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What is Dilaudid Abuse and Addiction?

Dilaudid and Dilaudid-HP injections are painkilling opioids that are used to relieve moderate to severe pain, but also have a high potential for addiction. Dilaudid is derived from morphine but is several times more powerful. It is an opioid analgesic drug with the active ingredient hydromorphone.

It can be prescribed in pill form after an injury or surgery to help patients manage pain. In a hospital setting, Injections can also be performed by nurses or can be self-administered through an intravenous drip. Dilaudid may also be prescribed in cases of chronic pain resulting from cancer or for palliative care.

Dilaudid Addiction and Abuse

In pill form, Dilaudid should be consumed whole and should not be crushed up or chewed. Crushing or chewing Dilaudid may result in too much of the drug being released at one time. Depending on how much of the drug is used, an over-release of Dilaudid could potentially cause a fatal overdose.

Dilaudid is approximately 7-8 times more potent than morphine. The drug is an opioid agonist, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and addiction. As it produces pleasant feelings with each dose, temptation to abuse the drug may be soon to follow.

As use of the drug continues, the user may develop a tolerance in just a few weeks, a condition in which an increasing amount of the drug is needed to achieve the desired effect. The building of tolerance can rapidly contribute to addiction, and for this reason, doctors strictly advise to take only the amount prescribed and only as directed.

Side Effects

The recommended dosage of Dilaudid usually begins at 2-4 mg every 4-6 hours, but can be modified based on the patient’s needs. Side effects of the drug are not the same as withdrawal symptoms or effects incurred due to abuse or addiction.

Moreover, a person could be taking the drug within the recommended dosage and still experience the following symptoms:

  • Itching
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Drowsiness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Confusion


Because Dilaudid has a high potential for addiction, a person might be compelled to abruptly stop the medication in an attempt to reverse or avoid an addiction. However, quitting “cold turkey” at any point is not recommended without the direction of a doctor.

After even a brief amount of time on Dilaudid, the brain becomes accustomed to its effects and adjusts to the reaction the drug produces within the body – this condition is known as dependence. When someone discontinues use of Dilaudid, the brain will need time to reestablish balance and function normally again, thus producing temporary adverse side effects known as withdrawal symptoms.

Side effects of withdrawing from Dilaudid may include the following:

  • Body aches
  • Insomnia
  • Weakness
  • Chills
  • Tremors and shaking
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Stomach pain
  • Drug cravings
Dilaudid Abuse and Addiction | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Tapering, or gradually reducing the dosage, helps with the negative symptoms that can manifest with Dilaudid withdrawal. Other medications can also be administered to help alleviate these side effects.

Respiratory Depression

A common effect of taking too many is respiratory depression. If left unaddressed, this condition can get worse, and carries the possibility of respiratory arrest and death. Respiratory depression is characterized by slow and labored breathing, a significant side effect of Dilaudid.

If the lungs do not receive an adequate amount of oxygen, tissues and organs in the body will not be able to work correctly. Using too much Dilaudid or in combination with other central nervous system depressants, such as other benzodiazepines or alcohol, can result in severe respiratory depression. This, in turn, can cause respiratory arrest, in which the person stops breathing altogether.

Symptoms of a Dilaudid overdose may include the following:

  • Blue discoloration of the nails and lips (cyanosis)
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Slow, shallow, labored or stopped breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weak pulse
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Coma

If you suspect someone is experiencing an overdose on Dilaudid or another opioid, please call 911 immediately.

Treatment for Dilaudid Addiction

Depending on the severity of physical dependence, inpatient, partial hospitalization, or outpatient programs can be beneficial for anyone struggling with an addiction. Midwood Addiction Treatment offers the essential, comprehensive therapies clients need to achieve abstinence and maintain long-lasting sobriety and wellness.

Using an integrated approach to addiction, we offer evidence-based treatments that have been found to be the most effective for treating substance abuse, including psychotherapy, individual and family counseling, and group support.

We employ highly-trained medical and mental health providers who specialize in addiction and deliver services to clients with care and expertise.

You can experience a more fulfilling life, free from substance abuse and the devastating consequences that wreak havoc on your health and well-being. If you are suffering from addiction, contact us as soon as possible to find out how we can help!

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