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Hydromorphone Addiction Treatment

Hydromorphone addiction treatment options are plentiful and varied, because this prescription pain reliever and cough suppressant is widely used for the treatment of moderate to severe pain but is highly addictive. The drug is undoubtedly physically and psychologically addictive when abused, but prescribed use can also lead to tolerance and addiction after as little as one week.

Although hydrocodone and oxycodone have achieved recent popularity with opioid abusers as substitutes for hydromorphone, hydromorphone is still preferred by addicts who are willing to inject the drug intravenously. Hydromorphone addiction is a hard habit for a person to beat on his or her own.

Are you looking to help your loved one and are concerned about the cost? Addiction treatment can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. ”
Are you looking to help your loved one and are concerned about the cost? Addiction treatment can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be.

Investigate your professional hydromorphone addiction treatment options by calling our national referral helpline at , or fill out a contact form. Our treatment advisors are available 24 hours a day for a free and confidential consultation.


According to SAMHSA, reported emergency room visits associated with hydromorphone abuse increased from 3,992 in 2004 to 13,166 in 2008.

What is Hydromorphone?

hydromorphone addictionHydromorphone is an opioid, a semi-synthetic derivative of morphine. It is commonly marketed under trade names, such as Dilaudid, as an oral or injectable liquid, tablet or rectal suppository. It is medically prescribed for the relief of moderate to severe pain and as a cough suppressant. The drug has a high incidence of diversion and abuse by people who obtain the drug illegally without a prescription or valid medical reason.

Like other types of drugs that are derived from opium, Hydromorphone produces euphoria and relaxation in the user, while changing the chemistry in the brain to block pain receptors and produce numbness. It is one of the most effective and addictive pain relievers on the market.


The street names for hydromorphone include D, dillies, dust, footballs, juice, smack, lords, delats, and delaud.

What are the Potential Side Effects of Hydromorphone Use?

Hydromorphone users can experience significant physical and psychological side effects. Psychologically, the drug can cause mood changes, restlessness, sleep disorders, and mental impairment. Physically, the drug can cause constipation, urinary retention, nausea, vomiting, breathing problems, dry mouth, dizziness, rashes, and changes in blood pressure and heart rate.

What are the Practical Dangers of Hydromorphone Abuse?

Hydromorphone is not available without a prescription. To obtain the drug outside of a legitimate medical context, a person has to commit one of a number of illegal acts. Typical ways of obtaining hydromorphone illegally are by forging prescriptions, having unscrupulous doctors or pharmacists dispense the drug without cause, and robbing pharmacies, nursing homes, and medical facilities.

It is commonly reported by hydromorphone abusers that the drug is most potent when injected intravenously. Some addicts report that they prefer to trade hydromorphone for another opioid, like oxycodone, if they do not intend to inject the drug. The user culture around this drug favors the more risky intravenous injection method of drug delivery, especially as the user develops an addiction and tolerance for the drug.

Potential long-term health consequences of hydromorphone abuse:

  • Hepatitis
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Infections, such as HIV and Hepatitis B and C (when injected)
  • Endocarditis

If you suspect the use of hydromorphone by you or a loved one has spiraled into abuse, call our treatment advisors at , or fill out a contact form. The phone call is free and confidential.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Hydromorphone Abuse and Tolerance?

“…hydromorphone, works on the central nervous system to block pain receptors.”
An opioid drug, such as hydromorphone, works on the central nervous system to block pain receptors. The drug substitutes its potent effects for the brain’s production of endorphins. While this is useful initially, the brain quickly adapts to the new substance in its system, producing more endorphins to counter. Hydromorphone users have to keep upping the drug dosage to stay ahead of the body’s natural adjustments.

Hydromorphone users develop a tolerance for the drug quickly. To keep achieving the same level of high, they have to take more of the drug or find better ways to get it into their systems. This leads to physical and psychological dependencies, where the user experiences physical symptoms when the drug is no longer as effective and anxiety or panic set in over how to get the next high.

If a hydromorphone user seems abnormally focused on the availability of the drug, takes the drug more frequently than prescribed, or is obtaining the drug illegally, he or she is likely addicted. People with a personal or family history of substance abuse or who have a history of mental disorders are at a greater risk of addiction.

Signs and symptoms of hydromorphone abuse:

  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic
  • Psychotic disorders
  • Suicidal tendencies
  • Increasing the dosage or taking the drug more frequently
  • Preoccupation with the drug, the amount on hand, and the ability to access it
  • Loss of concern about physical appearance and personal hygiene
  • Severe weight loss
  • Disinterest in food
  • Inability to keep a job or meet obligations
  • Social withdrawal

What are the Effects of Hydromorphone Addiction and Dependency?

People who are hooked on a drug that causes euphoria develop a desire to remain high and in their imaginary world at the expense of real life obligations and relationships. As the user spirals into addiction, physical and psychological drug cravings take over his or her life. The user loses the motivation to do anything other than seek out the next high. This drug-seeking behavior will often lead to the person committing crimes to obtain the drug.

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Hydromorphone addicts will often engage in destructive behavior, such as lying to medical professionals to obtain replacement prescriptions and going to the “black market” to buy the drug illegally. The abuse of one drug often leads to the abuse of other drugs, such as alcohol, that will increase or prolong the high.

As the severity of a person’s addiction spirals out of control, the addict loses control of his or her life. The person is unable to keep a job, stay in school, make appointments, or meet obligations. Relationships with friends and family noticeably suffer, because hydromorphone addicts often prefer isolation or the company of other addicts to enjoy their high.

