Dilaudid Addiction, Side Effects, Withdrawal and Recovery

Dilaudid is a drug that has become a key player in the opioid epidemic in the United States. More people are becoming addicted to it now than ever before, and many don't even realize it. Because it's a prescription medication, they're often not aware of the side effects, withdrawal symptoms and the risk of dependence.

Whether you've been using Dilaudid as prescribed or recreationally, you need to know the risks involved. This is a dangerous medication, but patients are frequently kept in the dark about the potential harm it can do.

The time to stop using this painkiller is now, but it's not as easy as quitting on your own. You may need to get help in order to stop taking it safely. But first, let's go into more detail about what you need to know about Dilaudid and our country's opioid crisis.

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Opioid Use and Abuse Statistics in the U.S.

The use of opioid drugs like Dilaudid has been allowed to run rampant in our country for years. These medications are over-prescribed; even today when physicians are well aware of the risk of addiction.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that:

  • There are more than 115 people in the U.S. that die every day from an opioid overdose.
  • This has become a national crisis that affects our public health and our social and economic welfare.
  • The CDC has estimated that the total financial burden of the misuse of painkillers is $78.5 billion every year.
  • These costs include healthcare, addiction treatment, criminal justice involvement and losses in productivity.
  • By 2015, there were more than 33,000 Americans who had died from an opioid overdose in the United States.
  • During that same year, there were around 2 million people in our country with an opioid use disorder.
  • 591,000 of these individuals suffered from a heroin use disorder, which often stems from prescription opioid abuse.
  • As many as 29% of people who receive prescriptions for opioid drugs will misuse them.
  • As many as 12% of these individuals will eventually develop an opioid use disorder.
  • As many as 6% of them will eventually transition to heroin.
  • About 80% of heroin users began by misusing opioid painkillers.
  • Between July 2016 and September 2017, there was a 30% increase in opioid overdoses in 45 states.
  • In the Midwest, opioid overdoses increased 70% during that timeframe.
  • In 16 states, opioid overdoses in larger cities increased by 54%.

What makes these numbers even more disturbing is how adamant pharmaceutical companies were about opioids being non-addictive. In the late 90s, when these drugs began to gain popularity, they assured the medical community that there was nothing to worry about. Before long, it was clear that this information was false, but many people were already addicted.

Colorado has certainly felt the brunt of the opioid epidemic over the last few years. The Denver Post recently published an article that gave a dire statistic. They stated that in 2017, more Coloradans died from drug overdoses than any other year in the state's history. Unfortunately, opioids played a major role in this problem.

357 lives were lost in Colorado because of opioids like Dilaudid in 2017. What's interesting is that overdose deaths from other drugs are being impacted as well. For example, in 2015, there were 139 fatal overdoses from methamphetamine. By 2016, that number had gone up to 196. By 2017, it had swelled to 280, which is a substantial increase.

There is speculation that it all ties back to the opioid crisis. The belief is that as doctors crack down on prescribing opioids, addicts are looking elsewhere to get high. It makes a lot of sense, but it also makes fixing the problem that much more urgent.

What is Dilaudid?

Dilaudid is a highly addictive Schedule II prescription medication that is classified as an opioid analgesic. It comes in the form of tablets, an IV solution and suppositories. This drug is used to treat moderate to severe pain, but it's often used as a last resort. Doctors will usually try to give their patients something else first because it's so easy to become addicted.

Most people know this medication by its brand name, Dilaudid. The generic form is called hydromorphone. It can also be sold under several other names, including:

  • Hydal
  • Dimorphone
  • Sophidone LP
  • Hydrostat
  • Hydromorfan
  • Palladone

Dilaudid has gained some traction as a street drug in recent years. It can be manufactured illegally, or obtained for sale through other illicit channels. Some of the drug's street names include:

  • Smack
  • D
  • Footballs
  • Dust
  • Juice

This type of medication is a drug that is specifically formulated to treat pain, primarily. The human body has many opioid receptors, and it naturally creates its own opioids, which attach to them. When this occurs, people experience pain relief, happiness and a sense of security.

Opioid drugs work in much the same way, but the sensations of them are heightened drastically. These medications are types of pain-relieving substances that interact with the body's opioid receptors. They are either made from the opium poppy plant (like morphine), or they are created in a laboratory (like Fentanyl).

