Snorting Morphine (Insufflation) | MS Contin, Duramorph

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on March 10, 2021

Morphine is a prescription opioid used to address chronic pain and provide post-surgical pain relief. People that abuse this drug through methods like snorting are at risk of dangerous side effects, addiction, physical dependence, and deadly overdose.

Snorting Morphine (Insufflation)

Morphine is a prescription opioid that is derived from the opium poppy. Also known as branded MS Contin and Duramorph, this drug has been used for a long time as an effective analgesic for both moderate and severe pain.

In a healthcare setting, morphine can be taken through intravenous injection, as an oral solution, or through extended-release or immediate-release tablets. Morphine activates opioid receptors in the brain and depresses the central nervous system.

Morphine can make a person have feelings of euphoria and general well-being, which can be emotionally addictive and can cause physical dependence.

Some people that abuse this opioid use the extended-release pill formulation MS Contin to crush and snort for an intense, but brief high.

When morphine is abused through any method, it can cause unpleasant long-term and short-term effects.
Morphine’s effects on the central nervous system can cause systemic depression of the vital systems like the heart and lungs.

If morphine is combined with other CNS depressants like alcohol or benzodiazepines, this increases the risk of overdose.

Side Effects Of Snorting Morphine

When morphine is snorted (intranasal insufflation), the pills are crushed, snorted, and absorbed rapidly through blood vessels in the nose. Effects will be felt almost instantly.

When long-acting, higher doses of morphine are crushed and snorted, the effects can be unpredictable if the person did not have a tolerance for that drug.

Side effects of morphine ingestion are similar to other side effects associated with opioid abuse.

Morphine’s effects include:

  • headache
  • dry mouth
  • stomach pain
  • extreme drowsiness
  • dizziness
  • painful urination
  • fainting
  • fever and sweating
  • nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • hallucinations
  • changes in mood
  • agitation
  • blue or purple skin
  • chest pain, rapid heartbeat
  • coordination loss
  • decrease in sexual desire
  • erection troubles
  • menstruation troubles
  • extreme stiffness of the muscles
  • tremors, twitching, and seizures

Physical Effects Of Snorting Morphine

People that regularly snort drugs can do serious damage to their nose and throat. This damage can worsen with the possibility of infection and constant irritation.

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Constantly snorting morphine can cause sores, crusty skin, and bloody noses along with sinus infections.

Snorting drugs can also cause the following effects:

  • runny nose or congestion
  • ear and facial pain/swelling
  • mouth ulcers
  • trouble swallowing
  • throat damage and hoarse throat
  • damage to the nasal septum and mucous membranes
  • permanent changes to the voice

Long-Term Effects Of Morphine

Prolonged abuse of opioids like morphine is ultimately damaging to long-term physical and mental health.

In addition to the nasal and facial damage that happens when snorting drugs, people that snort morphine increase their risk of organ damage and serious overdose effects that include brain damage and death.

People that abuse morphine may experience medical emergencies and chronic issues due to prolonged opioid substance use.

These people may experience:

  • heart attack
  • stroke
  • weakened heart valves
  • low blood pressure
  • irregular heartbeat
  • increased risk of cancers and infections
  • kidney and liver damage
  • constipation
  • irritability
  • memory loss
  • increased risk of chronic depression

Increased Risk Of Opioid Overdose

Much like other CNS depressants, a person that snorts morphine may be more likely to experience an overdose.

The short, rushing high that happens when morphine is snorted may encourage a person to take more when the feeling wears off.

However, while morphine’s effects have dissipated, the body will not have fully processed the drug. Taking more morphine or pairing it with benzodiazepines or other opioids like oxycodone may overwhelm the system and cause an adverse reaction.

Morphine overdoses also occur when a person with a high opioid tolerance stops taking the drug and then restarts after some time sober.

Many overdose deaths in the United States can be attributed to people that relapse and take opioids when their tolerance has lowered significantly.

Morphine Overdose Symptoms

People experiencing a morphine overdose may exhibit several symptoms.

Morphine overdose symptoms may include any of the following:

  • sleepiness
  • confusion
  • agitation
  • coma
  • bluish skin or fingertips
  • clammy skin
  • respiratory depression
  • blurred vision
  • nausea
  • small pupils

Treating A Morphine Overdose

One of the most common solutions for reversing an opioid overdose is naloxone, known by its brand name Narcan.

This opioid antagonist binds to opioid receptors to cancel out the morphine’s effects. It is available as a nasal spray, (Narcan Nasal Spray), a hand-held auto-injector (Evzio), and an injectable (needle) solution.

Treatment And Detox For Morphine Drug Abuse

People that abuse morphine are likely to experience both emotional addiction and physical dependence.

Physical dependence means that the body will respond strongly to the drug’s absence with withdrawal symptoms, while addiction may manifest in strong cravings and psychological attachment.

People that have decided to stop using morphine when it interferes with their life may need to undergo a period of detoxification, which will result in some withdrawal symptoms.

These symptoms may include:

  • sweating
  • nausea and vomiting
  • chills
  • insomnia
  • increased blood pressure
  • racing heart
  • sleeping problems
  • severe drug cravings
  • aching of bones or muscles
  • uncontrollable leg movements
  • restlessness
  • anxiety and depression

Medication-Assisted Treatment For Morphine Abuse

Treatment for morphine addiction and withdrawals may include a combination of pharmaceutical interventions and behavioral therapies.

When administered according to good medical advice, opioid agonists like methadone and partial opioid agonists like buprenorphine work to ward off cravings and manage withdrawal symptoms.

Some programs administer benzodiazepines to help manage anxiety and physical tremors associated with withdrawals.

Some advanced stages of outpatient recovery programs may recommend abuse-deterrent drugs like naltrexone, which causes immediate withdrawal symptoms if a person relapses into opioid drug use.

Inpatient Drug Rehab And Outpatient Treatment Options

Both inpatient and outpatient programs provide a range of behavioral therapies to help fortify their capacity for self-regulation and self-reflection that help with maintaining sobriety.

When people have a better understanding of the factors that impact destructive behaviors, they are more likely to recognize and address those factors when they arise.

Find Help For Snorting Morphine

An addiction that includes opioid drug use is difficult to manage. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse involving morphine or other opioids, the time to get help is now.

Talk to one of our treatment specialists today and get started on the path to a better future. Our range of inpatient and outpatient facilities can help you recover from opioid addiction and give you the emotional tools to thrive away from a life of substance use.

Consider the life you can live away from the drain of morphine addiction. Call now to get started — we’re here to help.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on March 10, 2021
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