Dilaudid (Hydromorphone) Addiction | Dilaudid Abuse In Ohio

Kimberly Langdon, M.D.

Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly Langdon, M.D.

on December 8, 2022

Dilaudid is a potent opioid painkiller used to treat chronic pain. However, it also has a high potential for abuse and can lead to physical dependence and addiction. Thankfully, addiction treatment options are available.

Dilaudid is the brand name for hydromorphone hydrochloride, a potent prescription opioid that is primarily used as an analgesic for the short-term treatment of moderate to severe pain. 

Hydromorphone is similar to hydrocodone, methadone, and oxycodone, but is much stronger. It can also be found under the brand name Exalgo.

The painkiller works by attaching to opioid receptors in the central nervous system, increasing the amount of dopamine in the brain. This increase leads to a block in pain signals, pain relief, and numbing sensations like euphoria and sedation.

As a potent opioid with euphoric potential, Dilaudid is addictive and can lead to serious life-threatening side effects.

Signs Of Dilaudid Abuse

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies Dilaudid as a Schedule II controlled substance. This means it has a high potential for abuse and can lead to psychological and physical dependence and substance use disorder. 

It can only legally be used with a prescription from a healthcare provider. However, some people may search for hydromorphone on the street, leading to drug abuse and a higher risk of addiction.

If you’re worried that a loved one abuses Dilaudid, they may exhibit some or all of the following behaviors, actions, and signs:

  • forging prescriptions
  • lying about losing prescriptions
  • doctor shopping to get Dilaudid
  • taking higher doses of Dilaudid or taking it more frequently than prescribed
  • snorting, injecting, smoking, or plugging the drug
  • isolating from friends and/or family
  • stealing or borrowing money
  • hiding Dilaudid in their car, home, or at work
  • financial problems
  • legal problems associated with drug use
  • engaging in risky or reckless behaviors
  • sleeping more or less often than usual
  • craving Dilaudid
  • poor performance at school or work
  • polysubstance use (using Dilaudid with other drugs)

Side Effects Of Dilaudid Abuse

Like all opioid medications, Dilaudid also has the potential for side effects. Some are common and relatively mild while others are rare but more severe.

Common Side Effects

The most common side effects of Dilaudid use may include:

  • headache
  • difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • dry mouth
  • lightheadedness
  • drowsiness
  • heavy sweating
  • muscle, back, or joint pain
  • stomach pain
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • euphoria
  • dizziness
  • constipation
  • nausea and vomiting.

Serious Side Effects

Some of the most serious side effects of Dilaudid abuse can include:

  • rash
  • hives
  • swelling of the eyes, lips, tongue, throat, arms, feet, or ankles
  • difficulty breathing
  • hallucinations
  • fever
  • confusion
  • fast heart rate
  • severe muscle stiffness
  • loss of coordination
  • loss of appetite
  • chest pain
  • extreme drowsiness

Dilaudid Withdrawal

As an opioid drug, Dilaudid can lead to physical dependence. This means that you may experience Dilaudid withdrawal symptoms when you stop using it.

Symptoms of opiate withdrawal can include:

  • agitation
  • runny nose
  • muscle aches
  • intense cravings
  • insomnia
  • cramping
  • nausea/vomiting

Although these symptoms aren’t life-threatening, they can increase the risk of relapse and further opioid use. 

Dilaudid Overdose

Due to the potency of this prescription drug, taking too much of it, especially over a short period of time, can lead to a deadly opioid overdose.  

In 2020 in Ohio alone, over 4,300 unintentional overdose deaths involved an opioid, which accounted for 86% of all drug-related deaths in the state that year.

The signs and symptoms of a Dilaudid overdose may include:

  • respiratory depression
  • sleepiness/sedation
  • muscle weakness
  • cold, clammy skin
  • low blood pressure
  • narrowing or widening of pupils
  • slowed heart rate
  • fainting
  • unconsciousness
  • vomiting
  • dizziness
  • stomach spasms
  • coma

If you or someone you know shows any of these signs or symptoms, call 911 immediately. If you have access to naloxone (Narcan), now is the time to administer it. Naloxone can reverse the effects of overdose and give first responders more time to get you or your loved one to the hospital.

Dilaudid Addiction Treatment

There are several options for opioid addiction treatment, including medical detox, inpatient or outpatient care with medication-assisted treatment.

Medical Detox

Medical detox allows you to come off Dilaudid while under medical supervision. Medical professionals may prescribe medication to help ease and manage these withdrawal symptoms, as well as keep you safe and comfortable while preparing for the next step in treatment.

Inpatient/Outpatient Care

Both inpatient and outpatient substance abuse treatment centers are available.

Inpatient rehab programs allow you to stay at a residential facility, while outpatient treatment allows you to visit a rehab center at scheduled times for treatment sessions.

Both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs offer services such as individual and group therapy, wellness activities, relapse prevention, and mental health care.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs offer medications like buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone along with behavioral therapy, peer support, and other treatment services.

MAT programs have shown to improve treatment outcomes and reduce the risk of relapse and overdose. These programs are tailored to your individual needs and can be either short-term or long-term.

If you or a loved one live with prescription opioid addiction, we can help. To learn about the inpatient treatment options at Ohio Recovery Center, including medical detox and medication-assisted treatment, please contact us today.


How Long Does Dilaudid Stay In Your System?

Dilaudid (hydromorphone) stays in your system for an average of 10 hours to 2 days after your last dose. Factors such as substance abuse and medical history can affect how long Dilaudid stays in your system.

Learn more about How Long Hydromorphone Stays In Your System

What Do Dilaudid Pills Look Like?

Brand name Dilaudid pills come in 3 varieties:

  • 2 mg white, circular tablets marked “a” or “K” / “2”
  • 4 mg yellow, circular tablets marked “a” / “4”
  • 8 mg white, triangular tablets marked “aa” / “8”

Learn more about What Dilaudid Looks Like

What Is Dilaudid Called On The Street?

Dilaudid may be called D, dillies, juice, dust, or smack on the street. Drugs sold under these names may also contain other substances such as oxymorphone, fentanyl, or benzodiazepines.

Learn more about Dilaudid Street Names

How Does Dilaudid Affect Sexual Function?

Dilaudid affects sexual function by limiting the production of sex hormones like testosterone. In a few studies, this has been shown to lead to erectile dysfunction in men and a lack of sexual desire in both men and women.

Learn more about The Effects Of Dilaudid On Sexual Function

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse — Effective Treatments for Opioid Addiction https://nida.nih.gov/publications/effective-treatments-opioid-addiction
  2. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Hydromorphone https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682013.html
  3. National Library of Medicine: StatPears — Hydromorphone https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470393/
  4. Ohio Department of Health — 2020 Ohio Drug Overdose Data: General Findings https://odh.ohio.gov/wps/wcm/connect/gov/aa1eb9be-9681-4853-aefd-9208110635dc/2020+Unintentional+Drug+Overdose+Annual+Report.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CONVERT_TO=url&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE.Z18_K9I401S01H7F40QBNJU3SO1F56-aa1eb9be-9681-4853-aefd-9208110635dc-nU7cXyA

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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