Drugs like Dilaudid share a lot of characteristics with the body's natural opioids. This allows them to attach to the opioid receptors and relieve pain. When you take one of these medications, your sensation of pain is dulled because that message is blocked from your brain.

Opioids also promote the release of excess dopamine in the brain. This is the chemical that you experience when something good happens in your life. For instance, when you eat a delicious meal, or spend time with your best friend, your brain releases it. The same thing happens when you take an opioid drug.

Long-term, the release of extra dopamine in the brain can become problematic. Opioids like Dilaudid should never be taken for a longer period of time. As people continue to take them, their brains can “forget” how to produce it on their own. This means that eventually, people may not be able to feel good unless they're using these medications.

This video offers an excellent example of what happens to your brain when you take opioid drugs:

Dilaudid is very different from other prescription painkillers on the market in a few ways. For one, it's eight times stronger than morphine. This is why it's often referred to as “Drug Store Heroin.” It begins working much faster than even other opioid drugs, such as Vicodin or Oxycodone. People who take it say the begin feeling the effects in as soon as 15 minutes. Once it kicks in, it lasts for around five hours.

Like other, similar medications, Dilaudid does produce a euphoric sensation. This is often what keeps people coming back to it time and time again. Some say that their euphoria is much more intense than with other opioids, and it tends to last longer.

Dilaudid's Side Effects

Like other medications, Dilaudid does carry some significant side effects. For most people, many of the effects of this drug will fade in time. But, there are some that can linger until they stop taking it.

If you're currently taking Dilaudid, it's important to know what you can expect with both short and long-term use.

Many of Dilaudid's short-term effects are desirable, and they're why people begin taking it in the first place. However, there are some short-term effects that can be bothersome.

When you take this medication for a short period of time, you should expect to experience:

Sensations of euphoria

A feeling of relaxation

Reduced anxiety symptoms

Pain relief

A sedative effect

You may also have additional side effects, such as:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation
  • A dry mouth
  • Painful headaches
  • Bouts of confusion
  • Intense itching
  • A slower breathing rate
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Problems with coordination
  • Excessive sweating

Research tells us that people should never take Dilaudid long-term. In fact, it's possible to become addicted with as little as one month of regular use. In addition, taking this medication for a longer period of time can produce the following dangerous side effects:

  • The risk of infection and diseases if you're sharing needles.
  • Frequent mood swings.
  • Severe symptoms of anxiety.
  • Severe symptoms of depression
  • Possible reckless behavior.

Long-term use of Dilaudid is really abuse, even if you have a prescription for it. You're likely to become isolated from the people you love and suffer from relationship problems. You may even have legal issues or become injured if you drive while you're using it.

Clinical (Prescribed) Use Vs. Recreational Use of Dilaudid

There can be a very fine line between the clinical use of Dilaudid and recreational use. Most people start using this medication under the strict care of a physician. They may have just had surgery, cancer treatments that caused pain, or suffered from a serious injury. The longer they're kept on the drug, the higher their risk for dependence and addiction becomes.

In many cases, people stop taking Dilaudid after only a short period of time. It can be a very safe medication when it's taken appropriately. But for those who take it longer, they have usually transitioned into using it recreationally. They may begin to obtain it illegally online, or they may doctor shop to get additional prescriptions.

The recreational use of Dilaudid is extremely dangerous, and it is classified as abuse. People may start chewing the tablets in an attempt to get a better high. Some will even crush them and mix them with water for the purpose of injecting the solution. By this point, they're usually unable to stop unless they get professional help.

Using Dilaudid for the first time will create an intense rush that's difficult to describe. Many addicts claim that it's better than heroin, which is why it's becoming so popular.

One user gave an account about his first time on Dilaudid on the website Erowid. He stated that, “…I had no idea what was about to come next. Every hair on my head stood on end as I could literally feel the drug racing through my system in an incredible rush. It really felt like something was pulling me out of the chair by my hair, so I had to hold onto the arms to make sure I wasn't falling out or anything. AS soon as I could realize what was going on again, I could hear myself saying to an empty room ‘you're alright, you're doing fine, don't panic.' At this point, I was HIGH.”

