Drug Awareness Assignment - GLE 3O1 Unit Task


Morphine is what is known as an opioid pain medication, which is sometimes referred to as a narcotic. It is mainly used to treat moderate or severe pain. Short-acting formulations are taken as needed for pain while the extended-release form of this medicine is for around-the-clock treatment of pain. Morphine is not for treating short-term pain just after surgery unless it were a situation where you were already taking morphine before the surgery.

Morphine was first isolated in 1804 by Freidrich Serturner, which is generally believed to be the first ever isolation of a natural plant alkaloid in history. Sertürner began distributing it in 1817, and was marketed commercially in 1827. Morphine was commonly more used after the invention of the hypodermic syringe in 1857. Sertürner originally named the substance morphium after the Greek god of dreams, Morpheus, for its tendency to cause sleep. Morphine is also on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines, a list of the most important medications needed in a basic health system.

Common/Known Side Effects

The side effects of Morphine can cause allergic reactions such as hives, difficult breathing, swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Morphine can also cause such side effects as a slowed heart rate, sighing, weak or shallow breathing, chest pain, fast or pounding heartbeats or extreme drowsiness, or feeling like you might pass out. For these reasons it is recommended that people who have severe asthma do not use this drug. Morphine is more likely to cause breathing problems in older adults and people who are severely ill, malnourished, or otherwise debilitated. Other common morphine side effects may include:

  • drowsiness, dizziness;

  • constipation, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting;

  • headache or tired feeling;

  • anxiety; or

  • mild itching.

Although these are the most commonly found side effects of morphine many others can still occur that are not listed here.

Legal Implications

As stated under the Controlled Substances Act, "Morphine is a Schedule II drug. Doctors must be licensed by state medical authorities to prescribe it legally. They must also register with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and obtain a DEA number to use when writing the prescriptions. The DEA number helps keep track of how many prescriptions a doctor writes. Any trafficking in morphine — or any other Schedule II drug — results in federal penalties of up to 20 years. If death or serious injury results, the penalties for a first offense are 20 years to life and fines of up to $1 million. In 1988, the penalties were slightly changed: now those who are caught with only a small quantity of morphine face civil fines of up to $10,000".

Interesting facts

  • When being traded in markets, morphine is sold under many different names such as Loceptin, Avinza, Algedol, Filnarine and Infumorph.

  • During the American Civil War, Morphine was highly praised as a miracle drug that could be used on the battlefield by doctors trying to help wounded soldiers deal with pain.

  • In the mid-1800’s scientists came up with an effective, sure-fire solution to the problem of morphine addiction. Needless to say it didn’t work, and instead gave birth to the drug known as heroin.
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