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Starting treatment with strong opioids

Starting treatment with strong opioids

There are many types of strong opioids that can be given in different ways. The first opioid treatment you should be offered is morphine. It should be offered in a form that you can take by mouth, such as tablets, capsules, liquid or powder. You should be offered one of two types of morphine, depending on your condition and which you prefer: this should either be a short-acting type that you will need to take several times a day (called immediate-release), or a slow-release type that can be taken less frequently (called sustained-release, because it is absorbed slowly by the body over several hours).

If you are taking sustained-release morphine you should also be offered a supply of immediate-release morphine which you can take as well to help you to manage any breakthrough pain.

There is no standard dose of strong opioid: the amount needed to control pain varies from person to person. Over the first few days the amount of morphine you are taking should be frequently monitored and adjusted to find the lowest dose that controls your pain with the fewest side effects.

If you have trouble swallowing

If you cannot take opioids by mouth and your pain is fairly stable (that is, it remains steady and does not fluctuate), you should be offered an opioid patch that releases the medication through the skin. If your pain is fluctuating, injections may be considered instead.

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