As one of the most widely used pain medications following major injury and surgery, many people across the country use Dilaudid at one point or another.

Here’s what you need to know about Dilaudid.

What Is Dilaudid?

Known generically as Hydromorphone or dihydromorphinone, Dilaudid refers to the Brand name for a centrally-acting pain medication of the opioid class, synthesized from morphine to increase its potency. The Federal government assigns this drug as a Schedule II narcotic. Physicians classify this drug as an opioid analgesic and use it to treat severe pain from injury or illness.

It works by acting on opioid receptors and delta receptors in the body. Though similar to morphine, it presents a ketone group that its counterpart lacks. Dilaudid also binds to fewer receptors than morphine, which limits the side effects of the drug while still offering substantial pain relieving properties.

How Is Dilaudid Medication Taken?

Dilaudid can be administered:

  • orally
  • intramuscularly
  • intravenously
  • epidurally

The Patient Safety Authority reveals that orally distributed, 7.5 mg of Dilaudid equals 30 mg of morphine. In the more potent IV form, it becomes 20 times more potent than morphine. This potency makes the abuse potential for this drug extremely high, so patients should only receive the lowest dose necessary.

The typical Dilaudid dosage is 2-4mg every 4-6 hours orally, 1-2 mg every 2-3 hours intramuscularly, and 0.2 to 1 mg every 2 to 3 hours through the IV. When given orally, Dilaudid provides a lower bioavailability than when injected. 

Who Takes It?

Doctors will prescribe Dilaudid to adult patients who require treatment for severe pain. They should only give it to patients when alternative pain medications do not sufficiently treat the person’s pain. 

Patients may require Dilaudid:

  • for severe injuries following a car accident, gunshot, or other serious incidents
  • during and following major surgery
  • to treat pain from severe kidney stones and other serious infections

Sometimes though, people who do not need Dilaudid take the drug, and even patients who do need it may abuse it by taking more than they require.

People more likely to abuse the drug include those who:

  • suffer from mental illness
  • continue dealing with past or childhood trauma
  • experience stressful life events
  • show a history of substance abuse
  • have a family history of substance abuse
  • develop a serious illness or injury that requires Dilaudid pain treatment
  • can easily access to Dilaudid

As you can see, people may require treatment with Dilaudid for a number of reasons. Though not everybody who takes Dilaudid actually needs it. The factors listed above exacerbate the potential for addiction and give you an idea of who may be at risk for abusing Dilaudid. 

Brief History of Dilaudid

Dilaudid synthesis dates back to 1921, created in a German lab as they isolated a ketone from the drug morphine. By 1926, the drug made its way into clinical practice.

Morphine remained the first-line drug of choice for doctors despite over 200 studies revealing the effectiveness of hydromorphone. Dilaudid plays a critical role in managing pain that morphine cannot tackle sufficiently. Research on the drug continues today, to understand the full effect of the drug.

Dilaudid Effects on the Body

As with any chemical substance, Dilaudid creates reactions within the body that create a series of effects. This drug causes both physical and mental changes for the user.

Short-Term Side Effects

Dilaudid carries with it a pretty short half-life. For the body to rid itself of half the dose, it takes 2 hours from an IV dose and 4 hours from an oral dose. 

This means that the short-term side-effects do not typically last long, but they can feel intense. The short-term Dilaudid side effects include:

  • feeling of euphoria
  • dizziness and lightheadedness
  • itching
  • sweating
  • nausea and vomiting
  • anxiety
  • sleepiness or insomnia
  • belly pain
  • trouble urinating
  • noticeable marks on hands, arms, legs, and feet from using needles
  • slowed breathing  

Rarely when taken as directed, and more commonly when abused, this drug can also lead to more serious side effects. It can cause depressed breathing, respiratory collapse, heart attack, or stroke.

Long-Term Side Effects

One time or short-term use of Dilaudid does not typically cause long-term effects. However, prolonged use and/or abuse of the medication can lead to:

  • extreme mood changes
  • drug addiction and consequential behavioral changes
  • altered sense of reality

Take notice of these long-term Dilaudid side effects as they may signal a chemical dependency that requires professional treatment.

Using Dilaudid with Other Drugs

Dilaudid may interact with other drugs to lessen their ability to work or to create a toxic effect within your body. Ask your doctor before mixing Dilaudid with medications such as:

  • antidepressants
  • anti-anxiety medications
  • other narcotic pain medications
  • beta blockers
  • antihistamines
  • cold medications
  • sleep aids
  • water pills
  • heart medications

It is always wise to speak with your doctor about any medications you currently take prior to starting another one.

What Common Drugs are Used with Dilaudid?

Using Dilaudid with other drugs can also create a synergistic effect. This means that it may significantly enhance the action of one or both of the medications.

For instance, physicians often use the anti-nausea drug Phenergan in conjunction with Dilaudid. Not only does this ease the digestive side-effects, but it also enhances the action of hydromorphone when mixed together. Unfortunately, this also increases the drug’s abuse potential.

Doctors also often use Dilaudid to help Morphine and other narcotic pain medications work better. They may use as a backup or as a synergist.

People who suffer from drug addiction may also seek out the synergistic effect this drug possesses with other drugs. They may use it with alcohol, other narcotics, antidepressants, and other drugs that enhance the feeling of euphoria. 

People suffering from drug addictions may also use hydromorphone for its antagonist effect. Some people addicted to uppers, like cocaine and amphetamines, may also use Dilaudid to bring them down and help them sleep.

Only Use Dilaudid As Directed

Dilaudid helps many people cope with severe pain. However, a drug this potent that triggers the reward centers of the brain also carries the potential for abuse, as we touched on above.

Only use Dilaudid as your doctor directs and ask about lowering your dosage if you fall into a high-risk category for developing an addiction. Contact us if you feel concern about your Dilaudid use.