Anyone using an opioid to bring about a peaceful and reliable death needs to be aware of the existence of the antidote, Naloxone.
Morphine is commonly prescribed as a slow release (SR) tablet. MS Contin and Kapanol are marketed forms of morphine. These tablets may be taken once or twice a day. They are designed to slowly release the morphine in order to give ‘background’ pain control. For the onset of sudden (breakthrough) pain, a fast-release form of the drug such as ‘Ordine’ (liquid morphine) is often prescribed.
Many very sick people receive these pain drugs in the context of serious illness. Sometimes these very sick people will go to great lengths to stockpile morphine tablets, believing that they can acquire a lethal dose. The problem is, knowing how many morphine tablets to accumulate is like asking the length of a piece of string.
A single dose of SR tablet morphine may cause death, but the result is often unpredictable. The fast-acting liquid morphine may be a more effective form of the drug, but the problems of sensitivity and tolerance remain.
For these reasons it is difficult to recommend morphine as stand-alone, single-dose, oral agent to provide a reliable death.
Morphine does, however, have a role as a supplementary or potentiating agent, (ie. a drug taken to enhance the effectiveness of another drug). While alcohol is the usual potentiating agent, for people who do not drink, liquid morphine can be a good alternative.