Dilaudid Addiction

Dilaudid addiction is a dependency on this opioid prescription, also known as hydromorphone. Prescribed to manage pain, Dilaudid is habit-forming and can quickly lead to addiction, especially when misused. Signs of addiction include being unable to stop using Dilaudid, needing more and more to get high, and experiencing withdrawal. Overdose is a risk when misusing Dilaudid and should be treated as a medical emergency, as it can be fatal. Treating Dilaudid addiction is possible with commitment to care and ongoing lifestyle changes.

What Is Dilaudid Addiction?

Dilaudid is a prescription opioid painkiller. The generic name of the drug is hydromorphone, a substance derived from morphine. Opioids are drugs that are either found naturally in the opium poppy, like morphine, or are derived from those natural substances. They are effective painkillers but are also highly habit-forming. The pain relief potency of Dilaudid is two to eight times that of morphine.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lists hydromorphone as a schedule II controlled substance. Like other opioids it has a high potential for abuse and can cause addiction. Dilaudid addiction occurs when a person can no longer control their use of the drug, has developed a tolerance to it, experiences withdrawal when not using it, and continues to use it in spite of the problems it causes. Dilaudid abuse is very serious, not just because it causes addiction but also because there is a high risk of fatal overdose.

Facts and Statistics

Dilaudid is prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain, but it is also often a substance of abuse. It produces a high, a feeling of euphoria, as well as relieving pain. Misuse can quickly lead to addiction and puts a person at serious risk for having a fatal overdose.

  • Between 2005 and 2011, the number of emergency room visits for people using hydromorphone for non-medical reasons increased by 287 percent.
  • Dilaudid is available in an extended-release form, but this is only supposed to be prescribed for patients who need 24-hour pain relief and who have not gotten relief from other drugs.
  • An injectable form is also available in high-potency doses and is not to be prescribed for anyone without some tolerance to opioids because of the risk of overdose.
  • The number of prescriptions written for opioids increased in the U.S. from 76 million to more than 200 million from 1991 and 2013.
  • From 1990 to 2010, the number of overdose deaths caused by opioid prescription tripled.
  • Prescription opioid abuse has declined since 2010, but it has been paralleled by an increase in heroin abuse, an illegal drug related to hydromorphone and other opioids.
  • Misuse of opioid prescriptions, including Dilaudid, by teens in the 12th grade declined between 2012 and 2016.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Dilaudid Addiction

Any misuse of Dilaudid can easily lead to a substance use disorder. Misuse includes using the drug for longer or at greater doses than prescribed or using it for any non-medical purpose. Using Dilaudid in any way that is different from how it is prescribed also constitutes misuse. For example, crushing the extended release tablets or inhaling the powdered medication is considered abuse. Other signs that someone may be misusing Dilaudid include:

  • A sense of extreme well-being, euphoria
  • Lightheadedness
  • Sleepiness
  • Impaired physical coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Slowed breathing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Apathy
  • Depression
  • Not participating in normal activities or responsibilities
  • Sleeping more than usual

Addiction, or a substance use disorder, can be diagnosed by observing the criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The number of criteria that an individual meets determines if the substance use disorder is mild, moderate, or severe:

  • Using the drug more often or in higher doses than intended
  • Trying to stop or slow use of Dilaudid, but being unable to
  • Spending a significant amount of time on drug use
  • Craving Dilaudid
  • Failing to meet responsibilities because of drug use
  • Using the drug even as it causes relationship problems
  • Limiting or giving up activities to use Dilaudid
  • Continuing to use it even in dangerous situations
  • Continuing to use Dilaudid knowing it causes health problems
  • Developing a tolerance
  • Experiencing withdrawal

One of the biggest dangers of misusing or becoming addicted to Dilaudid is the high risk of overdose. Opioids can easily cause a fatal overdose because they depress the central nervous system, slowing heart rate and breathing. Signs of an overdose include slowed or stopped breathing, an erratic or stopped pulse, constricted pupils, loss of consciousness, and vomiting. An overdose should be treated as an emergency. It can be reversed with the right medicine, but if it is not treated right away it can be fatal.

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Causes and Risk Factors

The ultimate cause of Dilaudid addiction is misuse of the substance over time. Addiction is not fully understood, but it is believed that drugs like this cause changes in the brain that make it very difficult or impossible to stop using them. The more often the drug is used, the higher the dose taken, and the longer the duration of use, the more likely these changes will lead to addiction.

There are also important risk factors that make some people more likely than others to develop Dilaudid addiction. Any use of the drug at all is a risk factor, but there are other factors that increase the risk someone will abuse Dilaudid and therefore be at a greater risk for addiction. These include easy access to the drug, a family history of substance abuse and addiction, childhood trauma, experiencing stressful life events, having a mental illness, and having ever abused substances in the past.

Withdrawal and Detox

Withdrawal symptoms occur when someone who is addicted to Dilaudid stops using it. Detoxing and going through this process is the necessary first step in recovery from an addiction. Detox and withdrawal from Dilaudid should never be done alone and is best done with medical supervision. The symptoms can be very painful and uncomfortable and lead to relapse in many people who are not in a safe place. Early withdrawal causes milder symptoms, which then progress to those that are more severe and uncomfortable:

  • Irritability and agitation
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Watery eyes
  • Muscle aches
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Chills
  • Stomach cramping
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Increased heart rate
  • Tremors

Co-Occurring Disorders

It is common to experience co-occurring disorders with Dilaudid addiction. Mental illnesses often co-occur with all types of substance abuse disorders. They risk factors in common, but each one can also be a risk factor for the other. Having a mental illness, particularly when untreated, can lead to substance abuse as coping mechanism that can quickly turn into an addiction. Misusing substances like Dilaudid, in turn, can trigger mental health symptoms or exacerbate them. Some of the more common disorders co-occurring with opioid addictions are depression and anxiety. Other possibilities are eating disorders and personality disorders.

Treatment and Prognosis

The first step in treating Dilaudid addiction is detox, which should be medically supervised. Once detox is over, treatment with therapy and medications can begin. For the best outcome, inpatient treatment at a residential facility should be of a long enough duration and be tailored to meet the needs of each individual. In general, treatment includes different types of behavioral therapies, group therapy and support, stress management and learning healthy coping mechanisms, nutrition and exercise, and alternative and creative therapies.

Opioid addiction can also be managed with medications. Medical care for Dilaudid addiction can be helpful, but is not a treatment by itself. It should always be used in conjunction with therapy and other types of care. There are a few medications approved to treat opioid addiction. These include methadone and buprenorphine, which help relieve withdrawal, manage cravings, and prevent relapses. Another medication used is naltrexone, which blocks the action of opioids so that even if someone does relapse, Dilaudid will not produce the desired effect.

An important part of the treatment process is a focus on relapse prevention. Medications can help, but therapy also teaches patients how to take steps to reduce the risk of relapsing in the future. This includes learning how to identify and avoid triggers and how to be more mindful and be aware of an impending relapse so that it can be diverted. Relapse prevention also includes overall healthy lifestyle changes, like eating well, exercising more, and maintaining a strong and health social support system or attending support group sessions regularly.

Dilaudid addiction is a very serious issue, along with other opioid substance use disorders. These drugs have a very high potential for abuse, cause addiction quickly, and can easily be fatal in an overdose. Treatment for opioid addiction is possible and the prognosis is good for anyone willing to commit to ongoing care and to participate in therapy while also using appropriate medications. If you or someone you care about is struggling with Dilaudid use, don’t hesitate to reach out and get professional help. Without treatment it is nearly impossible to overcome this addiction.