What is Dilaudid?

Dilaudid is the brand name of a commonly prescribed schedule II opioid known as hydromorphone. This type of hydromorphone is also sold as Exalgo or Palladone. On the street, Dilaudid may be known as “Dillies”, m-80’s, or peaches. 

Dilaudid is usually prescribed for moderate to severe pain relief and is usually taken orally. The drug works by attaching to receptors in the nervous system and brain in order to dull pain reception. Taking Dilaudid also triggers the production of excessive amounts of dopamine in the brain which causes a euphoric feeling. Like most addictive substances, this tricks the brain into interpreting the event as something to be sought out and repeated. The more this happens, the more dependent the brain becomes on the drug in order to produce dopamine. 

Doctors often prescribe Dilaudid (or a different brand of hydromorphone) for serious pain, often related to terminal illness or severe burns. While it can be effective for pain management, it is extremely addictive and should not be used without supervision. When used orally, Dilaudid usually takes effect within 30 minutes. Recreationally, many people use Dilaudid intranasally or intravenously because the high can take effect much sooner. Regardless of how a person ingests Dilaudid, the high from this drug usually lasts between four and 6 hours. 

Dilaudid is usually prescribed in doses of 2mg or 4mg. The pills are usually round or oval in shape but it is also available as an oral liquid. Dilaudid may be administered intravenously in a hospital setting. 

Short and Long Term Effects of Dilaudid Addiction

Medical Use of Dilaudid

Dilaudid does have medical uses, but it should only be used under the supervision of your physician. This medication should only be used in the dosage that is prescribed—usually 2mg or 4mg. Due to its powerful effects and addictive qualities, Dilaudid is usually only prescribed for 2-4 weeks. Use for any longer than the time allotted can lead to severe addiction. 

Dilaudid should never be shared with anyone or used by someone who is not the patient. If you have a history of addiction or a known issue with opioid dependency, let your doctor know. Dilaudid is also extremely dangerous if combined with any other medication. Dilaudid should never be crushed up, broken down, or dissolved. It should only be taken in the form prescribed and as directed by your doctor. Dilaudid misuse can cause addiction, overdose, or even death. If you have extra medication at the end of a prescription cycle, it should be disposed of legally and safely.

Dilaudid, like most opioids, is safest when used for only a few days to manage acute pain. Consult with your doctor to determine the most appropriate dose. Dilaudid may not be appropriate for chronic pain as opioids are not a safe or effective long-term treatment option. If possible, work with your doctor to develop a treatment plan that allows you to enjoy life without opioids.

You should not use Dilaudid if you have any of the following issues:

  • Head injury
  • Breathing problems
  • Previous addiction issues
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Thyroid or other hormonal issues
  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Dilaudid Combined with Other Drugs

When used recreationally, Dilaudid is often combined with other drugs in order to enhance the euphoric effect. Some of the most common substances that people combine with Dilaudid are alcohol or benzodiazepines. These drugs are also central nervous depressants and combining them with each other can have a powerful and dangerous effect. 

Combining Dilaudid with “uppers” (stimulants) like cocaine or meth can also lead to serious side effects or even death. The combining of these two types of drugs can lead the body to shut down all receptors, blackout, or even go into a coma. 

Prescription medications are often a “gateway drug” that leads to addiction for people who have never used drugs recreationally before. People who are addicted to Dilaudid seek to replicate the euphoric and relaxed feeling they felt upon first using the drug so they will continue to use more or combine with other substances to chase the high. This will commonly lead to abusing “harder”, more readily available drugs like heroin

Developing Dependence on Dilaudid

Anyone who uses any type of opioid for any reason is at risk of addiction. This is due to the extremely addictive nature of this type of drug and Dilaudid is no exception. Personal history and length of time using play a role, but it is true that almost anyone can become addicted under the right circumstances. No matter how they are bought or used, opioids are responsible for the vast majority of drug-related deaths in the United States today. 

Addiction happens because these drugs stimulate the pleasure centers of our brain and make us feel calm, worry-free, and “high”. Addiction occurs when there is an irresistible craving for a drug or uncontrollable use of a substance. Our brains become unable to produce the hormones associated with pleasure (dopamine) without the use of these substances and an addiction is born. 