He went on to say that the rush was much like what he experienced the first time with heroin. It was a doped up feeling without any pain, cares or worries whatsoever. The sensations lasted for several hours.

How do People Build Up a Tolerance to Opioid Drugs?

One of the biggest problems with abusing opioid drugs is the fact that people build up a tolerance to them. This means that over time, they need to take more to get the same effects. This might mean taking doses closer together at first. Eventually, people will gravitate toward taking higher doses.

This happens because your body gets used to the medications you're taking. If you've been abusing Dilaudid, you've probably noticed that the amount you started with isn't as effective now. To compensate, you may take a higher dose, or you may even mix it with alcohol or another drug. This is the work of tolerance, which is the first sign that you've become dependent on it.

What's the Difference Between an Opioid Dependence and Addiction?

People frequently use the words addiction and dependence interchangeably, but they don't mean the same thing. You can be dependent upon a drug like Dilaudid without being addicted to it. On the other hand, people who are addicted are also dependent.

When you're dependent on an opioid medication, it means that your body physically needs it. You may not feel well if you don't take it. However, you don't necessarily believe in your mind that you need to continue taking it.


When someone is addicted to an opioid drug, they believe that they need it. In fact their feelings toward it are so strong that some even think that they can't survive without it.

This is a great video from UCLA in which Dr. Najmeh Sadoughi answers this question in more detail:

How do People Get Addicted to Dilaudid?

People become addicted to Dilaudid because they take it for an extended period of time. It's possible to form an addiction to it even if you're taking it in appropriate amounts with a doctor's prescription.

It's not unheard of for some individuals to form accidental addictions to opioid medications. Many aren't even aware that it's possible to become addicted to them. They think of that as pertaining only to illegal drugs, which is simply not the case.

It's difficult to say how long it might take someone to form an addiction to Dilaudid. Some people take it for years and never become addicted. For others, it may only take two weeks. Everyone is different, but there is always a risk when an opioid drug is abused.

Right now, you might be in a situation where you aren't sure if you're addicted to Dilaudid or not. You didn't think you were, but now you're not so sure. It's important for you to know the truth, and it can help to know some of the signs of addiction. They include:

  • Having strong cravings for your medication.
  • Developing a tolerance for the drug.
  • Going through withdrawal when you stop taking it.
  • Relying on your medication to feel better mentally.
  • Taking dangerous risks when you're using it.
  • Neglecting your personal responsibilities, such as your family and job.
  • Having relationship problems.
  • Experience negative health problems, but continuing to use anyway.

If you have even one of the signs on this list, it's an indication that you might be addicted to Dilaudid. If you're still not sure, taking a drug addiction quiz might offer you more clarity.

Dilaudid Addiction Information

What is the Risk of Transitioning From Dilaudid to Heroin?

The reality is that prescription opioid use is a big risk factor for heroin abuse. Many studies have proven this fact over the years.

Statistics tell us that:

  • Heroin initiation is 19 times higher among people who report the use of nonmedical pain relievers.
  • In one study of young people, 86% of them had abused prescription opioid drugs prior to using heroin.
  • Among people entering treatment who began abusing opioids in recent years, 75% of them started with drugs like Dilaudid.
  • Most people get their medications from family, friends or through personal prescriptions.
  • There is strong evidence to support the belief that these numbers will only be increasing.

One of the most common reasons for the transition from drugs like Dilaudid to heroin is availability. Doctors aren't prescribing opioids at the rate that they used to, which makes them harder to get legally. In addition, heroin is also much cheaper than prescription painkillers. Both are valid reasons in the minds of an addict to make the switch.

How do Opioid Overdoses Happen? Can it Happen to You?

An opioid overdose usually happens for one of three reasons. Either:

  • 1. The individual takes too much of a drug at one time.
  • 2. The individual mixes the drug with alcohol or another substance to enhance the high.
  • 3. The individual suffers from a relapse and takes too much of a drug for the body's new tolerance level.

Of all of these, the third is generally the most common.

So many people attempt to stop using opioid drugs like Dilaudid on their own. Because of the lack of support, they find that dealing with withdrawal is far too difficult for them. The result is often a relapse, which can immediately result in an overdose that can be fatal.

Anyone who abuses Dilaudid could be at risk for an overdose. This is a very potent drug, and it's easy to take too much of it at one time.

