Dilaudid Addiction and Abuse

Dilaudid is considered to be one of the most powerful synthetic narcotics in the opiate category that can cause dependence and addiction within a short period.

Hydromorphone addiction | Table of Contents

Understanding Dilaudid (Hydromorphone)

Dilaudid is a schedule II controlled substance that is widely prescribed for treating moderate to severe pains. Doctors usually prescribe Dilaudid for managing pain related to cancer and serious injuries, such as burns. It is mainly available in pill and liquid form. Some of the brand names of hydromorphone are Palladone, Dilaudid-hp, and Exalgo, whereas Big D, M-80s, D’s, Peaches, and Dillies are some of its street names.

Dilaudid works primarily by attaching to the receptors in the brain and central nervous system to lull pain. However, it can also stimulate the excess release of dopamine in the brain, causing pleasurable sensations. The prolonged use of Dilaudid hinders the brain’s natural ability to produce dopamine, making the body entirely reliant on the medication to function normally.

Dilaudid Effects, Abuse, and Addiction

Most opiate painkillers produce a sense of relaxation and euphoria, and Dilaudid is no different. Individuals who misuse Dilaudid tend to inject or snort it as the effects generated are much more intense in comparison to taking the pills.

Taking Dilaudid in any manner as opposed to a doctor’s prescription is considered misuse. For example, taking the drug in higher doses or using the medication without a prescription is regarded as Dilaudid abuse.

The prolonged use of Dilaudid leads to the formation of tolerance and dependence, which could quite easily lead to an addiction. Individuals usually develop drug tolerance to Dilaudid within 2-3 weeks.


Is Dilaudid a sedative?

Dilaudid is not a sedative.

How often can Dilaudid IV be given?

The Dilaudid IV is typically injected once every 2 to 3 hours as needed.

How often do you take Dilaudid?

The liquid version of Dilaudid is usually taken every 3 to 6 hours, and the tablets are usually administered every 4 to 6 hours. Extended-release tablets, on the other hand, are taken once a day with or without food.

Signs of Dilaudid Abuse and Addiction

Dilaudid is more potent than Morphine and comes with a high potential for addiction and abuse. Patients can strictly follow the prescription but still form a tolerance or dependence upon it.

Some signs of Dilaudid abuse include:

  • Loss of alertness
  • Drowsiness
  • Constricted pupils
  • Mood swings
  • Slowed breathing

Dilaudid abuse can soon transition into an addiction. However, not everyone who abuses Dilaudid recreationally forms an addiction to it. There are many signs and behaviors that point to Dilaudid addiction.

Signs of Dilaudid addiction include:

  • Spending excessive amounts of money on the drug.
  • Failing to keep up with responsibilities such as work and school.
  • Needing larger doses of Dilaudid to feel the desired high.
  • Forging prescriptions for Dilaudid.
  • Isolating from family & friends to indulge in drug use.
  • Purchasing Dilaudid online or off the street.
  • Becoming obsessed with the next dose.
  • Doctor shopping for new prescriptions.
  • Engaging in criminal activities for more drugs.


How long until Dilaudid wears off?

The half-life of Dilaudid (hydromorphone hydrochloride) after an intravenous dose is approximately 2.3 hours. For most healthy individuals, it will take 1 to 2 days for hydromorphone to fully clear the blood.

What is the time span between each Dilaudid dose?

The starting dose is 0.2 to 1 mg every 2 to 3 hours. The intravenous dose should be administered rather slowly over a period of at least 2 to 3 minutes, depending on the dose.

Dangers of Dilaudid

Prolonged use of Dilaudid can result in the quick development of tolerance, resulting in individuals increasing their dosage to acquire their desired effect. As a consequence increasing their risk of an overdose. Individuals who abuse Dilaudid are at a higher risk of experiencing a fatal overdose.

Combining Dilaudid with CNS depressants such as alcohol can result in precarious consequences. Combining such drugs can heighten their effects while dangerously slowing down the heart rate and breathing. Polydrug abuse of this nature can also result in seizures, coma, and even fatal overdose.

