Dilaudid is a derivative of morphine that has been clinically available since the 1920s. It was manufactured in Germany when the country was seeking pain medications that had fewer side effects and health risks.
Its potency is two to eight times greater than morphine but has a shorter effect time. Known in many parts of the world by different brand names, including Hydal, dimorphone, Hydrostat and Opidol, hydromorphone is listed as a Schedule II controlled substance.
In 2009, Ohio approved the use of hydromorphone combined with midazolam as a backup means for carrying out executions when a vein cannot be found for intravenous injections. In 2014, this combination was used on Joseph Wood in Arizona. It took almost two hours for death to occur.
What Is Dilaudid?
Most commonly referred to in illicit use as dust, juice, smack or footballs, Dilaudid is a small round or three-sided pill that comes in varying strengths and colors depending on the manufacturer. It is also available in an oral solution, as a rectal suppository and is injectable by dissolving the tablets into a solution.
Dilaudid is the brand name for the generic chemical hydromorphone. This opioid is best used for short-term pain or in cases where recovery from disease isn’t possible.
Dilaudid may be used to treat severe back pain; however, it’s often used as a last resort for this condition or for patients who have had back surgery. Other typical uses for Dilaudid include:
- Chest pain
- Nerve pain
- Hospice care
- Stomach pain
How Does Dilaudid Work?
Dilaudid works on the brain much the same way that morphine does, by activating central nervous receptors to limit a person’s perception of pain. As a result, it increases pain tolerance while creating a euphoric effect.
In pill form, Dilaudid starts working within 30 minutes, and when injected, it takes approximately five minutes for it to kick in. The medication has a diminished effect after its been in your system for a few hours, but it shows up on blood and urine tests for several days after the drug completely wears off.
Like most opioids, Dilaudid creates feelings of euphoria, relaxation, sedation and may also reduce feelings of anxiety. Individuals taking the medication may experience changes in mood, increased nervousness and feelings of restlessness. In some cases, symptoms may include changes in blood pressure, rapid heart rate, loss of coordination and mental clouding.
Morphine derivatives like hydromorphone often produce the same euphoric rush that users feel when taking IV heroin. Many of the tablets are time-release formulas, but crushing the pills and dissolving them into a liquid solution may lead to an immediate rush, especially when the medication is taken with alcohol.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in 2016, approximately 18.7 million individuals abused prescription drugs like hydromorphone. This abuse occurred most often by taking prescription medications that were prescribed for another person, taking larger doses than what was prescribed, taking more frequent doses and taking the medication with the sole purpose of getting high.
Individuals who begin using Dilaudid can become addicted after just two to three weeks. Like most drug addictions, once an individual develops a tolerance to the medication, they may start taking the pills more frequently in order to achieve the same desired effects.
Physical dependence can occur even if the person is taking the medication originally as prescribed. Typically, when a doctor prescribes Dilaudid, the patient is carefully monitored for any signs of dependence, at which point the physician may decide to wean the patient off the medication slowly.
Abuse of the drug is one of the first symptoms of addiction. However, because of its high potency, users run a risk of an overdose each time they use it. When purchased on the street, the drug may also be laced with other medications, which may result in a fatal overdose.
Overdose is also a concern for those who have detoxed from Dilaudid and have a relapse. Using the medication after the body has been clean from it can result in changed levels of tolerance. Repeat users may also experience altered vital functions, which can have fatal results.
Taking hydromorphone produces a wide variety of effects. Short-term use can result in slowed breathing, unconsciousness, nausea and coma.
Long-term effects include muscle and bone pain, cold flashes, insomnia, and liver failure. Long-term abuse of hydromorphone can result in brain damage and death.
Treatment for Dilaudid Addiction
The first step in treatment for opioid addiction is getting help. At FHE Health, we can ensure you have the help you need to get through the entire treatment and recovery process. Utilizing a specially trained medical staff provides you with the greatest hope for treatment and recovery.
The first withdrawal symptoms for a Dilaudid addiction include mild nausea, restlessness, irritability, sweating, cravings and anxiety. These initial effects typically begin within four to eight hours after the last dose. Peak withdrawal symptoms usually start around 12 to 48 hours after the last dose, while many people continue to have maximum side effects up to three days.
In most cases, withdrawal from Dilaudid takes five to seven days after the last dose. Some individuals can have emotional side effects for several weeks to several months. These feelings include anxiety, depression and drug cravings.
In treatment, medications like Suboxone and methadone may be given to help control the symptoms of withdrawal. If these medications are used, the physician will slowly taper off the use until drugs are no longer needed.
While outpatient treatment is available, inpatient rehabilitation is often the best course of action. With outpatient treatment, an individual is allowed to return home every night after spending the day in treatment.
With inpatient treatment, the individual lives within a treatment facility until all side effects of the addiction have been addressed. Inpatient treatments are intensive. An individual is accounted for every minute of the day during inpatient treatment.
A daily schedule may include psychologist, counselors, group meetings and planned activities. Unlike outpatient treatment where the individual only has help during the day, inpatient help gives the individual 24-hour access to medical attention.
If you or a loved one suffers from Dilaudid addiction or some other form of opioid addiction, FHE Health can provide the help you need. Contact us at (844) 299-0618 to speak to one of our caring counselors 24 hours a day and seven days a week. We can answer any questions you might have and help put you on a path to recovery.