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Dilaudid Misuse and Addiction

If you or a loved one are struggling with Dilaudid misuse or addiction, learning more about the drug can help you make an informed decision about your health. This page will help you understand the effects and risks of Dilaudid misuse and addiction, the signs of Dilaudid addiction, and treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD).

What Is Dilaudid?

Dilaudid, the brand name for hydromorphone, is a powerful opioid pain medication that is used to treat severe pain.1 The drug is available in several forms, including as an injectable or oral solution and in tablet form.1

Opioid drug use in the United States is a public health issue. According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), approximately 10.1 million people (3.7%) aged 12 or older misused opioids in the past year. Most of the people who misused opioids misused prescription pain relievers like Dilaudid—9.7 million people.2

Some Dilaudid users may misuse the drug by taking it:3

  • In a dosage other than prescribed.
  • In a way other than prescribed (e.g., snorting).
  • For its subjective effects (e.g., to get high).
  • Without a prescription, even for a legitimate medical complaint.

Is Dilaudid Addictive?

Yes, Dilaudid can be addictive.1 By attaching to opioid receptors in the body and brain, opioids like Dilaudid reduce feelings of pain and induce a euphoric, rewarding sensation that can make users want to repeat the experience.3

Dilaudid is slightly more potent than other notoriously addictive opioids like OxyContin (oxycodone).4 Because of its significant addictive potential, Dilaudid is generally not prescribed for mild or moderate pain that can be effectively treated using other, less addictive medications.4

Dilaudid Addiction

People who misuse Dilaudid may meet the criteria for an opioid use disorder (OUD), the clinical term for addiction. Addiction is a chronic, treatable disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite serious negative health, occupational, and social consequences.5

A person struggling with an OUD may find themselves:5

  • Being unable to cut back or stop using Dilaudid despite a desire to do so.
  • Spending a significant amount of time obtaining, using, or recovering from the effects of Dilaudid.
  • Experiencing cravings to use Dilaudid.
  • Being unable to fulfill obligations at home, school, or work due to Dilaudid use.
  • Continuing to use Dilaudid despite persistent interpersonal or social problems that are caused or worsened by substance use.
  • Using Dilaudid in situations where it is dangerous to do so (e.g., driving).
  • Using Dilaudid despite having a persistent mental or physical health problem that is likely due to substance use.
  • Giving up occupational, recreational, or social activities to use Dilaudid.
  • Needing more Dilaudid to achieve previous effects (e.g., tolerance).
  • Experiencing withdrawal when you stop using Dilaudid.

An OUD can only be diagnosed by a professional using and is based on the presence of 2 or more of the above Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) criteria manifesting within a 12-month period.5

Side Effects of Dilaudid

As with other prescription opioids, Dilaudid can have several side effects, including, but not limited to:1

  • Headache.
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Lightheadedness.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Sweating.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Pain in the muscles or joints.
  • Anxiety.
  • Depression.
  • Flushing of the skin.
  • Itchiness.

If you experience any of the following dangerous side effects while taking Dilaudid, seek medical care immediately:1

  • Rash.
  • Hives.
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing.
  • Swelling of the face, mouth, throat, hands, ankles, feet, or legs.
  • Agitation.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Chest pains.
  • Fainting.
  • Extreme drowsiness.
  • Seizures.

Combining Dilaudid with alcohol or other drugs (e.g., polysubstance use) increases the risk of experiencing life-threatening side effects.1, 3 Opioids like Dilaudid can be especially dangerous if combined with alcohol, benzodiazepines, or other opioids, because these drugs also depress the central nervous system (CNS), so the compound effect can easily be fatal.1, 3

Health Effects and Risks of Dilaudid Misuse and Addiction

In the short term, Dilaudid can have several health effects, including constipation, drowsiness, nausea, and, slowed breathing, among others.6

