Myths About Morphine

Morphine is an opioid analgesic that offers safe and effective relief of moderate to severe pain. There are many myths about morphine. These myths may affect people’s willingness to accept morphine for pain relief, and may affect the family’s perceptions of why morphine is being prescribed.

There is evidence that nurse’s beliefs about morphine affect their readiness to administer it. [1]

Commonly held myths about morphine

  • Morphine is addictive
    • when given to relieve pain, morphine is not addictive
  • Tolerance to morphine will develop and higher doses will be needed
    • tolerance does not develop, disease progression may cause increasing pain, and increased need for analgesia
  • Injections are better than oral
    • injections are only necessary if the resident cannot take oral medication
    • oral preparations are as effective; long acting forms mean better pain control and less frequent administration
  • Once on morphine the end is near
    • morphine does not cause death, the underlying illness does
  • Enduring pain will enhance one’s character
    • pain decreases quality of life and lowers morale
  • Believing side effects (nausea, vomiting, constipation etc.) are allergies
    • true allergies to morphine are rare, side effects can be managed
  • Useful Tip

The relief of pain and suffering is a basic Human Right.

  1. Edwards HE, Nash RE, Najman JM, Yates PM, Fentiman BJ, Dewar A, et al. Determinants of nurses' intention to administer opioids for pain relief. Nurs Health Sci. 2001 Sep;3(3):149-59.

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Last updated 15 February 2017