applications. Hundreds of thousands of kilograms are produced from poppy plants and used in medical settings each year. On top of this, morphine is the basis from which many other opioid drugs originate, including codeine, hydrocodone and oxycodone.

Beyond its medicinal uses, morphine has the ability to be misused, both directly with the drug itself or indirectly via its offshoots. The abovementioned opioids have high abuse potential themselves, but perhaps none compare to that of heroin — another substance derived in an illicit fashion from morphine.

Morphine Sulfate | Morphine Sulfate Side Effects and Dosage
As mentioned above, morphine is found in or is the precursor of many other medicines. It also has many variants of its own. One such variety is known as morphine sulfate. What exactly constitutes the difference between conventional morphine and morphine sulfate? Not much at all, as it turns out. Morphine sulfate, as the name implies, is manufactured with an additional sulfate component within its chemical makeup — sulfates are more commonly referred to as salts.

Morphine is not easily soluble in water in its base form. Sulfates, on the other hand, are highly water-soluble. When both are put together, morphine is more readily absorbed at the source of pain. Essentially, morphine sulfate allows the body to use morphine more efficiently.

All prescription medications come with potential side effects, and morphine sulfate is no different. However, because morphine is an opioid, special care must be given in the use of such compounds. This is mainly due to the increased likelihood of patients developing unintended tolerances to the drug. Once a tolerance is built up, more of the medicine must be used to achieve the desired effect. The more that morphine is used, the more unpredictable the reactions and greater the concerns become. Though not technically a side effect in the traditional sense, an individual may end up with a dangerous substance use disorder after extended morphine sulfate usage.

The rate of which an adverse side effect may emerge is dependent on numerous factors relating to the patient in question. Still, some side effects are generally considered more common than others. These reactions include:

  • Dizziness
  • Excessive sedation
  • Constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Profuse sweating

Less frequent side effects can lead to maladies and disorders across various bodily systems, such as life-threatening respiratory failure, heart palpitations, tachycardia, dyspepsia, impaired vision, muscle twitching, anorexia, convulsions, anxiety, depression, rashes and hypertension. For all the above reasons and more, it is not recommended that individuals with respiratory issues use morphine sulfate. The decision to do so must always be with the approval of a medical professional.

In addition to side effects, it is helpful to be able to identify symptoms of a morphine sulfate overdose. Morphine overdoses, like those attributed to other opioids, have three characteristic indicators. All overdose symptoms can be placed within these designations of what is known as the opioid overdose triad:

  1. Unconsciousness: Overdose victims may appear comatose or become unresponsive to questioning or outside stimuli.
  2. Pinpoint pupils: An individual’s pupils will contract to an abnormally small size. Moreover, victims’ eyes may also move erratically or more slowly than usual.  
  3. Inhibited respiration: An overdose on morphine sulfate may also lead to respiratory depression.

Morphine sulfate overdoses can be deadly. Seek out proper intervention from medical responders if an overdose is suspected.

Proper morphine sulfate dosages are usually dependent on a patient’s previous experience with opioids. If an individual has little to no history of opioid usage, a twice-daily dose of 15 mg will often suffice. An increased prevalence of chronic pain may skew these numbers slightly in the favor of a higher dose.

The medication is available in 100–200 mg dose ranges, too. This amount is strictly used for opioid-tolerant patients at the discretion of a physician.

Tablets of morphine sulfate come in five main strength varieties: 15 mg, 30 mg, 60 mg, 100 mg, and 200 mg. These pills can be differentiated by their unique colors of blue, purple, orange, gray and green respectively. Given the inherent dangers associated with the more potent tablets, the smaller dosages are more readily available for day-to-day patient use.

Each of these tablets should be taken by mouth in their whole, unbroken form. Morphine sulfate tablets are often extended-release medicines, meaning the intended effects are gradually emitted in the body over time. Whenever the pills are crushed, as is routine during recreational use, the medicine is delivered in a hazardous manner all at once. This can very well lead to overdose and death.

Morphine sulfate is also available in a 10 mg/ml injectable medication. This form is intended for the treatment of severe pain and allows the patient to inject themselves directly into a vein or muscle once every four hours if necessary. Injections of morphine sulfate are thought to be more direct and onset faster than the pill version.

In tandem, medical and recreational opioid use has led to a widespread opioid epidemic across the United States. Suddenly, medicines that were intended to prevent pain have become the source of pain on an individual, familial and societal level. While the medical benefits of morphine and other opioids cannot be overstated, there is certainly a capacity for harm hidden within these compounds. Dealing with that aftermath will takes years, even decades. In the interim, it is vital to take in and understand as much as one can about morphine sulfate — both the good and the bad.

An addiction to morphine can be difficult to overcome, but recovery is possible with the right treatment. The Recovery Village has helped countless clients overcome substance use disorders involving morphine, alcohol and countless other drugs. Call 352.771.2700 to talk to an intake coordinator today. 

Morphine Sulfate | Morphine Sulfate Side Effects and Dosage
How Would You Rate This Page?
Morphine Sulfate | Morphine Sulfate Side Effects and Dosage was last modified: December 1st, 2017 by The Recovery Village