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Hydromorphone Addiction, Withdrawal and Recovery

A hydromorphone addiction is very serious, and quitting this drug will result in withdrawal. If you’re an addict, you need to know that recovering is possible with the right support.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse offers some staggering statistics on the opioid overdose crisis. They state that:

  • Each day, more than 115 people die after overdosing on an opioid drug in the U.S.
  • In 2015, more than 33,000 people in the United States died from opioid overdoses.
  • Hydromorphone is a key player in this epidemic.
  • The total economic burden of misusing prescription painkillers is $78.5 billion a year.
  • In 2015, about 2 million people suffered from substance abuse disorders related to hydromorphone and similar medications.
  • As many as 29% of people who are prescribed these drugs misuse them.
  • As many as 12% of these individuals will develop an opioid use disorder.
  • About 80% of people who use heroin were first addicted to hydromorphone or similar drugs.

Hydromorphone has become one of the most frequently prescribed drugs in hospital settings. As a result, its abuse is on the rise, and more people are becoming addicted to it than ever before.

If you are battling an addiction to this medication, help is available. It’s important for you to understand that you’re not alone in this fight. You can get the help you need to beat your substance abuse problem once and for all.

What is Hydromorphone and What Does it do?

Hydromorphone is a drug that is often prescribed because of its ability to quickly control pain. For those who have chronic pain from a physical trauma, burn, surgery, or cancer treatments, it works very well. The drug’s brand name is Dilaudid, and it is eight times more powerful than morphine. For this reason, it should only be taken on a short-term basis, and only under medical supervision.

This medication can also be prescribed as extended release tablets. The ER versions are sold under the names, Exalgo and Palladone. Some people say that it tends to work better as an IV drug, which is how it’s often given in the hospital.

Hydromorphone belongs to the opioid drug classification. Doctors will often try it as a last resort when other painkillers have proven to be ineffective at controlling pain. It is available illegally on the black market as well.

This is a very strong pain medication, and it’s also highly addictive when it is abused. It’s not an expensive drug when you compare it to the price of other opioids. You can purchase ten tablets for between $12 and $15 in some parts of the U.S. When purchased illegally, the DEA states that prices can range from $5 to $100 a tablet in some areas.

How Does it Help to Treat Pain?

What is it that helps people experience pain relief when taking drugs like hydromorphone? Opioid drugs work by blocking the body’s opioid receptors, and this, in turn, relieves pain.

Your body is filled with nociceptors. These are the receptors responsible for communicating pain to the brain. The message is sent up the spinal cord through the body’s neurotransmitters. Once it reaches the brain, it’s interpreted as pain.

Opioid drugs like hydromorphone will inhibit the pain signal at many steps along the pathway. They can even decrease the individual’s emotional response to pain. When you take this medication, it will drastically reduce the way you experience pain and discomfort. It works really well. This is why it’s often the first choice for patients who don’t experience pain relief from other drugs.

The Side Effects

Like other drugs, hydromorphone does have side effects. You should expect to experience all of these, and some may fade away as you continue to take it. Most commonly, people may experience:

  • Flushing, warm skin
  • Tingling skin, with or without itching
  • Excessive sweating
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Bouts of constipation or diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Drowsiness and fatigue
  • Blurry or double vision
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness (vertigo)
  • Dry mouth
  • Odd dreams

Occasionally, taking this drug – even appropriately, with a doctor’s prescription – can result in more serious side effects. These can include:

  • Shallow or weak breathing patterns
  • A slower heart rate than normal
  • Bouts of confusion
  • Fainting spells
  • The onset of seizures or convulsions
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • A pounding heartbeat
  • Wheezing
  • Weakness in the body
  • Severe mental or mood changes
  • Problems with urination

Any of these side effects need to be reported to your doctor immediately. They may need to change your medication to something different.

Generally, people begin taking hydromorphone for the drug’s short-term effects. These are more pleasurable in nature, and they actually promote the continued use of it.

Some of the short-term effects include:

  • Feelings of euphoria
  • A decrease in pain
  • An increase in physical relaxation
  • Drowsiness
  • A decrease in anxiety and stress

Even in appropriate doses, hydromorphone can result in a euphoric high. This can quickly result in someone becoming dependent on it, if they’re not careful.