Some signs of an addiction to Dilaudid include:

  • Buying Dilaudid illegally
  • Focusing on the next dose
  • Forging prescriptions or visiting multiple doctors
  • Using more than prescribed or more frequently than prescribed

Risk Factors for Dilaudid Addiction

Medical Use of Dilaudid

Opioids such as Dilaudid are most addictive when they are used in a manner or dosage not prescribed by a doctor. If a pill is designed to be taken orally, it will be less addictive when used properly as opposed to crushing them up and snorting them. The likelihood of an overdose is also significantly higher when a medication is not used as directed. 

How long you use Dilaudid also plays a role in the likelihood of developing an addiction. Research shows that taking Dilaudid for more than a few days can significantly increase the risk of long-term abuse. In fact, using Dilaudid for more than one week increases the odds you will still be using it after a year by 100%. 

Any addiction has many factors that come into play including psychological, circumstantial, and genetic. However, it is easy to know if someone is more likely to develop an addiction to Dilaudid or any opioid. Some of the most common risk factors for opioid addiction include:

  • Young age
  • Mental illness
  • Heavy tobacco usage
  • Living at or below the poverty line
  • Family or personal history of substance abuse
  • History of criminal activity
  • History of risky behavior

Short and Long Term Effects of Dilaudid Addiction

Continuous use and misuse of Dilaudid alters the production of endorphins in the body. Thus, over time, the same dose of Dilaudid stops triggering such a strong flood of euphoric feelings. In other words, a person may find that the regular dose of this drug does not trigger the same, desired effects. This is known as “tolerance”. One reason Dilaudid (and all opioid addiction) is so common is that people who develop tolerance will feel compelled to use more and more Dilaudid to achieve the same result. 

Since doctors today are acutely aware of the risks of opioid addiction, it is often difficult to get an increase in a Dilaudid dose or even renew the prescription. Some Dilaudid users who believe they need an increased supply will turn to other illegally obtained opioids or even heroin. 

If you’re taking Dilaudid and you have developed tolerance, ask your doctor for help. There are other, safer choices available to help you make a change and continue feeling well. Don’t stop using Dilaudid without a doctor’s help. Quitting Dilaudid use abruptly can cause severe side effects, including pain worse than it was before you started taking opioids. Your doctor can help you taper off Dilaudid slowly and safely. 

Some of the common physical signs of Dilaudid abuse are as follows:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Drowsiness or lack of energy
  • Itching or constant scratching
  • Track marks or signs of iv drug use
  • Slowed breathing
Dilaudid Addiction and Treatment

Treatment for Dilaudid Abuse

Dilaudid abuse (like all opioid use disorders) can be treated in several different, but equally effective ways. Any effective treatment will be customized to the individual needs of the patient. These needs will be determined through consultation with medical and addiction treatment professionals when you first seek treatment. 

If the addiction is serious enough, a 24-hr detox program may be necessary initially. Detox is a common step with many serious opioid addictions. It will involve constant supervision in order to rid your body of the addictive chemical.

For some individuals, treatment will include a stay at a residential treatment facility that includes individual and group therapy, monitoring, and various other treatment options. The residential treatment option is excellent for someone who may still be struggling with environmental triggers or may need the extra encouragement of full-time care. 

When you’re ready to live on your own and are not experiencing the urge to use constantly, you might consider entering an outpatient program. This type of treatment may include individual, group, 12-step, and family therapy options that address the underlying causes of addiction, such as mental health disorders. 

Begin Your Treatment Journey with Coastal Detox

If you or a loved one is struggling with a Dilaudid addiction or any other addiction, Coastal Detox can help you. Our licensed and trained professionals have helped thousands of people overcome their struggles and start fresh. Our facilities are clean, centrally located, and state-of-the-art. The team here at Coastal Detox is ready and willing to help you achieve and maintain sobriety. 

Treatment can be daunting and is not a “one size fits all” endeavor. At Coastal Detox, we pride ourselves in personalized, professional care and we have the track record to prove it. If you or your loved one are struggling with an addiction, contact us today to begin your journey to a better you.