Dilaudid Addiction, Side Effects, & Treatment Options 

Dilaudid (hydromorphone hydrochloride) is a potent prescription opioid painkiller. Dilaudid is similar to morphine, methadone, heroin, oxycodone, and other opioid drugs, though it is significantly stronger than many other opioid drugs.

How Does Dilaudid Work?

Doctor prescribing painkiller

Dilaudid is used for acute management of moderate to severe chronic pain. Dilaudid acts in the same way as other opioid medications. They bind to opioid receptors in the brain and body to block pain signals.

Dilaudid is prescribed in many forms, including immediate-release tablets (2 mg, 4 mg, and 8 mg strengths), injectable solutions, high-potency injections (Dilaudid-HP), oral solutions (Dilaudid-5), and as a rectal suppository.

What Are the Side Effects of Dilaudid?

The most commonly reported side effects of Dilaudid include:

  • Sedation/sleepiness.
  • Euphoria.
  • Dizziness.
  • Lightheadedness or feeling faint.
  • Sweating.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Flushing of the skin.
  • Depressed mood.
  • Constipation.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Itchy skin.
  • Headache.
  • Fatigue.
  • Stomach pain.

What Are the Signs of Dilaudid Abuse?

Behaviors and physical signs that someone may be abusing an opioid such as Dilaudid include:

  • Forging prescriptions.
  • Lying about losing prescriptions.
  • “Shopping” different doctors to get Dilaudid.
  • Frequent trips to the emergency room for vague complaints of pain.
  • Taking more of the medication or taking it more frequently than prescribed.
  • Social isolation.
  • Stealing or borrowing money.
  • Acting secretive or suspicious.
  • Hiding Dilaudid in various places such as one’s car, home, at work, etc.
  • New financial problems.
  • Legal problems associated with use of the drug.
  • Engaging in risky or reckless behaviors.
  • Frequently getting sick (e.g., nausea, vomiting, feeling ill, etc.)
  • Increased anxiety.
  • Slurring words.
  • Sweating or trembling.
  • Difficulties with urination
  • Mood swings.
  • Sleeping more or less often than usual.
  • Cravings for Dilaudid.
  • Track marks on the arms and/or legs from injecting.
  • Red or constantly runny nose from snorting.

How Does Dilaudid Addiction Start?

When Dilaudid binds to the opioid receptors throughout the body, it initiates a large surge in dopamine in the areas of the brain that are associated with reward and motivation.  These large dopamine releases can lead the user to keep taking the drug again and again. This contributes to the drug’s abuse and addiction potential.

The United States Drug Enforcement Agency has recognized this potential for abuse and has listed Dilaudid as a Schedule II controlled substance that  can only be legally used with a prescription from a physician.

With continued abuse of an opioid like Dilaudid, the potential for addiction grows. Repeated opioid abuse causes changes in the brain that are associated with the development of an opioid use disorder, or OUD.  Opioid use disorders are marked by a compulsion to get and use opioids without regard to the harmful consequences that are caused by doing so.

Those addicted to Dilaudid are often physically dependent on the drug, needing to use it simply to function as they normally would. Avoidance of withdrawal symptoms may keep people using Dilaudid even if they are motivated to quit.

What Are the Dilaudid Withdrawal Symptoms?

Physical dependence on Dilaudid may develop as quickly as within 2-3 weeks. Once someone has become dependent, a drastic reduction in dose or complete cessation of the medication may bring about some or all of the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • Restlessness.
  • Insomnia.
  • Anxiety.
  • Irritability.
  • Dilated pupils.
  • Teary eyes.
  • Yawning.
  • Runny nose.
  • Sweating and chills.
  • Muscle and joint pain.
  • Weakness.
  • Stomach cramps.
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Increases in blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate.

Generally, the acute withdrawal symptoms for Dilaudid will arise within about 12 hours of the dose reduction or cessation of use, be at their peak around day 1-3, and subside by day 7.

Dilaudid Addiction Treatment

What Are the Different Types of Dilaudid Addiction Treatment?

The recovery process may involve multiple treatment approaches and is most likely to have a good outcome if the person stays in treatment for a sufficient length of time. Most people suffering from addiction need at least 90 days (or 3 months) in treatment, and the more time in treatment the better.

Medical Detox

For those looking to get off opioids, medical detox can help with the first step: managing acute withdrawal. The opioid withdrawal syndrome is unlikely to be dangerous, but it is very uncomfortable and may cause someone to relapse to feel better. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration advises that medications be used to manage opioid withdrawal to prevent needless suffering.

After medical detox, further treatment will be needed, as detox is rarely enough to sustain long-term change. Whether additional treatment is inpatient or outpatient will depend on factors such as the severity of your addiction, your home environment, and how much support you have in recovery.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Dilaudid Addiction Treatment

Many people wonder if inpatient or outpatient programs are right for them. Often, a treatment provider or case manager (or in some cases, the judicial system) will help you make that decision (or make it for you). Some benefits of both are outlined below. 

An inpatient recovery program offers:

  • A limited duration (most often 30-90 days but in special cases may be longer).
  • Very close supervision and a high level of support.
  • A substance-free living environment.
  • Regular group and individual therapy.
  • Very structured schedule.
  • An environment fully focused on recovery.

Some advantages to an outpatient recovery program include:

  • No need to disrupt one’s life.
  • Can change therapists easily if needed.
  • More overall independence.
  • The chance to immediately use the skills and techniques learned in rehab in other aspects of life.
  • Can serve as a step-down level of care after inpatient rehab.

If clients choose an inpatient program initially, they often transition to some type of outpatient program. Many people find local support groups, such as 12-Step programs, helpful in maintaining their recovery over the long term.

How to Choose the Right Addiction Treatment Program

Some things to ask yourself when choosing a rehab program include:

  • Can I afford the particular program, or does my insurance cover the treatment?
  • Do I know anyone who has had success in the program? Does it have good reviews?
  • Are there any barriers to participating in the program? For example, is it in a location I cannot get to?
  • Can family members become involved or participate in therapy?
  • Can I leave home to attend treatment in an inpatient program? Can I arrange for childcare and other personal obligations?
  • Is treatment customized to each client, and does it change throughout the recovery progress?
  • Will the facility treat me if I have a mental health disorder?

Choosing Greenhouse for Your Care

At Greenhouse Treatment Center, we do everything we can to make treatment accessible for you. We accept most private insurances and we help you make arrangements to get here if you live far away. We also pride ourselves on tailoring treatment to each patient and providing treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders such as depression or bipolar disorder.

To learn how we can help you turn your life around, call us at . There’s no better time to make a change than today.

You aren't alone. You deserve to get help.
We are here to help you get clean and learn how to stay that way. Start your recovery at our spa-like facility in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. Holistic therapies, chef-prepared meals, and LGBTQ+ support are among the many features of our premier drug and alcohol treatment program.