Updated on February 29, 2024
7 min read

How to Support Someone with a Dilaudid Addiction

Dilaudid, or hydromorphone, is a potent opioid analgesic for chronic and severe pain. Healthcare providers typically prescribe it when less potent pain relievers are ineffective.

However, Dilaudid has a high risk of addiction and contributes to America’s public health crisis of opioid use disorder. An estimated 3 million Americans suffer from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid drugs.1

Is Dilaudid Addictive?

Yes, using Dilaudid for a prolonged period of time raises the risk of abuse and addiction. It induces euphoria (a high) and calmness, which is what makes the medication so addictive.

The DEA classifies Dilaudid as a Schedule II controlled substance. Schedule II substances have a high potential for abuse, potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.

Your body can build a tolerance to Dilaudid in as little as 2 to 3 weeks. This tolerance leads people to exhaust their prescriptions prematurely. Even when they take it as their doctors prescribed, their regular dose may no longer be as effective as before.

What Are Dilaudid Addiction Signs?

Only a professional can determine if you have an addiction. But there are signs you can watch out for and bring up with your healthcare provider if you have concerns.

Some behavioral addiction signs to take note of include:

  • Experiencing cravings when you refrain from using the drug
  • Finding it difficult to quit
  • Persisting with drug use despite being aware of its harmful effects
  • Taking your next dose before the prescribed time
  • Isolating yourself from friends and family
  • Neglecting an active lifestyle (walking, going to the gym, etc.)

Addiction can also cause money problems if you’re spending most of your income trying to obtain Dilaudid. You may also begin associating with people who don’t speak against your dependence on the drug.

Some physical symptoms can also occur due to Dilaudid misuse. These include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Lack of hygiene
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Frequent flu-like symptoms
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased libido

What Are Dilaudid Withdrawal Symptoms?

If your body is dependent on Dilaudid, you may experience withdrawal symptoms if you stop or cut back on using the medication.

The symptoms of Dilaudid withdrawal include:

  • Increased pain
  • Irritability or agitation
  • Anxiety or restlessness
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Muscle cramps/aches
  • Watery eyes, runny nose
  • Yawning
  • Chills, sweating, or goosebumps
  • Stomach cramps
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Rapid heart rate

What Are Dilaudid Overdose Symptoms?

One of the most dangerous consequences of opioid use is respiratory depression, involving inadequate and slowed breathing. In high doses, Dilaudid targets the brainstem that regulates breathing rate and rhythm.

Alcohol, benzodiazepines, and other drugs that impact the central nervous system can worsen respiratory depression. This condition is most common during opioid overdose or if you consume the drug excessively at once.

Signs of Dilaudid overdose include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Severe drowsiness
  • Inability to speak
  • Limp body
  • Vomiting
  • Pale and clammy skin
  • Purple/blue lips and fingernails

You must call 911 immediately during an overdose. Healthcare professionals can administer Naloxone for immediate yet short-lived reversal of the overdose effects.


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How Do You Treat Dilaudid Addiction?

The most effective treatment for Dilaudid addiction is a combination of medication and therapy. Medications can reduce cravings and block the effects of opioids, while behavioral therapies teach you to manage cravings and stress.

Seek medical help from a qualified healthcare provider or rehabilitation center if you suspect you’re addicted to Dilaudid. Managing both the physical and mental health aspects is key to successful addiction treatment.

Why is Mental Health Support Important in Addiction Treatment?

Chronic pain and addiction are physical and psychological conditions. There’s a mental and emotional aspect when it comes to recovery, which is why mental health support is just as important when creating an effective treatment plan.13,15

Some of the mental health support available in addiction treatment include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): Helps you identify and challenge negative thought patterns and behaviors related to pain and addiction; teaches you coping strategies to manage pain and the psychological distress of addiction
  • Stress reduction techniques: Involves progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing exercises, and guided imagery to reduce and manage stress, which can hinder recovery and worsen pain

Alternative Pain Management for People with Addiction

Healthcare providers typically prescribe Dilaudid for severe pain. However, because it carries a high risk of addiction, alternative methods of pain management are often necessary for people with this prescription or those recovering from an addiction.

The methods listed below not only provide pain relief but also address the psychological aspects of pain and addiction, offering a holistic approach to your recovery.

