Dilaudid abuse can rapidly lead to addiction, as the drug is a powerful medication. Millions of people struggle every year in the U.S. with abuse of opioids like Dilaudid.
An addiction to Dilaudid occurs when a person cannot control their use of the drug, despite harmful consequences, such as side effects to health.
Effective treatment for Dilaudid addiction involves treating both physical and psychological effects to health, as well as treating the severe pain Dilaudid was prescribed to treat.
What Is Dilaudid?
Dilaudid is an opioid narcotic medication used to treat only severe pain in patients who have already taken an opioid. This medication is useful for those who have already developed a tolerance to opioids.
Dilaudid is available in a tablet, extended-release tablet, and a liquid and is designed only for short-term treatment of highly severe pain. The drug is the only brand marketed for the generic opioid, hydromorphone.
How Is Dilaudid Abused?
Those in severe pain who are prescribed Dilaudid may abuse it when pain becomes too severe and the prescribed dosage does not provide relief.
Crushing and snorting the tablets is a common form of abuse, as this provides faster onset of effects, such as euphoria and pain-relief. Individuals may also dissolve the powder in water to form a solution to inject.
Any and all abuse of Dilaudid is dangerous as this forces the drug to react within the body faster. The drug is designed to take effect slowly over time to prevent overdose symptoms, such as stopped breathing.
How Does Dilaudid Abuse Lead To Addiction?
Because Dilaudid is such a powerful medication, abuse of it can quickly result in addiction. Dilaudid is most often prescribed to those who have already developed a tolerance to other opioids, meaning they need a higher dose to feel the opioid’s effects.
However, tolerance to opioids also contributes to addiction. If a person has become tolerant to an opioid, they may have already formed an addiction to it, making it easier to develop a tolerance to Dilaudid when they start taking it.
Opioids like Dilaudid work in the brain by attaching to receptors and altering the way a person responds to pain and pleasure. With time, the brain becomes used to the incorporation of Dilaudid in order to produce feel-good chemicals.
A person may come to mentally rely on Dilaudid to feel happy or even to function, a form of addiction known as physical dependence. Once a person is physically dependent on Dilaudid, quitting use without help can be extremely difficult.
Signs And Symptoms Of Dilaudid Addiction
Dilaudid is a central nervous system depressant. When people abuse it, they will experience feelings of calm, relaxation, and euphoria. These side effects are typical for directed use of the drug as well, so it may be difficult to recognize when or if an addiction has formed.
A person may be addicted to Dilaudid if they show the following signs and symptoms:
- general obsession with obtaining and using Dilaudid
- tolerance to the drug
- needing to use more to feel the effects
- increasing dosage to get a greater effect
- changing method of administration to feel faster effects
- experiencing withdrawal symptoms
Dilaudid abuse comes with a range of side effects which can also signal an addiction, some of which can be dangerous to a person’s health.
Side Effects Of Dilaudid Abuse
Dilaudid can have both short-term and long-term effects, ranging from moderate to severe. Opioids like Dilaudid work by impacting the brain’s natural chemical production.
Side effects of abuse can impact all aspects of a person’s health and can manifest in physical, psychological, behavioral, and emotional ways.
Side effects of Dilaudid abuse may include:
- slowed breathing, blood pressure, and heart rates
- calm and relaxation
- apathy (general disinterest)
- lack of energy
- constipation or stomach cramps
- nausea or vomiting
- slurred speech
- reduced sex drive
- increased sensitivity to pain
Why Do People Abuse Dilaudid?
People may abuse Dilaudid and be unaware of the abuse. For example, a person being treated for chronic pain may be in such severe pain that they take a higher dose of Dilaudid and feel this is safe to do (because of the extreme pain).
However, a body can only process so much of a given substance at a time, so abuse of Dilaudid is never without risks.
People may also abuse Dilaudid if they are aware of their addiction to or physical dependence on opioids and are seeking relief from withdrawal symptoms or a high.
Others may abuse Dilaudid if they are looking for a compound high by mixing it with other drugs, like alcohol or other opioids, despite the dangers of this practice.
Risks Of Long-Term Dilaudid Abuse
Dilaudid abuse can lead to a number of long-term health risks, such as:
- chronic constipation
- changes in sexual drive and activity
- sleep troubles
- muscle and bone pain
- leg tremors
- slowed or stopped breathing, heart rate, or blood pressure rate
If a person continues to abuse Dilaudid, the risk of overdose greatly increases as the drug may build up to excess within the body. Dilaudid overdose can be fatal if mixed with other drugs, especially alcohol.
Signs And Symptoms Of Dilaudid Overdose
Those taking Dilaudid are advised to always have the overdose reversal drug, naloxone (Narcan) available.
High doses of Dilaudid, mixing the medication with other drugs, or changing dosage or frequency can lead to overdose.
Signs and symptoms of a Dilaudid overdose may include:
- cold, clammy skin
- slowed or stopped breathing
- muscle weakness
- extremely small pupils (dark circles in the middle of the eyes)
- slowed or stopped heartbeat
- coma (loss of consciousness for a period of time)
Dilaudid And Polysubstance Abuse
Taking Dilaudid with other substances such as drugs or alcohol is known as polysubstance abuse. When mixing more than one substance, the effects of the drugs are often intensified.
Side effects of mixing Dilaudid with other drugs may include:
- low blood pressure
- slowed heart rate
- brain damage
- slowed breathing
- psychological damage
Taking Dilaudid with other depressants is especially dangerous and can lead to overdose or even death.
Drugs commonly taken with Dilaudid include:
Treatment Programs For Dilaudid Abuse And Addiction
Abuse of Dilaudid is dangerous—a person taking the medication may quit breathing, lose consciousness, or become so addicted they no longer realize abuse of the medication is harmful.
For this reason, anyone abusing Dilaudid should seek treatment right away. Many rehab programs exist to treat opioid abuse and addiction, the most effective of which are intensive programs such as residential treatment.
Residential Rehab Programs For Dilaudid Addiction
Residential rehab programs for Dilaudid addiction are facilitated in a rehab center or other inpatient facility and require a person to remain on-site for the duration of treatment.
This way, individuals have access to therapy, counseling, medical care, and recovery support throughout the healing process.
Treatment for Dilaudid addiction generally begins with a medically supervised detox program. This allows individuals to rid their bodies of Dilaudid and any other substances of abuse so they can enter recovery with a clear mind and refreshed body.
Because opioids affect the brain which impacts behavior, behavioral therapy is highly effective for the treatment of addiction to opioids. This method teaches individuals to recognize their destructive thoughts and habits which lead to patterns of drug abuse.
Individuals in inpatient programs can access medication-assisted treatment as well, which integrates medication (to treat withdrawal symptoms), therapy, and counseling, for a well-rounded recovery approach.
To learn more about available rehab programs for Dilaudid abuse and addiction, or to find a rehab center that fits your needs, contact a treatment specialist today.
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- U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration — Hydromorphone
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Hydromorphone
- World Health Organization — Information sheet on Opioid Overdose