Dilaudid Withdrawal

It usually takes about two weeks complete withdrawal from Dilaudid. During the detox period you’ll experience: anxiety, body cramps, and intense drug craving. More on the dynamics and the course of Dilaudid withdrawal here.

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ARTICLE SUMMARY: Quitting Dilaudid can be stressful. In this article, we introduce you to common Dilaudid withdrawal symptoms and their dynamics. We also provide advice on the safest way to detox.

ESTIMATED READING TIME: 10 minutes or less.


Why Do We Withdraw?

If you take Dilaudid every day, your brain and body adapt to the hydromorphone in the drug. Why? Mainly because hydromorphone is a depressant drug. In order to continue functioning, the brain triggers “stimulant effects” to counterbalance depressant effects … otherwise, you’d stop breathing or your heart would slow down and stop. This state of neuroadaptation is called “physical dependence”.

When this medication is removed, or available at lower doses, you will feel uncomfortable and uneasy symptoms know as “withdrawal”. Withdrawal is ACTUALLY THE STIMULANT EFFECTS of the body’s attempt to counterbalance hydromorphone depressant effects. This is why you feel nauseous, or experience extreme gastrointestinal reactions. It’s also why you sweat alot or have muscles aches and fevers.

Withdrawal is the emergence of these symptoms until the brain returns to homeostasis. However, withdrawal is time limited. It ends 7-10 days after you quit using Dialudid. In all cases of withdrawal, drug discontinuation creates a temporary imbalance that is resolved over time.

Dilaudid in the Brain

Hydromorphone, one of the main chemicals found in Dilaudid is a full opioid agonist affecting mu-opioid receptor.  So what happens in the brain when you take Dilaudid?

When you take Dilaudid, the hydromorphone binds to mu receptors, creating analgesia. It also causes pain relief. Although the precise mechanism of the analgesic action is unknown, opioid receptors throughout the brain and spinal cord are thought to play a key role in the analgesic effects of Dilaudid.

Dilaudid is also known to cause respiratory depression by direct effect on brain system respiratory centers. Respiratory depression is a state of reduced brain responsiveness to both increases in blood gas tension and electrical stimulation. Finally, Dilaudid is known to cause excessive constriction of the pupil of the eye, even in total darkness. Pinpoint pupils are usually the first sign of an opioid overdose.

Dependence And Addiction Are Two Different Conditions

Repeated, long term use of Dilaudid usually leads to severe dependence. Over time, your body adapts to the depressant effects by triggering counterbalanced, stimulant effects. In truth, the body works around the medicine and comes to need it to function properly.

A physically dependent person will begin to rely on Dilaudid to prevent the onset of unpleasant symptoms. When a drug becomes a necessity for day to day function, however, we become a slave to he drug.

Q: But how can you make a difference between dependence and addiction?
A: The answer to your questions lies in the symptoms.

Dilaudid dependence is characterized by the following physical signs:

  1. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms upon cutting down or stopping use.
  2. Needing more of the drug to achieve the same high (tolerance).

Dilaudid addiction is characterized by a mental need for a drug to feel good/normal. Other signs include:

  1. Becoming obsessed about your Dilaudid next dose.
  2. Experiencing repeated unsuccessful attempts to stop using.
  3. Failing to maintain personal and professional obligations due to drug use.
  4. Lack of control over drug use.
  5. Spending large amounts of time and energy obtaining Dilaudid.
  6. Using Dilaudid in hazardous situations such as while driving and/or operating machinery.

Dilaudid Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal from Dilaudid is usually characterized by cold and clammy flu-like symptoms.

Physical withdrawal symptoms include:

  • abnormal sweating
  • agitation
  • anxiety
  • body cramps
  • diarrhea
  • intense cravings
  • low blood pressure
  • muscle and bone pain
  • shaking
  • sweats
  • tremors
  • vomiting

Psychological/Emotional withdrawal symptoms include:

  • agitation
  • anxiety
  • restlessness

Dilaudid Withdrawal Timeline

The duration of Dilaudid withdrawal varies from person to person and depends on the severity of your addiction. The longer you’ve been dependent on Dilaudid, the longer your withdrawal timeline will be. Symptoms are usually more intense and severe the first 3 to 4 days. Between days 5 and 14, symptoms slowly subside. However, insomnia, depression, anxiety, and mood swings are still present.

The dynamics of Dilaudid withdrawal usually look like this:

First 24 hours after your last Dilaudid dose. The beginning of withdrawal is characterized by feelings of restlessness and anxiety.

1-2 days after your last Dilaudid dose symptoms mark their peak. This phase is accompanied by nausea, shaking, muscle aches, chills and sweating.

3-4 days after your last Dilaudid dose are most intense for most people. At his stage of withdrawal you may faint and experience nausea and muscle aches.

5-14 days after your last Dilaudid dose. This is usually the ending stage of the withdrawal journey accompanied by insomnia, depression, anxiety and irritability. By this time your condition should begin to stabilize and symptoms should begin to fade and significantly lose their intensity.

Intensity of Symptoms

Some eople will go through more intense withdrawal than others. Why? Because detox is highly personal. A number of factors go into the length and severity of a person’s withdrawal. Symptoms of withdrawal range from mild to severe to depending on several factors such as:

  • Method of abuse, and level of dependency.
  • The length of time you’ve been using Dilaudid.
  • The amount of Dilaudid you’ve been taking.
  • The presence of co-existing physical or psychological health conditions.
  • Whether you abuse multiple drugs in combination with Dilaudid.
  • Your general/overall physical health, age, gender.
  • Your unique body response and metabolism of Dilaudid.

