What Is Dilaudid?

Dilaudid is a prescription medication that alleviates moderate to severe pain caused by cancer, broken bones, major surgeries or other medical conditions involving chronic pain. Also known as hydromorphone, this drug is part of a class of substances called opioids that alters how the brain responds to pain and eases discomfort. While these substances may be effective in the short term, they can lead to addiction and dependence if used irresponsibly or over a long period. Because of this, it’s important only to take Dilaudid when prescribed by a responsible licensed medical professional. 

Is Dilaudid an Opiate?

Dilaudid is a semisynthetic opiate, classifying it as an “opioid” instead of a pure “opiate.” While semisynthetic opiates have many of the same physical and psychological effects as pure opiates, they are derived from pure opiates (like morphine) rather than opium directly. If you’ve ever asked yourself, “What is Dilaudid made of?” the answer is morphine. While semisynthetic opiates were originally created to be safer alternatives to pure opiates, this class of drugs contains some of the most widely abused opioids available today, including heroin, OxyContin, Opana, Subutex and Suboxone

Is Dilaudid a Narcotic?

Hydromorphone is a narcotic that has the potential to help those suffering from severe pain after surgery or manage chronic pain. It is a derivative of morphine that has several brand names, with Dilaudid being one of the most popular. Because Dilaudid is a narcotic, it has the potential for misuse and abuse. Like many other prescription narcotics, Dilaudid can be a powerful medication for those needing help with pain, but others may use it far beyond their need for relief or use it exclusively to get high. Dilaudid misuse occurs when it is resold or acquired without a prescription (including illegal street selling or purchasing).

If you are experiencing pain and believe you need narcotics to cope, consult your doctor to develop a care plan. If your use of Dilaudid or other narcotics has become recreational, you should seek treatment by consulting your doctor or reaching out to a rehabilitation center like The Recovery Village

Dilaudid Addiction

Misusing Dilaudid can quickly lead to physical dependency after just a few days of regular abuse. Dependence can then lead to tolerance. When Dilaudid no longer works in the dosage it once did, it likely means that the body has developed a tolerance to it. This leaves many users with the urge to take more Dilaudid, which could easily lead to addiction and withdrawal (if the dosage is decreased or stopped). 

Signs and Symptoms of Dilaudid Addiction

General symptoms of Dilaudid abuse and addiction include: 

  • Breathing problems
  • Sweating
  • Itching or scratching
  • Coordination problems
  • Mood swings, which can range from shows of euphoria to depressive or irritable states
  • Nodding off or trouble staying awake or alert, particularly at strange times
  • Sweating excessively
  • Headache
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Dry mouth
  • Anxiety
  • Rash
  • Hoarseness of the voice

Lifestyle and behavioral changes also typically accompany Dilaudid abuse and addiction:

  • Forging prescriptions or visiting multiple doctors
  • Stealing from family or friends
  • Spending a lot of money on Dilaudid
  • Lying or becoming defensive about Dilaudid use
  • Isolating from friends and family
  • Declining performance at school or work
  • Problems keeping commitments
  • Being obsessed with getting the next dose
  • Buying Dilaudid online or illegally on the street

If you or someone you know is struggling with Dilaudid abuse or addiction, The Recovery Village can help. Many treatment programs are available to aid recovery, including medical detoxification and outpatient programs. Substance abuse doesn’t have to be part of your life, and you’re not alone in your struggle. 

Unsure if you or a loved one has a problem with Dilaudid addiction? Try our free, no-risk assessment to learn more.

Dilaudid Overdose

Abusing Dilaudid can result in an overdose. If an overdose occurs from snorting Dilaudid — or ingesting it in any other manner — it could result in any of the following symptoms:

  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness and dizziness
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Labored or shallow breathing
  • Weakened pulse
  • Stomach spasms
  • Seizures 
  • Muscle twitches
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Blue lips and fingernails 
  • Coma

Many of these symptoms can be life-threatening; if you or someone you know overdoses on Dilaudid, it’s important to seek medical help immediately. So, can you snort Dilaudid? Yes. Should you snort Dilaudid? Never. The risks of misusing this drug far outweigh any benefits, so it’s best to take Dilaudid only with a valid prescription and as prescribed.

