Blog - Beach House Rehab Center
January 18, 2019

Dilaudid Detox Guide


Dilaudid is the brand name for hydromorphone, a powerful opiate pain reliever. The narcotic medication is primarily prescribed for the treatment of moderate to severe pain and works by acting on the central nervous system (CNS) to relieve pain. On a per milligram basis, hydromorphone is about eight times more potent than morphine. Dilaudid is classified as a Schedule II narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act. As such, it has the potential for addiction, abuse, misuse, and diversion.

Although the risk of any individual becoming addicted to Dilaudid is unknown, addiction can occur even when used at recommended dosages, as well as when the narcotic is either abused or misused. However, addiction risks increase when there is a history of family or personal substance abuse (including abuse or addiction to drugs and alcohol), and/or mental illness (such as anxiety or clinical depression).


When Dilaudid use stops, the onset of withdrawal symptoms begins, many of which are painful, although not life-threatening. As an opiate painkiller, Dilaudid has some nasty physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms that users may experience, along with some milder ones. Among the Dilaudid withdrawal symptoms most commonly experienced are the following:

  • Abdominal or stomach cramps
  • Anxiety
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Runny nose
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Sweating
  • Tremors

Another caution is that long-term opiate use can cause adrenal insufficiency, a potentially life-threatening condition. Dilaudid users should seek immediate medical attention if they experience a grouping of adrenal insufficiency symptoms, such as anorexia, dizziness, fatigue, low blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, and weakness.

According to Dilaudid prescribing information, there is the risk of additive effects that may prove fatal when the medication is taken while also using benzodiazepines and other CNS depressants (which include alcohol).

A potential risk of a life-threatening condition called serotonin syndrome can occur when a Dilaudid user takes serotonergic drugs (such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs).

Dilaudid can cause drowsiness, slowing reaction time. For this reason, driving and other challenging tasks should be performed with care. Consuming alcohol while on Dilaudid taper is extremely dangerous and can lead to loss of consciousness or death.

Infants whose mothers regularly used opiates during pregnancy may experience neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS), an expected, yet treatable condition.

In those who are physically dependent on Dilaudid and either abruptly discontinue or greatly reduce their dosages, a potentially life-threatening condition known as withdrawal syndrome can occur.

Some of the symptoms associated with Dilaudid withdrawal syndrome include:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Anorexia
  • Anxiety
  • Back pain
  • Chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils (pinpoint pupils)
  • Increased blood pressure, heart rate or respiratory rate
  • Irritability
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Restlessness
  • Runny nose
  • Shedding of tears (lacrimation)
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Yawning


Dilaudid withdrawal, compared with withdrawal for other opiate drugs, tends to be of a shorter duration. That’s because, according to research reports, Dilaudid’s half-life is shorter than that of other prescription painkillers and most opiates. However, during withdrawal from Dilaudid, the intensity of symptoms can be the same as those experienced with narcotic painkillers in the same FDA drug classification.

According to a number of sources, Dilaudid has a half-life of 2.5 hours. That means that at 2.5 hours, 50 percent of the Dilaudid remains in the system. Drug testing services can detect Dilaudid in a person’s system through various panel tests with expanded opiates (which include hydromorphone) that check urine, saliva, hair, and blood.

  • Urine — Dilaudid is detectable in urine within the first 2-5 hours after taking the drug. It remains detectable about 2-4 days.
  • Saliva — The presence of Dilaudid can be detected in users within the first hour after use. It disappears from saliva in a period ranging from 7-21 hours.
  • Hair – Dilaudid can be found in hair within the first 5-7 days after use and remains for 90 days or longer, especially among long-term or chronic Dilaudid users.
  • Blood – Dilaudid is detectable in the blood up to 24 hours after use.

Dilaudid withdrawal starts within the first 3-6 hours after last use of the drug. Symptoms generally get worse and peak within 36-72 hours. This, unfortunately, is the time when the withdrawal symptoms are at their worst and may be considered intolerable. The result is that many of those who are in Dilaudid withdrawal decide to go back to using just to reduce the pain and discomfort they’re going through. Hanging in there through days 4-5, though, generally means that physical withdrawal symptoms begin to disappear. They should be gone, for the most part, after about a week.

Be aware that intense cravings for Dilaudid are likely to occur throughout the withdrawal process, due to the fact that the medication is an extremely addictive drug. These cravings can wreak havoc with your emotions and mental state. Some undergoing Dilaudid withdrawal experience Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). This condition can last from a month to 6 months after the last dose of Dilaudid. Symptom severity ranges according to individual and their history of drug use and other factors. While PAWS symptoms cannot be avoided, professional Dilaudid detox by opiate addiction specialists can ensure they’re treated to help minimize pain and discomfort.

Other factors can affect the timeline for Dilaudid withdrawal. Among them are the age and weight of the individual, his or her body fat content, weight, psychiatric history, and detailed history of Dilaudid use (including as accurate as possible estimates of quantity and duration of use).

