Dilaudid, also known as hydromorphone, is a rapid-acting painkiller, with some formulations of the drug lasting up to several hours. Those who take Dilaudid could suffer from withdrawal symptoms after sudden cessation, which can start within hours of taking the last dose.
The semi-synthetic opioid was synthesized in 1921 in Germany and later introduced into practice by 1926. Although there are over 200 publications that support the qualities of Dilaudid, it is still viewed as a second-line drug when compared to morphine in treating acute and chronic pain. Oral morphine is still the first drug of choice to treat chronic cancer pain, according to the World Health Organization.
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A large number of patients who use morphine for these ailments complain about negative side effects such as nausea, delirium, and myoclonus, which can be unbearable. This makes Dilaudid a more desirable drug when treating pain.
It has been shown to improve pain control as well as reduce opioid-related toxicity. It has been used successfully as an alternative to morphine and is most often used in a medical setting. There are some rare occasions where doctors will prescribe the drug to be used orally outside of a hospital. While the positive qualities of what it can do have been mentioned, it’s essential to discuss the addictive nature of the drug.
Opioids have swept through the nation, and in 2016, more than 40 percent of all overdoses in the United States involved a prescription opioid. Sixty-four thousand people lost their lives in that year alone. There were 214 million prescriptions for opioid pain medication, which translates to 66.5 prescriptions per 100 people. Also, more than 11 million people abused prescription opioids in 2016. These numbers have cost the economy billions of dollars and ruined many lives in the process.
When using Dilaudid for chronic pain, you should be in touch with your primary care physician and let them know of any symptoms that arise out of the ordinary. Never take more of the drug than prescribed and always monitor any symptoms. Opioid addiction can be dangerous and may lead to death if not treated properly.
If you or someone you love is abusing opioids, you should immediately get help. Addiction is a progressive disease, and early detection can be the key to saving someone’s life. The best defense is a good offense, so being aware of the signs of addiction can help save someone’s life.
What Is Dilaudid?
Dilaudid, also known as hydromorphone, is a semi-synthetic opioid used to treat pain. It is considered a hydrogenated ketone of morphine, and it is created by altering morphine.
The drug is more water soluble, which makes it unique when creating a solution for it. It’s used similar to other opioids, but the active chemical makes it different from the other options.
It is almost exclusively used in a hospital setting and is more beneficial when used intravenously than orally. This is because the drug is not absorbed into fat and tissue very easily, meaning oral consumption will make it harder to reach the bloodstream. When taken intravenously, it bypasses the blood-brain barrier.
Unfortunately, Dilaudid has a high dependence liability, and overuse can lead to chemical dependence and addiction.
Opioid addiction can be extremely difficult to stop, and there is no cure. Fortunately, with the emergence of evidence-based therapies, and the help of licensed addiction specialists, there is a fighting chance for those who want to get sober.
Abuse of prescription opioids is often correlated with moving onto illicit street drugs like heroin. Seventy-five percent of people who seek treatment for heroin addiction started by using opioids like Dilaudid.
Signs and Symptoms of Dilaudid Addiction
Spotting an addiction can be tough if you are not cognizant of the signs and symptoms.
Opioid addiction, however, comes with a very specific set of symptoms that can be detected. When someone is aware of the signs, it can help address the problem sooner and possibly save a life.
Those signs can appear as side effects that come from using Dilaudid. MedlinePlus.govlists these as side effects of the drug:
- Dry mouth
- Heavy sweating
- Muscle, back or joint pain
- Stomach pain
Severe side effects include:
- Fast heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Loss of coordination
- Loss of appetite, weakness, or dizziness
- Severe muscle stiffness or twitching
- Chest pain
- Extreme drowsiness
- Lightheadedness when changing positions
- Inability to get or keep an erection
- Irregular menstruation
- Decreased sexual desire
From Tolerance to Addiction
Addiction can cause long-term consequences if not treated. Getting help when needed if a substance use disorder forms can save someone from potential legal problems or even death.
The first indicator of a growing substance use disorder can be characterized by a growing tolerance. Tolerance can even occur as a result of taking Dilaudid as prescribed but is more likely to occur when abused or taken recreationally.
If the dose you take begins to feel weaker over time, this is a sign you’re becoming tolerant.