Some of the signs of Dilaudid overdose are:

  • Weak pulse
  • Unconsciousness
  • Bluish-colored lips
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Cool or clammy skin
  • Hypotension
  • Disorientation
  • Stomach spasms
  • Muscle twitching
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Shallow breathing

Severe complications of Dilaudid abuse may include:

  • Coma
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Collapsed veins
  • Trouble breathing
  • Convulsions
  • Death

Dilaudid users who prefer to inject the drugs are at a higher risk of transmitting hepatitis and HIV/AIDS. Dilaudid misuse can also impact other parts of a user’s life, resulting in:

  • Divorce due to prioritizing drug abuse over marriage and family.
  • Incarceration due to committing criminal activities in search of drugs.
  • Financial destruction due to the high cost of drug consumption.

Dilaudid Addiction Statistics

  • 65 Percent: The US was consuming about 65 percent of the world’s Dilaudid by 2010.
  • 8 Times: Dilaudid is around eight times stronger than Morphine.
  • 14.8K Deaths: 14,800 accidental deaths in the US in 2008 were attributed to opioid painkillers such as Dilaudid.

Teens and Drug Abuse In the US

As per a study conducted in 2011 by Partnership for a Drug-Free America, it has been stated that other than college and university students who misuse drugs, one in every ten teens in America also misuse painkillers to get high. As a result, the US government spends billions of dollars every year in treating SUD and AUD patients and burdening the countrys economy.

Why people misuse medications has been an important topic since the 60s. Hundreds of people die from the side effects caused by substances, and the numbers only seem to increase. Although there is criticism on doctors for prescribing such addictive pain killers, the situation isn’t as clear cut and simple as it may seem.

What is Dilaudid Withdrawal?

The abuse of this potent painkiller can quickly lead to psychological and physical dependence, resulting in patients no longer being able to function on a day-to-day basis without the effects of the drug in their bodies.

Users with such an addiction to Dilaudid may experience adverse withdrawal symptoms, such as cramps and sweating when quitting the medication abruptly. Withdrawal symptoms are the body’s natural response to the absence of the drug in their system.

Individuals suffering from Dilaudid withdrawal may appear clammy and cold, with flu-like symptoms very similar to heroin withdrawal.

Typical withdrawal symptoms of Dilaudid include:

  • Restlessness
  • Body cramps
  • Sweats
  • Shaking
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Intense drug cravings
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Muscle and bone pain

Duration of Withdrawal

Although the period of Dilaudid withdrawal varies from person to person, it generally lasts between 7-14 days for most patients. The severity of the addiction determines the duration of withdrawal to a great extent.

The other factors that determine the duration of Dilaudid withdrawal are the period of Dilaudid misuse, the frequency of use, the average dose consumed, and whether other drugs were combined. Individuals who take the drug in larger doses experience severe withdrawal symptoms for an extended period. Physical and mental health may also affect the duration of the symptoms.

Dilaudid Withdrawal Timeline

First few hours

Dilaudid withdrawal symptoms can start in as little as four hours since the last dose. Restlessness and anxiety are the early symptoms of withdrawal.

Days 1-2

Withdrawal symptoms often get worse 14 hours after the last dose. Muscle aches, nausea, sweating, shaking, and chills are the symptoms experienced during this period.

Days 3-4

For most patients, adverse symptoms fade away after the initial 3-4 days. However, some mild symptoms, such as muscle aches and nausea, may still linger on.

Days 5-14

Depending on the severity of the patient’s addiction, symptoms, such as anxiety, insomnia, irritability, and depression, can prevail during this timeframe.

Dilaudid (Hydromorphone) Treatment

Overcoming an addiction to Dilaudid is challenging, but one can achieve it through comprehensive treatments. Medical detox and counseling are the main elements of treatment for Dilaudid addiction.

Various treatment options are available in the US for anyone who struggles with an addiction to Dilaudid. The first step to treatment involves a substance abuse professional evaluating the extent of one’s addiction to help determine the right treatment approach. Doctors can identify the level of care necessary for the patient through such evaluations.

Medical experts can also perform other assessments to help identify co-occurring disorders, addictions to other substances, recognize any underlying health conditions, and physical health impairments.

Dilaudid Detox

Medically-assisted detox is the first stage and the most challenging part of treatment for most patients of Dilaudid addiction, as withdrawal symptoms are usually intense during this time. Withdrawal symptoms during detox require close monitoring as patients are most vulnerable to relapse during this stage. Most rehab centers have physicians who can help patients manage severe symptoms and prevent relapses. Doctors can also prescribe medications during medical detox to alleviate withdrawal symptoms to a great extent. Some of these medications are:


This is one of the most commonly prescribed medications for diminishing the severity of Dilaudid withdrawal symptoms.


