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Dilaudid Addiction and Abuse

Dilaudid, the brand name for hydromorphone, is a powerful opioid pain medication that can cause a pleasurable rush of euphoria—especially when it is misused. Besides the sensation of feeling “high,” Dilaudid abuse is also associated with dangerous short- and long-term effects, including overdose and even death.

Various drugs are grouped under the opioid category, including Dilaudid. Opioid drug use in the United States is a public health issue. According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 10.1 million people (3.7%) in the United States aged 12 or older misused opioids in the past year. Most of the people who abused opioids misused prescription pain relievers like Dilaudid—9.7 million people.1

Checking Your Insurance Benefits

If you are looking for opioid addiction treatment, it can feel overwhelming. As you consider your options, knowing exactly what your insurance plan covers can give you peace of mind while you or your loved one is in rehab. You can do the work of getting and staying sober without worrying about unexpected costs or financial struggles. For more information on what your insurance plan covers, call AAC at , click here, or fill out the form below.

Is Dilaudid Addictive?

Yes, prescription opioids like Dilaudid are highly addictive. These drugs attach to opioid receptors in the brain and body and, in doing so, reduce feelings of pain and induce a rewarding euphoric sensation that can keep users continually returning to the drug.2 Dilaudid is slightly more potent than other notoriously addictive opioids like OxyContin (oxycodone). 3 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

People who are abuse Dilaudid may at some point meet criteria for an opioid use disorder (OUD). This condition is diagnosed in people who experience physical and psychological problems because of their opioid use. A Dilaudid user who may have entered the territory of an opioid use disorder (commonly referred to as an addiction) may find themselves:5

  • Taking Dilaudid in larger amounts or over a longer period of time than they had planned.
  • Failing in attempts to slow or stop their Dilaudid use.
  • Spending a disproportionate amount of time getting, using, or recovering from Dilaudid.
  • Having strong cravings or urges to use Dilaudid.
  • Ignoring daily responsibilities of work, school, or home life.
  • Continuing to use Dilaudid even when doing so is causing interpersonal problems and relationship issues.
  • Giving up activities that were once important in favor of using Dilaudid.
  • Using Dilaudid in risky situations such as prior to driving.
  • Continuing to use Dilaudid when it is causing physical or emotional problems or making those problems worse.
  • Needing ever-increasing doses to get the same effects (tolerance).
  • Experiencing an uncomfortable set of withdrawal symptoms when not using Dilaudid. 

Dilaudid addiction is a serious concern because of the risk of overdose and dangerous long-term effects.

What is Dilaudid?

Dilaudid is the brand name for hydromorphone, a prescription opioid medication used to treat severe pain.4 The drug is available in several forms: as an injectable solution, oral solution, or tablet. Some Dilaudid users may misuse the drug by taking it in larger amounts or more frequently than prescribed, or by taking the drug without a prescription in order to get high.4 Dilaudid abuse can take many forms, including swallowing the pills, crushing and snorting the pills, or even injecting the drug. Snorting and injecting the drug gets it to the brain more quickly than oral routes and can increase the dangers and risk of overdose.4

Those using Dilaudid must be careful to take it as prescribed and with monitoring from their physician, given its abuse liability. If you or someone you care about is currently suffering from an addiction to Dilaudid, there are resources for you to get help. Waiting to address the problem can result in serious physical and psychological effects, as well as fatal overdose.

What is Dilaudid Addiction?

Drug addiction is the continued, compulsive use of drugs, including opioids like hydromorphone, despite serious negative consequences, such as health, work, school, and relationship problems.5 Addiction is a treatable medical illness that affects the brain and changes behaviors such as self-control.5

Dilaudid abuse can lead to addiction, a condition that involves changes in the brain, an inability to control drug use, and significant negative consequences as a result of drug use.2 People who abuse or are addicted to Dilaudid may exhibit specific physical, psychological, and behavioral signs such as:2

  • Appearing high, or under the influence of Dilaudid. People high on Dilaudid may appear to be unusually happy and drowsy and will likely have constricted pupils and be breathing slower than normal.
  • Changes in mood, such as switching between seeming euphoric and irritable or anxious.
  • Changes in sleep, appetite, interest in activities, and friends.
  • Stealing money or selling items to pay for drugs.
  • Making many doctors’ appointments at separate practices to acquire multiple prescriptions.
  • Possessing drug-related paraphernalia, such as prescription bottles, straws, razors, and/or needles.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Dilaudid Addiction?

