Known as the brand name drugs, Dilaudid and Exalgo, hydromorphone is an addictive prescription opioid pain medication that can cause severe addiction when abused.
Fortunately, a hydromorphone addiction treatment program could help a person regain their health, sobriety, and a more meaningful life.
Hydromorphone is a semi-synthetic prescription opioid painkiller or opiate (narcotic) analgesic that is used to treat moderate to severe pain. It is also known as dihydromorphinone and is considered a type of morphine.
Hydromorphone is two to eight times more potent than morphine, however. It also has a rapid onset of action, which means its effects are felt fairly quickly.
It is because of these characteristics, that hydromorphone is abused. Due to this high potential for abuse and severe physical or psychological dependence, hydromorphone is classified as a Schedule II drug by the DEA.
Hydromorphone is found in several forms, all of which can be abused. This medication may be prescribed as an injection, a liquid, a tablet, an extended-release tablet, an oral solution, or as a rectal suppository.
In addition to generic forms of the medication, prescription hydromorphone is marketed as the brand names:
When abused, hydromorphone may be referred to as dillies, dust, D, or footballs.
Hydromorphone is commonly abused orally or by injection, however, some people may take the drug rectally (boofing or plugging) or crush the drug and attempt to snort or smoke it. No matter how the drug is abused, the risk of addiction and overdose can be present.
Hydromorphone Abuse Signs And Symptoms
When hydromorphone abuse takes on the compulsive patterns of addiction, a person’s day-to-day routines will commonly change to make room for frequent drug-seeking and using.
As this happens, the harm to a person’s life caused from substance abuse will likely become more severe and disabling.
At this time, a person will typically show some or all of the following signs of hydromorphone abuse or addiction.
- takes hydromorphone more often or in higher doses than they intended.
- is unable to stop or reduce their drug use, even after trying to quit several times.
- gives up significant portions of their day to drug use or feeling sick from it.
- has cravings and becomes fixated on thoughts of finding and using the drug.
- develops problems at home, work, or school due to drug abuse.
- keeps using the drug even after it begins to hurt their relationships.
- stops participating in hobbies or activities that were important to them.
- jeopardizes their safety because they take part in risky behaviors while using a drug.
- continues to take the drug even though they know it’s harming their mental or physical health.
- increases the dose of the drug because they have a tolerance and no longer feel the effects they seek.
- develops withdrawal and has pain, illness, or discomfort if they quit the drug cold turkey.
Hydromorphone Abuse Short-Term Effects
People who abuse hydromorphone do so typically to create a sense of euphoria, relaxation, or sedation. Some individuals may also take the drug to self-medicate anxiety or physical pain.
In addition to these sensations, the short-term effects of Dilaudid or Exalgo abuse include:
- altered judgement
- brain fog
- impaired decision-making skills
- mood shifts
Taking hydromorphone can also impact the central nervous and circulatory systems. This may cause a slowed or rapid heartbeat or changes to the blood pressure.
Hydromorphone Abuse Long-Term Effects, Risks, And Dangers
Injecting hydromorphone into the vein is a very invasive way of taking the drug that carries great dangers, including serious infection of the skin and surrounding tissues. People who share needles also have a higher risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, or other infectious diseases.
People who abuse hydromorphone in any way may develop heart or respiratory problem as a long-term side effect of abuse. Pregnant women who abuse this drug can expose their unborn child to harm as well, including low birth weight, neonatal abstinence syndrome, or miscarriage.
Opioids like hydromorphone are commonly abused with other drugs. Doing so can increase the risk of addiction, drug-drug interactions, health problems, and overdose.
Abusing hydromorphone can cause the central nervous system to be depressed. When this drug is taken with central nervous system depressants such as alcohol or benzodiazepine drugs, this effect can be far more intense.
As the central nervous system is depressed, critical life support systems can begin to slow or shut down. Because of this, mixing opioids with alcohol or benzos can cause a dangerously slow heart rate, life-threatening breathing problems, coma, and overdose.
Hydromorphone Overdose Signs And Symptoms
As a powerful opioid narcotic, hydromorphone abuse can cause a very deep sleep that could result in coma and life-threatening respiratory depression. A hydromorphone overdose can be a medical emergency and can cause death.