Many drug rehabilitation centers throughout the country, like The Recovery Village, can help with Dilaudid abuse and addiction, whether it involves snorting Dilaudid or any other method of ingestion. Centers offer many programs, including medical detoxification, residential treatment and partial hospitalization programs. With intake coordinators available around the clock, the first step in entering the world of recovery is just a phone call away. 

Mixing Dilaudid With Alcohol

If alcohol is a regular part of your diet and routine, consuming it while taking prescription medications may seem harmless. However, drinking alcohol while taking painkillers like Dilaudid can put you at risk for adverse substance interactions.

When depressants like alcohol are used alongside opioids like Dilaudid, you are at an increased risk for overdose, death and a host of short-term side effects. Together, these substances can impact the nervous system, resulting in lightheadedness, drowsiness, dizziness and impaired judgment. Dilaudid and alcohol can also lead to low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, fainting and coma. Because both substances can impact cognition, it is easier to take more than intended, resulting in an increased risk of overdose.

Because of the dangers associated with the two substances, Dilaudid must never be used with alcohol. If you or someone you know is combining these two, resources are available to help overcome drug and alcohol addiction. The Recovery Village offers a full range of treatments, from medical detox to aftercare, to help patients heal for long-term recovery.

Is a Dilaudid High Dangerous?

Yes. Dilaudid is typically prescribed as an oral liquid, immediate-release tablet, extended-release tablet or rectal suppository to relieve different pain levels. However, when misused, it can result in a “high.” Getting high on Dilaudid — or any other opioid — can be very dangerous. 

When Dilaudid is misused to achieve a high, its effects on the body are more potent than when taken as prescribed. Sometimes, people misuse this medication by snorting it or mixing it with alcohol, which can enhance its effects. This kind of high can occur within seconds or minutes. Once the drug takes effect in the body, the central nervous system’s opioid receptors are activated and a euphoric feeling ensues. 

Although euphoria and relaxation are the desired effects of getting high on Dilaudid, this can be very dangerous. Breathing problems are commonly associated with Dilaudid highs, among other symptoms. These problems can be especially dangerous if they occur while sleeping. Another potential risk of getting high on Dilaudid is the increased risk of chronic use, which can lead to dependence, tolerance, addiction and withdrawal (if the dosage is decreased or stopped). Of course, addiction and withdrawal have their own symptoms, many of which can also be fatal.

What Are the Dangers of Snorting Dilaudid?

Prescription Dilaudid is typically taken orally in tablet or liquid form to treat moderate to severe pain. However, many people misuse this medication by ingesting it differently to achieve a more rapid and powerful effect. “Can you snort Dilaudid?” is a commonly asked question of those who misuse this drug. Although it is physically possible, snorting Dilaudid is very dangerous and should never occur. 

When considering all the methods of ingestion, snorting Dilaudid has the fastest effect, and less of it is required to achieve a “high” compared to other methods. This is because the drug enters the brain faster when inhaled as a powder than when taken orally. Those who misuse Dilaudid by snorting it typically pulverize the pills into powder and inhale it with a straw or other tube. This means of inhalation can result in many very serious and potentially fatal physical and mental dangers, including:

  • Increased risk of addiction and overdose over other methods of ingestion 
  • Brain and facial damage
  • Damage to nasal passage cartilage
  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased blood flow to the brain (hypoxia)
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Psychosis
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations and paranoia

Is Plugging Dilaudid Dangerous?

