Concerns about opiates (such as Morphine, Oxycodone and Fentanyl) are common.
Addiction is really rare when a strong painkiller is used in the right dose to relieve pain.
Morphine and related drugs, when used in the right dose, do not shorten life but can actually enhance quality of life. If pain is controlled, appetite is better, and life will feel more worthwhile.
Side effects such as nausea and drowsiness are common when strong painkillers are started, or when the dose is increased - but these side effects wear off after a day or two.
You can legally drive when on opiates if your driving is not impaired. It is best to avoid driving when first starting opioids or if the dose has just gone up. Do carry a copy of the prescription in your car. Please review the leaflet Harlington Hospice: Guidelines for driving if taking strong medications which gives more information (see Downloads).
People worry that if morphine is used early in an illness, then it may not work if the pain gets worse. This isn't true. The dose can be increased or switched to another strong pain killer.
The 4 minute video below from Dr Pete Nightingale explains the different types of drugs related to morphine and how they can be safely managed to treat pain effectively at the end of life. He also discusses common myths about morphine.