Hydromorphone is a semi-synthetic derivative of morphine. It is also a high-potency opioid used to relieve moderate to severe pain, and it is one of the most closely-related opioids to morphine. Hydromorphone is about five times more potent intravenous morphine, and it is available by prescribed in the following formulations:

  • immediate release tablet
  • extended release tablet
  • injectable
  • immediate release oral liquid
  • suppository
  • pre-filled syringe

All forms of hydromorphone are Schedule II drugs under the Controlled Substances Act, and most treat people who are already opioid-tolerant. The term opioid-tolerant applies to patients who are taking at least 60 mg/day of morphine for one week or longer. Comparable doses of other opioids are 25mcg/day of transdermal fentanyl, 30 mg/day of oxycodone, 8mg/day of hydromorphone, or 25mg/day of oxymorphone.

Effects of Hydromorphone

Even in patients with an established opioid tolerance, hydromorphone can cause some significant side effects. Some of the most common effects of hydromorphone include the following:

  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • flushing (reddening or warming of skin)
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • lightheadedness
  • itchiness
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • sweating
  • dry mouth
  • euphoria
  • insomnia
  • confusion
  • constipation

A common sign of opioid overdose, constricted or pinpoint pupils, is also an effect of hydromorphone.

Dangers of Hydromorphone Abuse

Hydromorphone abuse is dangerous for more reasons than the fact that it is a powerful opioid. The risk of a fatal overdose is high with any opioid, but significantly increased with one like hydromorphone, especially when it is combined with other CNS (central nervous system) depressants like other opioid painkillers, heroin, alcohol, benzodiazepines, and barbiturates.

The cause of deadly opioid overdose is respiratory failure resulting from respiratory depression, and all depressant drugs cause respiratory depression in varying degrees.

Combining opioids like hydromorphone with other sedative medications increases the risk of respiratory depression and death.

When someone abuses hydromorphone, the effects can be endless, but some of the most impactful effects include the following:

  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • Developing addiction
  • Drug-seeking behaviors
  • Serious health complications

These effects are significant because they all contribute to the deterioration of life, stability, and health.

As someone continues to abuse hydromorphone, the risk of overdose increases to dangerous levels. There is always a thin line between the euphoria and overdose when it comes to opioids like hydromorphone.

Many addicts who reach their desired level of euphoria also show significant signs of overdose. Some of those signs include the following common symptoms:

  • slurred speech
  • clammy skin
  • shallow breathing
  • inability to stand or maintain balance
  • low blood pressure
  • nodding out (intermittent periods of sleep and wakefulness)
  • droopy eyelids
  • heavy limbs
  • severe confusion
  • coma
  • death

As individuals who are addicted to hydromorphone continue to abuse the drug and look for new ways to achieve a higher high, the risks of a deadly overdose from drugs like illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF) are significantly increased. Fentanyl is the strongest opioid available on the black market today and because it is completely synthetic, it can be made in clandestine labs at varying potencies and purities.

The effects of hydromorphone abuse vary, but it can take as little as five days of abuse for someone to develop a dependency to hydromorphone.

Hydromorphone dependence means the onset of withdrawal symptoms when use is abruptly stopped or drastically reduced.

Hydromorphone Withdrawal and Detox

Withdrawal symptoms are the most dreadful experiences many hydromorphone addicts experience. Hydromorphone withdrawal is a series of painful and uncomfortable symptoms that can begin as soon as 4 to 6 hours after the last use. Withdrawal symptoms are not life-threatening, but they are extremely difficult to endure, and are often the leading factor in relapse among addicts.

Withdrawal from hydromorphone can range from moderate to severe and includes the following symptoms:

  • runny nose
  • high fever
  • muscle and joint pain
  • watery eyes
  • abdominal pain
  • headache
  • nausea
  • anxiety
  • vomiting
  • intense cravings
  • diarrhea
  • high blood pressure
  • insomnia
  • sweating
  • clammy skin
  • chills
  • agitation
  • rapid heart rate

Enduring hydromorphone withdrawal is grueling and may last for up to two weeks, depending on the individual circumstances.

A medical opioid detox is the most common method of enduring withdrawal from hydromorphone, and utilizes medications to moderate severe symptoms like high blood pressure, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, anxiety and insomnia. Although some symptoms cannot be completely eliminated, medical detox does help people remain comfortable during the process and provides essential support offered by medical staff.

After detox, some psychological symptoms can linger for several weeks or months, depending on the length and severity of hydromorphone and opioid abuse.

These symptoms many include:

  • anhedonia
  • depression/anxiety
  • insomnia
  • intense cravings

Recovery From Hydromorphone Addiction

Hydromorphone is just one of dozen of formulations of opioids commonly abused and frequently leading addicts to more dangerous drugs like heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl. Despite the vast pervasiveness of hydromorphone and opioid abuse, there is help and recovery is possible.

After detox, the process of recovery requires a life-long commitment that can be much more effective with the tools and skills provided by a comprehensive drug rehab program.

Treatment for hydromorphone addicts aims to give addicts valuable resources to prevent relapse and live a full and healthy life while eliminating destructive and addictive behaviors. Some of the tools and resources offered in addiction treatment include:

  • Triggers for Relapse
  • Coping Skills
  • Family Counseling
  • Learning Healthy Habits
  • Nutritional Education
  • Sobriety Resources
  • Recovery and Aftercare Planning

Hydromorphone and all other opioids create numerous challenges in the lives of addicts and their families, but the destruction does not have to continue.

With time, support, and a personalized program to address your specific needs and challenges, you can overcome the vicious cycle of addiction.

Call us 24 hours a day for a confidential assessment and more information on how we can help you with an individualized addiction treatment program to reclaim your life, and live free from the grips of addiction.