Dilaudid is a trade name for hydromorphone, a powerful prescription pain reliever that is much stronger than morphine.
Dilaudid is a semi-synthetic opioid that is commonly used to treat moderate to severe pain, especially the chronic pain caused by serious conditions like cancer.
Like other pain medications in the opioid family — a category of drugs derived from opium — Dilaudid can be addictive. The drug acts more quickly on the brain than morphine and is approximately 7.5 to 10 times more potent, making it a very effective treatment for pain. But users who take Dilaudid for nonmedical reasons may find themselves addicted to the drug.
Withdrawing from opioids like Dilaudid can produce unpleasant side effects that make it difficult to achieve a lasting recovery.
Stages of Withdrawal
Prescription opioid addiction is becoming an increasingly common public health concern in the United States. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) reports that over 259 million prescriptions were written for medications like Dilaudid in 2012, making these drugs widely available. In fact, nearly 2 million Americans suffer from addiction to prescription opioids, according to ASAM. One of the greatest challenges of recovering from opioid addiction is getting through the process of withdrawal. Dilaudid withdrawal occurs in stages:
- Early withdrawal: Within the first 12 hours of the last dose of Dilaudid, the body may experience symptoms of withdrawal as the drug clears the system. These symptoms include a runny nose and watery eyes, sweating, frequent yawning, anxiety, muscle pain, and difficulty sleeping. Early withdrawal, which may last for 24 hours or more, is often accompanied by cravings for the drug, anxiety, and restlessness.
- Late withdrawal: Withdrawal symptoms become more uncomfortable as the body and brain attempt to adjust to the absence of the drug. Late withdrawal symptoms may last for 48-72 hours or more, depending on factors like the amount and frequency of Dilaudid use, the user’s general health, and the presence of other drugs in the body. Late symptoms of withdrawal include abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, cold sweats, chills, diarrhea, and involuntary tremors. Cravings for Dilaudid may intensify.
- Post withdrawal stage: The acute phase of opiate withdrawal typically lasts for only a few days; however, a phenomenon called post-acute withdrawal can affect some users. Post-acute withdrawal can cause lingering symptoms of depression, fatigue, sleep disturbances, anxiety, appetite changes, and feelings of hopelessness or low self-worth. Some users have reported that the symptoms of post-withdrawal can last for months or even years.
Opioid Detox and Rehab
The Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) 2002-2012 reports that out of approximately 304,000 Americans who were treated for opiate abuse in 2012, over 3,400 of them named Dilaudid as their primary drug of abuse. Discontinuing Dilaudid use can be very unpleasant, both physically and emotionally. Most users make it through the process without any life-threatening side effects, and opiate withdrawal is rarely fatal. For most recovering opiate users, the greatest risk of withdrawal is the temptation to relapse in order to relieve symptoms and cravings.