If you continue to use the drug despite this, you risk developing a chemical dependence. This is when your brain adapts and begins to rely on Dilaudid to function normally.
Addiction is the final phase of a substance use disorder, and it is defined as continuous compulsive use of a substance even if that substance has caused serious consequences.
Someone that is addicted may even be aware of their addiction, but they cannot resist the cravings. Addiction is a progressive disease, and if someone is helped earlier in their addiction, it could lead to a better outcome.
There are therapies in treatment that encourage their readiness to change.
Dilaudid Dependence and Withdrawal
When someone exhibits dependence, they will experience withdrawal symptoms when the Dilaudid leaves the body. They become dependent on the medication to make them feel “normal.”
As with other opioids, Dilaudid produces a litany of painful withdrawal symptoms that are physical and psychological in nature.
According to Verywell Mind, the symptoms of Dilaudid withdrawal include:
- High blood pressure
- Rapid breathing
- Rapid heartbeat
- Severe cravings
- Suicidal thoughts
- Fever or chills
- General aches and pains
- Tremors/muscle spasms
- Restlessness, agitation
- Decreased appetite
The physical symptoms of withdrawal can also lead to cognitive issues such as attention deficit problems, and problem-solving and memory difficulties.
Dilaudid Addiction Treatment
Opioid addiction can lead to deadly outcomes, and addiction can come with a wide variety of underlying causes that contribute to the addiction. Each person that enters into treatment will have unique needs, and it is imperative to attend a treatment center that can customize their approach. This is the only way treatment will be successful. The first step when you enter into treatment will be an assessment to determine the right level of care based on your needs.
The first and most intensive level of care is medical detox. This is a vital step when stopping an opioid addiction.
While the opioid withdrawal process is not quite as dangerous as benzodiazepine or alcohol withdrawal, it is incredibly uncomfortable and can easily lead to relapse. This is why most experts agree that detox should never be done on your own. This process aims to readjust your brain chemistry and restore it to the levels prior to use. Once this process is completed, you will move to the next level of care.
Depending on the severity of the addiction, this could mean you are placed into a residential treatment facility where you live on-site for up to 90 days, or you could be placed in an outpatient treatment facility where you will have the ability to leave after therapy. You will still attend all of the same therapy sessions as residential, but this will allow someone to transition back into their lives sooner. This is a good option for those who cannot afford to miss work or have other pressing obligations.
You may also benefit from medication-assisted treatment, which combines intensive outpatient therapies with regular prescription replacement opioids like Suboxone to curb withdrawal and help you focus on your sobriety rather than your cravings.
Fighting Addiction Yourself is Difficult. Let Our Experts Help!
Fighting Addiction Yourself is Difficult. Let Our Experts Help!
How Dangerous is Dilaudid
While Dilaudid is not as dangerous as other opioids like fentanyl or heroin, it still can pose serious risks when abused. An overdose can cause respiratory depression, and when your nervous system is depressed, your breathing can slow down or stop. This can lead to brain damage, coma, or death. An overdose with Dilaudid is more likely if mixed with alcohol or other opioids.
Other overdose symptoms of Dilaudid include:
- Slowed or stopped heartbeat
- Muscle weakness
- Cold, clammy skin
- Narrowing or widening of the pupils
Dilaudid Abuse Statistics
- 191 million opioid prescriptions were written in 2017 which is the lowest in 10 years
- In 2015, more than 33,000 Americans died as a result of opioid overdose
- Opioids accounted for 49,000 fatal overdoses only two years later in 2017
MedlinePlus.gov. (n.d.). Hydromorphone: MedlinePlus Drug Information. Retrieved from from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682013.html
Murray, A., & Hagen, N. A. (2005, May). Hydromorphone. Retrieved from from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15907647
Murray, A., MD, & Hagen, N. A., MD. (2005, May). Proceedings of the Symposium “Updates of the Clinical Pharmacology of Opioids with Special Attention to Long-Acting Drugs”: Hydromorphone [PDF File]. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management. Retrieved on June 13, 2019. from
Verywell Mind. (2018, December 26). How Long Can Dilaudid Be Detected in the Body by Drug Screening Tests? Retrieved from from https://www.verywellmind.com/how-long-does-dilaudid-stay-in-your-system-80252