Hydromorphone hydrochloride withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable or even dangerous, but medications can help provide some much-needed relief.

Article at a Glance:

  • Hydromorphone hydrochloride withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks.
  • Hydromorphone withdrawal should take place under medical supervision.
  • Due to high rates of misuse and overdose, the extended-release tablet of hydromorphone hydrochloride was discontinued in 2015.

Hydromorphone Withdrawal and Detox

Withdrawal symptoms can occur when someone stops taking hydromorphone hydrochloride. Because these withdrawal symptoms can be more severe, hydromorphone hydrochloride detox is best completed under medical supervision.

The withdrawal process may involve intense drug cravings and a variety of flu-like symptoms. Patients may experience aches and pains throughout their body along with nausea, vomiting and chills. In a medical detox setting, medications can be administered to help treat withdrawal symptoms.

What Are Common Hydromorphone Withdrawal Symptoms?

Common hydromorphone withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Chills
  • Goosebumps
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Runny nose
  • Excessive tear secretion
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Profuse sweating
  • Depression
  • Anhedonia (inability to enjoy pleasurable activities)

In a clinical setting, yawning, dilated pupils and excessive tear production are telltale signs for diagnosing opioid withdrawal. Long-term hydromorphone users tend to experience the most intense withdrawal periods.

Hydromorphone Withdrawal Timeline and Symptom Duration

Although hydromorphone hydrochloride is a fast-acting pain reliever, some formulations can remain active for up to several hours. If doses aren’t gradually reduced, withdrawal can begin within hours of the final dose.

Anxiety and restlessness characterize the first few hours of withdrawal, and symptoms can peak between hours 14 and 48. During this time, the patient may begin to experience muscle aches, profuse sweating, nausea, tremors, and chills.

Symptoms typically reduce in severity from this point onward, but they may last for several weeks in some individuals. By the end of the second week, most patients are done experiencing the flu-like symptoms of early withdrawal. However, it’s common for symptoms of anxiety, depression, insomnia and irritability to persist for several weeks or longer.

Managing Withdrawal Symptoms

There are several ways that doctors work to manage a patient’s withdrawal symptoms. Some involve medication and monitoring, while others use a gradual tapering schedule to prevent severe symptoms.

If someone overdoses and is given an opioid antagonist like naloxone or nalmefene, withdrawal symptoms can occur immediately.  This happens because opioid antagonists rapidly reverse the effects of opioids by forcing them to release their bonds with opioid receptors in the body.

Hydromorphone Hydrochloride Medications and Detox

In an inpatient setting, doctors can provide medications to help make hydromorphone hydrochloride detox more tolerable. Antidepressants and anxiolytics can be administered for depression and anxiety, while medications like clonidine can be used to reduce sweating, muscle aches, and cramping.

People with a high level of physical dependency should have hydromorphone doses reduced gradually. In some instances, opioid agonists like buprenorphine or methadone may be prescribed to help ease symptoms of opioid withdrawal. These drugs reduce cravings by producing effects similar to hydromorphone hydrochloride without a high. They are often used as long-term medication treatments for opioid addiction.

Related Topic: Medication-Assisted Treatment

What Does Hydromorphone Hydrochloride Do?

Hydromorphone hydrochloride is a full opioid agonist that is primarily administered intravenously in hospital settings as a fast-acting painkiller. Hydromorphone’s rapid onset makes it ideal for treating pain associated with a traumatic injury.

Hydromorphone is four times more powerful than morphine, the opiate it is derived from. An extended-release tablet of the drug was available in the U.S. before being withdrawn in 2005 due to high rates of misuse and overdose.

Overdose Risk

Central nervous system depressants, including alcohol, should not be mixed with hydromorphone hydrochloride as they may enhance the drug’s depressant effects and increase the risk of overdose.

Before using hydromorphone, tell your doctor if you take: 

How To Choose a Hydromorphone Hydrochloride Center

Due to the serious nature of hydromorphone hydrochloride addiction, most patients will be asked to complete medical detox before starting a recovery program. For the vast majority of people recovering from opioid use, inpatient treatment will be the best option following detox. This setting provides patients with a safe place to reflect on their addiction while attending therapy and sharing experiences with others who can relate. Inpatient programs typically last around four weeks.

Upon completion of inpatient therapy, patients are encouraged to enroll in an outpatient program. During outpatient treatment, patients will usually meet three times a week to take part in exercises and build a support system that keeps them accountable for their recovery.

If you or someone you love is struggling with a hydromorphone addiction, help is available at The Recovery Village. Contact us today to learn more about treatment programs that can work well for your needs.

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Editor – Jonathan Strum
Jonathan Strum graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha with a Bachelor's in Communication in 2017 and has been writing professionally ever since. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Heena Joshi, PharmD
Dr. Joshi earned her Bachelor of Science in Physiology and Neurobiology from the University of Maryland. She went on to earn her Doctorate in Pharmacy from The Ohio State University. Read more

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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.