Morphine myths and reality
Mentioning the word "Morphine" can be enough to evoke all sorts of negative thoughts in patients and their family members. Most people thought that taking morphine can lead to addiction while others may think that those who take morphine are the people who are ready to die. The truth is, morphine and other opiates (such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone etc.) are very effective in relieving moderate to severe pain.
People who are in their terminal illness has a lot of more important things to do than suffering from pain. The final days, weeks or months should be a time to connect to their loved ones and reflect on life. No one should suffer from pain because they are afraid to use morphine or opiates.
Image credit: http://inglouriousbasterds.wikia.com/
Here are some common misunderstanding about morphine and other opiates:
Myth 1: "My doctor gave me two pain medications, acetaminophen and hydromorphone. I only take the acetaminophen because if I take the hydromorphone I won't be able to stop taking it - I will become addicted." Actually, when the pain increases the Tylenol is not enough to treat the pain but the patient tries to endure it instead of taking the hydromophone because of his/her belief.
Reality: Very few of people who use opiates for pain relief ever become addicted or "psychologically addicted." Remember, Morphine and other opioids are use to relieve pain not to become addicted to it.
Myth 2: A family member of a palliative care patient asked. "Will my mother die faster if she takes the morphine?" - "I heard that morphine can cause death, is the doctor not telling me something."
Reality: No, Morphine is very effective in releiving moderate to severe pain. Severe pain at the end of life are distracting, distractive, and for the most part, unnecessary. All dying patients should be able to experience substantial relief of pain. Dying shoudn't be hurt!
Myth 3: "I heard that morphine has a lot of side effects."
Reality: All opiates can cause nausea, drowsiness, and constipation. However, these are only temporary and mild. As your body adjust to the drug, all side effects will generally stop in a few days. Constipation can be easily treated by increasing your water and fiber intake, and your activity.
Myth 4: "If I take Morphine now, it won't work later when my pain is worse and I really need it badly - will I get overdosed."
Reality: Morphine can be used safely, there is no reason to wait until your pain is unbearable and harder to treat. If your pain increases over time, your dose can be increased as needed.
When more patients and their family understand well about "MORPHINE", and nurses and doctor will prioritize pain relief. More people can live in comfort.