Dilaudid is an extremely potent narcotic painkiller of the opioid class. It is a synthetic drug which is derived from morphine, but is thought to be 6-9 times stronger than morphine. Dilaudid effects are apparent in less than 15 minutes and remain in effect for more than 6 hours. Dilaudid is commonly used as an alternative to morphine, and is prescribed for individuals who suffer from moderate to severe pain such as severe burns, cancer, heart attack, soft tissue or bone injury and many other conditions that may be extremely painful. Dilaudid works as a pain reliever because it attaches to the receptors in the brain, spinal cord and gastrointestinal tract which dull pain and also react with the pleasure center of the brain which produces a feeling of euphoria. Because of these effects, the risk of both physical and psychological dependence to Dilaudid is extremely high for both legitimate and illicit users of the drug. People who have had substance abuse problems in the past or are current opiate addicts generally have a greater chance of abusing Dilaudid when it is prescribed to them. Otherwise, individuals have been known to develop a tolerance and dependence to the drug in as little as 2-3 weeks.
Like all opioid drugs, addiction to Dilaudid is extremely common, and even individuals who were first prescribed the drug for legitimate pain can find themselves hooked on Dilaudid. Just like heroin, Dilaudid users quickly develop tolerance which requires them to take higher and higher doses of it to experience the desired effects. Once this has happened, Dilaudid users will find it almost impossible to stop using the drug without experiencing painful and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. The only way to ease symptoms is to take more of the drug, and such is the viscous cycle of Dilaudid addiction. Unfortunately, Dilaudid users are constantly putting themselves at risk of an overdose, as the difference between the high they are seeking and the possibility of serious injury or death is not far apart. Even moderate doses of Dilaudid have been known to cause a fatal drug overdose.
Individuals addicted to Dilaudid or any prescription opioid will do anything to get more of the drug. One of the ways they get more Dilaudid is through what is known as "doctor-shopping", and an addict will go from doctor to doctor complaining of non-existent ailments in an attempt to get more Dilaudid. Dilaudid addiction can lead to crime, and individuals will forge prescriptions, steal other individual's prescriptions, and try and get more of the drug via the Internet. The US Department of Justice has established prescription monitoring programs in 21 states, to try and reduce the occurrence of doctor shopping, pharmacy robberies, thefts, shoplifting incidents, health care fraud incidents and prescription fraud. This monitoring program is meant to facilitate the collection, analysis, and reporting of information regarding pharmaceutical drug prescriptions. Despite these efforts, the illicit use of Dilaudid is still a serious problem.
Dilaudid is available in tablets, rectal suppositories, oral solutions, and injectable formulations. Dilaudid is in high demand by opiate addicts, and the drug is reported to commonly be abused on the illicit market. Individuals who have been "legitimately" prescribed Dilaudid commonly sell their prescriptions in order to make a quick buck. This has result in many Dilaudid as there are no written dosage instructions or drug interaction warnings for the individuals who are illicitly purchasing the drug in an attempt to get high. Dilaudid tablets can also be dissolved in liquid and then injected as a substitute for heroin or other various types of opiates. Much like heroin, when Dilaudid is injected the user feels an almost instant surge of pleasure and euphoria which can be very gratifying and extremely addictive. Injection use of Dilaudid however puts users at risk risks such as contracting HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), hepatitis B and C, and other blood-borne viruses through needle-sharing.
As described earlier, Dilaudid addiction is typically fueled by the constant need to get more of the drug to prevent going into withdrawal. Dilaudid withdrawal occurs because the individual, whether it is someone who is legitimately prescribed the drug or someone who is abusing it illicitly, develops a physical and mental dependence to the drug over time. When they stop using Dilaudid, they begin to experience the uncomfortable and painful response that the body goes through as a result. They will have strong cravings for Dilaudid, and withdrawal symptoms can be very similar to those experienced in heroin withdrawal.
