While a single overdose of morphine may cause death, individual sensitivity and tolerance to these drugs make this an uncertain and unpredictable process. Morphine is best used to do the job it is designed to do, control strong pain. There are better euthanasia options available.
The Use of Heroin
Exit is occasionally asked about whether heroin can be obtained from ‘the street’ and used to end life. These questions are often prompted by media reports of people dying from a heroin overdose. In reality, there is little to be gained by using heroin.
As an opioid, heroin suffers from the same problems of tolerance and sensitivity discussed above. In addition, there is the question of the uncertainty of the dose with heroin. Because it has been acquired on the streets, one can never be exactly sure what or how much one has actually purchased. It also needs to be injected intravenously. In Exit’s experience, few elderly and seriously ill people have these skills.
Note: If heroin is taken orally, it turns back into morphine in the gut and offers no advantage over prescription tablet morphine, where at least the exact dose is known.
Note: Morphine and the other opiods are useful drugs to reduce the distressing symptom of dyspnea and air-hunger from pneumonia. In the COVID-19 chapter in this Handbook it is suggested that those with this infection and seeking a peaceful death could make good use morphine (or heroin).