If you believe that someone you love has suffered from an opioid overdose, you've probably noticed some of the following signs:

  • Not responding to touch or to your voice.
  • Very slow, irregular breathing patterns.
  • Breathing that has stopped.
  • Pinpoint pupils.
  • Bluish lips or fingertips.
  • A slow heartbeat
  • Extremely low blood pressure.

If you suspect an overdose, call 911 right away. The paramedics may be able to treat your loved one with medication to reverse the effects at the scene. They'll need to take your friend or family member to the hospital to receive further treatment.

Everything You Need to Know About Dilaudid Addiction Recovery

Many people who take buprenorphine were once heroin addicts. There is a very real risk for them of returning to using illegal opioids if they stay on this medication too long.

Because Dilaudid is such a dangerous medication, professional treatment is highly recommended for recovery. This will involve treating both the physical and the psychological aspects of the addiction.

How Long Does Dilaudid Stay in Your System?

You may find it helpful to know how long Dilaudid stays in your system after your last dose. This medication has a half-life of four hours. That means it takes that long for half of the drug to leave your body. Once four hours have passed, the body will work on eliminating the next half. This process continues until it's completely out of your system.

It can take as long as three days before Dilaudid has completely been eliminated from your body. Even so, you may continue to feel the effects of withdrawal for much longer.

Some addicts have called opioid withdrawal the worst feeling they've ever had. The symptoms are both physically and mentally painful, and they include:

  • Symptoms of diarrhea
  • Muscle aches and body pain
  • Feelings of restlessness
  • Symptoms of anxiety
  • A runny nose
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • High blood pressure
  • Stomach cramps
  • A rapid heart rate

Most people want to know how long their opioid withdrawal symptoms will last. The timeline may look similar to this:

  • Symptoms should begin within the first six to twelve hours, and should be mild at first.
  • Over the first few days, symptoms will increase in severity. Additional signs of withdrawal may appear that weren't present in the beginning.
  • By the third day, symptoms should reach the peak and be the most severe.
  • At the end of the first week, many symptoms will have resolved, although some may linger.
  • It's possible that you may struggle with breakthrough withdrawal symptoms in the future. This is when they return for short periods of time.

What are the Different Methods of Detoxing From Prescription Painkillers?

Detoxing is a very important part of the recovery process; especially for opioid drugs like Dilaudid. It's important for your body to recover from its dependence on the medication. There are different ways that you can detox from prescription painkillers, but keep in mind that not all of these are recommended.

Sometimes people feel more comfortable attempting an at-home detox before they seek professional help. This method is not recommended under any circumstances, and it can actually be quite dangerous.

There are a lot of products on the market that claim to help with withdrawal symptoms. You can find detox kits at your local pharmacy or online. There are also vitamins and supplements that indicate their effectiveness.

The reality is that opioid withdrawal is dangerous. It's not something you should take on by yourself, and none of these products are FDA approved. It's best to steer clear of them.

It's best to place your trust in a professional opioid detox when you're ready to recover from your Dilaudid addiction. This type of program will provide you with proven treatments that have worked for others. You might experience a mix of holistic treatments and medical treatments, which most experts believe to be the best approach.

Going through medical detox means that you'll be given medications to help you with your symptoms. There are several on the market that have been FDA approved for this purpose. They include:

  • Vivitrol
  • Buprenorphine
  • Suboxone
  • Subutex
  • Methadone

Many of these are a form of opioid replacement therapy. Keep in mind that this does mean that they may become addictive. But your doctor will work closely with you to help prevent you from forming a secondary addiction.

It's best to avoid trying to quit using Dilaudid cold turkey. Doing so will throw your body into withdrawal very quickly. Your symptoms may be severe, and the most likely outcome is a relapse, which could be fatal if you overdose.

Getting Professional Help at an Opioid Rehab Facility

After you have gone through the detox process, an opioid rehab is the next step in your recovery. This type of treatment will address the psychological aspect of your addiction. It's very important for you to understand the reasons why you became addicted to Dilaudid. Only then will you have the best chance of a long-term recovery.