Chronic Dilaudid misuse can increase the risk of hypoxia, which can result when the brain does not receive enough oxygen. In some cases, hypoxia can cause permanent brain damage.7 The way a person ingests Dilaudid can also influence the health effects. For example, injecting Dilaudid increases the risk of contracting an infectious disease, such as hepatitis or HIV.5

Misusing Dilaudid can significantly impair a person’s decision-making abilities and judgment. Users may put themselves in risky situations while high, such as visiting dangerous areas to buy drugs, driving while impaired, or having unprotected sex. These behaviors can result in various consequences, such as serious illnesses, injuries, unintended pregnancies, legal problems, and even death. As mentioned, Dilaudid can lead to the development of an opioid use disorder (OUD), the clinical term for addiction.7

Hydromorphone abuse increases the risk of experiencing a life-threatening overdose. Signs of an opioid overdose include:8

  • Pinpoint pupils.
  • Loss of consciousness.
  • Slow, shallow breathing.
  • Choking or gurgling sounds.
  • Limp body.
  • Blue, clammy skin.

Dilaudid Withdrawal

In addition to short- and long-term effects, individuals may also experience withdrawal symptoms if they cut back or stop using hydromorphone. Some common symptoms of opioid withdrawal include:1

  • Restlessness.
  • Yawning.
  • Chills.
  • Muscle or joint pain.
  • Anxiety.
  • Irritability.
  • Stomach cramps.
  • Insomnia.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Rapid breathing.
  • Increased heart rate.

Opioid withdrawal can be uncomfortable or even extremely unpleasant but is not deadly. However, because of the discomfort, it is recommended that individuals go through detox in a professional rehab facility.

Dilaudid Addiction Treatment & Rehabs

No matter how bad your situation may seem, opioid addiction can be effectively managed.9, 10 There is no one type of facility or program that is suitable for everyone. Hydromorphone addiction treatment should address both your substance use and the ways it has negatively impacted your life, including emotionally, mentally, physically, and socially.9, 10

There are various types of treatment options available to address the range of needs that people experience.10 Programs typically provide an individualized treatment plan that is tailored to a person’s unique needs. They often use a combination of different techniques to address a person’s addiction and how it has affected them. These can include:9, 10

  • Detox, which can help patients stay at comfortable and safe as possible while the body clears itself of Dilaudid. During detox, medical professionals help manage any discomfort during withdrawal. They can also address complications if they arise. While detox can be a helpful first step in recovery, it’s not a substitute for more comprehensive treatment.
  • Residential/inpatient treatment, where patients live at a facility and receive care, monitoring, and support around the clock.
  • Outpatient treatment, which offers less intensive group and individual counseling while patients live at home. This type of care allows patients to maintain responsibilities at home, school, or work while learning how to adjust to stressors and receiving the support of peers and staff.

Whether patients are in an inpatient or outpatient program, they can expect to participate in behavioral therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Behavioral therapy in a group or individual setting is highly effective for treating addiction to various substances. These techniques can help patients learn how to manage stressors and triggers in healthy ways. Treatment can also address co-occurring disorders, such as anxiety or depression, which is generally more effective than treating these issues separately.

If you’re looking for a hydromorphone rehab in the United States, you have an array of options including private rehab facilities, state-run treatment facilities, and local treatment programs. There are also support groups that can help you as you work toward achieving and maintaining recovery. Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is a mutual support group that offers people the opportunity to use peer bonds, self-expression, and sponsor relationships to work toward recovery. There are also non-12-step programs available that offer alternatives to NA.9, 10

Where Can I Learn More About Treatment for Dilaudid Addiction?

For more information about Dilaudid addiction treatment, can contact your doctor for an evaluation and referrals. You can also contact American Addiction Centers admissions navigators at for more information and support as you look for opioid addiction treatment. There are various treatment programs and strategies available for Dilaudid addiction, so don’t give up if the first program you check out doesn’t meet your individual needs.

You can also easily and quickly check if your insurance is in-network by filling out the form below.

Frequently Asked Questions

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