Dilaudid is the trade name for the opioid drug hydromorphone, which is very similar to morphine both in chemical structure and in its effects. As an opioid, it easily attaches to the opioid receptors in the brain. These receptors control neurotransmitters like endorphins that have a powerful effect on the brain. Because it alters brain chemistry in this way, users can become chemically dependent on the chemical when it’s abused or taken beyond what is directed. Dilaudid has a high addiction potential, with both psychological and physical effects.
It is a hydrogenated ketone of morphine, which means that it is made by adding hydrogen to morphine. The result makes it more soluble in water than other opioids and, because of this, it takes less water to create a solution, which means that it is more potent in smaller amounts.
It’s used in medical settings for pain and stress relief, especially in postoperative scenarios. However, it is used for euphoric effects recreationally. Because it’s highly hydrophilic and water soluble, it can be more powerful in small amounts than heroin. The effective threshold for Dilaudid is only 0.5 to 1 mg, while heroin is effective at 5 to 7.5 mg. Highly tolerant users can take as much as 35 mg, but just 4 mg would be a strong dose of Dilaudid. If a recreational user takes a dose thinking that it’s heroin, Dilaudid can cause a life-threatening overdose.
If you become dependent on the drug, you may experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms before breaking your brain’s reliance on the chemical.
Dilaudid withdrawal symptoms can range from mildly uncomfortable to very painful. Symptoms typically follow patterns similar to other opioids, but they may be felt on a timeline unique to Dilaudid’s specific properties. Usually, opioids start with symptoms that resemble the common cold, causing fatigue and runny nose. As withdrawal gets closer to its peak, symptoms will grow in intensity. Between cold and flu-like symptoms, you may also experience a range of psychological symptoms. Depression and anxiety can be caused by your brain’s struggle to return to a healthy balance after substance use is discontinued.
It’s also important to note that withdrawal symptoms may be different if the drug was acquired illegally. Opioids obtained through black market sources can be cut with other substances including benzodiazepines or other opioids.
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Through these symptoms, it’s common to feel strong drug cravings and an urge to continue using. Because of this combination, it’s difficult to quit opioid use without help. Uncomfortable symptoms and cravings often lead to drug seeking behavior and relapse with no treatment or supervision.
Opioids like Dilaudid can have wide-ranging withdrawal timelines because of several different factors. The length of time you took the drug, the average dose your body became used to, and the size of your last dose can all affect the timeline on which you feel symptoms. The presence of adulterants, other opioids, and any drugs in the Dilaudid you were taking can also change your symptoms and how long they last.
Dilaudid has a relatively short biological half-life, which means that your body processes it within a few hours. This contributes to a quicker onset of withdrawal symptoms when compared to opioids with a longer half-life. Again, depending on other variables, you may begin to experience nausea, gastrointestinal issues, fever, and chills within four to eight hours after your last dose. As you get farther from your last hit, your symptoms will continue to grow in intensity until they peak around 12 and 48 hours into the withdrawal.
Peak symptoms can manifest as flu-like symptoms, insomnia, decreased appetite, headaches, muscle spasms, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. Relapse potential is also at its highest during peak symptoms. While opioid withdrawal isn’t ordinarily dangerous, it can be hard to get through without using again without help.
Between 48 and 70 hours, symptoms will begin to weaken in intensity, as your brain and body gradually return to normal. Some symptoms may persist for a few more days. Most symptoms typically clear up by the second week. However, some can continue for years without treatment, especially emotional symptoms like depression.
Like other opioid withdrawal symptoms, Dilaudid doesn’t usually produce life-threatening effects. However, opioid withdrawal symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable and even painful. While your brain struggles to return to a balanced brain chemistry, you may experience a range of emotional and physical effects. Depression and thoughts of suicide can pose a risk to someone who’s going through withdrawal alone. Other symptoms, like confusion and memory loss, can cause complications if you are out on your own.
In a detox program, medical professionals can help ease both physical and emotional symptoms. Withdrawals can be very painful, but the goal of detox is to maximize comfort and safeguard your sobriety. Plus, you will have 24 hours of care and accountability at a detox center, which will help you maintain sobriety, even during moments of intense cravings.
A medical detox center will first assess your physical health and addiction. Upon this initial assessment, a detox plan will be developed and implemented to help you gradually come off of the opioid in a more comfortable environment.
Various detox medications will be prescribed, which may include Suboxone. Suboxone acts as an opioid replacement, used a tapering method. The dosage of the drug is gradually decreased throughout your detox treatment, making the symptoms of withdrawal far less severe.Your vitals will also be constantly monitored. While the actual opioid withdrawals themselves may not be dangerous or life-threatening, many times, people with pre-existing conditions experience negative health effects from the withdrawals exacerbating these pre-existing conditions. With the consistent medical monitoring, you can rest assured that you will be safe throughout your detox.
Many medical detoxes also provide therapeutic support to help combat the mental and emotional symptoms of withdrawal too. As mentioned earlier, Dilaudid withdrawal may increase anxiety, depression, and thoughts of suicide among its users. Therapy sessions are available and provided to clients throughout detox, which helps combat these symptoms and begin to lay the groundwork for the continuation of addiction treatment. Once successfully detoxed off of dilaudid, it’s on to the next treatment step!
Detox will help remove the Dilaudid chemicals from your system and break physical dependence. However, addiction is a chronic disease that affects your brain in long-lasting ways. Your reward center has been rewired to crave opioids, and you may experience a strong pull to use again in the future. Effective, long-term recovery requires treatment that is tailored to you and helps you to learn how to deal with future cravings and triggers. Your medical detox program should also have a clinician on staff that can help you find the best treatment program for your specific needs.