Hydromorphone Withdrawal and Detox

If you’re worried about the hold of hydromorphone on yourself or a loved one, help is available that can ensure you overcome dependence and addiction.

Extended hydromorphone usage can easily lead to dependence. Addiction to hydromorphone poses mild to life-threatening complications if use is not discontinued. Due to the number of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms associated with the drug and its habit-forming attributes, hydromorphone can prove very difficult to quit.

However, with professional help, you can break free from the influence of the drug. There are treatment options targeted at discontinuing the use of hydromorphone without causing substantial harm. Help is available to expunge the drugs from your system and manage your withdrawal symptoms.

Hydromorphone is mostly used under prescription. The drug is mainly prescribed for pain management in patients struggling with chronic pain due to cancer, major surgeries, broken bones or any other pain-inducing medical condition. Sold under the brand nameDilaudid, hydromorphone is a semi-synthetic opiate, derived from morphine. The drug is classed as an opioid and has similarities in chemical structure (as well as mechanism) to other opioids such as morphine and fentanyl.

Combating hydromorphone dependence requires medical assistance, as it can be life-threatening. After using for a long while, unpleasant withdrawal symptoms will spring up if you choose to quit the drug. This makes abstinence from hydromorphone difficult, even if you’re psychologically willing to stop using it.

What is Hydromorphone withdrawal?

Hydromorphone withdrawal is the series of symptoms that occur when you stop using the drug or reduce your dosage. These symptoms act as signals from your body that it is being deprived of what it requires to function. They come in both psychological and physical forms and have the potential to become life-threatening.

Withdrawal symptoms may be severe or mild, depending on the level of drug abuse. The body grows tolerant to the effects of hydromorphone, signalling for an increase in dosage to induce the original pain-relieving effects of the drug. This will result in dependence and will also increase the intensity of withdrawal.

Withdrawing from hydromorphone without medical help is strongly advised against. You may have trouble breathing and might vomit uncontrollably. These symptoms can be managed by a physician and other unpleasant outcomes can be prevented.

Your withdrawal will differ from that of another individual. The length, severity and rate of your withdrawal symptoms will depend on your personal situation and the level of your dependence. This is why you should seek professional help whenever you find yourself in withdrawal or if you are about to withdraw from the drug.

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Contributing factors to withdrawal severity

Withdrawal from hydromorphone will be influenced by a number of factors. The severity of your symptoms and duration of withdrawal will be determined by various personal conditions and external elements.

The way you choose to quit hydromorphone will dictate how your withdrawal symptoms occur. Other factors which could affect withdrawal severity include quitting several other drugs in addition to hydromorphone (such as opioids or other addictive drugs like cocaine and amphetamine), your physical and mental health, your level of abuse (dosage consumed and frequency) and the environment where you’re undergoing withdrawal.

Quitting hydromorphone abruptly will trigger intense withdrawal symptoms that may be dangerous, particularly when your addiction is severe. Doctors will choose to wean you off the drug gradually to reduce the severity of these symptoms.

Your withdrawal period will be longer if you‘ve abused hydromorphone for a long time and have taken other drugs in addition. The severity of symptoms will also be spiked by these situations.

How hydromorphone affects the brain and body

Medically, hydromorphone is called an opioid, but in legal terms it is considered a narcotic, because of its effects on the body. Upon being introduced to the body, hydromorphone takes effect within 30 minutes when ingested orally, and five minutes when injected. Its effects last more than five hours.

The drug interacts with opioid receptors in the brain and causes major alterations in the central nervous system, as well as the gastrointestinal tract, to dull sensations of pain. It also tampers with the pleasure centres of the brain, spiking hormones that induce euphoric feelings. These pleasurable feelings are the reasons that may lead you to abuse the drug after legitimate prescription.

Once taken in extended doses, the brain will begin to adjust by curtailing some of its natural activities in order to accommodate the presence of hydromorphone. This is where dependence sets in, as the brain will begin to rely on the presence of the drug to perform normal functions.

Also, as time goes by, your body will become desensitised to the effects of hydromorphone. This will call for increased doses with subsequent usage if you want to replicate the drug’s original effects.

Dependence on the drug will lead to mild to severe withdrawal episodes if you stop using it suddenly or drastically reduce dosage. If hydromorphone is compromising your health status due to abuse, consult your doctor before initiating abstinence.

Hydromorphone produces side effects like constipation, dry mouth, drowsiness, weakness and insomnia, amongst many others. It can however lead to serious damage that can be fatal. Problems breathing, low blood pressure, hallucinations and seizures are also reported effects of hydromorphone usage.

Causes of hydromorphone withdrawal

Prolonged use of hydromorphone will cause changes in neurochemical activity in the brain and central nervous system. Using hydromorphone for an extended period will lead to depleted levels of certain hormones, which will cause the brain to rely on the drug to reproduce those chemicals.