Some doctors may prescribe hydromorphone as a rectal medication. Because it doesn’t have to pass through the digestive system, this medication is ideal for certain patients who have undergone gastric bypass or are in a weakened or hospice state. It is important to note that Dilaudid is formulated and dosed differently when used rectally instead of orally or intravenously. It should only be taken rectally with a doctor’s orders, and doses should never exceed the recommended amount or frequency. While it can be an effective way to manage moderate to severe pain for some, Dilaudid also has the capacity for misuse. It can be extremely habit-forming in any form, even rectally.

For those who misuse opioids, the rectal administration of hydromorphone, also known as plugging, is done to experience a high faster than oral ingestion. Most drugs administered rectally are more efficiently dispersed throughout the body, prompting some to misuse Dilaudid by plugging. Whether using rectal hydromorphone with a doctor’s orders or recreationally, several risks are involved, the greatest of which is the potential for slowed or suspended breathing. Dangers include:

  • Slowed or stopped breathing (especially for those with asthma)
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Increased risk of dependence and addiction
  • Diarrhea
  • Severe drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Lightheadedness
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Impotence
  • Infertility

What Is Dilaudid IV Pushing?

Outside of a clinical setting, IV pushing can also refer to administering a drug intravenously with a needle and syringe. There are many slang and street names for Dilaudid IV pushing, including “shooting up,” “slamming” and “jacking up.” Those who inject opioids often do so because it results in an almost instantaneous high. Like rectal administration, intravenous injections bypass the digestive system for a more immediate feeling of euphoria for those misusing the drug. Aside from the dangers of a Dilaudid high and prolonged drug use, there are many physical risks associated with shooting Dilaudid and other opioids, including:

  • Blood-borne diseases like HIV
  • Collapsed veins
  • Staph or other infections as a result of bacteria from your skin or dirty appliances
  • A higher chance of overdose because the drug does not pass through the digestive system
  • Poor blood flow resulting in feet, ankle and leg swelling

If you or someone you know is addicted to Dilaudid and taking it intravenously, it’s important to seek help. 

Dilaudid Addiction Hotline

The Recovery Village offers a toll-free Dilaudid hotline you can call at any time of day or night. Our addiction specialists are standing by to talk through the struggles you or a loved one have with Dilaudid use. We can connect you to the help you need.

If you or a loved one are in a life-threatening situation, please call 911. Otherwise, our trained professionals are here to assist you with whatever you need.

Call the Dilaudid addiction hotline today: 844-507-4503.

How Long Does Dilaudid Stay In Your System?

How long Dilaudid stays in your system depends on many factors, including your weight, age and how much is taken. Consult your doctor to ensure you take the correct dose of Dilaudid or any other medication.

What Is the Dilaudid Half-Life?

Medications serve different purposes and affect people in many ways. They also have differing half-lives, which vary from drug to drug. A drug’s half-life is how long it takes for a substance to lose its pharmacologic activity or for the plasma concentration to reach half of its original concentration. It is also referred to as biological half-life or terminal half-life. To address the question “What is the half-life of Dilaudid?” it’s important to consider the method of administration. Considering the amount of time it takes for it to be eliminated from other parts of the body and reach a steady state is also important.

What’s the Half-Life of IV and Oral Dilaudid?

The half-life of Dilaudid medication is about two and a half hours. These numbers may vary, however, depending on the type of Dilaudid being taken and your overall health. In general, oral liquid or tablets of Dilaudid take longer to produce the desired effects in the body than snorting or injecting the drug, but they last longer.

Dilaudid Withdrawal & Detox

Quitting Dilaudid in its liquid or pill form can lead to unpleasant physical and mental withdrawals. This is because your body grows accustomed to the presence of this narcotic pain reliever. You can become dependent on Dilaudid in as little as two or three weeks. 

How Long Does Dilaudid Withdrawal Last?

Symptoms can vary depending on how much of the drug is taken and how long the abuse lasts. The longer you take Dilaudid, the worse the withdrawal symptoms can be once you stop taking it. 

