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Dilaudid Abuse Symptoms & Signs

Dilaudid abuse symptoms range from physical signs like constipation and dizziness to behavioral changes, such as poor work performance and social isolation. The dangers include respiratory depression, overdose, and addiction, impacting all life aspects.

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Signs and symptoms of Dilaudid abuse include constipation, urinary retention, nausea, vomiting, fluctuating blood pressure, and lack of coordination. 

As abuse continues, signs include poor performance at work or school, an increasing need to find and take the drug, combining Dilaudid with other substances of abuse, and social isolation. Eventually, Dilaudid abuse will cause negative effects in virtually every area of life.

What Are the Most Common Signs & Symptoms of Dilaudid Abuse?

The most common signs and symptoms related to the abuse of hydromorphone (Dilaudid) include the following:

  • Constipation
  • Agitation
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Rapid breathing or slowed breathing
  • Moodiness
  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Memory problems
  • Poor judgment
  • Euphoria 
  • Loss of interest in activities that were previously enjoyed
  • Strong cravings for the drug
  • Inability to reduce Dilaudid use

What Are the Dangers of Dilaudid Abuse?

Abuse of any opioid, such as Dilaudid, comes with many risks. These are some of the dangers associated with hydromorphone abuse:

  • Respiratory depression
  • Extreme drowsiness, making users prone to accidents and injuries
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Agitation, which can lead to violence
  • Mental cloudiness, including poor decision-making abilities
  • Restlessness
  • Overdose, which can be fatal
  • Coma
  • Addiction

Many of these effects make it difficult, if not impossible, to maintain a job or life responsibilities. Once addiction takes hold, people often experience significant harm in their career, schooling, relationships, and to their overall health.

How to Recognize a Dilaudid Addiction

If someone abuses Dilaudid regularly, it’s likely that addiction will quickly form. Physical dependence on hydromorphone develops within a couple weeks of consistent use. 

Signs of a Dilaudid addiction include the following:

  • Increased focus on getting and using Dilaudid
  • Visiting multiple doctors in an attempt to get many prescriptions for Dilaudid or other opioids
  • Buying opioids on the street
  • Failing to maintain everyday obligations
  • Needing increasingly larger doses of Dilaudid to gain “relief”
  • Neglecting friends and family in lieu of getting high
  • Using Dilaudid or other opioids in unsafe situations, such as before driving
  • Combining Dilaudid with other substances, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines

Some people take Dilaudid therapeutically, and they need it for pain. Not everyone who takes the medication is abusing it. The following chart can help you understand the differences between these two groups of people:

Using Dilaudid AppropriatelyAbusing Dilaudid
Taking pills prescribed for youTaking drugs prescribed for someone else
Taking only the dose your doctor recommendsTaking doses larger than the doctor recommends
Taking the medication as directedCrushing tablets and snorting them or injecting them
Using Dilaudid for painUsing Dilaudid to get high

The Risk of Overdose

With Dilaudid abuse and addiction, overdose is always a possibility, and this can be fatal. Opioids like hydromorphone can depress breathing to such a degree, that it can stop altogether. 

In 2020, 44 people in the U.S. died from prescription opioid overdoses every day. Prescription opioids like Dilaudid were involved in almost a quarter of all overdose deaths.

Naloxone (Narcan) can reverse opioid overdose if it is administered in time. If you or someone you know abuses Dilaudid or any other opioid, always have naloxone on hand. If an overdose is suspected, call 911 and administer naloxone immediately.

What to Do During an Overdose

A Dilaudid overdose is a life-threatening emergency. Don’t wait for the person to get better or assume everything will be okay. If you think it’s happening, act.

A person who is experiencing a Dilaudid overdose may display some or all of these symptoms:

  • Unconsciousness
  • Slowed breathing
  • Snorting or choking sounds
  • Cold or clammy skin
  • Discolored lips or fingernails

If you suspect an overdose, take these steps immediately:

  • Try to wake the person up. Shake them, tap them, or otherwise try to make them awaken.
  • Call 911. Tell the operator that you think the person has overdosed on Dilaudid. Follow any directions you’re given.
  • Provide naloxone. The medication naloxone (Narcan) is an opioid overdose reversal agent. It’s typically sold as a nasal spray that’s easy for anyone to administer. Spray the drug inside the person’s nose as directed on the package.
  • Watch for breathing. If the naloxone works, the person may begin breathing immediately. If not, make sure the person’s mouth isn’t blocked, pinch their nose, and blow a puff of air into their mouth every 30 seconds.
  • Provide supportive care. Once the person is breathing again, put them on their side to prevent choking.

Stay with the person until help arrives. Follow any instructions the operator gives you while you’re waiting.

Hope in Recovery

There is no cure for Dilaudid abuse, as addiction is a chronic condition. But every day, people achieve and maintain recovery. This enables them to leave opioid abuse in their past and build a happy and productive life in recovery. 

Dilaudid is a potent drug, and it’s not easy to quit using it. But with the right help, you can get on the path to a better future.

Several treatment options for Dilaudid abuse exist, including the following.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Opioids like Dilaudid respond to medications like methadone and buprenorphine. These MAT therapies can ease withdrawal symptoms, so they can be used in detox programs to help you get sober. They can also be used over the long term to lessen cravings and reduce relapse risks.

Residential Care

Medical detox programs are often provided in inpatient formats. Some rehabilitation programs are available in residential facilities too. Moving into a program like this can mean leaving your temptations behind and surrounding yourself with support around the clock.


Group and individual therapy can help you dig into how the addiction developed and the skills you might need to keep it under control in the future. Common therapies used in opioid addiction treatment programs include the following:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy in which you learn to identify and manage the thoughts and behaviors that lead to drug abuse
  • Motivational interviewing, which involves helping you to feel comfortable discussing your drug use and inspire you to change
  • Mindfulness techniques, which help you tune into your thoughts and feelings as they are right now, so you’re aware of the ways your thoughts might impact your body

Frequently Asked Questions About Dilaudid Abuse Symptoms

These are the questions we often hear about Dilaudid abuse symptoms:

Is everyone who uses Dilaudid going to become addicted?

No. Dilaudid is a prescription medication doctors use to treat significant pain. Some people use the medication appropriately and never develop signs of abuse or addiction.

Is Dilaudid abuse serious?

Yes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than 108,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the 12 months ending April 2022, and opioids like Dilaudid accounted for almost 75% of them.

Isn’t MAT the same as replacing one drug with another?

No. When someone uses MAT for opioid use disorder, their medications don’t make them high. Instead, the medications restore chemical imbalances caused by drug abuse. They can help people feel normal and connected with therapy rather than high.

Is Dilaudid illegal?

No. Dilaudid is a prescription medication that’s legal to use with a prescription. It’s illegal to take the drug without a prescription, even if someone gives you the pills.

Where can I get naloxone?

In March 2023, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved an over-the-counter form of naloxone. You can buy the medication from a pharmacist without a prescription. If you know someone who abuses Dilaudid, or you abuse the drug yourself, you should keep it on hand.

Updated May 10, 2024
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