The morphine is an analgesic that is obtained from the opium plant (Papaver Somniferum), popularly known as opium poppy. The opium It is one of the most used drugs in antiquity, which has been replaced by its famous derivatives, morphine and, especially, heroin.

Brief history of morphine

Morphine appeared at the beginning of the 19th century. At this time opium was prescribed (analgesic used to relieve pain), but doubts arose when trying to establish what dose should be administered according to the purity of the preparation.

The town pharmacist commissioned Friedrich Sertürner to conduct an opium quality study, which was dispensed at the pharmacy. Young Friedrich thought of dissolving opium in an acid, then reducing it with ammonia; and finally he obtained gray crystals that he used experimentally in cats, thus manifesting his hypnotic power (producing sleep). Suffering from a strong toothache, Friedrich decided to try it himself. Upon taking it he went into a deep sleep for eight hours. When he awoke he got up without any discomfort.

Therefore, due to its somniferous virtues, in honor of the god of sleep Morpheus, he baptized this substance with the name of morphine.

The opiate was commercialized for the first time in 1817, announcing itself as an analgesic that, in addition, could be used in the treatment of addictions to certain substances, such as opium and alcohol. Over time, unfortunately, it would be discovered that morphine is even more addictive than alcohol or opium.

Although today it has been displaced by other drugs such as heroin, morphine remains one of the preferred substances by heroin addicts when they can not access it.

Uses of morphine

It is used in the following cases:

  • Postoperative pain
  • Severe chronic pain resistant to other analgesics
  • Oncological pain.
  • Transient pain of severe intensity.
  • Pain associated with myocardial infarction.

This opiate can be administered orally (oral solution, tablets and capsules retard) and parenterally (subcutaneously, intravenously, intramuscularly, epidurally and intrathecally). The dose must be adapted individually to each patient, according to the severity of the pain that presents and the response to the analgesic.

In children it is only used exceptionally and in restricted doses, according to their body mass. Pregnant women are only given morphine when there is no alternative and, taking into account that the substance passes into breast milk, breastfeeding should be suspended when a treatment with morphine is established.

Contraindications to the use of morphine

In certain circumstances its use is contraindicated, such as:

  • When the patient presents an allergic reaction of any kind.
  • When you can interact with other medications the patient is taking.
  • During pregnancy and lactation.
  • In children under one year.
  • If the patient suffers from respiratory depression or respiratory diseases that present with severe obstructions.
  • In patients with cranial trauma or elevated intracranial pressure.
  • Before a surgical intervention, or in the first 24 hours after it.
  • When the patient suffers from seizure disorders.
  • In all those cases in which the patient suffers a disease that the doctor considers may be aggravated by the use of the drug.

Side effects of morphine

Morphine has important side effects such as:

  • Nausea and / or vomiting
  • Alteration in the results of blood tests.
  • Drowsiness, disorientation, dizziness, instability.
  • Blurry vision.
  • Euphoria.
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth.
  • Constipation.
  • Respiratory alterations and / or variations in blood pressure.
  • Asthenia.
  • Pruritus.
  • Dependency (may occur if its use is prolonged).
  • It can aggravate the condition of the patient when he suffers from diseases such as: pancreatitis, asthma, COPD, alcoholism, hypotension, chronic constipation, hypothyroidism, severe liver or kidney disorders, among others.
  • Physical dependence on the fetus and withdrawal syndrome in the baby if administered to a pregnant woman. In addition, it passes into breast milk, so it should not be used during breastfeeding.

Illegal Drugs: Opium, Morphine and Heroin (Documentary) (November 2019).