A Elements Behavioral Health Guide to Drug Rehab
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Dilaudid Abuse

Prescription Drug Abuse
Dilaudid Abuse

Dilaudid is one of a few brand names for a compound called hydromorphone. Other brand names for this generic, prescription drug are Exalgo, Hydrostat, and Palladone. Hydromorphone is a habit-forming prescription that is indicated for moderate and severe pain as well as painful coughing. It is often prescribed instead of morphine because it has less severe side effects and in place of fentanyl for those who experience hallucinations as a fentanyl side effect.

What is Hydromorphone?

Hydromorphone is an analgesic, or pain killer, and is also a narcotic because it is habit-forming. It is a semi-synthetic drug that belongs to a class called opiods. Opiods are compounds that act on certain receptors in the central nervous system and in the gastrointestinal tract. They are psychoactive and cause a euphoric feeling in addition to pain relief. Hydromorphone is derived from morphine which is a natural opioid that comes from the opium poppy.

In the early 20th century, heroin, another derivative from the poppy plant, was sold as a cough suppressant. It was eventually banned as physicians realized how addictive and dangerous it was. In 1924, German chemists synthesized hydromorphone from morphine and found that it was an excellent replacement for heroin. It is one of the most powerful cough suppressants available. The German company Knox called hydromorphone Dilaudid because the compound came from the morphine in laudanum.

Although Dilaudid causes side effects and is addictive, it is less so than morphine or heroin. Dilaudid can cause respiratory and circulatory depression, dizziness, itching, constipation, nausea, sweating, and vomiting. It also causes a powerful euphoria, which has lead people to abuse Dilaudid. Those who use Dilaudid as directed by a physician are at low risk of developing dependence. Abusers, however, use more than is recommended and eventually become tolerant, leading to greater and greater quantities.

How is it used?

Dilaudid is available as a prescription in several forms: oral tablets, oral liquid, intramuscular injection, intravenous injection, and suppository. Abusers take Dilaudid in any form depending on how they acquire it. Tablets are the most common form and those who misuse it may take the pills orally or alter them for a different intake. They may crush the pills to inhale them or dissolve the crushed pills in water to inject it intravenously.

Where does it come from?

Users may get Dilaudid by shopping for doctors and requesting prescriptions or by purchasing it from dealers on the street. Street names for Dilaudid include Juice, Smack, Dust, Footballs, and D. Dealers may get the drug from robbing pharmacies or from unscrupulous doctors and pharmacists. Dilaudid is largely abused by people in rural and suburban areas.

What are the signs Dilaudid addiction?

Dilaudid is a prescription drug that has habit-forming properties. Those who misuse it are at risk of becoming addicted. As a person uses more and more Dilaudid, the body develops a tolerance to it, requiring more of the drug to produce a high. In this way, someone can become addicted to this substance.

Look for the following signs if you suspect someone is misusing Dilaudid:

  • Personality and lifestyle changes can accompany addiction to any drug. An addict often loses interest in previous activities, work, and relationships. They may also neglect their hygiene and develop financial problems.
  • Those misusing Dilaudid may develop issues with eating, including anorexia.
  • Physical symptoms of someone using too much Dilaudid include constipation, dizziness, sleepiness, and low breathing rate.
  • Dilaudid use can also cause mood swings and a decline in both mental and physical abilities.
  • If someone you know is taking Dilaudid and they experience withdrawal symptoms when they cannot get more, they probably have an addiction. Withdrawal symptoms are agitation, vomiting, nausea, delusions, sweating, insomnia, rigid muscles, flu-like symptoms, and a rapid heart beat.

What are the consequences of abusing Dialudid?

Dilaudid is a fairly safe prescription drug when used as directed. The danger results when a person misuses it by taking more than is recommended and by taking it more frequently. Consequences of using Dilaudid include nausea and vomiting, skin rashes and itching, convulsions, slow heartbeat, difficulty breathing, and even coma or cardiac arrest. Abusers may also develop tremors, nervousness, unusual dreams, muscle stiffness, hallucinations, intracranial pressure, low blood pressure, and difficulty urinating.

There are also potentially severe or even fatal interactions between Dilaudid and other substances. It is very dangerous to take it with alcohol, sedatives, tranquilizers, and phenothiazines. They enhance the depressive effect of Dilaudid and can lead to serious health problems or even death.

When to help

Any drug addiction is serious and should be dealt with as soon as possible. If you suspect that someone you know is misusing Dilaudid, you must intervene. An overdose of Dilaudid is possible and can easily lead to coma, cardiac arrest, and death. If you see any signs of overdose, get emergency help immediately.

Overdose may cause:

  • Respiratory depression
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Constricted pupils
  • Airway obstruction
  • Atypical snoring and sleep apnea
  • Stupor
  • Coma

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