Hydromorphone Addiction, Statistics, Abuse, Symptoms & Side Effects

What is Hydromorphone?

Hydromorphone is a potent centrally acting painkilling drug of the opiate class. Hydromorphone is typically used in the hospital setting, commonly through intravenous (IV) pathways. In recent years, hydromorphone has become the treatment of choice for chronic pain in several countries, including the United States. As a derivative of the drug morphine, Hydromorphone is thought to be 6-8 times stronger than Morphine but with a lower risk of dependency; therefore, it is commonly preferred over Morphine, but can still lead to a Hydromorphone addiction. It has been shown to have a high potential for abuse and is not recommended for use unless under supervision and prescription by a physician. Hydromorphone can be chewed, injected, swallowed, or snorted. Street names of hydromorphone include ‘Dillies’, ‘Crazy 8’s’, “D”, and “Hydro’s).


Because of the limited literature and studies that presently exist on hydromorphone, statistical information on hydromorphone is not readily available. Addiction Hope will update this section with any new progressions.

Causes of Hydromorphone Addiction

There are several interconnected factors that can result in hydromorphone abuse or addiction. Examples of these causes that can influence the abuse of hydromorphone include biological, psychological, and social/environmental factors. Biological influences that may attribute to hydromorphone addiction include a genetic component. Psychological factors connected with hydromorphone addiction include but are not limited to cases of abuse, underlying traumas, feelings of depression, and anxiety. In situations of unbearable emotions, feelings, or pain, hydromorphone may be abused as a means of escaping these realities. Social/environmental factors that can be a factor in hydromorphone addiction include similar cases of abuse within family, availability and acceptability of hydromorphone within a community, and pressure from peer groups. Examples of social/environmental factors that may be related to hydromorphone addiction are conditions such as poverty, homelessness, or poor housing. Because of the similarities a hydromorphone addiction has with other addictive diseases, it can be co-occurring with substance abuse or eating disorders. The nature of addictive diseases is influenced by several factors, and it is likely that that men or women who struggle with an hydromorphone addiction may also struggle with other forms of addictions.

Signs and Symptoms of Hydromorphone Addiction

Abuse of the drug hydromorphone is evident by these signs and symptoms of addiction. If you are unsure if you or a loved one is struggling with a hydromorphone addiction, it is important to be aware if any of these symptoms are applicable to your current condition. While not all men and women reveal the same signs, you might notice one or more of the below symptoms in the case of an addiction to hydromorphone:

  • Reoccurring thoughts about using hydromorphone
  • Unneeded prescriptions for hydromorphone
  • Agitated or restless behaviors
  • Increased isolation or withdrawal to use the drug in secret
  • Experience of “phantom pains” when drug is not in use
  • Secretly storing or hiding the drug to avoid disclosure

Look for these signs and symptoms to identify if you or a loved one is dealing with a hydromorphone addiction.

Hydromorphone Effects

Addiction to hydromorphone can result in many consequences that effect the abuser in the short and long term. Whether physically, psychologically, or socially, these consequence can hinder many facets of an abuser’s life.. The following describes the impact a hydromorphone addiction can have:

Physical Effects – The abuse of the drug hydromorphone can physically alter the regular behaviors of the body by disturbing various mechanisms. Here are some negative physical consequences resulting from using the drug hydromorphone:

  • Respiratory difficulties
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Dizziness or lack of stability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Compromised mental function
  • Liver damage
  • Death due to accidental overdose

Psychological Effects – Abusing hydromorphone can also reap harmful impacts on mental health. Here are some negative psychological and mental effects from abusing hydromorphone:

  • Increased anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Confusion, disorientation
  • Altered perception of reality
  • Personality shifts
  • Low self-esteem, negative body image
  • Feelings of anger, rage
  • Paranoia

Social Effects – The abuse of Hydromorphone can produce in numerous implications on an addict’s social life. These can include the following:

  • Broken relationships with loved ones
  • Division within a family unit
  • Withdrawal, isolation from friends and family
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed

Hydromorphone Withdrawal

If a man or woman addicted to hydromorphone should stop taking the drug suddenly, dangerous withdrawal symptoms could result as the body has become dependent on it. The following are some of the symptoms that might be experienced by a hydromorphone addict should use of the drug be suspended:

  • Flu-like Symptoms
  • Seizures/Tremors
  • Depression
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Panic Attacks
  • Muscle Pain

Any individual who has become dependent on Hydromorphone is at risk for relapse once the drug is not longer being used. This means that there could be reoccurring use of the drug after a period of abstinence. Relapse can be common for men and women in their efforts to “stay clean” from Hydromorphone for the first time. Having the support of a Hydromorphone treatment facility can help to effectively build a relapse prevention plan and create long term success for recovery.

Hydromorphone Treatment and Help

An hydromorphone addiction is a destructive habit that can result in overwhelming and destructive consequences. If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to hydromorphone, the first step in conquering this is by recognizing the problem at hand. Having the help from a professional hydromorphone treatment center and team is necessary for dealing with the complications that may have resulted from hydromorphone abuse. An addiction to hydromorphone can be overwhelming and devastating to deal with, but fortunately, you do not have to be alone. Getting the help you need with allow for the best care and treatment, and ultimately, give you the tools you need to overcome this addiction.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on April 15th, 2013
Published on AddictionHope.com, Addiction Treatment Information Online