Dilaudid abuse and addiction are significant problems and have only contributed to the severity of the opioid crisis. This drug is highly addictive, and recovery usually requires a person to undergo detox and rehab. Because it is such a potent opioid drug, getting off it can be difficult and result in withdrawal symptoms that are hard to manage.
At Northpoint Washington, our substance abuse treatment program helps people struggling to stop using drugs and alcohol. With evidence-based and holistic therapies, our team can help you regain control. Get started today by calling 425.437.3298.
What Is Dilaudid?
Dilaudid is a brand-name medication used to treat acute and chronic pain. It’s often prescribed to help patients manage the side effects of an ongoing illness or as a recovery aid after surgery. Pain relief is usually the main goal of taking Dilaudid.
The product’s main ingredient is hydromorphone, an opioid chemical. Like many opioids, this chemical derives from morphine and has similar effects.
The two drugs are so similar that “morphine” is often used as a shorthand term for hydromorphone. When a doctor talks about administering a “morphine drip” to a patient, this often means they’re giving the patient hydromorphone.
Besides Dilaudid, hydromorphone is included in several other brand-name medications. All of these products have similar effects. These products include:
- Hydromorph Contin
Although it’s proven to have many medical benefits, it’s also frequently abused by both recreational users and prescription misusers. Its sedative and muscle-relaxing qualities make the drug a very real target of abuse. Additionally, opioids like Dilaudid are also highly addictive, making it hard for users to break free from their grasp. These qualities make it a popular street drug.
A Brief History of the Opioid Epidemic
When we talk about the opiate problem in America, we tend to hear the same drugs discussed over and over. Heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone, methadone, and others take the spotlight.
This is for a good reason, too—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 53,000 opioid overdose deaths in 2016. Heroin caused 40% of these deaths.
In recent years, one of the most dramatic rises in opioid overdose deaths is fentanyl, an opioid 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine.
This compound is a prescription medication like hydromorphone. But much of the fentanyl on the streets is produced illicitly in illegal manufacturing facilities. Plus, fentanyl and fentanyl-like substances have been found in everything from cocaine and heroin to street Xanax and methamphetamine.
In fact, among the 72 thousand fatal drug overdoses estimated in 2017, an astounding 29,406 involved fentanyl. The next highest death count (belonging to heroin) claimed about 16,000, around half as many. The rising abuse of fentanyl marks a deadly new phase in the opioid epidemic. And one that lawmakers, health officials, and an increasingly concerned public are scrambling to control.
How Dangerous Is Hydromorphone?
What about Dilaudid overdoses? Why is there less discussion about the risks and side effects of this drug?
Here are some facts and statistics to think about:
- It’s a semi-synthetic opioid agonist. This makes it closely related to hydrocodone (Vicodin) and oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet).
- This class of opioids is responsible for more than 35% of all overdose deaths each year.
- The DEA reports that around 14,000 people died from overdosing on this drug in 2008.
- The drug is a massive problem in Canada, as well. The Office for the Chief Coroner for Ontario calls it the second-most deadly drug used in the province. In 2015, nearly 120 Ontario residents died of a hydromorphone overdose.
- It’s so deadly in high doses that states have used it in the lethal injection process. Ohio, Arizona, and Missouri have all used hydromorphone to execute convicted criminals.
- This drug sends a lot of people to the emergency room. Research conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows that, between 2004 and 2011, nearly 19,000 people reported to the ER after overdosing on it.
These statistics show that it is as big of a threat as its counterparts. The risks, side effects, and overdose rates of this drug are something people should worry about.
How Does Dilaudid Affect the Brain?
Dilaudid is so addictive because of the way it affects the human brain. It impacts the brain in such a way that it’s easy to see why so many people abuse it and become chemically dependent on it.
The effects of opioids on the brain are drastic. They’re so intense that they can (and do) cause someone’s entire thought process and outlook on life to change over time. But how do these drugs work? How can they be so enjoyable that someone would risk their life abusing these substances?
Drugs like hydromorphone inhibit the ability to feel pain. They essentially block the pain signals from getting into peoples’ brains. Normally, these signals would let them know that a part of their body is hurting and that they’re potentially in danger. But, when they have opioids in their system, the receptors to receive those signals are dulled.