1. Physical Therapy

Physical therapy (PT) manages chronic pain through personalized exercise programs that improve mobility, strength, and flexibility. These methods reduce pain and enhance physical function. PT also uses heat and cold therapy, electrical stimulation, and ultrasound to address specific pain areas.13,15

2. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is particularly effective for chronic pain conditions such as low back pain, osteoarthritis, and headaches. It involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body, relieving pain by releasing endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. It also affects the part of the brain that controls serotonin levels.14

3. Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

CAM practices and products are not considered part of conventional medicine. They’re called alternatives if used in place of conventional treatments and complementary when used together with conventional treatments.16

Some CAM practices include:

  • Yoga and tai chi: Combines physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation to enhance physical and mental well-being; reduces chronic pain, improves physical function, and lowers stress and anxiety levels associated with chronic pain conditions13,15
  • Mindfulness and meditation: Helps people acknowledge and accept their pain without judgment, leading to reduced stress, decreased pain intensity, and improved emotional well-being14

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How To Discontinue Dilaudid Use Safely 

Attempting to withdraw from Dilaudid without supervision is risky, as it can lead to seizures. In severe cases, it causes death due to abrupt changes in opioid use.

A supervised method for safely stopping Dilaudid use involves gradually reducing the dosage. This tapering process helps minimize the shock to the body’s systems over time.

With medication, tapering off Dilaudid will make withdrawal symptoms much less severe and manageable. To ensure safety, medical professionals should direct tapering.

Support Guide for Caregivers and Family Members

Here are some ways to provide support and help those struggling with Dilaudid abuse overcome their addiction:

  • Educate yourself about the drug: Research and learn more about Dilaudid addiction, its signs, and effects on the body. The more knowledge you have, the better you understand your loved one’s struggles.
  • Encourage them to seek treatment: Offer your support and encouragement to seek professional help. Let them know you’re always by their side, and you can accompany them to appointments or even help them find a treatment facility.
  • Be patient and understanding: Recovery from addiction is a long process, and there will be setbacks along the way. It’s essential to be patient and understanding with your loved one as they work towards sobriety.
  • Avoid enabling behaviors: It can be tempting to try and protect your loved one from the consequences of their addiction, but this can actually hinder their recovery. Avoid giving them money or making excuses for their behavior.
  • Take care of yourself: Supporting a loved one through addiction can be emotionally and physically draining. Take care of your well-being, and seek support from others if necessary.

Resources for Help and Support

If you or someone you know is struggling with Dilaudid addiction, there are resources available to help. Consider reaching out to:

  • National Helpline: 1-800-237-TALK (8255)
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): Treatment locator
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
  • Your primary care provider or a mental health professional: Consult them for personalized guidance and treatment options

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Dilaudid is an opioid drug that treats moderate to severe pain. It can be highly addictive, so you should only take it as your doctor prescribes.

People addicted to Dilaudid may experience withdrawal symptoms when they suddenly attempt to stop using it. To avoid this, they should seek help from a doctor or rehabilitation center to safely discontinue use. Treatment options usually involve medication and therapies to reduce cravings and replace drug use with healthy habits.

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Updated on February 29, 2024
16 sources cited
Updated on February 29, 2024
  1. Azadfard et al. “Opioid Addiction.” StatPearls Publishing, 2023. 
  2. HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESCRIBING INFORMATION.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2016.
  3. U.S. Department of Justice. “Drug Scheduling.” Drug Enforcement Administration.
  4. Feldmeyer et al. “Acute Generalized Exanthematous Pustulosis: Pathogenesis, Genetic Background, Clinical Variants and Therapy.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 2016.
  5. Signs of Opioid Abuse.” Johns Hopkins Medicine.
  6. Tapering off opioids: When and how.” Mayo Clinic, 2023.
  7. U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Hydromorphone.” MedlinePlus, 2023.
  8. U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) Treatment.” MedlinePlus, 2023.
  9. U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Opioid Overdose.” MedlinePlus, 2023.
  10. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Prescription Opioids DrugFacts.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2021.
  11. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health Annual National Report.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2019.
  12. Hydromorphone (Oral Route).” Mayo Clinic, 2024.
  13. Skelly et al. “Noninvasive Nonpharmacological Treatment for Chronic Pain: A Systematic Review Update.” Comparative Effectiveness Review, No. 227, 2020.
  14. Coutaux, A. “Non-pharmacological treatments for pain relief: TENS and acupuncture.” Joint Bone Spine, 2017.
  15. Rofé et al. “Nonpharmacologic management of chronic pain in the United States’ Medicare population: a scoping review protocol.” JBI Evidence Synthesis, 2022.
  16. Collection Development Guidelines of the National Library of Medicine.” National Library of Medicine, 2019.

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