Usually, anyone who is taking hydromorphone long-term is abusing the drug. Most doctors will not prescribe it for long-term use because of the risk of abuse.

When people take this medication for a long period of time, they’re likely to:

  • Develop a tolerance. This means that they need to continually increase their dose to feel the effects of it.
  • Experience worsening anxiety symptoms.
  • Suffer from respiratory depression.
  • Have lasting brain damage.
  • Slip into a coma.
  • Have difficulty making decisions.
  • Have trouble controlling their behaviors.
  • Become physically dependent on the drug to feel like themselves.

Why Would Someone Take it in the First Place?

There are really two reasons why someone might take hydromorphone. The first and most obvious one is because they were given a doctor’s prescription for it. In some cases, doctors may prescribe this drug on an outpatient basis. However, it’s much more common for it to be used in a hospital setting because of its potency.

Of course, there are those who will use it recreationally. They may or may not need it to relieve their pain, but they’re really interested in experiencing the euphoric high.

Either way, long-term use of hydromorphone is a serious problem that can result in an addiction. There are even those who take their prescribed dose for too long that become addicted.

How do People Get Hydromorphone When They’re Not in the Hospital?

When a user isn’t in the hospital, or given a prescription for this drug, there are other ways of getting it. It can be found online on the Dark Web for sale. It’s possible to purchase the drug from countries like China and India as well. Dealers will sell it on the street, along with several other opioid drugs.

There are some medical professionals who will even abuse hydromorphone. Nurses, doctors and others in the medical field often have open access to these types of medications.

Consider the story of one former RN who was sentenced to eight months of imprisonment for stealing narcotics. He pleaded guilty to one count of tampering with a consumer product and one count of illegally acquiring a controlled substance. He is also required to seek out treatment once his sentence has been served.

There is a lot of temptation for medical professionals to steal drugs. Some may do so for their own use, while others will steal them to sell on the streets. This not only puts them at risk, but it could potentially place their patients’ lives at risk as well.

How do People Become Addicted to Opioid Drugs Like Hydromorphone?

A hydromorphone addiction always begins with abuse. There is a big difference between being a substance abuser and being an addict. These terms are often used to mean the same thing, but they’re not the same at all.

When you abuse hydromorphone, you don’t necessarily have an addiction to it. More often than not, it happens unintentionally, and people don’t know they’re doing it. This is the case for people who might:

  • Take too much of the drug at one time.
  • Take doses that are too close together.
  • Drink alcohol and take the drug at the same time.
  • Mix it with other medications or illegal drugs without realizing the consequences.
  • Take it without a prescription to treat pain.

Once this drug is abused long enough, the person becomes dependent on it. They may believe that they need it to feel normal. It isn’t long before that belief turns into an addiction.

Are Opioid Vending Machines the Answer to the Crisis in the U.S.?

Without a doubt, the United States is suffering from an opioid addiction crisis. Canada is facing a similar situation, and they have come up with a unique approach to combat it.

Some studies have shown hydromorphone to be an effective treatment for opioid use disorder. Based on this fact, Canada is piloting a program to offer vending machines that will dispense this drug to people with addictions. Their goal is to curb the use of opioids like Fentanyl and Carfentanil, which are much more potent.

The project is being funded by a $1 million grant from Health Canada. It will begin with three vending machines, but there are plans to expand it if it’s deemed successful.

In British Columbia alone, the opioid overdose rates have mirrored those of the hardest-hit areas in the U.S. Around 1,460 people died from overdoses in Canada during the first half of 2017. It will be interesting to see if this approach works, or if it creates a dependence on a new drug instead.

Hydromorphone Rehab Information

Signs of Addiction

How do you know you’re addicted to hydromorphone? There are a number of addiction signs you can look for in your own life. They include:

  • Becoming obsessed with the drug, and never missing a dose.
  • Spending excessive amounts of money on it.
  • Having trouble keeping up with personal responsibilities.
  • Forming a tolerance, and needing more of the drug to get high or feel the effects.
  • Neglecting friends, family and personal responsibilities in favor of getting high.
  • Stealing the drug from others.
  • Forging prescriptions for it.
  • Doctor shopping as a way to get additional prescriptions.
  • Purchasing the drug illegally online or on the street.