How To Withdraw Safely

Drug detoxification is best performed under medical superivsion. This procedure involves the removal of Dilaudid and other toxins from the bloodstream.  Professional detox is done in a controlled environment, usually a hospital-like setting. You should pack clothes and supplies needed for a week, or so. Detox should be supervised by medical personnel and provide round the clock care.

NOTE HERE: Always seek professional healthcare assistance as soon as you before running out of Diaudid. Do not increase nor reduce your Dilaudid doses. Qualified professionals are accredited to regulate your daily Dilaudid intake and will make sure you stay safe.


Before eliminating Dilaudid from your body, a doctor will assess the possibility of a  slow taper from the medication. Tapering is a gradual drug recution which allows that Dilaudid doses are reduces step by step down to zero. Tapering is beneficial in many ways, it can remove adverse effects, decrease inadequate pain relief, and reduce medication costs. The Veteran’s Association published this Tapering Decision Tool with suggested guidelines your doctor can use.

Regardless of the reason for tapering Dilaudid, the reduction plan should be individualized and made in accordance to your individual needs. You should also keep an active communication with your doctor in case any complications arise. Tapering should be done as slowly as possible in order to avoid serious withdrawal consequences. Reducing the amount by 25% per day, or by 25% every other day, may result in some withdrawal symptoms. However, this may be far better in the long-run than going cold turkey off Dilaudid.


Medications used to help diminish or eliminate withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings from Dilaudid include buprenorphine, clonidine and methadone.

Buprenorphine treats withdrawal symptoms and opiate cravings. It is often combined with naloxone (as Suboxone), and effectively prevents drug misuse and minimizes the risk of long-term dependence on opioids.

Clonidine does not reduce cravings, but instead it helps with some withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, muscle aches and pains, cramping, sweating, and runny nose.

Methadone helps with drug cravings and is effective at reducing the severity of withdrawal symptoms. It is often used as part of a long-term maintenance plan against opiate addiction.

A full list of medicines used in opioid withdrawal can be found here.

Going Cold Turkey Off Dilaudid

If you try to discontinue this medication and come off it “cold turkey,” you may experience intense withdrawal symptoms similar to those of the heroin or oxycodone. These withdrawal symptoms can make you feel miserable and lead to relapse. Additionally, cold tukey withdrawal can lead to overdose…if you try to use again after your system has been cleared of opioids.

The only advantage may be that since Dilaudid is a fast-acting opioid;, the withdrawal period may not last as long as other pain killers.

IMPORTANT: Do not suddenly stop using Dilaudid. Always seek medical supervision when you want to quit Dilaudid and are physically dependent on it. Withdrawal symptoms such as: body aches, diarrhea, nausea, nervousness, restlessness, runny nose, sneezing, goose bumps, shaking, shivering, nausea, stomach cramps, fast heart rate, fever, and sweating may be severely uncomfortable. Instead of an abrupt discontinuation, consult your doctor on how to safely come down off Dilaudid if you no longer require it for pain control.

Common Fears

Fear is usually the main issue that keeps people stuck in negative cycles of dependency. Fear of the unknown can be a real stumbling block. Knowledge is the best antidote for fear. You’ll find listed the most common fears of people with Dilaudid dependency issues listed here and our thoughts about how you can address them.

Fear of detachment

You may feel anxious about being separated from your loved ones during treatment. Staying in a new, unknown environment with new faces can seem intimidating. You should keep in mind that if you do not receive treatment, a drug problem will continue to separate you from your loved ones.

Fear of detox

Detox may seem sacry, but symptoms are different and vary in intensity from one individual to another. You also might find comfor in knowing that licensed detox clinics have a staff on hand to do everything possible to make your detox journey as comfortable as possible.

Fear of being humiliated

People who are addicted to Dilaudid and other drugs are usually stigmatized by socialprejudice. This is actually one of the main reasons most people fear to reach out for help. They are afraid that if the people around them find out, they will be judged. Entering a detox program for guarantees privacy and identity protection. Your confidentiality will be guaranteed during your residential stay.

Fear of helplessness

People start abusing drugs or alcohol for multiple reasons. The truth is, getting Dilaudid out of your system can help you conquer your sense of helplessness, leaving you a space to discover who you truly are.

Fear of being open and honest

It may be frightening to open old wounds. The shame, guilt, anger and dissatisfation of the past can lave you feeling desperate. Recovery brings issues to light and problems that are hidden in the dark are illuminiated. However, the thought that you are not the only one may comfort you. Treatment makes sure you are not left to cope with these issues alone. You’ll have qualified mental health professionals to back you up.

Fear of relapse

This is perhaps the greatest fear of people who enter a detox and recovery program. The thought that they will not succeed seems even scarier than the withdrawal itself. We are beginning to understand that relapses are an normal and common part of a recovery experience. They serve as lessons and a base for the next round. Relapsing does not make you a disappointment! On the contrary, relapses are only reminders to try harder the next time.

The Importance Of Medical Help

A medically monitored detox program includes 24-7 medical supervision in a hospital-like setting. Staff and doctors are trained to help you go through the worst of withdrawal. This kind of supervision ensures that you receive treatment for any severe symptoms or complications that might arise.

However, the most important benefit is that treatment can help you feel as comfortable as possible, keeping you SAFE during the process. Symptoms are more manageable and humane. Medical team support helps you feel less isolated, even in the worst moments. There is no need to suffer.

In conclusion, medically assisted detoxification addresses the physical symptoms to make the mental journey of quitting Dilaudid easier. With medically assisted detox, any complications that arise can be treated, so you can get back to a more comfortable state of mind and start working towards psychological and emotional sobriety.

Reference Sources: MedLinePlus: Hydrocodone
Health Quality: Tapering and Discontinuing Opioids
MedLinePlus: Opiate and opioid withdrawal
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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