The severity of Dilaudid withdrawal symptoms can vary, depending on the dosage and length of time the individual has been using the drug. Dilaudid withdrawal symptoms can peak in as little as 9 hours, but typically peaks in 14 to 21 hours after cessation of use. Symptoms typically subside with 36 to 72 hours, although individuals who have been taking high doses of Dilaudid over an extended period of time may experience painful withdrawal which can last up to two weeks. Withdrawal symptoms from Dilaudid are very distasteful, and can pre-existing or co-occurring conditions worse. It is always best to undergo Dilaudid withdrawal under medical supervision.
Dilaudid withdrawal symptoms include but are not limited to:
- Muscle pain
- Goose bumps
- Runny nose
- Dilated pupils
- Watery eyes
- Joint pain
- Abdominal cramps
- Loss of appetite
- High blood pressure
- Fast breathing
- Rapid heart rate
Individuals who take Dilaudid are sometimes unaware of the dangerous side effects they may experience as a result of use and abuse of the drug. Adverse effects of Dilaudid are similar to those of other potent narcotic pain killers, such as morphine and heroin. Dilaudid can cause respiratory depression and sometimes circulatory depression if the individual has taken a dose that they are not tolerant to, which can result in death. More common side effects include:
- Dry mouth
- Water retention/swelling in the hands or feet
- Loss of appetite
- Joint pain
- Abdominal pain
- Muscle spasms
- Weight loss
- Back pain
- Indigestion or heartburn
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle spasms
- Chest discomfort
- Dilaudid side effects which are less common but are cause for concern are:
- Lower awareness levels
- Extreme paranoia
Dilaudid overdose is also possible, especially in individuals who are abusing the drug. A Dilaudid overdose typically occurs when an individual accidentally or intentionally takes more of the drug than their body can tolerate. The euphoric effects of Dilaudid become harder and harder to achieve, as long term users can develop a tolerance to the drug, thus increasing the risk of a Dilaudid overdose. Overdose is particularly a risk for individuals who mix Dilaudid with other substances such as alcohol or other drugs or medication. This is why Dilaudid should never be combined with alcohol or other types of medications that are also central nervous system depressants, such as nighttime cold medications, sedatives and sleep aids. The most common symptoms of a Dilaudid overdose are slow or irregular breathing, bluish skin color, limp muscles, cold and clammy skin, a slow pulse rate, extreme drowsiness, low blood pressure, and cardiac arrest. At the slightest indication of a Dilaudid overdose, the individual should be given immediate emergency medical attention, as risk of death is extremely high.
Unfortunately, abuse of Dilaudid and other prescription drugs is becoming more and more of a problem. As of 2005, an estimated 33 million Americans had used pain relievers such as Dilaudid non-medically in their lifetimes. Unintentional deaths as a result misuse of prescription narcotics such as Dilaudid increased 114% from 2001 to 2005. This is a widespread problem, with many players involved, as the sale of prescription narcotics in the U.S. is a $10 billion dollar per year market. There is a lot of money to be made, which has led to the demise of countless vulnerable individuals who don't realize how much destruction Dilaudid abuse can cause in their lives.
Don't get caught up in the destructive cycle of Dilaudid addiction. If you need help, or know someone who does, there are effective drug rehab programs which treat Dilaudid addiction and help individuals overcome it every day. Being addicted to opiates or pharmaceutical semi-synthetic opioids such as Dilaudid is no way to live. Get the help you need today by contacting a drug treatment counselor in your area to get off of Dilaudid and get your life back.
Individuals who have been dependent to or addicted to Dilaudid can get help, and many drug detox facilities and drug rehab programs have successfully helped individuals who wanted to get off of the drug. There are a variety of drug rehab programs designed to treat opiate addiction, and most programs will begin with a medically supervised detox to help individuals get Dilaudid out of the system and help ease withdrawal symptoms. After detox, it is recommended that individuals remain in a drug rehab for at least 90 days to address all issues which may have caused their addiction to Dilaudid. The longer an individual remains in treatment, the better the outcome. While it won't be easy, individuals who want to get off of Dilaudid can receive effective treatment and become fully rehabilitated.