It’s not uncommon to be unaware of an opioid addiction. Some people live with them for years without realizing they have them. If you’re not sure if you’re addicted, you may want to take an opioid addiction quiz to learn more about your use.

What Happens When an Addict Tries to Stop Taking it?

When someone who is addicted to hydromorphone tries to stop using it, they’ll usually have a negative reaction. This is because their body has gotten used to taking the drug over time. When it’s taken away, both the brain and the body aren’t sure how to respond.

This is called going into withdrawal. It’s very common for all types of addictions. The symptoms can be mild to severe, but they usually get worse before they improve.

Stopping the use of this drug should only be done in a supervised, medical setting. This is because the withdrawal symptoms that can result are often difficult to manage on your own. Opioid detox programs are well-equipped to treat people coming off this drug.

Some of the more common hydromorphone withdrawal symptoms that people experience include:

  • Severe agitation, irritability or anger
  • Severe stomach issues, including nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea or other digestive problems
  • Body aches and pains
  • Painful and even debilitating headaches
  • A high or low-grade fever
  • Intense cravings for the drug
  • Excessive sweating
  • Feelings of restlessness
  • The onset of chills
  • Muscle spasms
  • Trouble sleeping at night
  • Anxiety and/or depression
  • A decreased appetite and possible weight loss

Again, these and any other symptoms you might experience are very difficult to manage on your own. It’s also possible that you might experience more serious symptoms of withdrawal when you stop taking hydromorphone. Seizures have been known to happen, as well as other dangerous reactions. This is why it’s best to recover in a professional setting.

It shouldn’t take long before you begin to experience withdrawals. Within about 4 to 8 hours after your last dose of hydromorphone, your symptoms should begin. At first, they will probably be relatively mild. You may only feel a little anxiety and some cravings. However, they will become more intense.

Most people experience the peak of withdrawal within 12 to 48 hours of their last dose. It is possible for symptoms to continue for as long as three days in those with severe addictions.

After the 72-hour mark, you should begin to feel better. Many of the symptoms you’ve experienced will disappear altogether. Others may linger, but be more mild.

Please be aware that just because you feel better, that doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods. There are some individuals who will continue to experience physical and emotional issues for several weeks, or even months. It’s also common for people to have rebound symptoms, which can feel as though they’re starting all over again with recovery.

This is a very commonly asked question. You may be wondering this if you’ve been abusing hydromorphone and you want to stop taking it. You could even be planning to get a job, and you’re worried about failing a drug test.

Hydromorphone has a very short half-life. That means that it stays in your system for a shorter period of time than other drugs. The IV form of the drug has a half-life of only 2.3 hours.

It can be detected in urine and saliva for up to four days after the last dose. In blood tests, it can be found for about 24 hours. In hair tests, it can be detected for as long as 90 days, but these tests aren’t as common.

Of course, this isn’t an indication of how long it will take you to feel better once you quit. It only tells you how long the drug can be found in your system from a medical standpoint.

Alternatives to Managing Hydromorphone Withdrawal Symptoms

The fear of withdrawal is one of the reasons people often choose to continue in their addictions. The same is true for people who are addicted to hydromorphone. Most people are familiar with what withdrawal feels like, but they’ve never experienced the worst of it. They also never want to.

There are a lot of different ways that you can manage your withdrawal symptoms from this drug. It’s up to you to choose the one that’s right for you, but you should know the benefits and risks involved.

Attempting to detox from drugs at home is very common. People will often try this approach before they’ll commit to a professional detoxification program. The problem is that it’s not really very safe.

You can find a lot of information online about various supplements, herbs and vitamins to use during detox. You’ll find instructions such as:

  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Restrict your food intake, or even fast
  • Get plenty of exercise
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Take products like milk thistle or uva ursi

These all sound good, and many people are hopeful for them to work. The issue is that detoxing can be a very dangerous process. More often than not, these methods aren’t effective, and can result in a relapse.

Drug detox kits are also quite dangerous, and they can be found online as well as in pharmacies. Their marketing makes them sound like a great alternative to professional treatment. However, they do little if anything at all to help people manage their hydromorphone withdrawal symptoms.

