Understanding Dilaudid

Dilaudid (also known as hydromorphone) belongs to a class of opioids called opioid agonists. These drugs bind to receptors in the central nervous system blocking pain signals.

Hydromorphone tends to come either in a liquid solution or in tablet form. These drugs are powerful narcotics that require a doctor’s prescription to obtain.

Like other opioids, Dilaudid is used to treat chronic pain–especially for individuals who are suffering from persistent and severe pain. Because tolerance can build quickly with long term opioid use, hydromorphone is often a last resort for those who have built a tolerance to other pain medications.

Dilaudid Abuse

Prescription drug companies have yet to create prescription opioids with a low potential for abuse. This primarily due to how these drugs trigger endorphins responsible for regulating the mood and reward centers of the brain. As a result, the feelings of relaxation and euphoria that are commonly attributed to a narcotic like Dilaudid can be quite habit forming.

Another pitfall to using prescription narcotics is tolerance. Often times, those developing a tolerance will take more of the drug to relieve their pain symptoms while ignoring the limits of their prescription. This can easily blur the lines between abuse and misuse and lead to addiction down the road.


In addition to tolerance and dependency, here are some common symptoms of Dilaudid abuse:

  • Euphoria
  • Respiratory
  • depression
  • Mood swings
  • Stomach problems,
  • nausea, and vomiting
  • vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances

More serious side-effects of Dilaudid abuse include:

  • Coma
  • Stroke
  • Convulsions
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Constricted pupils
  • Low blood pressure
  • Pale and clammy skin
  • Overdose and death

Purchasing Dilaudid online or off the street

As rates of opioid abuse rise, prescription painkillers have gotten more difficult to obtain. This has led to a rise in prescription opioids on the black-market including drugs like Dilaudid.

“Opioids, such as hydromorphone or oxycodone, because they are highly regulated medications, fuel much of this black-market enterprise. Doctors and pharmacists are the gatekeepers charged with monitoring and providing appropriate access to these potent pain-relieving medicines.”

Dilaudid Addiction

Long term opioid use carries an increased risk of dependency. With stronger drugs like hydromorphone, dependency can occur in a matter of weeks.8 The risk of opioid addiction can happen to anyone, even those who take their medication as directed.

Additionally, if you believe that a loved one is abusing Dilaudid you may notice behavioral changes such as:

  • Being reclusive, secretive, or private
  • Finding syringes and empty bottles lying around in their home
  • Becoming irritable, angry, or violent–especially when confronted about their drug use
  • Falsifying medical symptoms and prescriptions
  • Financial trouble (usually due to purchasing more and more of the drug)
  • Failing to meet family, work, educational and financial responsibilities
  • Family and friends finding medication missing when they come over

Common Drug Combinations

People abusing Dilaudid often mix other drugs with it to accentuate the high. Drugs such as alcohol, muscle relaxants and benzodiazepines can slow down breathing to dangerous levels resulting in coma and even death.5

Those who abuse Dilaudid may start using other opioids like heroin and fentanyl. These drugs are easy to obtain on the black market and can deliver powerful sedating highs. Combining opioids can be dangerous. Since hydromorphone is already a powerful opioid, it can be extremely easy to overdose when combined with other drugs.

Those taking Dilaudid should ask their doctors what other drugs are safe to use alongside hydromorphone to avoid any negative health consequences.

Dilaudid Addiction Statistics

  • A little under 500,000 overdose deaths occurred from 1999-2019 from both prescription and illicit opioids.
  • In 2012 US doctors wrote over 3.9 prescriptions for hydromorphone/Dilaudid.4
  • Between 2008 and 2012, ER visits associated with Dilaudid rose by 6,000.

Dilaudid Withdrawal Timeline

Given the drugs short lasting effects, withdrawal symptoms can occur as quickly as 6-8 hours from the last dose. These symptoms include nausea, irritability and fever and other mild symptoms.

Former users can expect withdrawal symptoms to reach their highest point in the first 14 hours and continue for 1-2 days. During this time, the cascade of physical and psychological symptoms can range from mild to severe. Such symptoms include, depression, diarrhea, sweating muscle soreness, shaking, spasms and insomnia.

At days 3-4, withdrawal symptoms begin to fade but individuals can still expect the discomfort of muscle pain, anxiety, depression, and other drug related cravings.

Usually during days 5-7, individuals can expect an end to physical withdrawal symptoms however psychological symptoms may still remain. This includes cravings, depression and anxiety.

Making It Easier to Quit

Moving on from an opioid addiction is never easy, but with the help of skilled professionals and a solid treatment program it is possible maintain sobriety and carve out a new life.

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