Short-term effects of Dilaudid include:2

  • Sense of euphoria.
  • Pain relief.
  • Drowsiness.

These immediate pleasurable effects may be accompanied by a long list of side effects, including:4

  • Headache.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Constipation.
  • Slowed breathing.
  • Sweating.
  • Pain in the muscles or joints.
  • Anxiety.
  • Depressed mood.
  • Flushing of the skin.
  • Itchiness.
  • Insomnia.
  • Sexual or reproductive problems, such as an inability to get an erection (men) or loss of a period (women).

If you experience any of the following dangerous side effects while taking Dilaudid, seek medical care immediately:4

  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Chest pains.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Lightheadedness or fainting.
  • High fever.
  • Seizures.

Combining Dilaudid with other drugs can increase the risk of dangerous side effects.4 Opioids like Dilaudid can be especially dangerous if combined with alcohol, benzodiazepines, or barbiturates, because these drugs also depress the respiratory system, so the compound effect can easily be fatal.2

What are the Health Risks of Dilaudid Abuse?

Prescription opioids like Dilaudid can have serious long-term effects, including:2,7

  • Hyperalgesia, a condition that involves increased sensitivity to pain.
  • Hypoxia, which can result when the brain does not receive enough oxygen. In some cases, hypoxia can cause permanent brain damage. 
  • Physical dependence and addiction.2 Dilaudid users may struggle to control their use, making it difficult to quit.
  • Infectious diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis, if Dilaudid is injected.

Prescription opioids can significantly impair a person’s judgment and decision-making abilities.7 Dilaudid 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 dangerous behaviors can result in permanent and serious long-term consequences, such as serious injuries, unintended pregnancies, illnesses, legal problems, and even death.

How Do I Get Help for Dilaudid Addiction?

While it can be difficult to overcome an addiction to opioids, it can be effectively managed.8,9 There is not one type of facility or program that is suitable for everyone.8 Addiction treatment should address both your substance abuse and the various ways it has negatively impacted your life, including physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally.8,9

There are various types of treatment options available to address the wide range of needs that people experience.10 Programs typically provide an individualized treatment plan that is tailored to your unique needs. They often use a combination of different techniques to address your addiction and how it has affected you.10

These can include:8-10

  • Residential treatment, where you live at a facility, and receive care and/or support around the clock. This is a structured setting with counseling, support, and a strong emphasis on peer and social interactions.
  • Inpatient treatment typically involves a shorter stay at a facility—often around 4 weeks —with around-the-clock monitoring and care, intense group therapy, and individual counseling.
  • Outpatient treatment offers less intensive group and individual counseling while you live at home. This type of care allows you to work, attend school, and participate in daily life while learning how to adjust to stressors and receiving the support of peers and staff.
  • Behavioral therapy in a group, individual, and/or family settings is highly effective for treating addiction to hallucinogens, dissociative drugs, and other substances. These techniques can help you learn how to stay sober, improve your relationships with others, cope with stress in healthy ways, and participate in positive activities.
  • Treatment for co-occurring disorders, which addresses mental health disorders at the same time as a substance use disorder, is generally more effective than treating these issues separately. Therapy, medications, and other supportive services are commonly utilized in this type of treatment.

If you are seeking hydromorphone treatment in the United States, you have a wide 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 becoming sober and maintaining that sobriety. Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is a mutual support group that offers people the opportunity to use peer bond, sponsor relationships, and self-expression to work toward sobriety. There are also non-12-step programs available that offer alternatives to NA.

Where Can I Learn More about Treating Dilaudid Addiction?

For more information about Dilaudid abuse and addiction treatment, you may want to reach out to your doctor. Or you can contact one of our admissions navigators at for the information and support you are looking for 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. To learn more about opioid addiction treatment, click here.


  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2020). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health(HHS Publication No. PEP19-5068, NSDUH Series H-54). Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Misuse of prescription drugs.
  3. Walsh, S. L., Nuzzo, P. A., Lofwall, M. R., & Holtman, J. R. (2008). The relative abuse liability of oral oxycodone, hydrocodone and hydromorphone assessed in prescription opioid abusers. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 98(3), 191-202.
  4. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2017). MedlinePlus, Hydromorphone.
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Understanding Drug Use and Addiction DrugFacts.
  6. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
  7. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2015). DrugFacts: Prescription and over-the-counter medications.
  8. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research-based guide (Third edition).
  9. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). The National Institute on Drug Abuse media guide.
  10. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). DrugFacts: Treatment approaches for drug addiction.

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