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Dilaudid, the brand name for hydromorphone, is an opioid drug used to treat severe pain. It is typically used only when other alternative treatments have failed, such as non-opioid pain relievers and opioid combination drugs.
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Dilaudid is available as a liquid oral solution or as tablets. The drug concentration of the liquid solution is 5 milligrams/milliliter (mg/ml). The tablet is available in 2, 4 or 8 mg doses.
Dosing for each form is as follows:
A study from 2018 found that about 10 million people (12 and older) have misused opioids in the past year. This is nearly 4 percent of the U.S. population.National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)
The most commonly reported side effects of Dilaudid include:
Additionally, more serious side effects can include:
Dilaudid is classified as a Schedule II drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration. These are drugs that are defined as, “drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.”
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It is important to pay attention to the dosing of the liquid form of Dilaudid to ensure you are taking the correct amount. Do not confuse mg and mL with each other, as this can result in accidental overdose and death. Additionally, make sure to use proper measuring equipment to avoid inaccuracies in dosing.
Furthermore, Dilaudid may cause life-threatening respiratory depression in patients with preexisting pulmonary issues. It is not advised to use the drug without proper monitoring if you have acute or severe asthma. Patients with chronic pulmonary disease are at an increased risk of decreased respiratory function and apnea (temporarily stopping breathing).
If you are allergic to sodium metabisulfite, do not take the drug as it may cause a severe allergic reaction. Signs of an allergic reaction include:
If any of these occur, stop using Dilaudid and contact emergency medical services right away.
If you have a head injury, do not take Dilaudid, as it can elevate the pressure of cerebrospinal fluid. This elevation may become exaggerated with a head injury and can become dangerous.
Dilaudid can be addictive, and may eventually lead to physical and psychological dependence, and abuse. The active ingredient hydromorphone binds to the opioid receptors in the brain and blocks the sensation of pain. This interaction induces feelings of euphoria (a high), and calm, which can become addictive very quickly.
Addiction is characterized by a set of behaviors surrounding drug use. Someone who is addicted to Dilaudid might have cravings when not taking it, may be unable to stop using it, and may continue to do so despite knowing it is harmful.
Signs of opioid addiction and abuse include:
Overdoses from opioids can happen for many reasons, including:
Respiratory depression (slow and ineffective breathing), is an extremely dangerous condition that can develop with opioid use. High doses of the drug act on the brain stem, where breathing rate and rhythm are controlled. Most often, this effect is seen in opioid overdose, or when too much drug is taken in a single dose. Other signs of Dilaudid overdose to look out for include:
If any of these symptoms are observed, call emergency medical services immediately and administer naloxone if available.
Someone who uses Dilaudid for an extended period of time can become physically and psychologically dependent on it. In short, this means they need to take the drug in order to feel normal and function daily. If drug use is stopped suddenly during dependence, withdrawal syndrome can occur. Symptoms of withdrawal from Dilaudid, include:
Do not attempt to withdraw from Dilaudid on your own, as this can be extremely dangerous.
A sudden change in opioid use can induce seizures, and in some severe cases, death. Talk with your doctor about quitting opioid use, and how to safely do so.
One supervised method of stopping Dilaudid use is tapering off the drug. This process reduces the dose of the drug slowly over a period of time to prevent shock to the body’s systems. With this, withdrawal symptoms will be much less severe and can be managed with other medications. In order to ensure safety, tapering should only be done under the direction of a medical professional.
The safest way to stop using a drug is under the care of trained medical professionals. There, it is important to find a treatment option that works best for you or a loved one.
One treatment option for treating opioid addiction is medication-assisted treatment, or MAT. This approach combines drugs such as buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone with therapy to provide a “whole patient” approach.
Other programs and counseling options help facilitate lifestyle changes and thoughts around drug use. Options include:
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