Addiction To Dilaudid

Dilaudid is one of the more powerful synthetic narcotics in the opioid class of drugs; an addiction to the substance can rapidly develop through continued use.

People regularly taking Dilaudid build up a tolerance to the drug, requiring larger and more frequent doses to get the desired effects.

Users can develop a tolerance to the substance within two or three weeks. Once a tolerance takes hold, users taking the pills more frequently often finish their prescription ahead of schedule. This is due to the regular dose no longer working the same way on the body as it once did, and can result in physical dependence or addiction even if the user is taking the medication as prescribed.

Those with a tolerance may experience withdrawal symptoms once the drug wears off. Someone who wants to stop taking the substance but isn’t able to may have an addiction.

Other signs of an addiction include:

  • Becoming obsessed with the next dose
  • Spending excessive amounts of money on the drug
  • Failing to keep up with responsibilities, such as school and work
  • Needing larger doses to feel high
  • Neglecting friends and family in favor of drug use
  • Stealing from medicine cabinets
  • Forging prescriptions
  • Purchasing Dilaudid online or off the street

Many people addicted to Dilaudid may “doctor shop” for new prescriptions, visiting several doctors with complaints of chronic pain. Additionally, it is not uncommon for substance abuse to lead to criminal activities in users’ search to get more of the drug.

Though I’d never taken them before I got sober, I was prescribed Vicodin and was given Dilaudid at the hospital and those drugs felt utterly wonderful coursing through my veins. But therein lies the rub; you feel too good when you take them.

- Former addict and comedian Rob Delaney, The Atlantic, 2013

Understanding Dilaudid (Hydromorphone)

Dilaudid (hydromorphone) is a schedule II controlled substance prescribed for moderate to severe pain. The drug attaches to receptors in the brain and central nervous system (CNS) to dull pain. Dilaudid also triggers the release of excessive amounts of dopamine in the brain, causing pleasurable feelings. This activates the reward center of the brain, which interprets the event as something that is important and should be repeated. The more this happens, the less the brain will naturally produce dopamine, and the more reliant the body becomes on Dilaudid.

Doctors prescribe Dilaudid for pain related to cancer and serious injuries such as burns. The time it takes for the drug to take effect varies depending on how it is taken. When taken orally, Dilaudid typically takes effect within 30 minutes to an hour. When used intranasally, it typically takes 5 minutes; its effects are almost immediate when taken intravenously. Regardless of the method of administration, the effects of Dilaudid typically last between four and six hours.

Doctors typically prescribe Dilaudid tablets in small doses. Some pills are round, and some are triangular in shape. Dilaudid is also available as an oral liquid. In a hospital setting, doctors may administer the substance intravenously.

Other brand names for hydromorphone are Exalgo, Palladone, and Dilaudid-hp. Street names include D’s, dillies, big D, M-80s, and peaches.

Common Drug Combinations

Those who abuse Dilaudid recreationally may mix it with alcohol and/or benzodiazepines to get a better high. All three of these drugs are CNS depressants. Mixing these drugs amplifies their effects but also dangerously slows breathing and heart rate. Mixing Dilaudid with other drugs can lead to respiratory failure, coma, seizure, or even a fatal overdose.

People addicted to Dilaudid often want to relive the euphoric and relaxed feelings they initially experienced with the drug, so they continue trying to replicate this “rush.” This often leads to abusing harder drugs, like heroin, which are often more accessible.

Dilaudid Effects And Abuse

Those abusing Dilaudid often inject the drug; the effects experienced through this route of administration are stronger than those associated with swallowing the pill form. Some users also crush the pills and snort them.

As with other opiate painkillers, people abuse Dilaudid for the intense sensations of euphoria and relaxation.

Dilaudid abuse is taking the drug in any way not prescribed by a doctor. This includes taking Dilaudid in higher doses than prescribed or taking it without a prescription.

Dilaudid abusers have a high risk of overdose, which can be fatal. Someone prescribed the drug may not feel enough pain relief and take a higher dose, putting them at risk of overdosing. High doses of Dilaudid slow breathing and blood pressure, sometimes resulting in death.

Some signs of an overdose include:

  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Weak pulse
  • Shallow breathing
  • Unconsciousness
  • Bluish lips
  • Vomiting
  • Disorientation
  • Fatigue
  • Nodding off and not waking back up
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Cool or clammy skin
  • Hypotension
  • Stomach spasms
  • Muscle twitching

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Dilaudid Addiction Statistics



By 2010, the United States was consuming 65 percent of the world’s Dilaudid.



Dilaudid is approximately 8 times more potent than morphine.



In 2008, 14,800 accidental deaths in the US were attributed to opioids such as Dilaudid.

Making It Easier To Quit

Many people who try to quit Dilaudid on their own relapse. The support and medical assistance of a professional treatment setting can make it easier to quit. Treatment for Dilaudid addiction often involves counseling and medications for cravings and withdrawal. Contact a treatment provider to learn more about your rehab options.