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Hydromorphone Addiction, Side Effects, and Rehab

Hydromorphone pills in RX prescription drug bottle

Published: April 19, 2024

Hydromorphone addiction is a potentially life-threatening medical condition that can affect your physical health, mental health, relationships, and more. It occurs when someone becomes dependent on hydromorphone to get through their day-to-day life.

Thankfully, it’s possible to treat hydromorphone addiction with proper medical addiction treatment. There are countless options for rehab, and most people are able to choose the treatment services that will work best for them.

Keep scrolling to learn all there is to know about hydromorphone addiction including how it happens, side effects, treatment options, and more.

How Does Hydromorphone Lead to Addiction?

Used to treat moderate to severe pain, hydromorphone hydrochloride is an opioid analgesic (painkiller). It is also sometimes used as a cough suppressant and is a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act, which means it is highly associated with abuse and addiction.

Brand names for hydromorphone include Dilaudid and Exalgo and come in formulations including immediate-release and extended-release tablets.

Hydromorphone is an opioid like oxymorphone, oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, and codeine, and is considered two to eight times more potent than morphine. People who abuse hydromorphone may take tablets or inject the drug.

Hydromorphone, like other opioid medications, can lead to addiction because of the way it works. When you take an opioid, the drug blocks pain signals from your central nervous system (CNS) by binding to opioid receptors in your brain and spinal cord. Opioid use simultaneously releases endorphins.

Because both of these effects can be desirable feelings and affect your brain’s chemistry, you may start to psychologically or physically rely on hydromorphone. This is considered an addiction.

What’s The Difference Between Hydromorphone Abuse & Addiction?

Opioid abuse is any unprescribed use of a medication. Because hydromorphone is a prescription drug, it is possible to use it in a safe way that is not considered abuse.

However, any of the following can be classified as opioid misuse:

  • Taking hydromorphone without a prescription
  • Taking more hydrophone than prescribed
  • Taking hydromorphone more frequently than prescribed

Hydromorphone addiction, on the other hand, occurs when your brain starts to rely on the drug to function. People start to feel compelled to take a drug as if they cannot go on without it. As a disclaimer, abuse can quickly develop into addiction, so it’s vital to be aware of drug abuse.

Does Hydromorphone Misuse Cause Dependence?

Yes, hydromorphone abuse can cause physical dependence. Physical dependence occurs when your body depends on a drug to function properly. It is very dangerous and can lead to addiction as well as exacerbate it.

Hydromorphone is linked to physical dependence because of its ability to affect brain chemistry. When your body is exposed to a drug repeatedly or for an extended period of time, it starts to build up a tolerance to its effects. This requires the individual to take more of the drug to feel the same effects.

Additionally, your body will start to get used to having hydromorphone in its system and performing regular functions with it. Once you stop taking it, it can cause withdrawal symptoms.

Signs of a Hydromorphone Addiction

There are several signs and symptoms that can indicate a possible hydromorphone addiction. Knowing these signs can help you look out for a loved one or even keep yourself safe.

Signs of opioid addiction include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Social withdrawal
  • Constipation
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Euphoria
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Risky behaviors
  • Taking higher doses of hydromorphone
  • Taking hydromorphone more often than prescribed
  • Inability to stop thinking about hydromorphone

Hydromorphone Withdrawal Symptoms

Addiction and physical dependence on an opioid can cause withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking the medication.

Withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Increased pain
  • Goosebumps
  • Irritability
  • Yawning
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Depression
  • Muscle pain
  • Increased body temperature
  • Diarrhea
  • Hyperventilation
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Vomiting

Side Effects of Hydromorphone Abuse

Hydromorphone abuse is not without side effects. Short-term effects set in shortly after drug use while long-term effects may develop over extended periods of use.

Short-term effects can include:

  • Euphoria
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Relaxation
  • Pupil constriction
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Stiff muscles
  • Blurred vision
  • Respiratory depression
  • Stomach pain
  • Clammy skin
  • Dizziness
  • Pain relief
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Impairment
  • Sedation
  • Appetite suppression
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Opioid overdose
  • Death

Long-term effects can include:

  • Sleep-disordered breathing
  • Increased risk of bone fractures
  • Organ failure
  • Chronic constipation
  • Hyperalgesia
  • Increased risk of overdose
  • Memory problems
  • Mental illness

Risk Factors for Hydromorphone Addiction

Anyone who uses hydromorphone, especially those who abuse it, is at risk for developing a hydromorphone addiction. However, this risk is increased by certain factors.

General risk factors for substance addiction:

  • Mental health issues
  • Family history of substance use disorder
  • Peer pressure
  • Lack of family involvement in upbringing
  • Early exposure to addictive substances

Risk factors for hydromorphone addiction:

  • A hydromorphone prescription
  • A high-dose hydromorphone prescription
  • A long-term hydromorphone prescription
  • Easy access to hydromorphone
  • Chronic pain
  • Engaging in risky or party-seeking behavior
  • People aged in their teens or 20s

Diagnosing Hydromorphone Addiction

Diagnosing a hydromorphone addiction can only be done by a licensed healthcare professional via a medical evaluation. That being said, knowing the signs and symptoms of addiction can certainly indicate opioid use disorder (OUD) and be enough to recommend seeking professional help.