At the same time, these drugs trigger the release of endorphins. As you may know, endorphins are chemicals that can make people feel very happy. The body produces endorphins to remind them that if an activity makes someone feel good, they should do it all the time.
For example, one of the reasons why people remember to eat every day is that the body craves the endorphin rush it gets from eating. It’s a survival mechanism that the human body has developed over time to help stay alive. The problem arises when the endorphin “reward system” is based around something dangerous like opioids.
Dilaudid Addiction Is Born Out of Cravings
Like all opioids, someone develops an addiction by feeding their cravings. These cravings occur because, as the medication’s effects wear off, the body craves more.
Without the drug in the body system, negative side effects become stressors. In other words, they are environmental factors that make people want to use the drug again. The brain, after all, has taken note of the fact that hydromorphone makes it happy. It understands the drug as something that inhibits the ability to feel pain.
When people feed those cravings, they’ll likely become chemically dependent on the drug. Even if they’re taking it as part of a prescription, they may abuse or misuse it.
Hydromorphone Abuse and Misuse
When it comes to prescription drugs like Dilaudid, sometimes it can be hard to understand what constitutes abuse since this drug is technically legal. After all, if you have a legitimate prescription for it, isn’t it fine to take it?
That’s why it’s important to understand what constitutes proper use of a prescription drug like Dilaudid and what behaviors qualify as abuse. Not only will it help patients get the intended effect out of this medication, but it will also help prevent the development of a serious addiction.
Behaviors that signal Dilaudid abuse are:
- Overusing – Prescription opioids come with a recommended dosage for a reason. Patients who take more than the advised dose can increase their tolerance and become chemically dependent on the drug.
- Using someone else’s meds – No one should take another person’s medication, whether it’s purchased, stolen, or borrowed. Even patients in pain should only use meds with a doctor’s permission.
- Non-medical use – Taking opioids for fun is always considered drug abuse. Even if the individual was prescribed them, using prescription painkillers for fun is considered misuse.
- Unprescribed methods of consumption – Prescription drugs are intended to be taken in a particular form. A doctor will prescribe pills, injections, or suppositories based on the patient’s needs. If someone snorts, shoots up, or plugs the drug without a doctor’s permission, they are abusing it.
- Mixing with other drugs – Consuming hydromorphone and another drug at the same time (without the authorization of a doctor) is considered drug abuse. Mixing Dilaudid with alcohol, benzos, or other downers is unsafe. Because these drugs also depress the central nervous system, the mixture can produce a deadly interaction. The two substances will combine to slow the user’s system down. The consequences can be fatal.
How Addictive Is Dilaudid?
Opioid pain medications are incredibly addictive. They set the stage for the opioid epidemic by causing countless pain patients to become physically dependent on them.
Part of what makes prescription opioids is, of course, the euphoria associated with them. The brain and the body start to crave the dopamine rush associated with using. And eventually, people find themselves unable to stop themselves from using again.
Additionally, opioids also have a particularly uncomfortable withdrawal syndrome, making it especially hard to quit once the body’s already physically dependent.
Finally, opioids like Dilaudid have been shown to create physical dependency quickly. In fact, studies have shown that tolerance, one of the main factors of physical dependency, can develop within just a few hours of taking high doses.
Dilaudid Overdose Symptoms
There are a few vital overdose signs to keep an eye out for. If you or another person experiences any of the following symptoms while using hydromorphone, seek medical help immediately:
- Stopped breathing
- Slowed breathing
- Stopped heartbeat
- Slowed heartbeat
- Weak muscles
- Cold or damp skin
- Dilating pupils
Dilaudid overdoses can be treated with an opioid antidote called naloxone. This chemical is sold under the trade names Narcan and Evisio. Narcan is a nasal spray product that reverses an overdose’s effects. Evisio works similarly but is injected into the thigh.
These drugs can save lives. However, they must be administered within a specific timeframe. The exact time frame depends on several factors, such as the amount of hydromorphone consumed and the user’s BMI.
What to Do During an Overdose
It is crucial that you contact an ambulance as soon as possible if you or someone else overdoses. Calling for help could mean the difference between life and death.
That means no hesitating, no second-guessing, and no simply “hoping for the best.” Saving the life of an opioid overdose victim requires action, and that means now. If you spot the signs of a Dilaudid overdose, call 911 immediately.