This medication lowers withdrawal symptoms and cravings by generating effects that are similar to Dilaudid. Medical experts usually recommend this drug after 48-72 hours of clean time during detox. Patients will be prescribed a high dose of Buprenorphine initially. However, after a few days, this dose is gradually tapered down once the patient begins to feel healthy.

Over-the-counter medications

These drugs help patients manage general symptoms, such as diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.

Other than medical detox, the tapering down detox can also be ideal for patients with a severe addiction to Dilaudid. This process entails the gradual lowering of the drug dose over a few weeks. This method contributes to a smoother detoxification phase with considerably low withdrawal symptoms.

Another detox method used by doctors to manage withdrawal includes a rapid anesthesia process. Doctors give a relaxation medication and put the patient under general anesthesia. The patient is then injected with a drug that suppresses the effects of Dilaudid. Professionals who follow this method claim that it speeds up the overall detox process and reduces the withdrawal symptoms.

Dilaudid Inpatient Rehab

Inpatient or residential treatment offers the highest possibility of success for any patient with addictions to Dilaudid or other substances. These rehab programs may last between 30-90 days, depending on the condition of a specific patient.

Inpatient treatment offers the highest level of care and helps Dilaudid users learn new attitudes, habits, and behaviors that help them overcome addiction. The ability to provide a safe environment void of all temptations and desires as well as provide emotional support and therapy to achieve long-term recovery is the massive advantage of inpatient rehab when compared to other treatment plans.

Outpatient Treatment After Inpatient Rehab for Dilaudid

Some patients can be advised to attend outpatient treatment after the completion of inpatient treatment. This is essential for individuals with severe addictions to Dilaudid and process a high risk of relapse.

There are three types of outpatient treatment.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

These are programs that offer accommodation facilities for individuals who are not ready to return home. However, some of these programs can allow patients to return home after treatment during the day. PHP generally lasts about 5-7 days per week for one month but can extend depending on the needs and progress of patients.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

This program is followed right after PHP. IOP is a less-structured outpatient program that generally takes place 3-5 days per week in sessions of 3-hour or less per day. The typical duration of this treatment is three months, but the length may vary depending on the patient’s condition and requirements.

Standard Outpatient Program (OP)

After the completion of IOP, patients are usually advised to start a standard outpatient program. Outpatient treatment allows patients to keep their personal and professional lives intact while receiving treatment. Outpatient programs are an ideal option for those diagnosed with a mild addiction.

Relapse Prevention Tips

Relapses are an inevitable part of a recovery journey. Relapse does not imply that the treatment has failed; instead, it means that an adjustment to the treatment is required.

A few tips that can help you prevent relapses include:

Do not stop taking medication

Certain individuals with Dilaudid addictions are put on medications during detoxification. Drugs such as Buprenorphine react to the same receptors in the brain as Dilaudid once did to reduce cravings and withdrawal. Individuals prescribed with these medications while detoxing may feel like they no longer need the medication as the cravings dwindle. However, stopping the medications without the advice of a doctor can result in relapse, as it is the medication that controls the cravings.

Manage stress

The majority of users consume Dilaudid to enjoy its calming effect or to reduce stress. Patients with anxiety disorders may also take this drug to fight their condition. Thus, learning skills and methods that help manage stress can keep relapses at bay. Everybody goes through challenging situations in life, but one can overcome such hurdles by mastering relaxing techniques and managing stress. Practice yoga, get a massage, meditate, exercise, and find a healthy hobby that keeps you mentally and physically occupied.

Have a support system

Supportive relationships can help you overcome even the hardest of lifes challenges. A 12-step program is a great opportunity to connect with like-minded people and to build a strong support system. Support groups provide a safe, judgment-free environment with individuals who could provide you with advice and guidance with their own life experiences to help strengthen your motivation to stay clean.

Get healthy

Anxiety and depression are a few of the common mental health disorders faced by recovering patients as their brain is still adjusting to functioning without the drug. However, healthy habits can improve energy and mood for an easier recovery. Healthy habits may include a healthy diet, regular exercise, and healthy sleeping patterns. Even a 30-minute walk can heal your mind and body and raise energy levels.

Stay busy

Finding a hobby, listening to music, going hiking, and participating in fun, healthy activities can help take your mind off Dilaudid.

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