When a person goes into overdose, they may have breathing problems, such as shallow, slowed, or stopped breathing, circumstances referred to as respiratory depression. Without treatment, respiratory depression can be deadly.
Additional signs and symptoms of a Dilaudid or Exalgo overdose include:
- bluish fingernails and lips
- cold, clammy, or pale skin
- dizziness or lightheadedness
- flushed skin
- nausea and vomiting
- pinpoint pupils
- weak pulse
People who abuse extended-release hydromorphone may have a higher risk of overdose. The extended-release version of the drug is designed to release the medication slowly over time.
When abused, a person may alter the form of the medication to inject it, an action that can cause large amounts of the drug to hit a person’s system all at once. This rush of extended-release hydromorphone can overload the body, creating toxic levels that lead to overdose.
Should a hydromorphone overdose be suspected, emergency medical help should be contacted immediately.
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If help is sought soon enough, there are treatments that may save a person’s life. A first-line defense at this time is naloxone.
Most commonly delivered as a nasal spray called Narcan, naloxone is an opioid overdose reversal drug. This means that it could stop and reverse the effects of overdose so that a person’s life can be saved.
While this treatment can be delivered by first responders, the majority of states allow people to get Narcan without a prescription so they can have it on hand right away if an overdose happens.
Hydromorphone Withdrawal Signs And Symptoms
If a person abruptly stops taking hydromorphone they may go into withdrawal. People who abuse high doses of this drug may also experience withdrawal if they substantially reduce the dose they take.
Signs and symptoms of Dilaudid or Exalgo withdrawal include:
- dilated pupils
- joint and muscle pain
- nausea and vomiting
- runny nose
- stomach cramps
- teary eyes
Hydromorphone withdrawal may also cause emotional and mental side effects, including irritability and anxiety.
Hydromorphone Withdrawal And Detox Programs
Opioid withdrawal, including withdrawal from Dilaudid or Exalgo, is not easily managed at home and can become severe.
A do-it-yourself hydromorphone detox could be dangerous and offer little support and success in managing withdrawal symptoms. Without the professional care offered in a medical detox program, a person could experience complications and relapse to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Hydromorphone withdrawal can become very painful and uncomfortable. Cravings may also become intense at this time. An inpatient medically supervised detox program provides 24-hour care, so that a person can be safe and comfortable as they detox.
Opioid withdrawal is generally best treated by medications, including Suboxone and other buprenorphine-based medications. To further promote physical healing, nutritional support may also be used.
Finding A Hydromorphone Drug Rehab Program
In 2017, roughly 4.1 percent of the population or 11.1 million Americans misused a prescription pain reliever such as hydromorphone. With numbers like this, the demand for comprehensive opioid treatment programs is high.
Opioid use disorders, including hydromorphone addiction, can be some of the most severe forms of abuse and addiction.
Because of this, treatment needs to be integrated to address the physical, mental, spiritual, and social impacts of addiction. This intensive approach is often best received in an inpatient or residential treatment program.
When a person lives at The Treehouse treatment center, they are surrounded by people who understand and support the recovery process. This means that a person has more time to build sober peer relationships that teach accountability and motivate people to reach their recovery goals.
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It also means that our clients have more time to spend with our highly-trained staff. By forming close relationships with our compassionate and knowledgeable staff, participants can gain insight, inspiration, and valuable sober living skills that enhance the treatment experience.
Along with an inpatient drug rehab program for hydromorphone addiction, The Treehouse provides comprehensive dual diagnosis addiction treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression.
In addition to evidence-based treatments, like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), we use exciting alternative approaches such as expressive therapies, wilderness therapy, tai chi, and yoga.
By providing individualized treatment for hydromorphone addiction, The Treehouse can help a person build a strong foundation for a healthier and lasting recovery.
Contact The Treehouse Rehab now for more info on hydromorphone abuse, addiction and treatment options.
- DailyMed — LABEL: DILAUDID- hydromorphone hydrochloride tablet
- Drug Enforcement Administration Diversion Control Division — Hydromorphone
- MedlinePlus — Hydromorphone
- MedlinePlus — Hydromorphone Injection
- MedlinePlus — Hydromorphone Overdose
- MedlinePlus — Hydromorphone Rectal
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration — Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health
- United States Drug Enforcement Administration — Drugs of Abuse
- United States Drug Enforcement Administration — Drug Scheduling