If you do have to leave the side of the person overdosing—even for less than a minute to call emergency services—it’s critical that you put the victim in what’s known as the “recovery position.” This position helps to reduce the likelihood of complications like choking or vomiting.
Detoxing in a Dilaudid Addiction Treatment Center
Most professional rehab facilities offer Dilaudid detox services. These services allow people to detoxify from hydromorphone in a safe, drug-free environment.
In a treatment center, they will go through withdrawal symptoms under the supervision of medical professionals. These professionals will ensure that the process goes as safely and smoothly as possible. Doctors will administer any medications necessary to ease pain or help the process move faster.
They’ll also work to ensure the person stays hydrated throughout the process. This is a key factor in a successful detox.
Sometimes, the doctor may determine the person’s best option is “tapering.” This means that the doctor will give them smaller and smaller doses of the drug for a period of time until they’re ready to come off entirely. Tapering off of opioids can be the best method for those who suffer from chronic pain as they can have a higher risk of relapse.
Types of Treatments in Dilaudid Rehabilitation
Rewiring the brain of someone addicted to drugs is no small feat. After all, addiction has been proven to lead to real-life observable changes in the physical structure of the brain. Brain imaging studies from people addicted to drugs show physical changes in areas of the brain that are critical for judgment, decision-making, learning, memory, and behavior control.
In general, there are three types of treatments that rehabilitation centers employ: one-on-one counseling, group talk sessions, and behavioral therapies.
While there are countless factors also at play, one of the most common reasons for substance abuse is self-medication. Whether it’s chronic pain, depression, anxiety, or intrusive memories, many people take these medications to reduce the negative symptoms of underlying diseases.
One-on-one counseling attempts to get to the heart of an individual’s substance use problem by identifying underlying conditions like emotional trauma. It can also give patients a new perspective on their problems that they may not have considered before.
Individual counseling can also help identify co-occurring disorders like depression and anxiety or even schizophrenia and OCD. And that can make treating their addiction dramatically more effective.
Group Talk Sessions
Similar in structure to the typical 12-step meeting, many programs also use group talk sessions to help move patients along their path to recovery. During these sessions, patients typically go around the circle and share their personal experiences related to addiction, sobriety, and recovery.
Patients in these groups develop a sense of companionship due to group talk sessions. And as that companionship grows, the support network of each patient also expands. The larger and more effective the support network is, the better the odds will be for achieving future recovery.
Learning more about how addiction has impacted the lives of others can help shed light on a patient’s relationship with substance abuse. For instance, walking a friend or family member through all the gifts in their life that they should be thankful for can also help the individual understand what they should be thankful for.
While one-on-one counseling and group talk sessions can go a long way toward emotional healing and building a support network, behavioral therapies teach patients real-life strategies for staying sober.
These strategies can help show individuals how to control their cravings, avoid triggers, and essentially be more mindful of the best ways of staying sober in the long term. And when they’re evidence-based, they are even more effective.
Evidence-based behavioral therapies have been proven effective by legitimate studies and research. And when it comes time to choose a Dilaudid addiction treatment program, seeking out centers that use these therapies should be a priority.
Other Treatments and Therapies
Some programs may use a number of other treatments and therapies to help promote wellness and sobriety during recovery. These may improve self-confidence, aid in stress management, heal the physical body, and boost mental focus. A “holistic” approach to recovery using therapies like those below has consistently been linked to better recovery outcomes.
- Art therapy
- Exercise regimens
- Music therapy
- Nutritional programs
- Pet therapy
- Adventure therapy
Northpoint Washington’s Opioid Addiction Treatment Program
At Northpoint Washington, we understand how serious the opioid crisis is far too well. We work with patients daily who suffer from this type of addiction. Many of them are addicted to Dilaudid, and they are desperate for a way to stop using and recover.
We offer medical detox for patients who are addicted to Dilaudid. First, we talk with them and decide which treatment should be recommended. Many are first tapered off their medication to minimize the severity of withdrawal. Then they may be started on medication-assisted treatment and be prescribed a medication like Suboxone or buprenorphine. We also offer Vivitrol services, a non-opioid drug that has been shown to be very effective during opioid withdrawal.
After detoxing, our rehab program will provide patients with the therapy they need. It includes addressing any co-occurring disorders that may be present, such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder. Patients work with each other during group therapy and with their therapists during individual counseling sessions.