Common Dilaudid withdrawal symptoms include: 

  • Drug cravings 
  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Tremors
  • Diarrhea 
  • Nausea 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Shivering 
  • Agitation or irritability 
  • Depression
  • Insomnia

When Does Hydromorphone Withdrawal Start?

If you’re addicted to an opiate like hydromorphone, withdrawals can include severe sickness within a short time of your last dose. If you stop Dilaudid cold turkey without taking anything else to ease the transition, you may begin to feel withdrawal symptoms within as little as six hours. In most cases, Dilaudid withdrawals start within 12 hours after your last use of the medication. You may experience sweating, anxiety, runny nose or muscle cramping. 

When Does Dilaudid Withdrawal Peak?

In most cases, Dilaudid withdrawals peak after the first 24–48 hours following your last dose. The most intense symptoms will likely fade after the third or fourth day of not taking Dilaudid. In the days and weeks following, depending on the severity of the drug abuse, people may experience lingering symptoms of anxiety, insomnia and irritability. The length of Dilaudid withdrawal depends on the severity of your addiction, length of use, dosage, other substance abuse and any pre-existing health conditions. People who take larger doses of Dilaudid (such as Exalgo extended-release tablets) for a long period generally have a longer withdrawal period. 

Uncomfortable at best and life-threatening at worst, Dilaudid withdrawal symptoms shouldn’t be overlooked. If your symptoms worsen, call your doctor or physician for advice on the best course of action to handle withdrawal. With the right care and nutritional support, withdrawal can be much more tolerable. Generous nutritional supplementation can ease some more manageable withdrawal symptoms like cramps. Taking vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and B vitamins may help ease the transition off of Dilaudid; however, you should double-check with your doctor that these are safe for you.

Quitting Dilaudid cold turkey without talking with your doctor first is never a good idea. Consult with your primary care doctor or physician about a lower dose of Dilaudid or a supplemental medication you can take in its place. Your physician can advise you on the safest way to emerge from dependence on Dilaudid and provide immediate care if complications arise.

Dilaudid Detox

Medical detox is a safe and effective way to help people physically or psychologically reliant on Dilaudid. Doctors closely monitor the patient during medical detox and treat any severe or uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. They may provide medications to help manage certain symptoms, such as nausea and anxiety. 

Throughout a patient’s stay, the doctor will gradually reduce the dose of Dilaudid. Medications like buprenorphine may be used as replacements for Dilaudid as your system is cleansed of the drug.

Treatment for Dilaudid Addiction

Following medical detox, experts recommend rehab to help keep you off Dilaudid for good. While medical detox weans you off Dilaudid, rehab addresses the underlying issues that made you take the drug in the first place. Therefore, taking part in rehab for a long-term recovery from Dilaudid is important. Options include both inpatient and outpatient rehab.

Inpatient Dilaudid Addiction Rehab

In an inpatient Dilaudid rehab program, you live on-site in a sober living environment and participate in group therapy sessions. You also learn new coping skills for living a Dilaudid-free life as you heal your mind and body from Dilaudid. Options include:

  • Residential Rehab Programs: In a residential rehab program, you live on-site in a sober living environment, participating in group therapy, education, healing activities and recreational therapy.
  • Partial Hospitalization Program: A partial hospitalization program is a step towards outpatient rehab. In this program, you attend rehab sessions during the day but go home to a sober living environment at night.

Outpatient Dilaudid Addiction Rehab

In an outpatient Dilaudid rehab program, you have more independence and flexibility. Not only do you live at home, but you also can often start school or work, re-entering daily life as you heal from your addiction. Rehab options include:

  • Intensive Outpatient Program: In intensive outpatient programs, you continue to live at home but spend hours per week at the facility, although to a lesser extent than a partial hospitalization program.
  • Outpatient Treatment Program: In an outpatient program, you live at home and partake in rehab sessions during the week. These sessions may be in-person or offered via teletherapy.
  • Aftercare: After rehab, you continue your recovery through an aftercare program. This program includes alumni groups and support groups to help keep you focused on your recovery over the long term. 

