Dilaudid (hydromorphone) is a prescription opioid prescribed for the relief of pain. It may be prescribed as a liquid, tablet, rectal suppository, or injectable solution.
In 2014, an estimated 4.3 million people used narcotic pain relievers such as Dilaudid and other opioid analgesics (painkillers)that were not prescribed to them (Heller, 2016).
Dilaudid is commonly abused for its sedating, relaxing, and euphoric effects. The euphoric high is similar to that of heroin and other opiates. Abuse of the drug can be dangerous and potentially fatal. Overdose and death can occur when Dilaudid is taken in high doses or when combined with other central nervous system depressants.
Prolonged use leads to tolerance, meaning that more of the drug is needed to achieve the original high. Increased tolerance may easily lead to physical dependence and addiction. Those who become dependent on hydromorphone typically experience withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to stop using, as the body and brain become accustomed to daily functioning with the support of the drug.Help for Dilaudid addiction, however, is possible.
Signs and Symptoms
It can sometimes be difficult for an individual to realize he or she has become dependent on Dilaudid, as addiction may develop after being prescribed the medication by a doctor. If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be addicted to Dilaudid, look for the following common signs and symptoms of Dilaudid addiction:
- Mood swings, ranging from euphoric highs to depressive and irritable lows.
- Noticeable breathing problems.
- Excessive sweating.
- Taking laxatives to help with constipation (a common opioid side effect).
- Poor coordination.
- Nodding off (momentary lapses in consciousness; difficulty staying awake and alert).
- Development of tolerance (needing more of the drug to achieve the same effect).
- Withdrawal symptoms that appear when use is stopped (nausea & vomiting, stomach cramps, muscle aches, sweating, cold chills, appetite loss, diarrhea, insomnia, etc.)
You might also notice significant lifestyle and personality changes that may include:
- Doctor shopping (visiting several different doctors in order to receive multiple prescriptions).
- Forging prescriptions for Dilaudid.
- Stealing from pharmacies or the medicine cabinets of friends and family.
- Spending large sums of money to purchase Dilaudid illegally.
- Lying to friends and family about use.
- Isolating oneself from family and friends.
- Difficulty maintaining personal and professional commitments (missed work or social activities).
Effects of Dilaudid Abuse
There are a number of potential side effects of Dilaudid, which may increase in severity with higher doses. These include:
- Pinpoint pupils.
- Stomach cramps.
- Muscle aches and pains.
- Dry mouth.
- Appetite loss.
- Hoarse voice.
- Loss of consciousness.
- Blood pressure changes
- Slowed breathing.
Dilaudid abuse and addiction can cause numerous troubling effects on a user’s life, including:
- Social isolation.
- Problems with interpersonal relationships.
- Missed work, school, and other commitments.
- Poverty or financial problems.
- Legal issues.
- HIV, hepatitis, and other bloodborne illnesses due to needle sharing.
- Injury from using in hazardous situations, such as while driving.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted in 2011, 1 million Americans aged 12 and over reported using hydromorphone non-medically at least once in their lifetime.
According to the Drug Enforcement Agency’s hydromorphone fact sheet:
- In 2012, more than 3.9 million prescriptions for hydromorphone were dispensed in the US.
- While drugs like Dilaudid are prescribed less frequently than in the past, emergency room visits for nonmedical use of hydromorphone increased by approximately 6,000 between 2008 and 2012.
- The street price for Dilaudid ranges from $5 to $100 per tablet depending on the dose and region.
Teen Dilaudid Abuse
A 2011 survey conducted by Partnership for a Drug Free America revealed that 1 in 10 American teenagers abused prescription pain medications to get high in the last year, and that roughly 6% of those teenagers had abused them within 30 days prior to taking the survey. Hydromorphone is sometimes abused by teens, though less commonly than other prescription opioids such as OxyContin and Vicodin.
Teens most commonly obtain prescription opioids from the medicine cabinets of friends and family. They are also stolen from pharmacies, nursing homes, and hospitals, or ordered illegally on the Internet. To help prevent teen drug abuse, parents should keep prescription medications out of reach, have periodic conversations about substance abuse, and acquaint themselves with the common signs and symptoms of teen drug abuse, such as:
- Sudden or extreme changes in personality and/or physical appearance.
- Sudden or extreme changes in social activity and academic or athletic performance.
- Severe mood swings.
- Secretive behavior.
- Poor hygiene and grooming.
- Claiming to have lost important possessions.
- Asking for money.
- Social withdrawal.
- Weight loss or gain.
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- U.S. National Library of Medicine (April 15, 2016). Hydromorphone.
- Drug Enforcement Agency. Drug Fact Sheet: Hydromorphone.
- Drug Enforcement Agency: Office of Diversion Control. Drug & Chemical Evaluation Section. (July 2013). Hydromorphone.
- Heller, J. (April 20, 2016). U.S. National Library of Medicine. Opiate and Opioid Withdrawal.
- Berger, F. (February 24, 2014). Substance Use Disorder. U.S. National Library of Medicine.
- Get Smart About Drugs: A DEA Resource for Parents. (August 2012). Prescription for Disaster: How Teens Abuse Medicine.
- National Drug Intelligence Center. (November 2004). Teens and Drugs: Fast Facts.