Dilaudid is an opioid four times more potent than morphine and it can put you at risk for overdose.

Dilaudid (hydromorphone hydrochloride) is a drug that is around four times more potent than morphine. Anyone can overdose on hydromorphone hydrochloride. During an overdose, Dilaudid limits brain activity that controls breathing, and breathing can slow or stop.

In the event of an overdose, naloxone may be used to stop the effects. The drug breaks the opioid’s bond to the brain. Other life-saving methods can be used as needed. The main priority is to make sure the person can breathe.

Dilaudid (Hydromorphone Hydrochloride) Overdose Symptoms

The main symptoms of Dilaudid overdose are passing out, limited breathing and tiny pupils. These symptoms are referred to as the “opioid overdose triad.” They are proof of major toxicity in the body. As hydromorphone hydrochloride overwhelms the nervous system, a person’s body starts to shut down.

Other possible symptoms of hydromorphone overdose include

  • Blue lips or fingers
  • Cold skin
  • Muscle spasms
  • Muscle weakness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Lethargy
  • Faint heartbeat

During an overdose, the individual will be at risk for major brain damage and death due to a lack of oxygen if too much time passes before naloxone is used.

See More: Narcan: The Opiate Overdose Antidote 

How Much Dilaudid (Hydromorphone Hydrochloride) Causes an Overdose?

The amount of Dilaudid that it takes to overdose depends on the person. Someone who has never taken an opioid before may overdose on a much lower dose of hydromorphone than a person who is physically dependent on opioids and routinely takes high opioid doses.

The main cause of a hydromorphone overdose is using the drug with other depressants, like alcohol, muscle relaxants, benzosbarbiturates and street drugs, such as PCP. The FDA has issued a Black Box Warning about taking the drug with depressants for this reason.

How To Treat an Overdose

Treating a Dilaudid overdose requires the use of naloxone and ensures the person is able to breathe. Naloxone stops the effects of opioids. Extra doses of naloxone may be used in severe hydromorphone overdoses. After you have given naloxone to someone, you should call 911 because naloxone can wear off. You will not get in trouble for saving someone’s life by seeking emergency medical help.

How To Avoid a Dilaudid Overdose

The best way to avoid a hydromorphone overdose is to take your medication exactly as prescribed, and don’t take higher or more frequent doses than your doctor instructs. Further, you should only ever take Dilaudid that is prescribed to you, and not Dilaudid meant for someone else.

Doctors take steps to detect drug-seeking behavior in patients who request opioids. Health care providers screen patients with a history of substance misuse and routinely test their urine or blood to make sure they are taking their prescribed opioids correctly. Hospitals may check for scars as a sign of drug use, and medical programs are in place to allow physicians to look up a patient’s history. All of these methods are meant to protect people from having an overdose.

Hydromorphone Hydrochloride Overdose Statistics

Like most opioids, Dilaudid overdoses have increased in recent years. In 2019, almost 50,000 Americans died from an opioid overdose. An estimated 21–29% of people misuse their prescription opioids. That rate is why doctors are so careful.

If you or a loved one struggles with opioid use, help is available. Contact The Recovery Village to learn how expert treatment can prevent an opioid overdose.

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Editor – Erica Weiman
Erica Weiman graduated from Pace University in 2014 with a master's in Publishing and has been writing and editing ever since. 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

World Health Organization. “Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Manag[…]e in Closed Settings.” 2009. Accessed September 12, 2021.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Opioid Overdose Crisis.” March 11, 2021. Accessed September 12, 2021.

American Academy of Family Physicians. “Opioid Conversion Table.” Accessed September 12, 2021.

Drugs.com. “Hydromorphone.” August 6, 2020. Accessed September 12, 2021.

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.