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Dilaudid Addiction and Abuse

Dilaudid is a morphine-derivative prescription painkiller. It produces a “high” similar to heroin and possesses a strong potential for addiction and abuse.

Addiction to Dilaudid

Dilaudid is one of the more powerful synthetic narcotics in the opioid class of drugs and an addiction to Dilaudid 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 Dilaudid within two or three weeks. Once a tolerance takes hold, users taking the pills more frequently often finish their prescription ahead of schedule.

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

Other signs of a Dilaudid 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 of Dilaudid to feel the high
  • Neglecting friends and family in favor of drug use
  • Stealing from medicine cabinets
  • Forging prescriptions for Dilaudid
  • 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. It is not uncommon for Dilaudid abuse to lead to criminal activities in their 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 to dull pain. The drug also impacts the pleasure center of the brain, producing feeling of well-being.

Doctors prescribe Dilaudid for pain related to cancer and serious injuries, such as burns. Dilaudid takes effect within 15 minutes, and its pain-relieving effects last up to six hours.

Doctors typically prescribe Dilaudid tablets in small doses, 2mg or 4mg. 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 Dilaudid intravenously.

Other brand names for hydromorphone are Exalgo, Palladone, and Dilaudid-hp. Street names include Dillies, Big D, M-80s and Peaches.

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Dilaudid Effects and Abuse

Those abusing Dilaudid often inject the drug, because the effects are stronger than swallowing the pill form. Some users also crush the pills and snort them.

As with other opiate painkillers, people abuse Dilaudid for the intense sense 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 or without a prescription.

Dilaudid users 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. Of course, those abusing the drug may also overdose. High doses of Dilaudid slows breathing and blood pressure, sometimes to the point of failure.

Some signs of a Dilaudid overdose include:

  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Weak pulse
  • Shallow breathing
  • Unconsciousness
  • Bluish-colored lips
  • Vomiting

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 central nervous system depressants. Mixing these drugs amplifies their effects but also dangerously slows breathing and heart rates. Mixing Dilaudid with these drugs can lead to a fatal overdose.

People addicted to Dilaudid often want to relive the euphoric and relaxed feelings they initially experience 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 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 U.S. were attributed to opioid pain relievers such as Dilaudid.

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. Get help now from one of the many Dilaudid treatment centers across the country.

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Sources & Author Last Edited: February 2, 2016

  1. National Institutes of Health. (2014). Hydromorphone: Medline Plus Drug Information. Retrieved on April 1, 2014, from:
  2. Ruiz, Pedro and Eric Strain. Substance Abuse: A Comprehensive Textbook, Fifth Edition. Philadelphia, PA. 2011.
  3. The Atlantic. (2013). Drugs Will Kill Your Friends. Retrieved on October 19, 2015 from:
  4. (2015). Dilaudid. Retrieved on October 19, 2015 from:
  5. Drug Enforcement Agency. Retrieved on October 19, 2015 from:
  6. Centers for Disease Control. (2011). Vital Signs: Overdoses of Prescription Opioid Pain Relievers --- United States, 1999--2008. Retrieved on October 19, 2015 from:
  7. The New Yorker. (2013). Who Is Responsible for the Pain Pill Epidemic? Retrieved on October 19, 2015 from:
  8. The New York Times. (2014). Painkiller Abuse, A Cyclical Challenge. Retrieved on October 19, 2015 from:
  9. Dilaudid Addiction. (2012). Dilaudid Addiction: Drug Facts. Retrieved on February 2, 2016 from:
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