Dilaudid (hydromorphone) is a prescription opioid medication. Although it can effectively relieve pain, it can also become addictive when misused for its euphoric effects.
Opioid addiction is a chronic disease. Left untreated, this can have significant effects on your life, from your health, to your ability to work, maintain close relationships, and experience pleasure.
Treatment for Dilaudid addiction involves treating both its physical and psychological effects, as well addressing the root causes of your addiction to help you sustain your recovery.
Examples Of Dilaudid Drug Abuse
Dilaudid abuse is any use of Dilaudid that’s not directed by a medical doctor. This can also describe a pattern of drug misuse, commonly known as drug abuse.
What Dilaudid abuse can look like:
- taking higher doses than prescribed
- taking it more often than prescribed
- taking it for longer than prescribed
- snorting Dilaudid (by crushing tablets)
- dissolving tablets in a liquid to inject
- plugging Dilaudid
- taking someone else’s prescription
- taking it with other drugs for stronger effects
Not all forms of Dilaudid abuse are easily recognizable or intentional. Someone may begin by taking it as prescribed, then begin misusing it either for faster pain relief or other drug effects.
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Why Do People Abuse Dilaudid?
Someone may abuse Dilaudid for several reasons. For example, they may take it for chronic pain to overcome tolerance.
Developing A Higher Tolerance To Dilaudid
Tolerance develops when you take a drug for some time. Your body becomes used to a certain dosage and will require a higher dose for the desired effect.
Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead to drug abuse. You may take higher doses than prescribed in order to achieve the same kind of pain relief.
Avoiding Dilaudid Withdrawal
Tolerance and physical dependence can develop from taking Dilaudid as prescribed, or through misuse. Either way, this can make it more difficult to quit, due to opioid withdrawal.
Opioid withdrawal is a condition that can be relieved by taking more of an opioid drug. Dilaudid may be abused in order to relieve Dilaudid withdrawal, or that of another opioid, like heroin.
Euphoria Effects Of Dilaudid
Dilaudid can cause a rush of euphoria in moderate to high doses. This sensation can be very desirable for some people, particularly those with a history of past substance abuse.
Dilaudid And Polysubstance Abuse
It’s common for people to mix Dilaudid with other opioids, or other types of drugs, in order to enhance or counteract the effects of other substances.
Some common drug combinations include:
- Dilaudid and alcohol
- Dilaudid and other prescription opioids
- Dilaudid and heroin
- Dilaudid and benzodiazepines
- Dilaudid and illicit stimulants (e.g. cocaine, meth)
Unfortunately, polysubstance abuse can be very dangerous. It’s a major risk factor for overdose, and can also have severe consequences to physical, cognitive, and psychological health.
How A Dilaudid Addiction Develops
Dilaudid can be physically and psychologically addictive, particularly when it’s abused over a period of time. This occurs largely as a result of its effects on the brain.
Opioid agonists like Dilaudid work in the brain by attaching to opioid receptors and altering the way a person responds to pain and pleasure.
With time, the brain becomes used to the use of Dilaudid to produce those brain chemicals responsible for regulating these sensations.
A person may come to mentally rely on Dilaudid to feel happy or even to function. This is a sign of physical dependence, as well as a psychological addiction to the drug.
Dilaudid Addiction Signs And Symptoms
Addiction can be identified by certain signs and symptoms. Not all signs are obvious, although they will generally grow worse over time, as the painkiller addiction becomes more severe.
Signs and symptoms of a Dilaudid addiction might include:
- thinking about Dilaudid constantly
- taking high doses of Dilaudid
- increasing frequency of drug use
- snorting, injecting, or plugging it to get high
- going to multiple doctors for prescriptions (“doctor shopping”)
- needing to take higher doses over time for the desired effect
- relying on Dilaudid just to feel “normal”
- if you experience withdrawal symptoms within hours of last use
- feeling a lack of control over your drug use
Dilaudid addiction can also be identified by side effects of opiate abuse, which can grow more severe over time as your opioid use becomes more frequent or excessive.
Side Effects Of Dilaudid Abuse
Dilaudid can have short-term and long-term side effects. These effects can impact all aspects of your health and can manifest in physical, psychological, behavioral, and emotional ways.
Side effects of Dilaudid abuse may include:
- tiny pupils
- slowed or shallow breathing
- decreased blood pressure
- slow heart rate
- lack of energy
- stomach cramps
- nausea or vomiting
- slurred speech
- reduced sex drive
- increased sensitivity to pain
Risks Of Long-Term Dilaudid Abuse
Left untreated, Dilaudid abuse can, over a period of time, result in a number of long-term health risks and problems.
