Dilaudid Withdrawal: Symptoms, Duration, and Treatment

Last Updated: December 18, 2019

Authored by Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

Anyone who has been prescribed Dilaudid for medical purposes can, over the course of only two or three weeks, become addicted to the drug.
People who have been dependent on this drug may experience intense cravings, which makes it hard for them to live a normal life without its intake. Withdrawal from Dilaudid can cause harmful side effects like vomiting and difficulty of breathing.
Withdrawal from Dilaudid should be completed under the supervision of a doctor, since complications from withdrawal symptoms may arise if the user decides to quit the medication.

Withdrawal Symptoms Of Dilaudid

Dilaudid withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Unexplained body cramps and tremors
  • Intense cravings for the drug
  • Abnormal sweating
  • Feeling of anxiety
  • Feeling of restlessness
  • Agitated
  • Low blood pressure

Withdrawal Duration

The duration of Dilaudid withdrawal will vary from person to person and depends on the severity of the addiction problem.
The longer that a person has been dependent on the drug, the longer his or her withdrawal timeline would be.

Dilaudid Withdrawal Timeline

The Dilaudid withdrawal timeline will begin within 14 hours after the last dose, and will be most severe for the first 3 or 4 days. Between days 5 and 14, symptoms will slowly subside, though symptoms like insomnia, depression, anxiety, and mood swings may set in.

Treatments For Dilaudid Addiction Problem


Individuals who have more severe addiction problems are advised to undergo detox in inpatient programs, and may require medication such as:
Clonidine is a commonly prescribed drug for treating withdrawal symptoms of anxiety, muscle pain, sweating, and cramps.
Buprenorphine is prescribed to lessen cravings.
Over-the-counter medications
Over-the-counter (OTC) medications are prescribed to treat common, less severe symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

The user is given medication to remain calm, while a doctor administers anesthesia and gives the patient a drug to prevent Dilaudid side effects. This clinical procedure aims to speed up the withdrawal cycle.

Inpatient Rehab Treatment

Another recommended treatment is the inpatient rehab program where patients are required to follow strictly a daily routine where treatments are designed to address the addiction problem and bring transformation to the patient’s formed habits, attitudes and overall behavior towards the road of sobriety.
Below are some of the procedures that a Dilaudid user under the inpatient rehab program will undergo:

  • Initially, the admitted patient will have to undergo detox under the supervision of a doctor.
  • The patient is monitored closely by a specialist or medical staff to help manage withdrawal symptoms and complications.
  • Patients with severe cases of Dilaudid addiction are prescribed replacement medications to lessen the withdrawal symptoms.
  • The inpatient treatment phase will, on average, cover 21 days of confinement in the rehab facility or more depending on the patient’s reaction to the treatment programs.
  • The next phase of the rehab treatment will involve a one-on-one discussion, between a specialist and the patient. Treatment may consist of therapy sessions, group discussions, and private counseling sessions.
  • Other extended services are also applied to help patients manage stress, such as yoga classes, meditation, and art therapy.

Avoiding a Dilaudid Relapse

A relapse can be avoided in a few ways: don’t skip the prescribed medication, find ways to manage stress, and maintain a closer relationship with loved ones. Treating drug addiction is a lifelong journey, and requires a strong commitment from the addict.
These methods will help prevent unnecessary difficulties:
• Don’t skip the prescribed medication
Strict compliance with a medication and treatment regimen is essential for patients looking to achieve and maintain sobriety.
• Find ways to manage stress
Changing one’s lifestyle to be exposed to fewer stressors or triggers will help them to stay sober. Activities such as yoga, meditation, and art therapy are recommended.
• Maintain a closer relationship with loved ones

Page Sources

  1. The US Food and Drug Administration. DILAUDID® ORAL LIQUID and DILAUDID® TABLETS (hydromorphone hydrochloride). https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2007/019892s015lbl.pdf
  2. McMunnigall F., Welsh J. Opioid withdrawal syndrome on switching from hydromorphone to alfentanil. Palliative Medicine. 2008; 22(2):191-2. doi: 10.1177/0269216307085391. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18372384

Published on: November 30th, 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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