Dilaudid is a prescription narcotic drug that is used to treat severe levels of pain, such as post-surgical pain or kidney stones. Also known by its generic name hydromorphone, this potent drug is commonly abused. There were 3.9 million prescriptions filled for hydromorphone in 2012, per the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Methods of Abuse
Dilaudid can be injected as a liquid or consumed orally via a tablet or capsule; however, the liquid form of the drug is somewhat more difficult to attain on the street. For this reason, people who aim to inject this drug will often dissolve the powder from crushed tablets or capsules into a liquid solution to prepare it for injecting. Others abuse this drug by crushing the oral forms of it and snorting the resulting powder substance.
Is Dilaudid Addictive?
Dilaudid is as addictive as it is effective. Tolerance to the drug can happen within a matter of days if it is used habitually. In addition, the effects it has on the mind and body should not be underestimated. Dilaudid is strong enough to cause severe damage to the brain and other organ systems. Habitual use may lead to the death of dopamine receptors located in the brain. When an individual doesn’t have enough dopamine receptors, they cannot properly pick up on the presence of the chemical in their body. Thus, no matter how much dopamine they make, they won’t be able to fully experience the impact of the feel-good chemical. This leaves many who abuse Dilaudid with lasting bouts of depression.
Furthermore, chemical operations that are required for opioid receptors to do their job often begin to fail when the drug is no longer being used. In many cases, this condition is a side effect of post-acute withdrawal syndrome, which causes withdrawal symptoms and mood ability to persist for months or years after cessation of use. This is just one of many forms of depression that co-occur in people who engage in substance abuse.
The Dangers of Snorting
Snorting this drug often produces telltale signs like bloodshot eyes and nosebleeds. The risk of overdose is heightened when snorting Dilaudid, because there is no way to control for how much of a substance is snorted or absorbed through the mucosal lining of the nasal cavity. Typically, a small amount of it is absorbed, and the rest is swallowed. It may sit in the stomach for some time, especially if the individual has recently eaten, before it is absorbed into the bloodstream. Thus, there is the potential for overdose after the initial high from the amount that was absorbed through the nasal cavity wears off if someone uses again before the body has eliminated the Dilaudid that is in the stomach.
In 2010, there were 38,329 overdose-related deaths in America, and opioid pain relievers like Dilaudid accounted for 44 percent of them, per NPR.
When Help Is Needed
When a loved one is deep in the trenches of an addiction to Dilaudid, it can be difficult to reason with them or get them to truly understand the concern their friends and family bear. Sometimes, talking to them won’t lead to any productive movement on the issue. In these cases, interventionists can be employed to assist family members in getting their loved ones into treatment.
Signs of Dilaudid addiction include:
- Extreme fatigue
- Bailing on family obligations or leisure time with friends to stay home and get high
- Poor appetite
- Legal problems stemming from drug abuse
- Depression or anxiety
- Paranoid behavior
- Poor grooming
- Irritable mood
- Needing to borrow money to pay bills
- Lying about how much Dilaudid they’re using if they have a prescription
- Engaging in dangerous activities while under the influence
- Complaining that a prescribed amount of Dilaudid isn’t working to treat their pain
A common treatment for an addiction to Dilaudid involves opioid maintenance therapies using medications that allow users to slowly wean off opiates over the course of a year or longer.Individuals who use these treatment programs for shorter periods of time do have a better shot at success than those who use nothing, but the longer people are in opioid maintenance therapy plans, the longer they appear to stay clean.
Medication should always be used in conjunction with comprehensive addiction therapy. Individual and group therapy will address the underlying reasons that led to substance abuse and help clients to device coping mechanisms so they don’t succumb to temptation and triggers to use in the future.