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Dilaudid vs. Morphine: The Differences (Which is Stronger?)

With the various number of pain medicines around, it’s not always easy to know which one works better than others or which ones are stronger than others. This article will discuss two popular pain medications: Dilaudid and morphine. We’ll look at the differences of each, including which medication is stronger.

What Is Dilaudid?

Dilaudid, generically known as hydromorphone, is an opioid pain reliever that’s similar to other painkillers like oxycodone, fentanyl, and morphine.   When taken, it affects the brain’s pain receptors in such a way that your body won’t feel as much pain. Basically, it increases the amount of pain your body can tolerate and decreases your perception of the pain.

Dilaudid is a Schedule II controlled substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), meaning it is illegal to consume without a prescription.  It has a high potential for abuse, as it causes a boost of dopamine in the brain that can cause a euphoric feeling. The other brand names for Dilaudid are Palladone, Exalgo, and Dilaudid-hp. On the street, this drug may be called M-80x, D’s, Big D, or Dillies.

What is Morphine?

Morphine is also a Schedule II opioid pain reliever that treats moderate to severe pain. It works by modifying the way the brain perceives pain. You can be prescribed morphine in a short-acting form, which is helpful for those who need it “as needed.” There are also extended-release forms for those who struggle with chronic pain. Street names for morphine include Miss Emma, white lady, morpho, dreamer, and more.

Dilaudid vs. Morphine: The Similarities

Both Dilaudid and morphine are opioids. The similarities include:

  • Both are strong, narcotic pain relievers
  • Both have similar side effects that include sleepiness, constipation, vomiting, and itching
  • You can become dependent on or addicted to both
  • Both can produce similar withdrawal symptoms that include flu-like symptoms such as body aches, runny nose, diarrhea, teary eyes, chills and sweats, and dilated pupils.
  • You can overdose on both drugs
  • Both need a prescription from a physician

Dilaudid vs. Morphine: The Differences

There are also some differences between Dilaudid and morphine, such as:

  • Dilaudid may cause additional side effects that include sweating, flushing, and feeling lightheaded
  • Morphine can cause additional side effects that include headache, reduced blood pressure, heart rate, and difficulty urinating.
  • Dilaudid is more potent

Dilaudid Vs. Morphine: Which is Stronger?

According to a journal article in Hindawi, Dilaudid is known to be between five to eight times stronger than morphine. However, it’s shorter acting than morphine and produces more sedation.

Dilaudid Vs. Morphine Dosage

Dilaudid can be in the form of pills, injection, or taken rectally via suppositories. Dilaudid also comes in immediate release pills where you’re likely to be prescribed to take 2 to 4 mg every four to six hours as needed.  For those who are being monitored by a physician, for extreme pain, the dosage may be able to be increased to 8 mg, but only under your doctor’s recommendation.

There are also extended-release pills that may be prescribed usually once a day, and injections that may be given by medical professionals (such as in a hospital) as needed.

Morphine can be in the form of a tablet, liquid, and also an extended-release pill. Sometimes, it is injected by a physician, and the dosage will depend on body weight. Those taking it orally are usually directed to take it every three to six hours.  For those taking a tablet, they’re usually directed to take it every four to six hours. If it’s an extended-release pill, usually it’s taken once a day.

Signs Of Dilaudid Or Morphine Addiction

There are various symptoms or signs of addiction to either Dilaudid or morphine.  If you or a loved one is displaying some of the following signs, it’s best to seek help from an addiction specialist at a residential or outpatient treatment center. The first step will be to detox from the medication and then continue with treatment under the care of an addiction specialist.

Signs of opioid addiction include:

  • An increased tolerance, meaning you need more to get the desired effect
  • Intense cravings for more of the drug
  • Mentally obsessing about using the drug
  • Lying about your usage
  • Lying to doctors to get more of the drug
  • Buying the drug on the streets illegally
  • Losing things you used to value, like your job, relationship, money, etc. due to your usage
  • Isolating from people, wanting to be alone
  • Forging a prescription to get more of the drug
  • “Doctor shopping,” meaning you shop around for drug prescriptions from different doctors, so no one catches on to what you’re doing

Opioid Overdose: The Dangers

Overdosing on opioids like Dilaudid or morphine is a very real threat.  In fact, many people have overdosed and died because of an opioid overdose. One statistic from 2016 relays more than 42,000 Americans died as a result of an opioid overdose.  This is one reason health officials have deemed an “opioid addiction epidemic.”

One usually overdoses by taking too much of the drug. This can happen more easily if you are taking a certain dosage and increase that dosage because you aren’t getting pain relief or you want more of the “high.” Either way, beware of this danger, as it can be fatal.

Overdose symptoms include:

  • Slower breathing
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Vomiting
  • Constricted pupils
  • Bluish lips
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Slipping into unconsciousness
  • Confusion
  • Twitching of muscles
  • Clammy skin

Also, you should never mix alcohol or other drugs with Dilaudid or morphine, as this is very dangerous.  Depressants like alcohol or benzodiazepines are especially hazardous because they depress the central nervous system, so it’s like a double whammy, causing the breath to become dangerously slow. It can also cause a coma or death.

Opioid Addiction? Reach Out For Help Today

If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction to Dilaudid or morphine, it is imperative to reach out for help today. There are effective treatment methods that can help you get off these pain medications and get your life back.  There are also alternative pain-reduction methods that you can try if severe or chronic pain is an issue for you.

Be advised that trying to stop abruptly taking an opioid or going cold turkey is dangerous. It’s crucial that you are monitored by an addiction specialist or physician to wean or taper off whatever pain medication you’re using. This eases the withdrawal symptoms, so they are not life-threatening. 

Please give us a call or chat with us online right now. We’re here to answer any questions you may have and direct you to the best treatment option for you. Trust that you do not have to stay stuck in the prison of addiction any longer. It’s time for freedom.


Mayo Clinic. (2010, April 1) Hydromorphone (Oral Route). Retrieved from

Hindawi Journal. Morphine versus Hydromorphone: Does Choice of Opioid Influence Outcomes? Retrieved from

Web MD. Dilaudid. Retrieved from

U.S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. Opioid Overdose. Retrieved from

Medline Plus. Morphine. Retrieved from

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