Dilaudid Withdrawal Symptoms | Timeline & Detox

The prolonged use of hydromorphone (Dilaudid) can lead to physical dependence. When the drug is discontinued, withdrawal symptoms can lead to continued use. To avoid relapse, Dilaudid withdrawal can be managed with the help of a medical detox program.

Hydromorphone is a semi-synthetic opioid painkiller used in healthcare settings to treat moderate to severe pain, including severe chronic pain. The drug is marketed under the brand names Dilaudid and Exalgo, and is also available in generic form.

As a potent opioid several times stronger than morphine, Dilaudid should be used as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Abusing Dialuaid, or taking more than prescribed, can increase the risk of severe withdrawal symptoms once you stop using.

Symptoms Of Dilaudid Withdrawal

Use of hydromorphone over a prolonged length of time, even when the drug is used strictly as directed, can result in the development of physical dependence as the body becomes adapted to the effects of the medication.

Once physical dependence has set in, it can be uncomfortable or even dangerous to stop taking the medication, as this may provoke a collection of symptoms known as opioid withdrawal syndrome.

These symptoms are often compared to a severe flu and can include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • restlessness
  • irritability
  • fever
  • sweating
  • runny nose
  • diarrhea
  • chills
  • changes in blood pressure and heart rate
  • muscle aches, spasms, or pain
  • feelings of anxiety or depression
  • mental confusion
  • suicidal thoughts
  • trouble concentrating
  • loss of appetite
  • drug cravings

Dilaudid Withdrawal Timeline

The experience of opioid withdrawal syndrome can vary greatly from person to person, with the length and intensity of symptoms fluctuating based on your drug use, dosage, and overall physical and mental health.

However, a generalized timeline of hydromorphone withdrawal may include:

12 Hours After Last Dose

Because of its short half-life, withdrawal symptoms may emerge as soon as 12 hours after a person’s last use of hydromorphone, or sometimes longer with extended-release formulations.

1-2 Days After Last Dose

Physical symptoms of withdrawal like runny nose, watery eyes, sweating, yawning, muscle pain, and insomnia are all commonly experienced in the first two days of withdrawal. Psychological effects including cravings, depression, and anxiety should also be anticipated.

3-5 Days After Last Dose

Around this time a person’s physical symptoms will likely peak, potentially including abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, cold sweating, chills, diarrhea, and muscle tremors. Cravings and psychological effects may also be intense.

However, after peaking, these symptoms will generally resolve just as quickly as the drug is fully purged and the body reestablishes a more healthy internal balance.

6-7 Days After Last Dose

Generally, those working through cold turkey hydromorphone withdrawal will come out the other side of detoxification within a week or so after starting the process. 

This is faster than many other forms of opiate withdrawal due to hydromorphone’s short half-life in the body, though experiences vary from person to person.


In cases of long-term, high-dose opioid abuse, patients may experience prolonged, lingering symptoms of withdrawal known post-acute withdrawal (PAWS).

These symptoms are predominantly psychological, and can include side effects like depression, fatigue, sleep disturbances, and a surge of unexpected drug cravings.

Fortunately, PAWS is uncommon. With time and treatment it will likely resolve, just like all other hydromorphone withdrawal symptoms.

Dilaudid Detoxification & Tapering

While the effects of hydromorphone withdrawal are not generally life-threatening, a person’s sweating, vomiting, and fever can lead to severe levels of dehydration without personal support. Symptoms can also lead to an increased risk of relapse and overdose.

This is why it’s recommended that those who are dependent on hydromorphone work with a medical detox program to navigate the withdrawal process safely while under close medical supervision.

Alternatively, those considering quitting hydromorphone cold-turkey may be better off tapering their medication dosage down over time in partnership with a healthcare professional. This gives the body a longer period of time to slowly adapt to lower levels of the drug.

Dilaudid Addiction Treatment

Detoxification is only the first step in recovery from hydromorphone addiction, and it should be followed with a personalized opioid addiction treatment program hosted in an inpatient or outpatient setting.

Inpatient Care

Inpatient/residential treatment provides a focused and highly structured environment. Services may involve behavioral therapy, individual and group counseling, support groups, dual diagnosis care, medication-assisted treatment, and alternative therapies.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication-assisted treatment programs (MAT) are recommended for any form opioid addiction and may include:

  • methadone: a long-acting opioid drug that can relieve opioid withdrawal symptoms
  • buprenorphine (Suboxone): a partial opioid agonist with similar effects
  • naltrexone: an opioid antagonist that can block and discourage future opioid abuse

In combination with counseling and other substance use disorder treatment services, MAT is an effective option for long-term recovery from opioid addiction.

To find out if our about inpatient substance abuse and addiction treatment options are a good fit for yourself or a loved one, please contact Ohio Recovery Center today.

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — Prescription Opioids DrugFacts https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-opioids
  2. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Opiate and opioid withdrawal https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000949.htm
  3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) — Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: March 3, 2023

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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