Article at a Glance:

  • Hydromorphone is an opioid also known by its brand name Dilaudid.
  • The pain-relieving action of short-acting hydromorphone kicks in within 30 minutes, but it can be detected in your body for much longer.
  • The drug can be detected in saliva for up to two days, urine for up to three days, blood for almost four hours, and hair for up to 90 days.

Hydromorphone Hydrochloride Showing Up on Drug Tests

Hydromorphone hydrochloride (Dilaudid) is an opioid that comes in both short-acting and long-acting formulations. The short-acting form of the drug starts to work within 30 minutes, reaching its peak effect within an hour. In contrast, the long-acting form starts to work within six hours and reaches peak effectiveness within nine hours.

However, even after its pain-relieving properties start to wear off, the drug may still show up on drug tests, including urine, blood, saliva and hair tests.

How Long Does Hydromorphone Hydrochloride Stay in Your Urine, Hair, and Blood?

Hydromorphone will show up in a drug test screening. For this reason, you should inform the drug test administrator if you are taking or have recently taken this prescription.

Hydromorphone can be found in the following drug tests:

Half-Life of Hydromorphone Hydrochloride

The half-life of a medication is the time it takes for your body to break down half of the drug. Generally, it takes five half-lives for a drug to completely leave your system.

  • The half-life of short-acting hydromorphone is 2–3 hours, meaning it can stay in your system for up to 15 hours.
  • The half-life of long-acting hydromorphone is 8–15 hours, meaning it can remain in your system for just over three days.

Factors That Influence How Long Hydromorphone Hydrochloride Stays in Your System

Several physiological factors influence how long hydromorphone hydrochloride will stay in your system after the last dose. These factors include:

  • The drug’s formulation (short or long-acting)
  • Dosage
  • Frequency you took the drug
  • How you took the drug (injected versus orally)
  • Your age
  • Your body composition and sex
  • Your overall health
  • Other medications you take
  • Your hydration and nutritional status

Your doctor can help you to approximate a time frame in which hydromorphone hydrochloride will stay in your system. Inform your doctor of your complete medical history so he or she can accurately help you.

Hydromorphone Hydrochloride Prescription Facts

Hydromorphone is a semi-synthetic opioid analgesic, meaning that it is partially man-made. The drug is prescribed to change the way your body feels and reacts to pain. It is prescribed for severe pain that can only be controlled with opioids.

As with any other prescription drug, hydromorphone hydrochloride carries a risk of side effects. These side effects can include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Sweating
  • Flushing
  • Dry mouth

As with other opioids, overdose is possible and potentially deadly. This is especially true if you take the drug with other central nervous system depressants, like alcohol or benzodiazepines.

Inform your doctor if you are experiencing any side effects from hydromorphone hydrochloride and avoid any medications or substances it interacts with, including alcohol, while it remains in your system. If you’re unsure about the safety of taking other medications or drinking alcohol after taking your prescription of hydromorphone hydrochloride, talk to your doctor.

Hydromorphone Hydrochloride Regulations

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has listed hydromorphone as a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it has a high potential for abuse, dependence and addiction.

Most Commonly Abused Drugs Containing Hydromorphone Hydrochloride

Hydromorphone is available both as a generic drug and under the brand name Dilaudid. When hydromorphone hydrochloride is abused, people may be misusing a prescription, or they may be illicitly purchasing the drug off the street. Street names for hydromorphone include:

  • Dust
  • Juice
  • Dillies
  • Smack
  • D
  • Footballs

How Hydromorphone Hydrochloride Affects the Brain and Body

Hydromorphone hydrochloride works in your brain to change the way your body feels pain. It works by binding to the brain’s mu-opioid receptors, reducing pain sensations.

Over time, your body can become physically dependent on hydromorphone. Physical dependence is not the same thing as addiction. Instead, it means that your body has come to expect the presence of hydromorphone. Therefore, if you abruptly stop taking hydromorphone, this may bring about uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Consult your doctor to receive assistance as needed while weaning off of this prescription.

Opioid addiction can happen to anyone, even if they’re used as prescribed. If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to hydromorphone or another opioid, addiction rehab treatment addresses the physical and psychological impacts of opioids to help you learn why you became addicted in the first place.

Contact The Recovery Village’s helpful representatives to discuss your treatment options, answer your questions about treatment and get you started on the path to long-term recovery.

  • Sources

    Drugs.com. “Hydromorphone.” August 6, 2020. Accessed July 3, 2021.

    Hallare, Jericho; Gerriets, Valerie. “Half Life.” StatPearls, October 6, 2020. Accessed July 3, 2021.

    ARUP Laboratories. “Therapeutic Drug Monitoring.” June 2021. Accessed July 3, 2021.

    Cansford Laboratories. “Oral Fluid (Saliva) Testing.” Accessed July 3, 2021.

    Drug Enforcement Administration. “Hydromorphone.” September 2019. Accessed July 3, 2021.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Commonly Used Terms.” January 26, 2021. Accessed July 3, 2021.

    ARUP Laboratories. “Drug Plasma Half-Life and Urine Detection Window.” January 2019. Accessed July 3, 2021.

    Gryczynski, Jan; Schwartz, Robert P; Mitchell, Shannon D; et al. “Hair Drug Testing Results and Self-reported Drug Use among Primary Care Patients with Moderate-risk Illicit Drug Use.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, May 17, 2014. Accessed July 3, 2021.

  • Medical Disclaimer

    The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a 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 provider.

    View our editorial policy or view our research.

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