Because of the lengthy duration of some Dilaudid withdrawal symptoms, including troublesome and persistent psychological symptoms, it is important to seek professional Dilaudid detox at an accredited drug and alcohol treatment facility. When undergoing medically-supervised Dilaudid detox, any issues and concerns can be promptly addressed by the treatment professionals, who will also ensure a safe, comfortable and effective detox experience.


When searching for treatment options for overcoming Dilaudid addiction or dependence, be sure to consider residential or inpatient treatment. Keep in mind that any formal treatment program can only occur after mandatory detox from Dilaudid. During inpatient or residential Dilaudid detox, a team of medical professionals monitors your progress 24 hours a day. As the opiate pain medication leaves your system, the goal of the treatment professionals is to both minimize or reduce painful and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and immediately attend to any serious issues or conditions that may arise.

For chronic Dilaudid users, the detox protocol may involve prescribing a specific antidepressant or anti-anxiety medications to aid in reducing anxious or depressed feelings experienced during withdrawal. The treatment team may also employ other holistic, evidence-based treatment modalities and approaches to help combat persistent/painful/uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, fatigue, and lack of energy. These may include dietary changes, nutritional supplements, meditation, yoga, educational reading material, information about 12-step and other self-help groups as you prepare to go from Dilaudid detox into formal treatment.

Overcoming Dilaudid dependence and addiction, just as with any opiate narcotic, takes a great deal of resolve, commitment, and determination. There will be times when the thought of quitting becomes enticing – particularly as drug cravings intensify during the detox process. That’s why inpatient or residential Dilaudid detox and treatment is so important because you always have treatment professionals to help you weather the rough spots and remain in treatment. Your path to recovery following detox will likely involve a treatment program tailored to meet your specific needs and include individual and group therapy sessions, along with numerous other treatment modalities. Rather than trying to pick and choose and travel to multiple providers to get the same type of assistance with Dilaudid detox and subsequent treatment, recovery experts say that inpatient or residential treatment is the easiest and best way to achieve your sobriety objective and get back to your life with the confidence you need to stay sober.


Of course, some who want to overcome Dilaudid dependence and addiction aren’t able to go to inpatient or residential treatment. In this case, another treatment option to consider is outpatient treatment. This type of treatment is more cost-effective and is often more convenient. You live at home and go back and forth to the treatment facility after completing detox from Dilaudid. One point that argues against outpatient Dilaudid treatment is the fact that you’re at an arm’s length from the rehab experience. You do get much of the same benefits—as in counseling, treatment modalities and the like—but you’re not able to be fully immersed in the overall rehab environment you’d enjoy with residential detox and treatment.  

Still, you can achieve your sobriety objective by choosing outpatient Dilaudid detox and treatment. You may, for example, go through an inpatient Dilaudid detox and then participate in outpatient treatment programs at some of the best residential drug and alcohol treatment facilities.

Another instance where outpatient treatment may be feasible and recommended is after you’ve gone through residential treatment and still want to remain connected to and take part in certain counseling and other treatment modalities in intensive outpatient programs. The important thing to remember is that you must go through the entire treatment process – Dilaudid detox and subsequent treatment – if you want the best chance to overcome dependence or addiction to the opiate narcotic.


Withdrawing from Dilaudid is not a simple, safe or effective self-detox choice. Narcotic painkillers like Dilaudid include withdrawal symptoms that almost always involve intense drug cravings. It’s almost impossible to resist the temptation to use Dilaudid again once such cravings hit, especially when they increase in intensity and go on for days. Relapse is a very real risk when trying to detox at home from Dilaudid. You defeat your purpose of getting off Dilaudid when you try and fail to complete detox. For this and many other reasons, it’s best to go through medically supervised detox at a drug and alcohol detox and treatment facility that has experience in opiate detox. Once some of the more unpleasant withdrawal symptoms set in, including anxiety, diarrhea, vomiting, sweats, and others, your resolve disappears, and you may revert to using. In addition, you’re not thinking all that clearly when you’re simultaneously trying to get through withdrawal symptoms.

Besides withdrawal symptoms, there may be certain side effects that could be severe that you’d need to attend to. How can you know what to do? Furthermore, some adverse reactions to Dilaudid detox may be life-threatening. Who will be available to help you safely overcome these? Even more important, will they know what to do? There’s no benefit to trying to detox from Dilaudid at home. It’s too risky and prone to failure. Besides, choosing professional Dilaudid detox not only gives you the confidence you’ll have a safe, comfortable and effective detox experience, it also helps prepare you for treatment afterward, so you can go on to recovery.


“Cold turkey” is a term that refers to stopping drugs on your own. You may think you’re fully capable of quitting Dilaudid use, especially if you’ve done your research and think you know all there is to know about the process of detoxing from an opiate painkiller. Granted, some of the Dilaudid withdrawal symptoms may be mild upon discontinuing the drug. But other symptoms are much more severe, and some are particularly dangerous. This is even more likely for chronic or long-term Dilaudid users. In fact, abruptly stopping the drug can cause precipitated withdrawal and associated severe symptoms. If you want to get off Dilaudid, you’re strongly advised to enter a medically supervised drug detox facility, so the treatment professionals can safely wean you from the medication. This involves carefully monitored tapered dose reduction.

