Between the years 2008 and 2011, the number of prescriptions written for the medication hydromorphone within the United States increased by 40 percent, according to IMS Health. Some of these people were given an extended-release form of the drug in a pill form. Others were given an injection for the drug, or a pill that could provide the entire dose of the drug at once, especially if that pill were crushed, mixed with water and injected. This drug is Dilaudid, and it could be a dangerous source of addiction.
Member of the Opiate Family
Dilaudid is an opiate drug, meaning that it has a chemical structure that’s similar to opium, which is one of the oldest and best-studied drugs known to man. Scientists know, for example, that the human body has specific receptors that are designed to respond to opiates, and these latch points are scattered throughout the brain, spinal cord and gut. When opiates like Dilaudid find these receptors, they attach tightly and they trigger a series of very complicated chemical reactions.
The user often feels:
The chemical reactions can cause the brain to release chemicals commonly associated with pleasure, so people who take these drugs might also notice a sweeping sensation of warmth and euphoria. They may retain the feelings too, and when they’re under stress or pressure, they may be tempted to turn back to opiates for help.
In time, people who abuse these drugs can endure a form of brain damage. Their brains no longer produce pleasurable signals on their own, and the brain might also be less responsive to low levels of pleasure. Only a boost of happiness produced by opiates seems to be enough. When these users take drugs, they may just feel normal instead of euphoric. And when they don’t take drugs, they may feel incredibly sick. At this point, people may be physically unable to control their responses to opiates. They may feel as though they need the drugs in order to live.
Among all the opiates available, Dilaudid is considered remarkably strong. It’s often provided for moderate-to-severe pain, so it’s reasonable to expect that it might pack a powerful punch. Even so, the research suggests that the drug doesn’t produce addictions at a more intense pace, when compared to other opiates. For example, in a study in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, researchers found that hydromorphone was only “modestly more potent” when compared to other drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone. This finding surprised the researchers, but it does seem to suggest that the drug isn’t much more powerful than other prescription opiates that are often targets of abuse.
Dilaudid certainly can cause addictions, however, and many people who use and abuse this drug need help in order to recover. According to a study in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, people who abuse hydromorphone products represent only about 16 percent of those who enter programs for opiate abuse, but the help these people need might not differ from the help other opiate users need. They all need to learn how to beat back their cravings and resist the urge to relapse. A treatment program can make that happen.
The Risks of Continuing Abuse
While some people might readily enter treatment programs for their addictions, others might resist the idea of giving up the drugs they believe help them to deal with life in a calmer, happier way. Those who resist treatment in this manner could be putting their health and their future at risk.
People who take Dilaudid on a regular basis may find that they need to take more and more of the drug each day, just to counter the modifications the brain is making in response to the use and abuse. As these users take larger doses, they may be reaching levels that aren’t compatible with life. The sedating properties of the drug could cause the heart to stop breathing, or slow breathing rates could cause vital organs to shut down. Without quick interventions, people can die during these episodes, and many people visit emergency rooms each day due to overdoses caused by opiates. In fact, the Drug Abuse Warning Network suggests that overdoses due to hydromorphone products increased by 259 percent between 2004 and 2008, which suggests that a large number of people are playing this dangerous game each day.
People who inject pills of Dilaudid can also experience infections deep within their bodies. The binding materials that keep these pills together aren’t designed to dissolve within the bloodstream of a user, and they can clump together and travel to vital organs, including the:
These particles can also block veins and capillaries within the body, leading to cell death or spreading infection.
People who continue to abuse this drug can also devastate the financial security of their families, and they may withdraw from their friends, their work, their hobbies and their passions. Everything becomes secondary to maintaining that addiction and keeping it alive. It’s a sad life, and it’s not something anyone would want for a person they love.
Recovering From Dilaudid Addiction
The recovery process for opiate addictions often begins with a comprehensive detox program. Here, people have access to medical management that can allow them to stop taking drugs without feeling terrible in the process. When sobriety has taken hold, comprehensive therapy programs can allow people to explore their reasons for taking drugs, along with their reasons for staying sober. They can also learn how to use the power of the mind in order to keep cravings and poor habits in check. Family relationships can be amended, old wounds can heal and real health can begin to seem like an achievable goal.
At Axis, we’ve seen hundreds of people follow this journey, and we know it can happen. Our treatment program can help. We provide intensive therapy in both individual and group settings, allowing people to develop a comprehensive picture of their addictions, and we work hard to provide clients with a toolkit they can use to preserve their sobriety in the future. If you or someone you love needs help like this, we hope you’ll call us. We can help.