Get the Help You Need for Dilaudid and Hydromorphone Addiction Today

A Dilaudid addiction can feel overwhelming. However, recovery is possible. The Recovery Village believes that by offering you support every step of the way and meeting you where you are, we can help you achieve your sobriety goals from Dilaudid. Don’t wait: contact us today to see how we can help.

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Editor – Theresa Valenzky
Theresa Valenzky graduated from the University of Akron with a Bachelor of Arts in News/Mass Media Communication and a certificate in psychology. She is passionate about providing genuine information to encourage and guide healing in all aspects of life. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD
Dr. Jessica Pyhtila is a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist based in Baltimore, Maryland with practice sites in inpatient palliative care and outpatient primary care at the Department of Veteran Affairs. Read more


Is Dilaudid a Narcotic?

Dilaudid (hydromorphone) is a semisynthetic form of morphine, making it a narcotic opioid. Hydromorphone is a narcotic that has the potential to help those suffering from severe pain after surgery, or manage chronic pain.

Because Dilaudid is a narcotic, it has the potential for misuse and abuse.

Is Dilaudid an Opiate?

Dilaudid is a semisynthetic opiate, which officially classifies it as an “opioid” instead of a pure “opiate.” While semisynthetic opiates have many of the same physical and psychological effects as pure opiates, they are derived from pure opiates (like morphine), rather than from opium directly. If you’ve ever asked yourself, “What is Dilaudid made of?” the answer is morphine. While semisynthetic opiates were originally created to be safer alternatives to pure opiates, this class of drugs contains some of the most widely abused opioids available today, including heroin, Oxycontin, Opana, Subutexand Suboxone.

Is Hydromorphone Dilaudid?

Yes. Hydromorphone is the generic name for Dilaudid. This generic name is derived from the drug’s longer, chemical name — dihydromorphinone. Medications are given chemical names when they are first discovered or created that describe their molecular or atomic makeup. The name dihydromorphine illustrates that hydromorphone is a hydrogenated ketone of another widely used opioid: morphine. Because hydromorphone is derived from morphine, it falls under a class of opioids called semisynthetic opioids. Hydromorphone is the generic name for a collection of prescription opioids other than Dilaudid, including Dilaudid-5, Palladone and Exalgo.

What Does Dilaudid Look Like?

Dilaudid can be taken through oral, intravenous or rectal methods. What Dilaudid looks like depends on the form it is in. In its pill form, Dilaudid is typically distributed in small, round, colored tablets or three-sided white tablets. In its liquid form, the drug comes in a slightly viscous and colorless solution, clear or pale yellow in appearance. Dilaudid suppositories are typically oblong in shape.

What Is Dilaudid?

Dilaudid is a prescription medication used to alleviate moderate to severe pain caused by cancer, broken bones, major surgeries or other medical conditions that involve chronic pain. Also known as hydromorphone, this drug is part of a class of substances called opioids that alters how the brain responds to pain and eases discomfort. While these substances may be effective in the short term, they can lead to addiction and dependence if used irresponsibly or over a long period of time. Because of this, it’s important that you only take Dilaudid when prescribed by a responsible licensed medical professional.

What Is the Generic Name for Dilaudid?

The generic name for Dilaudid is hydromorphone. Also known as dihydromorphinone, hydromorphone is a pain-relieving compound derived from morphine. Because it is derived from morphine, hydromorphone is classified as a semisynthetic opioid. This medication is used to address severe to moderate pain, particularly in cases where other opioids could not adequately manage a patient’s pain. Hydromorphone is primarily prescribed to relieve around-the-clock discomfort and is rarely used to address pain on an as-needed basis.


Drugs.com. “HYDROmorphone Monograph for Professionals“>HYDROmor[…]Professionals.” April 19, 2023. Accessed August 25, 2023.

American Society of Addiction Medicine. “National Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder“>National[…] Use Disorder.” December 18, 2019. Accessed August 25, 2023.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.