Dilaudid, which is also known in generic form as hydromorphone, is a strong and addictive narcotic painkiller. Physicians typically use Dilaudid to treat chronic severe pain on a long term basis. In clinical settings, intravenous administration is the norm; however, the drug also comes in tablet, sublingual and suppository form. Dilaudid comes from morphine and the opium poppy, and it is several times more powerful than morphine, which is considered the gold standard of palliative painkillers.
What to Know About Opiates
There are many drugs used to treat pain, cough and diarrhea that come from the opium poppy. These drugs, called opiates, are among the most powerful and addictive medicines known to mankind. Heroin is an opiate, as are Dilaudid, codeine and morphine. Sometimes, drug manufacturers blend or modify an opiate drug to make an opioid painkiller. Opioids are partial synthetics that include drugs such as Vicodin, OxyContin and Percocet. Although opiates and opioids are undeniably effective when used in tightly controlled circumstances, a large potential for dependency and addiction exists.
Opiates slow the activities controlled by the central nervous system. These activities include heart rate and breathing, which is why taking too much of a drug such as Dilaudid can result in fatal overdose. Opiates also affect the chemical pathways in the brain that relate to pleasure, learning and memory. This is why people who take opiate drugs for a long period of time for recreational purposes are at a high risk of developing addiction. Those who take Dilaudid for legitimate reasons and still feel the original pain symptoms are unlikely to develop addiction.
How Dilaudid Works in the Brain
The brain makes and manages the release of certain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters perform a variety of functions — one neurotransmitter, called dopamine, is the brain’s natural feel-good chemical. When taken as prescribed, Dilaudid forces the brain to release high amounts of dopamine, thus relieving pain and causing fatigue, dizziness and constipation. When abused, the brain releases huge amounts of dopamine and creates the high users associate with Dilaudid. The more an individual abuses it, the more the brain relies on it to produce good feelings — and has unwittingly set the trap of Dilaudid addiction.
As abuse continues, the brain becomes completely reliant on the drug to release the dopamine. The chemical dependency grows at the same time the user’s tolerance for Dilaudid increases. When a person develops tolerance, they need more and more of the substance to achieve the same effects. Dilaudid is often used in hospitals to treat patients who have developed a tolerance to less powerful painkillers such as codeine because of its strength; however, it is crucial for those who take Dilaudid to understand the difference between addiction and dependency. Although a person who is addicted to Dilaudid is probably chemically dependent on it, a person who is chemically dependent on Dilaudid might not necessarily be addicted.
Because Dilaudid manages chronic, long term severe pain, a person who is chemically dependent on Dilaudid may be within safe usage limits if the original symptoms of pain still exist. Dilaudid addiction, on the other hand, is a chronic progressive disease characterized by an inability to control how much and how frequently using drugs occurs, continuing to use drugs despite severe negative lifestyle consequences, and using drugs after the original symptoms have disappeared.
The Physical and Psychological Effects of Dilaudid
Dilaudid causes several side effects even when taken precisely as directed. Taking more than prescribed worsens the side effects and makes it more difficult to withdraw from use comfortably. Even in low dosages Dilaudid reduces cognitive skills such as decision making, memory and learning. Nausea and fatigue are common, as is constipation. Combining Dilaudid with another drug or alcohol is extremely dangerous and greatly increases the risk of fatal overdose. Signs of abuse and overdose include:
- Acting extremely anxious or agitated when no Dilaudid is available
- Dilaudid withdrawal, which resembles severe flu symptoms
- Blue lips and skin
- Unconsciousness, or extremely slow or erratic breathing
- Chest pain
- Excessive lethargy or difficulty waking
- Extreme confusion
- Chest discomfort or pain
Identifying the Signs of Dilaudid Abuse
People who become addicted to drugs are often experts at hiding the physical effects of substance abuse. They may be able to take huge doses of drugs and appear to others as if everything is normal. If you suspect that someone you love is continuing to use Dilaudid even though the original pain symptoms have disappeared, there are ways you can identify the signs of abuse. They include:
- Taking more Dilaudid pills more frequently than necessary
- Combining Dilaudid with another substance such as alcohol
- Requesting Dilaudid at the emergency room
- Getting extra prescriptions “just in case” running out is a problem
- Claiming to lose a prescription, or taking drugs from a friend or family member
- Lying about or hiding how much Demerol is being used
- Denying drug use is a problem, and claiming quitting at any time is possible
- Experiencing periods of relaxation followed by intense, rapidly worsening anxiety
- Worsening financial problems, relationship problems, professional problems or reputation problems
- Neglecting family responsibilities
- Switching to another easier-to-find but still powerful drug such as heroin
- Quitting once-loved activities to spend more time alone or with a new crowd
- Spending more time trying to get Dilaudid
Dilaudid Rehab and Recovery
Opiate drugs such as Dilaudid are the most addictive drugs in the world. Withdrawal and cravings are intense. Quitting isn’t easy, and without professional help, those with addiction may relapse into self-destructive behaviors. The good news is that at 12 Keys Rehab, we are well qualified to treat the physical, psychological and spiritual issues caused by Dilaudid abuse. Our compassionate and experienced staff members have even help people recover who have tried rehab before.
The journey to sobriety begins with medically assisted detox, where our staff treats symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, shakiness and anxiety with 24-hour care. Next, we create individualized treatment plans that take into account each 12 Keys Rehab client’s holistic recovery needs. The small number of clients we enroll benefit from progressive, evidence-based therapies as well as time-tested 12 Step care. When inpatient care ends, aftercare begins, continuing a lifelong partnership that helps our clients stay sober long after rehab ends.
Why let Dilaudid addiction define your future? You can live sober and feel satisfied, and you can start right now. Call 12 Keys Rehab, and find your path to freedom, starting today.
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