Most addiction treatment professionals agree that going through medical detox is the best approach. It offers you the most support and allows you to be in a supervised setting while you’re coming off hydromorphone.

Medical detoxification means that you will be given medications to help with your symptoms. Because you’re taking an opioid painkiller, you may be appropriate for medication assisted treatment with an FDA approved drug.

MAT works because patients are able to take medications that mimic the actions of their current drug of choice. However, these drugs are much safer and less addictive. Vivitrol is an excellent example of one MAT drug that has shown a lot of promise in recent months.

If you choose a professional opioid detox program, you’ll most likely also receive holistic treatments. There are a lot of benefits to improving your diet and adding a physical exercise routine to your regimen. Both of these can help to remove toxins from the body in a more natural way.

Most people with addictions don’t eat the way they should. They also don’t get enough exercise. Holistic detox will help you get healthier in every aspect, which will help you feel better faster.

What Happens After You Detox From Hydromorphone?

After you have detoxed from hydromorphone, you’ll be ready to go to rehab. This is a step you shouldn’t skip because it’s important to work on the mental part of your addiction too.

During your time there, you will participate in many different forms of therapy. You’ll work with a therapist in a one on one setting, and you’ll also have group sessions.

The Benefits of Hydromorphone Rehab

Going to an opioid rehab offers you so many great benefits. You’ll learn more about addiction as a disease, and you’ll also find out why you became addicted. Unless you uncover the root cause of your addiction, your recovery is unlikely.

Your therapist and the other staff members will be great sources of support for you. You’ll always have someone to talk to, and you’ll also learn a lot from the other patients in rehab. It helps to know that you’re not alone, and that it’s possible to overcome your addiction.

Going to rehab can change your life if you allow it to. You have to be willing to recover, and it’s crucial to follow every step of the program. If you do that, you should experience success long-term.

One of your therapist’s jobs is to assess you for a potential co-occurring disorder. This is a mental health condition that often accompanies addictions. You may think that you have been taking hydromorphone only for pain relief. The fact is that there could be an additional underlying reason.

Many people choose to abuse drugs like this one for a number of reasons, such as to treat the symptoms of:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic disorder
  • PTSD
  • ADHD or ADD

Your therapist will find out if you suffer from one of these, or another co-occurring disorder. If you do, the appropriate treatment will be given to you during rehab. This is going to improve your chances of having a successful recovery.

Types of Treatment for Hydromorphone Addiction

There are a lot of options available to you for opioid rehab. Not everyone recovers the same way, so it’s best to know what your choices are.

Inpatient Rehab Programs

Many people find that going to an inpatient rehab program is the best solution for them. This offers you a high level of support because you’ll actually be staying in a facility. You won’t have the opportunity to relapse, and someone will always be available to talk with you. These types of programs usually last around 28 days, and they include the time you spend in detox.

For people who have been addicts for a long time, a residential treatment program is probably more beneficial. This type of facility allows you to stay for several months while you get the help you need. This type of long-term care is also appropriate for people who have attempted inpatient rehab without success.

Outpatient Treatment Centers

A lot of people need to go to an outpatient rehab program, and there are some great ones available. The most popular is intensive outpatient treatment, or IOP. This is very similar to an inpatient rehab, and the only difference is that the patients live at home. They still have access to a therapist and group therapy, among other activities.

A more traditional outpatient treatment center might not be appropriate for someone new to treatment. However, it is a great option for someone as a form of follow-up care.

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Where to Get Help for Your Hydromorphone Addiction in Washington State

Realizing that you have developed an addiction to a drug you’ve been taking can be scary. It’s possible that you never really thought of yourself as someone who would need rehab. Now that you’re considering it, you’re not sure where to turn for help. Going to a hydromorphone treatment program doesn’t have to be scary. When you choose Northpoint Washington to help you, you’ll get all the support you need to be successful.

Your treatment program will target both the physical and psychological sides of your addiction. We believe in holistic care, and we have very high standards for excellence. We promise you that you’ll be in good hands.

Have we answered all of your questions about hydromorphone addiction, withdrawal and rehab? Do you need to talk with someone about your options for treatment? Please contact us today to learn more.

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Northpoint Washington: Opening April 2019

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