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Hydromorphone (Dilaudid) Side Effects and Treatment Options

Hydromorphone is an opioid pain medication with a high potential for misuse and addiction.1 Hydromorphone is intended for use in patients with moderate-to-severe chronic pain, though it is often misused due to its abilities to produce a euphoric high.2

While Dilaudid is safe and effective when taken as prescribed, sustained misuse can result in addiction and increases the risk of experiencing adverse health effects.4 Understanding the side effects, long-term health outcomes, and treatment of Dilaudid addiction can be essential for kickstarting one’s recovery.

What Is Dilaudid Used For?

Dilaudid is the brand name version of the generic opioid painkiller hydromorphone.1. Dilaudid is used to treat severe chronic pain and moderate to severe acute pain. Hydromorphone was prescribed 2.16 million times in 2022 and is indicated for use when other pain medications, including other opioids, do not effectively reduce pain.2

People misuse hydromorphone for a variety of perceived benefits of taking the drug, such as euphoria, reduction of anxiety, relaxation, to reduce acute pain, and sedation.3

Dilaudid Side Effects

Hydromorphone is a potent opioid medication.  Adverse side effects of therapeutic doses include:2, 3

  • Dizziness.
  • Sedation.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Flushing.
  • Sweating.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Itchy skin.
  • Euphoria.
  • Dysphoria (i.e., feeling uneasy, distressed, or dissatisfied).

Respiratory depression can also occur. Dilaudid misuse at higher doses increase the risk of experiencing significant, life-threatening respiratory depression—where a person can stop breathing. This indicates an overdose and requires emergency medical attention. 2, 3

Long-Term Effects of Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)

Some of the rare, potential long-term effects of chronic opioid use, even at therapeutic doses, includes: 2, 3

  • Adrenal insufficiency.
  • Tolerance and physiological dependence.
  • Suicidal thoughts.
  • Urinary retention.

Dilaudid Withdrawal

Prolonged use of hydromorphone or other opioids can result in physiological dependence, which manifests as withdrawal symptoms.4 Opioid withdrawal symptoms are not pleasant, and avoiding them may contribute to continued opioid use.5 A supervised medical detox can include medications to ease or reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms2, 4  Opioid withdrawal symptoms may include: 4

  • Feeling down, uneasy, and distressed.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Tearing eyes and runny nose.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Dilated pupils.
  • Goose flesh.
  • Sweating.
  • Yawning.
  • Fever.
  • Insomnia.

Dilaudid Addiction Treatment Programs

Hydromorphone addiction can vary in degree of severity.4 p.543-544 Treatment options for Dilaudid addiction follow the levels of care outlined by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) including: 6

Medications for opioid use disorder, also known as medication assisted treatment (MAT), is for the standard of care for opioid use disorder, and can be incorporated into any level of care and maintained beyond treatment to help avoid a return to illicit opioid use.

How to Find Dilaudid Addiction Treatment Near Me

It can be challenging to find the right option for treatment for Dilaudid addiction. There are many helpful resources, but the best place to start might be the primary care physician. They have access to healthcare information and are aware of any circumstances that may complicate them. Additionally, you may want to reach out to our 24/7 addiction helpline. A 24/7 online resource operated by American Addiction Centers, our helpline staff can help answer your questions about opioid addiction, help you find suitable rehab centers, and help verify your health insurance.

If you would like more information about addiction treatment options available in your area, contact American Addiction Center’s helpful admissions navigators at for a free, private consultation today.

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