Morphine is a popular means of treating severe pain that accompanies conditions such as cancer and heart attack. It’s part of the opioid family of drugs and is very effective when used in the correct way. Medical professionals are highly skilled in the use of morphine, so anyone who is prescribed the drug should feel secure that the dose is safe for them to use.
Normally, the dose of morphine prescribed for medical purposes is 20-30 milligrams. However, if a patient is taking morphine on an ongoing basis, their tolerance for the drug may increase and the dose may need to be raised as a result. The amount of morphine required to overdose varies from person to person, but a fatal dose is normally around 200 milligrams, for those that have been prescribed the drug or those that are taking it illicitly. Even if an overdose does not result in death, it’s still serious and needs to be dealt with immediately.
Signs of a morphine overdose
Overdoses of morphine can happen in people who are looking for a high and people who have become addicted as a result of long-term medical use. It’s important that medical morphine is only ever taken in the recommended dose, and that any suspected addiction issues are treated straight away; learn more here. If an overdose does occur, there are three main signs to look out for.
- A drowsy, or unconscious state.
- Pinpoint pupils. This means that the pupils of the eye are much smaller than normal and are not reactive to light.
- Slowed rate of breathing. It’s very important to note a change to the rate of breathing as this could be a sign of pulmonary edema.
These signs can be accompanied by others such as a confused state of mind, nausea and a blue tint to the skin and fingernails.
How is a morphine overdose treated?
If these symptoms are spotted, medical assistance should be sought. The sooner treatment is provided, the less likely it is that the overdose will have serious consequences. The usual treatment for an overdose is the drug naloxone which you can administer to yourself if you have it to hand and you have taken an overdose of morphine. This drug binds itself to the same receptors in the central nervous system as morphine does. This is how it deals with the overdose and helps the patient. If there is no naloxone available, this is not a reason to panic. It’s important to call the emergency services as soon as possible. They need to be advised that the overdose involves opioids so that they can treat the problem as effectively as possible.
An overdose of morphine is always a serious issue, and it can occur at low levels of dosage in certain people. It’s important to be aware of the signs and take action straight away if you believe that you, or anyone else, has overdosed.