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Dilaudid Addiction and Treatment

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If you or a loved one is experiencing addiction, we’re here to help.

Dilaudid — a brand name for hydromorphone — is an opioid analgesic prescription medication, patented in 1926 for pain management, particularly chronic or severe pain. A semisynthetic opioid agonist, the drug is highly addictive and continually growing in popularity among the drug abuse community. Dilaudid is available as an oral capsule, tablet or liquid — all of which come in both immediate and extended-release forms, but abusers favor the injection method to achieve the maximum high effects of the drug.

Users and Abusers

Dilaudid abuserThe drug is most popularly prescribed to adults, but a great many engage in regular abuse of the painkiller. The growing use of Dilaudid among teens is alarming, and unfortunately, many young people believe prescription drugs are safer than street drugs. Medical Daily reports that 2,500 teens and adolescents aged 12 to 17 years old in the United States abuse a prescription painkiller for the first time every single day.

Even those with a legitimate prescription and need for the drug can abuse it. According to Drug War Facts, three percent of chronic non-cancer patients spanning 67 studies who regularly took opioid painkillers developed a problem with abusing the drugs or an addiction to them. Elders are also at risk – 12 to 15 percent of them are found to be abusing prescription drugs when seeking medical care, per the Center for Applied Research Solutions.

For some abusers of opioid pain relievers, their habits stemmed from poor interaction with the wrong crowd. Unfortunately, young people are more likely to succumb to peer pressure, and according to the American College of Preventive Medicine, youths who engage in substance abuse before they turn 18 are eight times more likely to fall prey to substance dependence as an adult than those who abstain until adulthood.

For others, like the 8.3 million kids that the Child Welfare Information Gateway states were living with a parent who was abusing or addicted to drugs or alcohol in 2006, the environmental exposure to the lifestyle contributes heavily to what practices they engage in as an adult. Of course, genetic factors play a role, too, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse attests to a 40 to 60 percent hereditary influence when it comes to addiction.

Digging deeper though, there is a complex group of drug abusers who are battling at least one mental health disorder, and a vast number don’t even know it. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 53 percent of drug abusers also have one or more serious mental health problems. Among all individuals struggling with severe mental health disorders, Helpguide notes that about 50 percent engage in substance abuse.

How They Do It

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health for 2009 to 2010 states that of all individuals aged 12 or older who reported past-year non-medical use of prescription pain relievers and received their most recent supply from a friend or family member, 55 percent did so free of charge, 11.4 percent paid for the drugs, and 4.8 percent stole them.

There is a serious concern about the over-prescribing of opioid pain relievers and Dilaudid is high on the list. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy reports 174 million opioid prescriptions being filled in 2000 by retail pharmacies. That number was at 259 million in 2012, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – a nearly 50 percent increase.


Addiction is a chronic and often relapsing disease that knows no bounds and has the power to decimate every life it touches. When it comes to drug addiction, no one is really safe. Once upon a time, you may have thought it couldn’t happen to you, and now, here you are. There are red flags you should be looking for when concerned about the use of Dilaudid either by yourself or someone you care about, and the possible presence of addiction; they are:

  • Fatigue
  • Trouble urinating
  • Neglect of obligations and disinterest in things once enjoyed
  • Constipation
  • Stomach cramps
  • Inability to stop using despite repeated attempts
  • Use of Dilaudid to avoid experiencing withdrawal
  • Legal and personal consequences have stemmed from use of Dilaudid, but use persists
  • Dizziness
  • Trouble breathing
  • Development of sleep apnea
  • Nausea that may or may not be accompanied by vomiting
  • Track marks from injections
  • Tolerance to the drug
  • Engagement in risky behaviors when using the drug
  • A preoccupation with buying and using the drug

Health Effects

Persistent use of Dilaudid can cause itchiness, perspiration, sedation and respiratory and cardiac depression. The CDC states that over 475,000 emergency room patients were seen in 2009 for problems stemming from the misuse or abuse of prescription pain medications.

In 2005, the Foundation for a Drug-Free World accounted for 38.2 percent of the 22,400 drug overdose deaths being due to opioid painkillers. The American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians states that prescription drug abuse is the number one cause of fatalities in 17 states across the nation.

Despite the fact that men are more likely than women to die from an overdose of prescription pain relievers, overdose of this drug class increased by 400 percent among females from 1999 to 2013, and only by 265 percent among males, per the CDC. Of course, drug abuse presents dangers to others, too, and not just the user. Prescription drugs have the ability to claim the lives of innocent bystanders, too. High Times reported on one study that accounted for 45.6 percent of all drug-related automobile fatalities stemming from prescription drugs.


man in Dilaudid addiction recoveryWhat is perhaps most troubling is the large number of addicts in need of treatment who aren’t getting it. According to the Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers of New York, an astounding 23.5 million Americans were struggling with drug or alcohol abuse in 2009 and in need of professional treatment — something only 2.6 million received. Many are without insurance and can’t afford the cost of treatment, and government-funded facilities don’t have the financial support they need to reach and treat those who go untreated.

The treatment process for an addiction to Dilaudid starts with a thorough screening of every patient. While it may seem as simple as telling the treatment facility what you’re using and then getting treatment for that addiction, it’s often not that straightforward. If mental illness is present, the addiction troubles won’t be gone for long — if at all — without treating the mental health issues, too.

The first step after that is detox. Yes, patients have to endure withdrawal, but it can be made more comfortable with medications approved for opioid addiction treatment. Methadone is likely the most well-known drug on the market for such a task, but buprenorphine is a close second and climbing the ranks in the race for the best treatment method. Suboxone — a buprenorphine and naloxone cocktail — limits the user’s ability to achieve a high from the drug, making it somewhat superior in the eyes of some physicians.

According to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, in a study of 650 prescription painkiller addicts — all of whom were treated with Suboxone for 12 weeks, half of which also received counseling — 49 percent decreased their abuse of pain relievers. The results, however, weren’t lasting as 40.4 percent increased their drug use after they stopped taking Suboxone. Nonetheless, both medications are leading the way in opioid addiction maintenance and recovery.

In addition to medicated treatment, both group and individual therapy factor into recovery treatment for a Dilaudid addiction. In recovery, you’ll visualize your new and improved self and establish relationships with others battling the same demons you are. Whether you’re seeking a 12-Step approach or something a little less traditional, we can help. At Michael’s House, you’ll be welcomed with open arms. Our compassionate staff members will see to it that you leave here whole and healthy again. Call us today to learn more.