Medically reviewed badge

Hydromorphone Addiction and Treatment

Questions about treatment?
  • Access to licensed treatment centers
  • Information on treatment plans
  • Financial assistance options
We're available 24/7
Solutions Recovery - help information

Hydromorphone addiction and misuse can be very dangerous to your health and wellbeing. If you or someone you care about are struggling with hydromorphone abuse, you should know that you’re not alone. The 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reports that 3.3% of Americans (9.3 million) aged 12 and older misused prescription painkillers in the year before the survey.1 Among past-year users of hydromorphone products, 16.6% reported that they had misused the drug.1 The most recent state-specific estimates from the 2018­–2019 NSDUH also show that in Nevada, 3.87% people aged 12 and older misused prescription pain medicines, which is slightly higher than the national average.2

What Is Hydromorphone?

Hydromorphone is a prescription opioid available as a generic drug but is also marketed under the brand name Dilaudid. Both generic and brand name formulations are used to treat severe pain that might not be well-managed with other treatments.3,4 The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies it as a Schedule II substance, meaning that it has a legal medical use but also has a high risk of abuse.3 Despite its valid medical uses, misusing hydromorphone can have several unintended consequences, including overdose, dependence, and associated hydromorphone withdrawal symptoms.3

Side Effects of Hydromorphone

Even when used the way your doctor told you, hydromorphone, like all opioids, can have certain side effects. Some of the more common hydromorphone side effects include:4

  • Feeling sleepy, light-headed, or dizzy.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Sweating.
  • Flushed (hot, red) skin.
  • Itchy skin.
  • Dysphoria (feeling generally uneasy or distressed).

Long-Term Effects of Hydromorphone

Regular hydromorphone use can lead to drug tolerance and physical dependence; misuse of the drug increases the risk of addiction, in addition to tolerance and dependence.4

Tolerance means that you need to take more and more hydromorphone to get the same effects.4 Dependence means that your body and brain have gotten so used to the drug that you may go through withdrawal if you suddenly stop using it or greatly reduce your dose.4 Addiction means that you compulsively use the substance no matter the negative outcomes.4,5 Hydromorphone misuse can also increase your risk of overdose.4

Other possible long-term effects of hydromorphone and other opioids include:4,5.15

  • Chronic constipation and increased risk of bowel obstruction.
  • Reduced fertility, low libido, erectile dysfunction.
  • If injected: skin infections, heart infections, damaged veins, HIV, hepatitis C.
  • Hyperalgesia, or an increased sensitivity to pain.
  • Increased risk of transitioning to heroin use.

Hydromorphone Withdrawal Symptoms

Hydromorphone withdrawal can cause a number of symptoms that can be intensely uncomfortable.7 Coping with these symptoms can be challenging in early recovery, as some people may be tempted to use opioids again to avoid them, which is why it’s important to seek professional help.4,7 Hydromorphone withdrawal symptoms can include but are not limited to:4,7

  • Anxiety.
  • Insomnia (trouble falling asleep or staying asleep).
  • Stomach cramps.
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Joint and muscle aches.
  • Fever and sweating.
  • Goosebumps and chills.

When you are physically dependent on hydromorphone and suddenly stop using it, severe withdrawal symptoms and uncontrolled pain may also increase your risk of suicide.4

Hydromorphone Withdrawal Timeline

The hydromorphone withdrawal timeline can vary from person to person. Generally speaking for relatively short acting opioids, withdrawal symptoms can start around 8 to 24 hours after your last dose, peak in intensity 1 to 3 days later, and then subside within about 7 to 10 days.14 How bad symptoms are (intensity) and how long it lasts (duration), depends on such factors as:7

  • How much hydromorphone you take.
  • How long you’ve been taking it.
  • How often you take it.
  • If you have other physical or mental health issues.
  • If you use other substances.
  • Whether you have been using an extended-release or immediate-release formula.

How to Get Help for Hydromorphone Addiction

For many people, professional detox is often the first step in the recovery process. Supervised medical detox can help ease withdrawal symptoms and keep you comfortable and safe in a supportive environment.7

People often benefit from further treatment after they complete detox, because detox does not address the underlying causes of the addiction.7 Common settings for further treatment may include:8

  • Inpatient rehab, where you live onsite and stay overnight for the length of treatment. Inpatient treatment can vary in intensity and duration. It can last from days to weeks to up to a year depending on your recovery needs.
  • Outpatient rehab, where you live at home and travel to rehab on a fixed schedule for treatment. As with inpatient treatment, outpatient rehab can vary in intensity and duration. The most intense outpatient programs may include treatment every day for several hours per day, while less intense programs may only have sessions 1 to 3 times per week.

During treatment, you may take part in different types of therapy and other interventions, which can include:9–12

  • Behavioral therapies. These therapies include methods such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), contingency management (CM), or 12-step facilitation therapy. Behavioral therapies help you identify and change harmful thoughts and behaviors and learn skills to better manage stress and prevent relapse (return to drug use after a period of not using).
  • Prescription addiction medicines. Medications like buprenorphine (Suboxone, Subutex), methadone, or naltrexone (Vivitrol) can be helpful for preventing relapse, reducing opioid use, and increasing positive treatment outcomes.
  • Peer support groups. Many people attend self-help groups such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) as a way of getting support from others who know what it’s like to go through the recovery process.

Will Insurance Cover Treatment for Hydromorphone Addiction?

Insurance does typically cover addiction and mental health treatment in Las Vegas, NV, and throughout the country. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) states that insurance companies need to cover substance abuse and mental health services at the same level as they cover medical care, such as surgery.13 This means that services like outpatient treatment, intensive outpatient treatment, residential treatment, detoxification, recovery support services, and medication may be covered in full or in part, depending on your insurance plan.13 The best way to know what your plan will cover is to call the number on the back of your insurance card.

Many common insurance plans are in-network at American Addiction Centers. You can quickly and easily see if your insurance is one of them by filling out the form below.

Finding Hydromorphone Addiction Treatment in Nevada

No matter how things might seem right now, it’s never too late to seek treatment for hydromorphone addiction. The path to recovery starts with asking for help. American Addiction Centers is a leading provider of detox and addiction treatment, with a treatment center in Las Vegas as well as centers across the nation. Please reach out to one of our caring, professional admissions navigators, who can help you find the right treatment for your needs. They’re here to listen to you without judgment any time, day or night, at .