Decreasing or ceasing hydromorphone dosage altogether will cause withdrawal. Whether you choose to terminate your addiction or have no access to the drug for a while, your body will begin to react to the reduced level of hydromorphone in your system.

If you switch to another drug to obtain the same effects as hydromorphone, you’re still likely to go through withdrawal. Using other psychoactive drugs in addition to hydromorphone can also cause unpleasant withdrawal symptoms after discontinued use of one or both drugs.

You withdrawal will also take hold according to your usual dose, as well as your physical and mental health. Detox is also another trigger for withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal cannot be avoided once you have grown dependent to hydromorphone or have abused the drug for a long time. However, the symptoms can be managed and you can successfully and safely get through this phase.

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Common hydromorphone detox and withdrawal symptoms

Detox and withdrawal symptoms of hydromorphone will occur according to your personal situation and everyone experiences withdrawal differently. You may be afflicted with more symptoms if your addiction is severe and you have taken the drug in large doses. However, if you’re withdrawing after a short stint, symptoms may be mild and not fully-fledged.

When detox begins, withdrawal symptoms will follow almost immediately. In some cases, you may begin to experience withdrawal before you go into detox. Withdrawal and detox symptoms are both psychological and physical.

Symptoms of hydromorphone withdrawal during detox are similar to those associated with other opioids such as oxycodone and heroine. Though symptoms are rarely dangerous, they will gradually become more severe before they get better, if left untreated. A medically assisted detox programme will help manage cravings and reduce discomfort.

Common withdrawal symptoms you’re likely to experience during detox include:

  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • Muscle aches
  • Runny nose
  • Excessive tears
  • Increased sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive yawning
  • Fever
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Goose bumps
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramping

If you’re in pain as a result of withdrawal or are considering quitting using hydromorphone, help is available.

Physical symptoms of hydromorphone withdrawal and detox

Hydromorphone addiction is accompanied by a number of physical side effects. When you go through withdrawal, some of these effects may worsen, depending on the general situation of your addiction and physical health. Some physical withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Tearing up
  • Goose bumps
  • Fever
  • Increased sweating
  • Runny nose
  • Pains and aches
  • Excessive yawning

In severe (and rare) cases – especially when hydromorphone is used in conjunction with another opioid – repressed breathing may occur that could progress to coma or even death. These risks can be minimised by undergoing medically supervised withdrawal.

Psychological symptoms of hydromorphone withdrawal

The psychological symptoms that occur during withdrawal are signals that your brain cannot perform mental functions competently without the presence of hydromorphone. This happens as a result of depleted levels of neurochemicals and disruptions in the activities of opioid receptors, caused by high doses of hydromorphone.

Psychological symptoms appear from a few hours to a couple of days after your last dose. Sometimes, they occur alongside physical symptoms, depending on your situation and level of addiction.

Common psychological symptoms associated with hydromorphone withdrawal include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Cravings
  • Hallucinations
  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability

Your psychological symptoms may be intense if you had a pre-existing mental condition prior to hydromorphone abuse. Going through withdrawal without treatment may also increase the severity of your symptoms. In severe cases, extreme depression may lead to suicidal thoughts, but this is rare. Your psychological symptoms can also be managed through medical therapies and clinical psychotherapy when you undergo a medically assisted detox.

What is hydromorphone detox?

Remnants of hydromorphone will be present in your body for a while after you have stopped using the drug. Your body will naturally rid itself of these remnants in order to rebalance its chemical equilibrium and prepare for life without the drug.

The processing of eliminating hydromorphone from the body is called ‘detox’. This process presents many turbulent challenges as the body has become reliant on the drug to function properly. When deprived of hydromorphone, the brain and body will begin to exhibit a series of discomforting symptoms, known as ‘withdrawal’.

Symptoms of hydromorphone withdrawal during detox can be dangerous, which is why medical assistance is a must. Your physician will manage your symptoms with other drugs to ensure you’re comfortable and not at risk of any complications. If you want to undergo detox, it’s important that you seek help in order to get the best support and treatment.

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How long does it take to detox from hydromorphone?

The duration of your hydromorphone detox will be determined by a number of factorsspecific to you. Your physiology, level of addiction and mental and physical health, as well as how you respond to treatment, will all be factors that could influence how long your detox will take.

Typically, detox is meant to last for a couple of weeks to a month, but might be shorter or longer. Your doctor will conduct a thorough evaluation to devise your personal detox plan, including the predicted duration.

Remember that detox is just the first stage in your general treatment. That said, it is a vital stage that may affect how the rest of your recovery plays out. So, it is important that you undergo a medically assisted detox in a reliable facility and follow your treatment plan.

