Dangers of Snorting Morphine (Insufflation) - PAX Riverbend

Morphine Insufflation: The Dangers of Snorting Morphine

snorting morphine

Snorting morphine is extremely dangerous and can lead to a fatal opioid overdose. It can also lead to a severe addiction that may cause a variety of mental, emotional, and physical problems in one’s life. Furthermore, insufflation (snorting) can damage the nasal cavity leading to loss of smell, a deviated septum, and other health problems.

What is Morphine?

Morphine is an opioid that is prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. While morphine may come in a liquid form that used in an IV or a solution that can be swallowed, it also comes in the form of extended-release tablets and capsules.[1]

Morphine is a Schedule II controlled substance indicating a high risk for abuse and dependence. Although it is one of the few naturally-occurring opioids that is derived from opium in the poppy plant, morphine is highly addictive.[2]

Due to the addictive nature of the drug, physicians try not to use it for more than two weeks at a time. When used for an extended amount of time or abused by taking too much or snorting it, morphine can cause severe mental and physical dependence. People who become addicted to morphine may experience opioid withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to quit using the drug.

Why Do People Snort Morphine?

If used correctly, morphine can be a safe way to treat acute pain. However, because it is an opioid, many drug users abuse morphine. Two of the ways morphine can be abused are by injecting or snorting the drug.

When swallowed, morphine may take up to 45-60 minutes to kick in. When snorted, on the other hand, the effects can kick in almost immediately. Snorting morphine may also produce a stronger high because the substance crosses the blood-brain barrier all at once, rather than slowly being absorbed in the body throughout the day.

Someone who is addicted to morphine may snort it to obtain a faster, stronger high. On the other hand, people who abuse morphine may begin snorting it after they develop a tolerance to morphine. In other words, when swallowing morphine no longer produces the high they seek, people may begin snorting or even injecting the drug.

Morphine Side Effects

Morphine Side Effects

People who snort morphine are abusing the drug and may experience more adverse side effects. Common side effects of morphine include:[2]

  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Mood changes
  • Constricted pupils
  • Slowed heartbeat

When taken in high doses, people may suffer an opioid overdose. Symptoms of a morphine overdose include:

  • Bluish-colored skin or skin that is cold and clammy to the touch
  • Muscle weakness, slowed breathing, and/or loss of consciousness
  • Gurgling noises coming from the mouth

If treated quickly, morphine overdose can be reversed using Naloxone. However, if a person is not treated and does not come-to, an overdose can be fatal.

Once a person becomes addicted to using morphine, whether they are swallowing, injecting, or snorting it, they may experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the drug. Symptoms of morphine withdrawal include:

  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Cold flashes
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Drug cravings
  • Body aches
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • General restlessness
  • Anxiety

Medically-supervised opioid detox centers can administer medications that reduce these symptoms.

Dangers of Snorting Morphine

The first, and most obvious way, that snorting morphine can cause damage is by irritating and inflaming the nasal cavity. Frequent and compulsive intranasal drug use can cause crusty skin to develop around the nose, persistent bloody noses, and sores on the nose. Some people will even develop bad breath, recurring sinus infections, or whistling noise that happens when a person tries to breathe.

Other ways in which snorting drugs can damage the nose include:

  • Blocking the nasal airway
  • Bone loss in the nose
  • Loss of smell
  • Hoarseness of the voice
  • Hole of perforation developing in the roof of the mouth
  • Hole developing in between nostrils (perforated septum)
  • Other nose deformities

In extreme cases, a person may have to seek plastic surgery to get their nose repaired. This is not only due to the nasal cavity damage, however, as damage to the nose can affect the rest of the body.

For example, the nose is responsible for cleaning and filtering in the air people breathe before the air reaches the lungs. Cili refers to tiny hairs in the nose that do the cleaning. Morphine insufflation can damage these hairs, compromising the quality of air the person breathes in. This can ultimately make the person more susceptible to a wide variety of respiratory and systemic illnesses.

Since insufflation delivers larger quantities of morphine to the system in a short amount of time, it may also make users more likely to suffer an overdose, develop a tolerance, and become addicted.

Find Help for Morphine Addiction Today

If you or someone you know has been crushing and snorting morphine, that is a tell-tale sign that an addiction has formed and it is time to get help. Here at PAX Riverbend, we offer a non-judgemental rehabilitation setting for people just like you. Get started on your recovery by giving us a call today.

  1. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Morphine

Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.