Medical evaluations are designed to analyze your behaviors and thoughts surrounding hydromorphone as well as identify any signs of addictions. You’ll be asked questions about different areas of your life with a focus on the details of how you use opioids.

Once you’re diagnosed with a substance use disorder (SUD), your doctor can begin prescribing treatment options that may be best for you.

Hydromorphone Addiction Treatment Options

Hydromorphone addiction rehab options are pretty diverse. Some treatment methods are best for certain individuals and needs, but all are very effective for anyone who has a substance abuse problem.

Opioid Detox

Many people start their recovery journey in a medical detoxification program. Detox is the process your body goes through as it processes the last of any addictive substances in your body and recovers from drug abuse.

Detoxing from an addictive drug by yourself can be very dangerous, not to mention difficult, which is why medical detox programs exist.

If you choose a detox service, your healthcare providers will be sure to help you manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings, monitor your vitals, and administer any necessary treatments or medications.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Commonly used in opioid addictions, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a highly effective treatment option.

Using U.S. Food and Drug (FDA)-approved medications like buprenorphine, methadone, and Suboxone, MAT works by reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms associated with the recovery process.

MAT is a long-term treatment for most individuals and may even be continued post-rehab program. It’s vital that MAT is provided in conjunction with other treatment methods to provide a well-rounded approach.

Opioid Rehab Programs

Rehab programs are a very common choice for addiction recovery. This is because they are specifically designed to treat addiction and encourage long-lasting recovery. There are two types: inpatient and outpatient (as well as a couple of in-between options).

Inpatient treatment is known for its high level of care, particularly round-the-clock care and supervision.

In order to provide these levels of support, patients in inpatient programs live in their treatment facility for the duration of their program. Inpatient rehab is very structured and combines several treatment options.

Outpatient treatment also offers a great level of care, especially for after completing an inpatient program or for those who cannot commit to inpatient for one reason or another. In outpatient rehab, patients travel to a treatment center several times a week.

Aftercare for Hydromorphone Recovery

Following addiction treatment, most people transition to aftercare, sometimes called continuing care. Aftercare refers to the recovery services you continue after completing a treatment program.

Aftercare looks different for every person as you’ll be able to choose the services that are most beneficial to you. The idea is to ease your transition to regular life, reduce the risk of relapse, and encourage long-term sobriety.

Some common aftercare options include:

  • Therapy sessions
  • Counseling sessions
  • Support groups
  • Sober housing
  • MAT
  • Alternative therapies

Who Can Benefit From Hydromorphone Rehab?

Anyone who has abused hydromorphone or has a hydromorphone addiction can benefit from opioid rehab. Drug addiction is very detrimental and can completely change every area of an individual’s life. 

Common benefits of hydromorphone rehab include improved health, better relationships, reduced risk of relapse and overdose, and better coping skills.

How to Prevent Relapse After Hydromorphone Rehab

To prevent relapse after hydromorphone rehab, it’s important to have a relapse prevention plan. Going back to your regular lifestyle may present challenges, stressors, and triggers that can tempt relapse. However, having a plan in place can make this a much easier process.

Relapse prevention plans are tailored to the individual and help ease the transition after a rehabilitation program.

Some relapse prevention methods include:

  • Joining a support group
  • Attending regular therapy or counseling sessions
  • Creating a support system
  • Taking up new and healthy hobbies
  • Learning healthier coping mechanisms

Your rehab program may offer relapse prevention education, while others may not. Most people discuss relapse prevention with their doctor to determine what is best.

Find Help for Yourself or a Loved One with Hydromorphone Addiction

Hydromorphone addiction is a serious condition that afflicts many Americans. While it can be very dangerous and hazardous to many areas of your life, there are many options to treat addiction.

If you or a loved one is ready to take the first step in their recovery journey, give our helpline a call today.

Hydromorphone Addiction FAQs

Can you become addicted to hydromorphone after one use?

It typically takes more than one use to become addicted to hydromorphone, though this is dependent on many factors.

Hydromorphone is a highly potent narcotic and in high amounts, can have highly addictive effects even on the first use. The amount of time it takes to develop a substance addiction varies from person to person.

Other factors include a person’s body weight, tolerance, and ability to metabolize the drug. When used illicitly, it can be difficult to gauge the dose being taken, which could lead to addiction more rapidly.

Can you cure a hydromorphone addiction?

No, you can’t cure a hydromorphone addiction, but it can be treated and managed. It’s not possible to cure a substance addiction, unfortunately, but proper treatment can help you live a life in recovery.

Are hydromorphone withdrawal symptoms dangerous?

Hydromorphone withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous. Withdrawal symptoms are typically very unpleasant, and without proper medical supervision, they can become quite dangerous.

This is why it’s not recommended to detox from a drug on your own. We strongly recommend seeking a medical detoxification program to ensure you detox in the safest environment possible

Can you quit hydromorphone without treatment?

It’s not impossible to quit hydromorphone without treatment, but it is much more difficult. Quitting hydromorphone is no easy feat, but proper treatment can make it a smoother process.

It can be very difficult to deal with withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and triggers on your own. Additionally, you may be in an environment that worsens your addiction. Rehab programs can help address all of these issues.

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