There’s a lot more to getting off Dilaudid than the intention to do so. It’s also a lot more than just detoxing from the opiate painkiller. To maximize the likelihood of a favorable treatment outcome, you should regard Dilaudid detox as a necessary first step in what will be an overall and comprehensive treatment plan. While you’re in the care of treatment professionals, the dosage and timing of gradual Dilaudid taper will be carefully determined. Your treatment team will be by your side to manage any and all withdrawal symptoms you may experience. They’ll also create a treatment plan that is geared toward meeting your specific needs, one that is designed to help your efforts to achieve long-term recovery.

Even with a strong resolve to a self-taper dosage of Dilaudid, you could experience unpleasant consequences. If you abruptly discontinue Dilaudid, relapse risk increases dramatically. Going back to previously used or greater Dilaudid doses puts you at an elevated risk for overdose. In fact, the National Institutes of Health says that most opiate overdose deaths occur in those who recently went through detox. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 50,000 overdose deaths from opiates (which may include pain medication such as Dilaudid) occurred in the U.S. in 2017.

Symptoms of acute Dilaudid overdose include airway obstruction (full or partial), atypical snoring, cold and clammy skin, excess fluid in the lungs, respiratory depression, intense drowsiness or sleepiness that progresses to a stupor or coma, low blood pressure, muscle weakness, pinpoint pupils, seizures, and death. Immediate medical attention is required if Dilaudid overdose is suspected. Doctors will closely monitor heart and respiratory functions, administer naloxone to counteract the Dilaudid overdose, provide other supportive measures such as oxygen, and intravenous (IV) fluids. Heart arrhythmias or cardiac arrest will necessitate the use of more advanced life-support techniques.


How do you make the most informed choice of a detox and treatment program for getting off Dilaudid? This is an important decision that deserves careful examination of available options. Even if you already know where you want to go for Dilaudid detox, and may be contemplating whether or not to stay for formal treatment, there are still many other considerations to weigh and balance. Cost of treatment may be a significant barrier, and you’re likely going to want to explore resources and avenues to help cover the treatment cost. Yet, cost considerations should never prevent you from seeking treatment, since you may qualify for financial help available through various federal, state and local agencies. Also check into whether the treatment center you’re considering offers assistance to help reduce overall treatment costs, such as sliding scale, payment plans, even scholarships, and financing.

At the top of your list, though, and of key importance is where you’ll get the best care for Dilaudid detox and treatment. As you evaluate various treatment options, don’t forget assistance you may be able to receive through the Veterans Administration (VA) and other agencies. If you can ease your mind that some of the financial burdens will be offset, this can provide the final impetus to getting the treatment you need.


Aftercare programs and services are available at the best drug and alcohol treatment facilities. Among the services provided are individual, family and group therapy, the continuation of various treatment modalities and therapeutic approaches, 12-step, and non-12-step groups, and alumni programs.

Recovery from Dilaudid dependence or addiction involves a lengthy process, although the amount of time required varies by individual circumstance and multiple factors (including a history of drug use, dosage, frequency, and any other medical and/or psychiatric conditions). It will take time, a personal commitment, development of family and social support networks, and follow-through to continue with all treatment recommendations. Aftercare services for Dilaudid and other drugs of abuse will help you safely and confidently navigate the early stages of recovery and maintain long-term sobriety.


A strong indication that you may need Dilaudid rehab is that you’ve become dependent on or addicted to the opiate. What may have begun as a legitimate and medically-necessary prescription for chronic pain may have led to abusing the drug through taking medication prescribed for family members or friends (with or without their knowledge), buying it on the street, or going from doctor to doctor to obtain more Dilaudid. Now that you may be experiencing resulting negative changes to your life from Dilaudid abuse, dependence, and addiction, going to Dilaudid rehab can help you reclaim your life and achieve sobriety. 

Consider the fact that you may have tried to detox from Dilaudid on your own with less-than-desired outcomes. As a consequence, you may have returned to using and increasing your dosage, even experiencing an overdose as a result. This is another reason that medically monitored Dilaudid rehab may be your best choice to safely and effectively discontinue Dilaudid use and begin the recovery journey.

In addition, if you have a co-occurring psychological disorder, such as anxiety or depression, or are pregnant, experience chronic pain and/or other medical conditions, Dilaudid rehab at an accredited drug and alcohol treatment center ensures that both your addiction and co-occurring disorder will be treated at the same time. For treatment of addiction involving opiate use, the National Practice Guidelines from the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) include starting with an initial evaluation, selecting all medications approved to treat opioid use disorder, combining psychosocial treatment with medications, tending to the treatment needs of special populations, and having naloxone on hand to treat opiate overdose.

For more about Dilaudid, opiate detox and recovery, check out these related articles:



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