The opioid crisis is a serious public health concern in the United States. The lives of approximately 50,000 people in the United States were lost due to overdosing on opioids in 2019. Many opioids are legally prescribed by a doctor. Other opioids are bought on the street illegally. There are different kinds of opioids that have contributed to the opioid crisis, including:
- Opiates, which are derived from natural sources like heroin, morphine, and codeine
- Semi-synthetic drugs like hydromorphone, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and oxymorphone
- Fully synthetic drugs like fentanyl, tramadol, and methadone
The opioid health crisis is also an economic problem. The CDC estimates that prescription opioid misuse costs the country about $78.5 billion annually. This value includes lost productivity, healthcare and addiction services, and legal expenses.
How Is Dilaudid Involved in the Crisis?
Dilaudid (known generically as hydromorphone) is a medication that belongs to the class of opioids called semi-synthetic analgesics. As an analgesic, Dilaudid is prescribed to relieve moderate to severe pain. Although it is clinically effective, its pain-relieving properties and ability to produce a euphoric high give Dilaudid the potential for abuse and ultimately addiction.
This medication goes by multiple names when bought illegally on the street:
- Or simply by the letter “D”
How Is Dilaudid Taken?
Dilaudid can be taken in the form of a liquid, pill, or extended-release tablet. The latter is given to patients with certain medical conditions that require uninterrupted pain management that cannot be treated with other medications. These long-lasting tablets should not be taken more than once a day. At therapeutic doses, liquid Dilaudid is taken every 3-6 hours, and the standard pills are taken every 4-6 hours.
What if a Dose Is Missed?
Patients should avoid missing a dose. If this happens, the missed dosed should be taken as soon as remembered, unless it is time for the next dose or if the tablet is an extended-release one. Additionally, patients should not stop taking Dilaudid unless having consulted with a doctor. A gradual weaning process is required to safely stop the use of this drug and avoid withdrawal symptoms. If use is halted too quickly, withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Sweating and chills
- Muscle or joint pain
- Backache or weakness
- Teary eyes and runny nose
- Nausea, loss of appetite
- Rapid breathing or fast heart rate
- Restlessness, irritability, and anxiety
- Vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
Does Dilaudid Use Have Side Effects?
Like many drugs, Dilaudid can cause moderate side effects like headaches, sleeping difficulties, and lightheadedness. However, this specific opioid can cause other, more severe side effects like hallucinations, seizures, and life-threatening breathing problems. Dilaudid may also decrease fertility in both men and women.
It is important for individuals who’ve been prescribed this drug to be aware of its potential side effects and interactions with supplements and other drugs. Concurrently using benzodiazepines, alcohol, or medications for mental illness increases a person’s risk of experiencing sedation, coma, or death.
How Can Dilaudid Misuse Be Harmful?
Dilaudid misuse can cause an overdose. This is a notable risk if the patient struggles with a substance use disorder (SUD) or has a history of a drug overdose, alcohol abuse, or use of street drugs. Mental illnesses like depression can also play a role in overdose risk. It is important that the prescribing doctor be notified about these issues when they consider using Dilaudid for pain management. Signs that a person may have overdosed on Dilaudid and require emergency attention include:
- Muscle weakness
- Cold, clammy skin
- Difficulty breathing
- Slowed or shallow breathing
- Slowed or stopped heartbeat
- Dizziness, fainting, sleepiness
- Cannot wake up or unresponsive
- Narrowing or widening of the pupils
- Dark circles in the middle of the eyes
Naloxone is a rescue medication that can be prescribed to those taking Dilaudid. Having this medication accessible can save a life in the event of an overdose.
What Are the Other Risks of Dilaudid Misuse?
Besides the risk of overdose, a prominent concern regarding Dilaudid is its addictive potential. Misusing Dilaudid, even for just a few weeks, can lead a person to develop an addiction or opioid use disorder.
An opioid use disorder typically requires medically supervised detox to safely and effectively remove the substance from the body. This can be a physically and psychologically uncomfortable experience. After completing detox, clients can then receive therapy in residential treatment to learn how to manage their addiction and live drug-free.
How Can Dilaudid Addiction Be Recognized?
Many people develop an addiction to medications that were at one time legitimately prescribed to them. Once their prescription runs out, however, an addicted person may seek out a new prescription by complaining to different doctors about chronic pain. This is a clear sign that a person has developed a serious problem. Other signs can include:
- Spending a lot of money on the drug
- Seeking out drugs online or on the street
- Increasing dosage in order to feel the same effects
- Neglecting responsibilities, friends, and family
- Looking forward to or obsessing over the next dose
- Engaging in criminal behavior like theft and forging prescriptions
What Treatments Are Available at Laguna Shores Recovery?
Addiction to opioids requires detoxification in a medical detox program. At Laguna Shores, this process is fully supervised and guided by experienced clinicians to keep our clients safe and comfortable. We also offer medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Evidence shows that MAT is an important part of maintaining sobriety for many individuals recovering from opioid addiction.
At Laguna Shores Recovery, we believe that our clients deserve competent care that provides a range of opportunities to get well. In addition to these two services, we offer group therapies and evidence-based psychotherapies. Our clients can choose from a list of fun activities that will help them heal from their addiction and learn to live a rewarding life that doesn’t involve opioids like Dilaudid.
Dilaudid misuse can result in negative outcomes, including addiction and overdose. At Laguna Shores Recovery, we aim to provide a space where individuals can confront their addiction without feeling ashamed or guilty. If you or someone you know is misusing prescription opioids, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at (866) 229-9923.