Getting High on Dilaudid: What Are the Effects and Dangers?

Last Updated: December 18, 2019

Authored by Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

Can Dilaudid, a prescribed painkiller, be taken to achieve a high? To understand how this drug works, let’s first look at the drug, its compounds, use, and effects.

What is Dilaudid?

Dilaudid (hydromorphone), is an opioid analgesic prescribed to treat medium to severe levels of pain. The drug is given to patients who have undergone surgical procedures. Dilaudid comes in the form of capsules, either instant- or timed-release. It can also be injected or taken rectally. Dilaudid has a high potential for addiction.

What is a Dilaudid high like?

A Dilaudid high is similar to an opioid high. Dilaudid, like morphine, interacts with kappa receptors but lasts for a shorter period. The effect on the brain is almost immediate. When people doing drugs, the receptors are activated, which increases the user’s tolerance to pain, resulting in a euphoric rush effect.

How is being high on Dilaudid achieved?

When a Dilaudid user alters the prescribed dose or method of dosage, such as by crushing the capsule or by mixing the drug with alcohol, this can result in a high.

Long-term side effects of Dilaudid abuse

Depending on the amount of hydromorphone (Dilaudid) taken, the drug can be habit-forming and lead to long-term side effects that may endanger one’s physical and mental condition. In general, the dangers of snorting Dilaudid can cause devastating results for a user’s health and life.
Among the long-term side effects of Dilaudid abuse are:

  • Intense cravings for the drug, both physically and mentally
  • Rashes
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Aggravated present medical conditions, especially kidney, gallbladder, liver, intestines, and pancreas problems
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Seizures

What happens during an overdose?

When a user consumes a high dose of the drug and is suspected of a Dilaudid overdose, he or she may experience the following complications:

  • Respiratory arrest (slowing or stopping breathing)
  • Fainting
  • Cold sweats
  • Coma

What to do if a person is addicted to Dilaudid?

If a person is addicted to hydromorphone (Dilaudid), immediate steps must be taken.
Depending on a user’s severity of addiction and length of usage, a detox treatment will be advised to remove the harmful toxins infused in the body.

Can a Dilaudid addiction be treated?

Addiction to Dilaudid can be treated. Depending on the level of addiction and length of usage, the person can be advised to undergo a detoxification treatment and withdrawal symptoms.

Why undergo a detox treatment?

Dilaudid users who have been diagnosed with opioid abuse are often advised to undergo a detox treatment for the following reasons:

  • Receive proper care and medical treatment in a rehab facility
  • Bring back one’s normal function in the community
  • Restore one’s self-esteem and confidence
  • Avoid life-threatening complications
  • Become drug-free

What to expect in an inpatient detox treatment?

  • The patient is admitted to a rehab facility where close monitoring is done under the supervision of a doctor and medical staff member.
  • The patient is expected to stay in the rehab facility for an average of 5 to 14 days to treat the drug addiction problem.
  • Individual therapy sessions are undergone to help the patient become free from the physical and mental addiction to Dilaudid drug.
  • Group discussions and counseling are included into the detox treatment program.
  • Personal enhancement programs are included in the program, such as physical exercise workouts, meditation and other forms of recreational activities.

How to pick a strong detox program

The treatment of Dilaudid addiction can lead to a positive outcome if the following factors are present during one-on-one meeting with a rehab facility manager:

  • The detox programs are designed to help patients achieve full recovery after completion of treatment.
  • The rehab facility only employs licensed professionals, counselors, doctors and medical staff members.
  • The facility has a solid track record of providing quality care and treatment in a safe and well-facilitated environment.
  • Proof of license or accreditation to operate the addiction treatment resources.
  • Availability of various detox and rehab programs.
  • A wide range of treatment packages to suit one’s budget.
  • Positive reviews, testimonials, and comments left by past clients are readily available.

When left untreated, the addiction could destroy the addict’s life, health, and well-being. Seeking professional help is the first step to getting the right treatment program to help achieve full recovery. Contact a specialist dealing with Dilaudid addiction and discuss all the possible options to treat the problem. Note that quitting cold turkey is very risky, so don’t try without first consulting a medical professional.

Page Sources

  1. Shram M. J. Evaluation of the abuse potential of extended release hydromorphone versus immediate release hydromorphone. Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology. 2010; 30(1): 25-33. doi: 10.1097/JCP.0b013e3181c8f088.
  2. Wightman R., Perrone J., Portelli I., Nelson L. Likeability and abuse liability of commonly prescribed opioids. Journal of Medical Toxicology. 2012; 8(4): 335–340. doi:10.1007/s13181-012-0263-x.

Published on: November 18th, 2016

Updated on: December 18th, 2019

About Author

Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

After successful graduation from Boston University, MA, Sharon gained a Master’s degree in Public Health. Since then, Sharon devoted herself entirely to the medical niche. Sharon Levy is also a certified addiction recovery coach.


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