Non-prescription morphine use is very dangerous due to the opiate’s high potential for addiction, overdose, and death. The variety of ways that this drug can be self-administered only increase the potential health risks and dangers involved in morphine abuse.
In the United States morphine sulfate is a Schedule II non-synthetic opioid used for moderate to severe pain relief and chronic pain relief. However, today many newer synthetic and semi-synthetic opioid painkillers are used more frequently.
Morphine has been produced since the early 1800s in tablets, capsules, suppositories, oral solutions, and injection preparations.
The side effects of morphine generally involve sedation of the central nervous system and closely match the side effects of other opioid analgesics including hydrocodone, oxycodone, tramadol, and others. The sedating effects can lead to various methods of abuse.
When oral morphine tablets are ingested via the mouth it takes time for the body to absorb the medication and attached to opioid receptors in the brain. This provides a more gradual, extended-release effect and high doses to get high.
By injecting the medication directly into the bloodstream, this time-delay process is bypassed so users can experience an immediate and far more intense high.
However, outside of medical use, morphine pills must be crushed and prepared for injection first.
The process of injection can lead to a variety of health risks, including:
Another option for morphine drug abuse involves preparing the tablets and heating them in tinfoil. After this, the vapors are inhaled and the drug enters the bloodstream through the lungs.
There is a misconception that smoking, snorting, or plugging opioids—including morphine—is a less addictive option compared to injection.
However, while it’s true that other forms of ingestion introduce the drug to the body more slowly than injection, that difference is relatively small and the drug remains just as addictive, dangerous, and habit-forming.
Smoking morphine can also cause a permanent reduction in lung function, lung irritation, and a buildup of unwanted morphine pill binder compounds in lung tissue.
Snorting is a method of introducing morphine to the body through the mucus membranes of the nose and mouth. Pills are finely crushed and then inhaled, resulting in a very short delay before the effect kicks in.
However, as a person continues to snort drugs they will continuously damage their nasal structures leading to health effects such as:
In a medical setting, morphine can be administered as a suppository in some cases. However, rectal administration greatly increases the bioavailability of morphine (the potency of the dose) compared to oral administration.
For this reason, although less common than other methods of abuse, there are individuals who choose to ‘plug’ morphine in order to get high.
Unfortunately, this increase in potency comes with significant health risks, especially without others nearby who can summon medical help if overdose occurs.