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Dilaudid Injection | Effects & Health Risks

Published on December 2, 2020
Dilaudid bottles and iv syringe dangers of Dilaudid Injection

Opioids vary in their potency and risk, and Dilaudid and Dilaudid-HP (a more concentrated solution) are some of the more powerful and potentially high-risk options available in medical use. 

It’s important to understand the drug’s effects, risks, and your options for treatment if you’ve become dependent on the medication.

Dilaudid Use & Misuse

Dilaudid is a brand name for hydromorphone, a synthetic opioid pain medication that is prescribed by health care professionals to control moderate to severe chronic pain. 

Dilaudid comes in tablets (hydromorphone hydrochloride), liquid formulations, and parenteral ampules that are administered through intravenous, intramuscular, or subdermal injection.

The potency of this medication’s analgesic effect, its availability in IV form, and its potential for physical dependence and addiction make Dilaudid an attractive candidate for drug abuse.

Effects Of Dilaudid Injection

When injected rather than taken by mouth, opioid drugs enter the bloodstream directly, bypassing the digestive tract. This provides immediate and powerful analgesia (pain relief), or euphoria (if the medication is taken in higher dosages).

Because of the increased effect that injection provides, non-prescriptive injection of opioid drugs is heavily associated with dangerous and fatal drug overdose.

Tolerance & Dependence

Injecting hydromorphone can accelerate the rate at which the body develops tolerance. This means that injecting Dilaudid may require higher doses to achieve the same effect, even after very short term use.

Intravenous use can lead to tolerance and physical dependence within two or three weeks.

Once you become an opioid tolerant patient, you likely need to be extremely careful with the discontinuation of the drug, as cutting the body off from the medication will cause potentially dangerous opioid withdrawal symptoms. 

However, withdrawal syndrome can be safely managed through medical detox.

Healthcare providers should work with individuals suffering from chronic pain to evaluate their short and long-term pain management goals, carefully charting a path from short-term severe pain relief, to effective and safe long term pain management.

Dilaudid Injection Side-Effects

Common side effects of hydromorphone abuse may include:

  • pruritus (itching)
  • warm, flushed, or tingling skin
  • sweating
  • nausea and vomiting
  • constipation
  • stomach pain
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • blurry or impaired vision
  • insomnia
  • headache
  • dry mouth

Some potentially adverse effects of Dilaudid intravenous use may include:

  • respiratory depression (shallow, weak, or difficult breathing leading to hypoxia)
  • slow heart rate (bradycardia) and lowered blood pressure (hypotension)
  • confusion
  • lightheadedness or fainting
  • seizure
  • clammy skin
  • irregular or pounding heartbeat
  • mental confusion or hallucination
  • severe abdominal pain

Opioid Overdose

Intravenous abuse of opioid drugs greatly increases the risk of life-threatening overdose. If you have a prescription for Dilaudid, you must follow the prescribing information, which includes no variations in dosing or timing.

Overdose symptoms may include slowed or stopped breathing or heart rate, intense drowsiness, severe muscle weakness, cold and clammy skin, pinpoint pupils, seizure, nonresponsiveness, and coma.

If overdose from opioid use is suspected, immediately contact emergency services. Some first responders carry naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal medication that saves lives.

Contraindications & Risk Factors Of Dilaudid Injection

Hydromorphone and other opioid pain relievers such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, and codeine, work by suppressing the central nervous system. 

This sedation effect makes abuse of hydromorphone particularly dangerous when combined with other CNS depressants like alcohol, benzodiazepine, tranquilizers, and sleep medicines. 

While this combination does enhance the high from hydromorphone, it can also lead to severe depression of the central nervous system. This can interrupt vital life functions like muscle activity, breathing, and heart rate. 

Hydromorphone is not recommended for neonatal use and should not be used by pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding. 

Adverse events are also possible if you’ve used antidepressant MAOIs or have a history of pancreatitis, head injury, intracranial pressure, hepatic impairment, sleep apnea, sulfite allergies, or renal/liver disease.

Dilaudid Addiction Treatment

If you or a loved one are suffering from Dilaudid addiction, your best chance for a full recovery is through professional care at a qualified drug rehab center.

Treatment for hydromorphone abuse and addiction may include:

  • medical detox to manage withdrawal symptoms (including pain hypersensitivity and cravings)
  • FDA-approved medications in a medication-assisted treatment program
  • behavioral therapies
  • peer support groups

Treatment programs are available on an inpatient and outpatient basis, and are personalized according to your individual needs.

For more information, please contact an Ark Behavioral Health specialist today.

Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
This page does not provide medical advice.

Drug Enforcement Administration - Hydromorphone
Michigan Medicine - Hydromorphone (injection)
U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Hydromorphone Injection

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