The staff at an addiction rehab center can help you in so many ways. First and foremost, they're going to assist you in learning more about yourself and your dependence on Dilaudid. In addition to that, you'll find that you benefit from:

  • Having professional support when you need it.
  • Talking with other patients and learning from their experiences.
  • Taking the time to focus solely on yourself and your recovery needs.
  • Putting a relapse prevention plan into place.
  • Learning new coping skills to help you manage stress and other issues in the future.

Types of Treatments offered During Opioid Treatment

Everyone recovers from an addiction differently, which is why there are so many different types of treatment available. The staff will take the time to consider your case, specifically when putting together your treatment plan. They'll want to be sure they choose the types of therapy that will benefit you the most.

It's very important to have a personalized treatment plan because you're a unique individual. You have needs, and they should be addressed in the appropriate ways. Let's talk about some of different types of therapy that are commonly used during rehab.

In many ways, people who suffer from addictions struggle to control the way they think. This is because of the way that drugs change their brains and thinking patterns. Neurofeedback therapy is a form of biofeedback that helps people regain brain function. It uses special equipment to measure the brain's electrical activity. This allows therapists to assess and identify any areas of the brain that need to be regulated.

Neurofeedback therapy is very effective for treating opioid addiction. It's a way for the therapist to retrain the brain, which can help to reduce the risk of relapsing. It also improves the patient's participation in their treatment, which of course, has long-term benefits.

About half of patients who enter a rehab for an opioid addiction suffer from co-occurring disorders. This means that they have a mental health condition that has contributed to their substance abuse problem. Anxiety and depression are two of the most common examples.

Not every opioid treatment center offers help for co-occurring disorders. This actually contributes to the relapse rate in our country. If you have a mental illness - whether it was previously diagnosed or not - it's important to get treatment.

Dual diagnosis treatment is a way of treating both the addiction and the co-occurring disorder at the same time. By utilizing this method of recovery, relapse rates generally decrease and the chances of long-term recovery increase.

Sometimes people are nervous about the thought of talking in front of a group of strangers. That's what makes them worry about participating in group therapy. This form of treatment will become one of the most important parts of your recovery.

As a part of your opioid rehab, you may participate in different types of groups. You'll talk with other addicts who all understand what you're going through. They'll help you learn more about yourself and your addiction, and they'll learn a lot from you as well.

Group therapy is very rewarding. It helps to know that you're not alone, and that there are others who want to reach the same goals.

Is Going to Rehab Affordable?

It does not have to be expensive to go to an opioid rehab. It's possible that you're very concerned about the costs involved, which is why you've put it off. What you might not realize is that if you have health insurance, you may not have to worry about it at all.

Under The Affordable Care Act, your insurance company is required to provide you with benefits for addiction treatment. This includes coverage for both detox and rehab. You may find out that you won't have to pay anything out of pocket at all. Most people only have to pay a small co-pay, which makes it very affordable to get the help they need.

If you don't have health insurance, there are a few steps you can take. You may want to:

  • Visit HealthCare.gov to get more information about policies for your state. They will even let you apply right online.
  • Talk with a loved one who might be willing to fund your treatment for you.
  • Get information about the available rehab financing options from your facility.
  • Speak with someone at your local Department of Social Services. Many counties have programs that can help people without insurance.
  • Consider using your savings or cashing in a 401K to cover the cost of your care.

You may even want to consider working with an opioid treatment facility that can provide you with grant money. There are many all over the country that receive grants from SAMHSA every year. These funds allow people without insurance to go to rehab free of charge.

Dilaudid Addiction Recovery is Possible, and We Can Help You

It's understandable that right now, your situation seems hopeless. You may have been addicted to Dilaudid for a very long time, and you weren't sure what to do. At AspenRidge North, we know what that feels like. We want you to know that we're here to help you.

We offer several different services that might meet your needs. Our intensive outpatient program is among the best in the state. We also offer Vivitrol services as a part of our opioid detox program. We can even assist you if you're interested in sober living as a part of your treatment.

Please don't take on your Dilaudid recovery without professional support. With the right help, you can finally live the life you've always dreamed of - free from addiction.

Did we answer all of your questions about Dilaudid addiction and recovery? Are you ready to begin treatment as soon as possible? Please let us know by contacting us today.


Our admissions coordinators are here to help you get started with treatment the right way. They'll verify your health insurance, help set up travel arrangements, and make sure your transition into treatment is smooth and hassle-free.

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