Risks of chronic Dilaudid abuse include:
- chronic constipation
- changes in sexual drive and activity
- muscle and bone pain
- uncontrollable shaking of the legs
- erectile dysfunction
- irregular menstrual cycle
- bloodborne disease (if injecting)
- poor mental health
- increased risk of suicide
- increased risk of opioid overdose
The longer someone abuses Dilaudid, the higher their risk for experiencing serious and potentially life-threatening problems, including Dilaudid overdose.
Overdose can happen to anyone. But those who use Dilaudid regularly (alone or with other drugs) are at a heightened risk for overdose because of the frequent drug exposure.
Signs And Symptoms Of A Dilaudid Overdose
Dilaudid overdose occurs when you take too much Dilaudid alone or in combination with other drugs, including alcohol. It can also occur from taking street opioids laced with fentanyl.
Signs and symptoms of Dilaudid overdose can include:
- cold, clammy skin
- bluish tint to skin or fingernails
- respiratory depression (slow or stopped breathing)
- muscle weakness
- gurgling noises
- extremely small pupils
- weak or no pulse
Opioid overdose can be successfully treated with naloxone (Narcan), if it’s administered quickly.
Narcan is an opioid antagonist medication that can come in the form of an injection or nasal spray.
What Is A Lethal Dose Of Dilaudid?
Dilaudid can be lethal at a dose of three to 10 milligrams (mg) or more. This is an average estimate. For some people, Dilaudid may be lethal at a smaller or higher dose.
See more about the lethal dose of Dilaudid.
Do You Need To Detox From Dilaudid?
If you’ve become addicted to Dilaudid, detoxification (detox) will be necessary in order to quit.
The safest way to detox from Dilaudid is through a medically supervised detox program, which can offer medication, supervision, and other forms of support.
How Long Dilaudid Stays In Your System
Dilaudid can stay in your system for several days. If you take an extended-release formulation, it may remain detectable in your body for weeks.
Dilaudid can remain in your blood for only 1-2 days whereas Dilaudid can be detected in hair for up to 90 days. Screening for Dilaudid in urine is the most common type of test as it can detect drug use 2-4 days after last use.
Treatment Programs For Dilaudid Abuse And Addiction
Overcoming Dilaudid abuse is possible. This can be achieved through treatment at multiple levels of care, with your treatment plan depending largely on your personal needs.
If you or a loved one is abusing Dilaudid, it’s recommended that you seek treatment right away.
Treatment programs for Dilaudid addiction include:
Inpatient Drug Rehab
Inpatient drug rehab takes place in a rehab facility, also known as a treatment center. This is an intensive type of rehab program that requires staying onsite for 24-hour care.
During rehab, you’ll typically attend behavioral therapy, counseling, receive medical care, and other forms of recovery support. This type of program typically lasts 30 days on average.
The most effective treatment for opioid addiction is medication-assisted treatment, or MAT. This is a long-term treatment that combines the use of behavioral therapy with medication.
Medications that are FDA-approved for opioid addiction treatment include:
This treatment plan can treat symptoms of withdrawal, help curb cravings for opioids—a common barrier to abstinence—and can help restore a sense of normalcy to your life.
Maintaining recovery from addiction often requires ongoing support. Outpatient treatment for opioid addiction can offer this support, without requiring that you stay in a treatment facility.
On an outpatient level, you may attend drug counseling, community support groups, and meet with a doctor regularly for medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
Dual Diagnosis Rehab
Dual diagnosis is a type of treatment designed specifically for people who have co-occurring disorders, or one or more mental health or substance use disorders.
Finding a dual diagnosis program is the best option for someone with co-occurring disorders. This can help treat all co-occurring disorders at once, through an integrated approach.
Dilaudid Addiction FAQs
Find answers here to common questions about Dilaudid abuse, addiction to Dilaudid, and addiction treatment options.
❓ Is Dilaudid The Same As Exalgo?
✔️ Exalgo is a brand name for an extended-release formulation of hydromorphone, the active ingredient in Dilaudid. This makes the two very chemically similar.
❓ What Are Common Street Names For Dilaudid?
✔️ Dilaudid may be referred to by several different names when bought illicitly. Common street names for Dilaudid include smack, juice, dillies, and hydro among others.
❓ How Much Does Dilaudid Cost?
✔️ On the street, Dilaudid can cost upwards of $5 to $100, depending on the dosage, form, and personal factors such as where the drug is purchased.
See more about how much Dilaudid costs on the street.
Find Treatment For Dilaudid Abuse And Addiction
Life in recovery is possible. Call our helpline today to learn more about available treatment options and to find a rehab center for Dilaudid addiction that fits your needs.
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration — Hydromorphone
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Hydromorphone
- World Health Organization — Information sheet on Opioid Overdose