You might be one of the many Americans who is prescribed an opioid if you battle with pain that cannot be treated via other methods. Patients with especially severe pain may receive a prescription for Dilaudid (hydromorphone) to get necessary relief and feel comfortable.

Dilaudid is a strong opioid that is risky even when used as prescribed. Per MedlinePlus, this medication can be habit-forming and should be taken exactly as prescribed. Taking more of it could result in misuse and eventually, addiction. Reducing your dosage without talking to your doctor may result in symptoms of withdrawal.

Opioids are incredibly addictive. If you begin misusing Dilaudid, it’s likely that addiction will quickly follow.

Understanding Dilaudid

The Mayo Clinic explains that Dilaudid is sold as extended-release capsules or tablets. In addition, Dilaudid can be administered via intravenous (IV) injection, intramuscular injection, or into a patient’s rectum if they cannot receive injections.

This medication is meant for people who are in serious pain. As such, if you have recently had surgery, a dental procedure, or you require medication for short-term symptoms, you will be prescribed something weaker than Dilaudid.

Patients will often be prescribed a low dose that may be increased after three to four days of taking the medication. Dilaudid can be up to eight times stronger than morphine and is listed as a Schedule II drug.

Your doctor will monitor your use and decrease your dose if they suspect you are misusing it or if you experience too many side effects.

Side Effects And Precautions

Despite the many pain-relieving benefits it offers, Dilaudid is dangerous because it is easy to misuse or abuse.

Users can also expect the following potential side effects when starting the medication:

  • Depression
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Changes in ability to stay or fall asleep
  • Sweating
  • Faintness
  • Drowsiness
  • Anxiety
  • Itchiness

The above side effects are uncomfortable but not serious. You should consult with your doctor immediately or get help if you feel these side effects:

  • Hives
  • Hoarse voice
  • Changes in menstruation patterns
  • Difficulty getting or keeping an erection
  • Seizures
  • Changes in libido
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fainting

MedlinePlus Also Advises Patients Not To Take The Following At The Same Time As Dilaudid:

  • Alcohol
  • Street drugs
  • Additional prescriptions
  • Over-the-counter medications

Misuse And Abuse

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) warns that prescription painkiller misuse is a widespread problem that has been on the rise. In the United States, misuse of prescription painkillers such as Dilaudid increased fivefold between 1999 and 2016.

This has resulted in increasing numbers of emergency room visits, overdoses, and fatalities related to opioids. Dilaudid abuse is something public health and addiction experts are monitoring.

On July 2013, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) reported that Dilaudid and other forms of hydromorphone could cause tolerance and are used in unlawful manners. People may get the drug via:

  • Doctor-shopping.
  • Forging prescriptions
  • Robbing nursing homes or pharmacies
  • Diversion.

There are clear signs that you are misusing Dilaudid. These include:

  • Taking the medication in ways that are different from what your pharmacist or physician instructs.
  • Ingesting larger doses than prescribed.
  • Taking Dilaudid more often than you should.
  • Using Dilaudid specifically to feel euphoria or get high as opposed to relieve pain.
  • Taking the medication differently than intended

Misusing prescription painkillers can facilitate addiction. As reported by NIDA, addiction must be treated as a chronic health condition. People become addicted to medication for different reasons, such as:

  • To treat an unaddressed or undiagnosed mental health or other issue
  • After experimentation caused by curiosity
  • To feel relaxed, as is often the case with people who use opioids

People who misuse drugs do not develop an addiction overnight. Instead, they may choose to experiment the first few times. If nonmedical use of opioids like Dilaudid continues, users lose their ability to control cravings.

You can become addicted to Dilaudid because it affects your central nervous system (CNS). Research on drugs and the brain shows that opioids change how you experience rewards. Dilaudid makes you feel relaxed, which provides an incentive for you to seek it out and continue using it so you can continue to feel good.

Is Damage From Dilaudid Permanent?

Dilaudid can trigger overdose in people that may be fatal.

Like alcohol, opioids sedate people and can result in serious accidents should a person choose to drive or operate machinery while under its influence. This may result in death or serious injuries.

The CDC cautions that women are more vulnerable to Dilaudid overdose than others. Its September 2018 findings on women and prescription painkiller overdose state the following:

  • Women between the ages of 25 and 54 have the highest likelihood of visiting an emergency room because of opioid misuse.
  • Women are more likely to use antidepressants and other drugs that address mental health issues.
  • About 18 women die every day because of an opioid painkiller overdose.

Older patients are also more vulnerable to the effects of Dilaudid.

Treatment Options For Opioid Misuse

Thanks to increased understanding of how opioid addiction works, organizations like NIDA have come up with guidelines for the best ways to deal with misuse of opioids.

Treatment Is Available In A Variety Of Formats, And You Do Not Have To Wait Until Your Use Is Serious Or Completely Out Of Control To Start Receiving It. The Following Guidelines For The Treatment Of Addiction Apply:

  • Immediate access to treatment is crucial.
  • Each person is different, and not all available methods are suitable for everyone.
  • It is important that people stay in treatment as long as necessary to achieve their goals.
  • Treatment should deal with the whole person and address mental health and other issues.
  • Screening for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, and other health issues is an important part of treatment.
  • Monitoring for drug use is a crucial part of treatment.
  • Follow-up care and relapse prevention are important aspects of treatment.

Common methods to treat addiction to prescription painkillers include:


  • The goal of therapy is to help clients confront their misuse and develop the tools they need to live without drug dependency or addiction. Therapy can take the form of:
  • Individual counseling, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT has consistently been proven effective in assisting those addicted to opioids. It can help them to identify the reasons why they began misusing drugs and address these issues.
  • Family therapy. Families are provided the tools they need to understand drug abuse, stop enabling the person who is struggling with addiction, and improve their relationships.
  • Group therapy. Sessions with other individuals in similar situations provide a supportive environment and social network for clients.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

  • This is often considered the first step in detoxing patients who are addicted to opioids. Several medications have been approved to curb cravings and provide relief from withdrawal symptoms.
  • Naltrexone: This medication is strictly for those who have been completely detoxed from opioids. It prevents users from experiencing the effects of opioids if they relapse.
  • Methadone: This medication binds to opioid receptors in the brain to satisfy the user without providing a high.
  • Buprenorphine: This medication prevents cravings and eases withdrawal symptoms by binding to the same chemical messengers as opioids.

With consistency and support from family and friends, people who are misusing or addicted to Dilaudid can successfully recover.

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