Further, tolerance causes addicts to seek different ways of ingesting the drug to obtain a more potent high. Taking hydromorphone orally as a tablet eventually leads to snorting the tablet as a powder. Snorting leads to intravenous injection of the drug, because IV injection delivers the most effective high for the smallest amount of substance. Intravenous drug use has some of the most dangerous potential health consequences for drug users generally.

If you or a loved one is addicted to hydromorphone, professional treatment is available to help kick the habit. Call our free national referral hotline at , or fill out a contact form for help evaluating hydromorphone addiction treatment options. Advice from our treatment specialists is free and confidential.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of an Overdose?

Hydromorphone abusers have a high risk of an overdose. It is relatively easy to slip from use to abuse of this type of drug because of the physical and psychological dependencies it creates and the way the body quickly develops a tolerance for the drug’s effects.

It may be hard to distinguish between a hydromorphone high and a life-threatening overdose. Common signs of an overdose include depressed breathing, drowsiness that has the hallmarks of a stupor, cold and clammy skin, reduced blood pressure, constricted pupils, slowed heart rate, and lack of skeletal rigidity. A hydromorphone overdose can cause respiratory failure and death. Seek emergency medical help if you observe any of these symptoms in a hydromorphone user.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Hydromorphone Withdrawal?

A hydromorphone user is at risk of developing withdrawal symptoms from as few as a couple of weeks of drug use. Withdrawal symptoms can resemble flu-like symptoms, including fatigue, nausea, and muscle aches and pains. Withdrawal will usually begin within hours of taking the last dose of the drug and can continue for three to seven days.

The severity of the symptoms will often depend on the quantity of the drug taken. One of the most significant risks during withdrawal is dehydration. Dehydration can lead to seizures or convulsions without medical care.

Potential hydromorphone withdrawal symptoms:

  • Muscle pain
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Involuntary leg movements
  • Cold flashes
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Sweating
  • Dehydration
  • Dilated pupils
  • Goose bumps
  • Cravings
  • Impaired judgment
  • Loss of appetite

What are the Options for Hydromorphone Detox?

“Hydromorphone detoxification is the first step in getting sober.”
People who are addicted to hydromorphone and try to stop taking the drug on their own risk significant health consequences and often end up in a cycle of withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and relapses. The addict who tries to stop may end up using again to relieve the withdrawal symptoms, resulting in an addiction that is even stronger than before.

Hydromorphone detoxification is the first step in getting sober. Detox takes from three to seven days, flushes the drug out of the body’s system, and helps control withdrawal symptoms. Medical experts do not advise users to stop taking hydromorphone abruptly or outside of medical supervision. Hydromorphone detox can only be safely accomplished in a supervised setting, due to the risk of developing life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.

Traditional drug detox involves checking into a hospital or detox facility and allowing medical professionals to monitor your symptoms and administer medication, such as sedatives, to alleviate the effects of withdrawal. Some medical experts recommend a program of rapid drug detox that uses general anesthesia for hydromorphone addicts. Whether you use a traditional or rapid detox program, detox alone is never sufficient to ensure long-term sobriety.

What are the Options for Hydromorphone Addiction Treatment

It is rare that hydromorphone detox alone will be enough to break the cycle of addiction. Without additional psychological treatment to address the root causes of addiction, it is likely that the addict will relapse after detox. Hydromorphone is a highly addictive drug that changes the chemistry of the brain. Professional, long-term help is typically needed for the addict to kick the hydromorphone habit permanently.

“…hydromorphone addiction treatment is best handled on an inpatient basis.”
Achieving complete sobriety is a process. Once an addict has been through detox, a period of inpatient hydromorphone rehab at a residential facility is typically recommended by medical professionals. It is possible to complete a rehab program as an outpatient or to self-direct treatment by selecting private drug counselors, but experts have found that hydromorphone addiction treatment is best handled on an inpatient basis. This is primarily because of the high risk of relapse that is associated with such a highly addictive drug.

Inpatient hydromorphone addiction treatment involves individual therapy with a licensed psychologist. The patient lives at the residential facility during the course of treatment. This allows the patient to focus on rehabilitation and recovery without the distractions of real life. Each residential facility has its own treatment methodology. For example, some facilities will admit only men or teens and will design their programs specifically for the needs of that constituency.

In addition to individual therapy, residential facilities often develop signature treatment programs that use alternative therapies to distinguish themselves from other facilities. It is important to find the right hydromorphone addiction treatment program to meet the needs of the recovering addict in your life. Treatment that resonates with the patient is more likely to stick with him or her when the individual leaves the supportive environment of the residential facility and returns to normal life.

Additional treatments offered at hydromorphone rehabilitation centers:

  • Hypnotherapy, art therapy, music therapy, and other alternative treatments
  • Integrated psychiatric care
  • Group therapy
  • Life skills development
  • Health and nutritional counseling

Inpatient treatment is typically available for 30, 60, or 90 days. The 90-day inpatient option is considered the gold standard of hydromorphone addiction treatment by medical experts. It is commonly thought that longer stays in rehab equate to a higher sobriety success rate. Individuals who spend a longer time in a supportive environment to master the defense mechanisms needed to stay sober are less likely to relapse. Long-term rehab is also recommended for hydromorphone addicts with a history of relapsing and those who are addicted to multiple substances or have an underlying psychiatric condition.

People who have been addicted to hydromorphone live a lifetime of recovery. Following long-term treatment, the sober individual embarks on an aftercare program that is designed to reinforce the lessons learned in treatment. This can involve a 12-step program for ongoing support from contemporaries or continuing individual therapy on an outpatient or private basis.

Choosing the right hydromorphone addiction treatment options can be a daunting process, if you try to do it alone. If you or a loved one needs advice and assistance, call our national referral helpline at to speak to a treatment advisor, or fill out a contact form on the website. Our help is free and confidential.

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