An individual’s withdrawal experience will vary greatly depending on a number of factors, including how long the person has been using Dilaudid, how much they have been regularly been taking the drug, and their liver and kidney health.

Dilaudid Specifics

Dilaudid (a brand name quick-release version of hydromorphone) is an opioid analgesic (painkilling) drug derived from morphine.

This is a highly potent medication. It is considered a “last resort” for moderate to severe pain conditions, as it is more than four times as strong as morphine.

It is also a commonly abused drug, often bought on the illicit drug market, where it is referred to as D, smack, and footballs.

Abuse And Dependency

Along with other opioids, legal and illegal use of Dilaudid has risen very significantly in the past 10 years. The estimated number of hydromorphone-related hospital visits increased by 161 percent between 2006 and 2010.

Whether an individual begins using Dilaudid as a prescribed medication for pain or recreationally, there is a high risk of dependency and abuse.

Like all opioids, Dilaudid is highly addictive and habit-forming. Users quickly develop a tolerance to the drug and may need higher doses to get the desired effect. Those prescribed Dilaudid may resort to doctor shopping to obtain more prescriptions of it to use. Users who buy the drug on the street may find themselves in a desperate situation as they struggle to get more of it.

No one wants to be dependent on a substance, especially not one as powerful as Dilaudid. But once addicted, the urge for the drug can become overpowering.

Understanding Dependence

Opioids are extremely addictive, and Dilaudid is a very potent opioid.

Opioids affect the brainstem to slow breathing and heartbeat function. They also act on parts of the brain (called the limbic system) that control emotion to create feelings of pleasure and relaxation. They reduce pain by affecting the spinal cord, which is responsible for communication between the body and brain.

These effects result in a calm and relaxed feeling in which a user can easily become psychologically dependent. As users become accustomed to the sedative-like effects of their opioids, they may feel less and less like dealing with everyday stresses and daily life, choosing instead to escape to the numbing effects of the painkiller.

Users become severely dependent on Dilaudid. Long-term or repeated use can alter the way nerve receptors operate in the brain. These receptors begin to rely on the drug to function and become highly agitated in the absence of the drug.

Users also develop a tolerance to Dilaudid and will begin to need more and more to get their desired effect. This increases the risk of overdose.

It is extremely dangerous to combine Dilaudid with other substances that have a depressant effect on heart rate and respiratory systems, such as alcohol and barbiturates.

Dilaudid Withdrawal: The Physical Symptoms

While the intensity of withdrawal will depend on the user and their level of dependency, symptoms generally start within 24 hours.

  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Anxiety
  • Cravings for the drug
  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Insomnia and restlessness
  • Clammy skin and sweating
  • Fatigue and yawning
  • Depression

More intense withdrawal symptoms begin after the first 24 hours.

How Long Does Dilaudid Withdrawal Take?

Withdrawal symptoms usually become noticeably more bearable after three days or so. After a week, most users experience relief from many of the worst withdrawal effects.

What Options Are Available To Treat Opioid Withdrawal?

Opioid withdrawal symptoms can be extremely unpleasant and put an individual in tremendous physical stress to overcome psychological addiction.  Many medical professionals advise users to participate in medical detox to help manage withdrawal symptoms.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a common option for helping users to successfully get through withdrawal for a serious dependency on an opioid-like Dilaudid.

Clonidine is a drug used to diminish withdrawal symptoms effectively. Classified as a “centrally acting alpha-agonist hypotensive agent,” Clonidine slows heart rate and relaxes blood vessels. It is generally used for inpatient opioid withdrawal, as it may require medical supervision during withdrawal. It can help to reduce intense withdrawal symptoms by up to 75 percent, and it is helpful in easing withdrawal difficulties like sweating, anxiety, and muscle aches.

Suboxone is a mix of an opioid blocker (naloxone) and milder opioid buprenorphine. The naloxone works as a deterrent to abuse, and the buprenorphine prevents or lessens withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

Withdrawal At Home Vs. Medical Detox

While a user may be able to successfully detox from Dilaudid without entering a treatment center, they should consult with a medical professional to prepare for the process. The options suggested will depend on their abuse history with the drug. Even if withdrawal is mild, MAT may be advised to make symptoms less severe.

For most individuals dependent on Dilaudid, medical detox is recommended to prevent relapse during withdrawal. A user may be extremely tempted to return to using as they endure painful withdrawal symptoms at home. In a residential treatment environment, they’re less likely to do so, and well-trained staff members are skilled at helping them succeed.

A residential program will ensure the user does not have to worry about their everyday life or stresses as they detox. They can focus only on recovery.

Individuals will have the medical attention and resources needed to ensure success throughout the entire process. Medical professionals will be able to make the experience as comfortable as possible and make sure that any medication is being administered as directed.

After Detox

The withdrawal process is tough, and successfully enduring it is a major milestone on the path to recovery.

Detox is just the first step in a long and uncertain journey. Even after undergoing this challenging process, many individuals return to using opioids.

This is why treatment is so important after the initial withdrawal from Dilaudid. People need to learn coping skills so that they can re-enter their life and deal with the stresses without turning to Dilaudid.

This is especially hard for many who are recovering from drug dependency and addiction. Feelings of shame and regret, and the pressures of now “making it” without the help of substances can feel overwhelming.

Counseling is beneficial to individuals struggling with drug recovery. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help to identify emotional triggers as well as develop new, positive behavioral and thought patterns. Group therapy can also be helpful, encouraging accountability as well as a sense of community and non-drug-related friendships.

The Bottom Line

Dilaudid withdrawal is uncomfortable and even painful, especially for the first 72 hours. Some medications, especially those usually administered in a treatment setting, can greatly reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Continued treatment is required to avoid relapse.

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