HydromorphoneWithdrawal: Timeline of symptoms

Everyone experiences withdrawal differently. The onset of withdrawal, how your symptoms manifest, and how long this phase lasts will be determined by the following factors:

  • Daily hydromorphone dosage
  • Frequency of hydromorphone usage
  • How long you have used the drug
  • Individual physiology
  • The presence of mental conditions
  • Mode of ingestion (orally, intravenously, or intranasally)

Typical withdrawal symptoms begin to manifest six to 12 hours after your last dose. They increase in severity from this period and peak within the first three days. From the fourth day, your symptoms will begin to reduce in intensity, but psychological symptoms such as depression, anxiety, insomnia and irritability may linger. Withdrawal may wear off after a couple of weeks.

What is acute hydromorphone withdrawal?

Acute hydromorphone withdrawal is the first series of withdrawal symptoms that you experience when you discontinue prolonged use of the drug. This phase of withdrawal is one that co-occurs with detox. It may linger into your rehab phase, but normally ends with detox.

Your acute withdrawal phase will play out according to your level of addiction and medical situation. Yours could be longer or shorter, depending on these factors.

The next phase of withdrawal is called the post-acute or protracted withdrawal phase. This stage starts some weeks or months after the acute stage.

Coping with hydromorphone withdrawal

Hydromorphone is not an easy drug to quit. Withdrawal is a turbulent and unpleasant phase. You will need all the support you can get to get through withdrawal safely. Primarily, you should get help from a medical expert to ensure your safety.

Consult your doctor for advice about which treatment plan to follow. Your physician may recommend that you go through a residential detox programme if your dependence is severe. You maybe allowed to detox at home if you’ve only abused the drug for a short while, but you should be in close contact with your doctor.

Getting support from family members and friends is also vital. Let your loved ones know the moment you decide to undergo withdrawal, and have someone check up on you everyday if you’re detoxing at home.

Finding a support group will also help you to get through this stage. Networks such as Narcotics Anonymous have proved very helpful. Make sure you prepare yourself psychologically and materially. Make a firm and resolute decision to kick your hydromorphone habit. You can then follow this up by making your environment conducive for withdrawal (if you’re detoxing from home).

Possible complications

Opioids don’t generally present life-threatening withdrawals, but complications may occur. Hydromorphone on its own comes with a number of potentially fatal side effects that may occur during withdrawal, after protracted use.

Though rare, it’s possible that severe diarrhoea and vomiting will lead to electrolyte imbalance or dehydration. You will be treated in the clinic with oral fluids like drinks that contain electrolytes, as well as water. In some cases, IV fluids may be required.

Pre-existing medical disorders or cardiac conditions may be aggravated by withdrawal, due to alterations in blood pressure and rapid pulse. Psychological issues like anxiety disorder – especially panic disorder – may also be intensified when withdrawal takes hold. If hydromorphone was prescribed for pain management, you’re likely to experience a recurrence of worseningpain during withdrawal.

Complications such as repressed breathing (that could lead to death) can occur if you have abused other opioids or illicit drugs alongside hydromorphone. Be sure to undergo a medically assisted detox programme to escape the risks of possible hydromorphone withdrawal complications.

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How hydromorphone withdrawal is treated

Treating hydromorphone withdrawal requires a holistic and bespoke approach, as every individual has a unique biological make-up and different addiction situation.

The first stage of treatment involves finding y a detox centre that is suitable to your needs. Then, your doctors will perform an evaluation to devise a personalised treatment plan for you.

Your detox will be carried out in a medically controlled environment if you go through a residential detox programme. You’ll be cared for and closely monitored during the full length of your stay.

Abruptly discontinuing hydromorphone use can result in severe withdrawal symptoms that may be unbearable. As a result, you will be weaned off the drug gradually until your body regains autonomous control. If your addiction is severe, you may be switched to another opioid to temporarily replace the effects of hydromorphone.

Once detox is over, you’ll be integrated into a rehab programme that will equip you with the skills required to fight off relapse triggers and maintain your sobriety. Your rehab will also be tailored to your condition. A strong aftercare programme will be included in your recovery plan to help you with support and knowledge vital for a sustainable recovery.

Medications to treat hydromorphone withdrawal

Medications will be administered to help manage your withdrawal symptoms, especially during detox. Some over-the-counter medications can be prescribed to help with common symptoms such as diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea and pains.

To wean you off hydromorphone, you’ll be given monitored, decreased doses of the drug until your body can cope without it. If your dependence is critical, you could be placed on and weaned off a different opioid, such as methadone.

Other medications include:

Clonidine – This is the most widely used non-opioid drug in hydromorphone withdrawal. It is used to help with muscle aches, cramping, anxiety and sweating. It is more suitable for people with high blood pressure.

Buprenorphine – This drug is used to reduce cravings for hydromorphone, because its effects are replicated.

Some of these drugs can cause dependence on their own, which is why they are to be administered by medical experts.

