Dilaudid Abuse & Addiction Signs, Effects & Symptoms

Acadiana Treatment Center helps individuals struggling with Dilaudid addiction build a strong foundation for long-term recovery. Serving Louisiana, Acadiana is the premier provider of alcohol and drug abuse treatment for adults.

Understanding Dilaudid Addiction

Learn About Dilaudid Abuse & Addiction

Dilaudid is the trade name for a compound hydromorphone hydrochloride and is a very powerful synthetic opioid narcotic painkiller considered to be 6 to 9 times stronger than morphine. In fact, Dilaudid is often used as an alternative to morphine. Dilaudid takes effect within 15 minutes upon introduction to the body and lasts for longer than six hours.

Dilaudid, a Schedule II narcotic, is commonly used to manage moderate to severe pain for individuals suffering from burns, cancer, bone or soft tissue injuries, and other extremely painful conditions. Dilaudid attaches to receptors in the brain, central nervous system, and GI tract in order to dull the pain as it reacts to the pleasure center of the brain providing the user with euphoric feelings. It is this feeling of euphoria that causes many individuals originally prescribed Dilaudid for a legitimate condition to develop both a physical and psychological addiction to the narcotic. Individuals without a prior history of opiate addiction have been known to develop both tolerance and dependence upon Dilaudid in as little as three weeks.

Individuals who develop a tolerance to Dilaudid will find that they need higher and higher doses of the narcotic to achieve the same effects. Once tolerance has set in, many individuals will find it nearly impossible to stop using the drug without experiencing effects of withdrawal, which can be incredibly unpleasant. Once an individual has been cut off from his or her prescription for Dilaudid, he or she may attempt to purchase Dilaudid on the streets. On the streets, hydromorphone is called, “Big D,” “M-80’s,” and “Peaches.”

Most individuals use Dilaudid in injectable IV form rather than pill form, as pills are not as effective in producing the euphoric effects. IV injection of any drug – narcotic or not – carries significant risks for side effects such as vein collapse, bloodborne infections, and infections at the injection site. Many who abuse Dilaudid will augment the high they achieve from the narcotic by mixing it with other downers, such as benzodiazepines or alcohol. This can lead to serious respiratory depression and possible death. Prolonged Dilaudid addiction can also cause circulatory depression and cardiac arrest. If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to Dilaudid, it is crucial to seek Dilaudid abuse treatment as soon as possible.


Statistics for Dilaudid Addiction

As of 2005, over 33 million individuals in the United States had used a narcotic pain reliever such as Dilaudid in the past year for nonmedical purposes. Unintentional deaths as a result of opioid narcotics such as Dilaudid increased 114% from 2001-2005. It’s clear that opiate narcotic addiction is a dire problem facing the United States.

Causes & Risks

Causes & Risk Factors of Dilaudid Addiction

While addiction is a hot topic for many researchers, there has yet to be an individual cause discovered that accounts for any known addictive substance.   Some factors that interplay to lead to addiction may include:

Genetic: Individuals who have a first-degree relative who struggles with addiction to opiates or other substances are at greater risk for developing an addiction later in life.

Brain Chemistry: As opiate narcotics act on the pleasure centers of the brain, it’s been hypothesized that certain individuals may be born lacking in the chemical components that make up that center of the brain. In order to correct this inborn imbalance, some individuals may turn to opiates to stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain.

Environmental: Individuals who are born into a household where addiction runs amok are at a higher risk for developing addictive disorders later in life. In addition, individuals who begin their drug use at an early age are at greater risks for developing an addiction.

Psychological: Individuals who are struggling with mental illnesses may abuse substances such as Dilaudid and other opiates to self-medicate to control the symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs & Symptoms of Dilaudid Addiction

The symptoms that an individual who struggles with a Dilaudid addiction will be likely to display a certain subset of symptoms. It’s important to note that symptoms often occur on a spectrum, meaning that they may be more severe in some individuals than others. The severity of symptomatology will depend upon the length of the addiction, the level of tolerance to the Dilaudid, and the frequency of use.

Most common symptoms of Dilaudid addiction include:


  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Agitation
  • Irritability


  • Forging prescriptions
  • “Doctor shopping”
  • Frequent trips to the ER with vague somatic complaints
  • Lying or stealing to obtain more Dilaudid
  • Stealing or borrowing Dilaudid from loved ones
  • Financial problems
  • Hiding Dilaudid in various places around the house, car, and work
  • Stray needles
  • Risky, reckless behaviors
  • Social isolation
  • Increased legal problems
  • Lying to loved ones about amount of Dilaudid used
  • Withdrawing from previously-enjoyed activities
  • Wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts in warm weather to cover up needle marks


  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Respiratory depression
  • Stomach pain
  • Difficulties urinating
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Track marks on arms and legs
  • Circulatory collapse
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Coma
  • Seizures


  • Worsening of emotional wellbeing
  • Exacerbation of mental illness symptoms
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia


Effects of Dilaudid Addiction

The effects of abuse of a hardcore narcotic such as Dilaudid can impact virtually all areas of an individual’s life leaving nothing unscathed. Addiction is a horrible disease that knows no boundaries. The effects of Dilaudid addiction include:

  • Addiction
  • Depression
  • Impaired interpersonal relationships
  • Divorce
  • Domestic and child abuse
  • Guilt
  • Shame
  • Anxiety
  • Incarceration
  • Repercussions of risky behaviors
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Respiratory respiration
  • Bloodborne infections such as HIV/AIDS
  • Circulatory collapse
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Stroke
  • Coma
  • Seizures
  • Death

Many people who struggle with addiction to Dilaudid also struggle from undiagnosed or undertreated mental illnesses. Some of the disorders that occur with Dilaudid addiction include:

  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Alcoholism
  • Other substance abuse disorders
  • Schizophrenia

Withdrawal Effects

Effects & Symptoms of Withdrawal from Dilaudid

It is very easy for an individual to become physically addicted to Dilaudid. When an individual who has been using Dilaudid for an extended period of time abruptly discontinues use or severely cuts back use, withdrawal symptoms may set in. Withdrawal symptoms from Dilaudid include:

  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Drug craving
  • Body cramping
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Cold sweats – goosebumps
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Shaking
  • Tremors
  • Dysphoria – feeling uneasy, depressed, and anxious all at once
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors

A Foundation for Recovery

At Acadiana Treatment Center, we aim to help each client attain a thorough understanding of the concerns they're facing and learn how to find relief. Our treatment focuses on thorough education and employs proven methods of individualized treatment.

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An assessment is an important first step toward treatment of and recovery from addiction and co-occurring mental health issues.

After getting treatment for my Dilaudid addiction at Acadiana, I was able to get started on my road to recovery. I am forever grateful to Acadiana.

– Adam R.
We are affiliated with the following organizations, which provide accreditation, education, and training to ensure quality mental health and addiction treatment.
  • Addictive Disorder Regulatory Authority
  • Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF)
  • National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP)
  • The Jason Foundation