Melatonin for hydromorphone withdrawal symptoms

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the brain during sleep that facilitates body-healing processes. Hydromorphone disrupts the production of this hormone by hampering sleep.

To help smooth the withdrawal process, sleep is required. Although your doctor may provide other sleeping medications to help fight your insomnia, melatonin supplements can boost the ease of detox naturally.

Melatonin helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle or the internal body clock. It is useful in fighting insomnia and may help with headaches and other uneasy symptoms during withdrawal. Your doctor will guide you with regards to the right amount to take during withdrawal.

Process from hydromorphone detox to rehab: What happens?

Your general hydromorphone treatment begins with detox. From the start, you’ll be assessed and an individualised treatment plan will be drawn up.

Next, you’ll be placed under medical supervision so that your withdrawal symptoms will be managed and you can go through detox safely. Your doctors will put you on prescription medications to soften your symptoms and regulate your food and fluids intake to ensure you’re stable throughout the process.

At the end of detox, you’ll be inducted into the rehab programme and educated about what to expect. It is important that you stick to your treatment schedule from start to finish, in order to successfully break free from hydromorphone addiction.

Hydromorphone detoxification timeline

How your detox plays out will rely on your specific situation. During detox, your withdrawal symptoms will begin to occur according to your tolerance and how you abused hydromorphone.

However, a typical detox timeline involves intense withdrawal symptoms, manifesting and peaking within the first few days. From the fourth day, symptoms will begin to decrease in severity, but psychological symptoms will continue to linger.

A common detox programme can span anywhere from a couple of weeks to a month. However, it could be cut short or last longer, depending on how fast your body dispenses the drug and how you respond to treatment.

Home detox for hydromorphone abusers

You may be allowed to detox at home if your doctor believes it is a conducive environment and is convinced withdrawal complications will not occur. However, you will be under close monitoring.

Detoxing without professional help is strongly advised against. You may be putting yourself at risk, as you could easily relapse. This could lead to a dangerous case of overdose. Please contact your doctor if you are looking to go through detox.

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Why detox at home can be harmful

Hydromorphone poses series side effects that could prove fatal. As such, it is never advised to detox alone. Contact your GP or call an addiction helpline for the support you need

Even if you’d rather detox at home, ensure you’re in close contact with a professional and are checked on everyday by a loved one. You need all the support you can get if you are to successfully break free from hydromorphone addiction.

After detox: staying off hydromorphone

Detox is the introductory stage of your recovery from hydromorphone addiction. This phase is vital to your general treatment, as a successful detox will boost your chances of recovering successfully.

When detox is over, you’ll be integrated into a rehabilitation programme. You may go through rehab in a residential facility or as a visiting patient. Staying as a resident is the best rehab route, but your doctor may allow you to do so on an outpatient basis.

You will be required to go through various individual and group counselling sessions, where you’ll be given psychological resources to help you rebuild your life and maintain sobriety without returning to hydromorphone.

Note that detox is not a cure for your addiction problems. Staying off hydromorphone is a life-long commitment. Relapse can occur any moment after your detox. Therefore, it’s important that you attach yourself to a support group network, such as Narcotics Anonymous, that helps members through the 12-step programme, as well as getting help from family and friends and seeing a counsellorif you’re struggling.

Hydromorphone addiction: Facts

  • Hydromorphone is synthesised from morphine, but considered more potent and dangerous. The drug is widely known under the brand name Dilaudid, which as a result, is often generally used to refer to any form of hydromorphone.
  • Hydromorphone has been confused with morphine in medical settings and a number of mix-ups in administration and prescriptions have led to fatalities occurring.
  • Abuse of opioids have generally been on the rise over the years. Experts are worried this may leave hundreds of thousands addicted to one form of opioid or the other, with hydromorphone being a prominent member of this category.


How do you know if you’resufferingfromhydromorphone withdrawal?

If you’ve been taking hydromorphone for a while and notice the onset of a number of symptoms when you discontinue usage, please seek help from your doctor. Some symptoms (such as cravings for the drug, depression, tearing up, vomiting and diarrhoea, amongst others) are indicators that you’re going through withdrawal.

How long does hydromorphone withdrawal last?

The duration of hydromorphone withdrawal will be influenced by the level of your addiction, your health and the amount of the drug you’ve consumed. Typically, withdrawal will last anywhere from several weeks to a month.

How does hydromorphone withdrawal affect your health?

Withdrawal from hydromorphone is accompanied bya number of uncomfortable symptoms, but these will normally wear off after a few weeks. However, complications may arise, leading to adverse effects on your health, if left untreated. Make sure you contact a healthcare professional when you decide to embark on recovery from dependence.

Is hydromorphone withdrawal dangerous?

If hydromorphone withdrawal is left untreated, you may be at risk of possible dangers. Though mild addiction may not pose life-threatening risks, it’s important to see a doctor before you quit the drug.

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