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Hydromorphone was synthesized in Germany in 1924. It was first marketed two years later by Knoll, a German pharmaceutical company. Because it is habit-forming, hydromorphone was designated a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act in 1970. Hydromorphone remains a Schedule II drug as it noted to have legitimate medical use as an analgesic, or pain reliever.


Hydromorphone is a semi-synthetic opiate. This makes it, medically speaking, an opioid. Legally, it is considered a narcotic. It is commonly seen in the United States as Dilauded. Relative to other opioid analgesics it is very potent.


Hydromorphone’s primary use is as a pain killer indicated for severe pain. It begins to work very quickly and can be prescribed in time-release form. Its secondary use is as a last resort cough medication.


Hydromorhone alters perception and reactions and impairs will impair reflexes. The primary effects sought after by people who are abusing hydromorphone are euphoria, relaxation, and disassociation. Hydromorphone misuse can lead to dangerous, potentially fatal effects. Possible depression of the respiratory and circulatory systems pose the most significant threat and common Hydromorphone related deaths.

Common Side Effects Include:

  • Light-headedness
  • Dizziness
  • Sedation
  • Itching
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating

Similar Drugs

There are literally hundreds of opiate products around the world. Opiates are described in terms of their strength and their origin. Hydromorphone is one of the strongest opioids used in the medical world. It slightly stronger by weight than heroin and slightly weaker than Oxymorphone. Hydromorphone is five times stronger than morphine, ten times stronger than methadone, and fifty times stronger than codeine. Opiates are naturally occurring alkaloids of the opium poppy whereas opioids are either synthetic or semi-synthetic.

Similar Opioid Drugs Include:

Addiction Information

The human body quickly becomes tolerant to a given amount of opiates. This means that the same amount of opiates stops providing a noticeable effect as a pain medication or as a drug of abuse. Once this occurs, if the current amount of opiate is not maintained, the body will go into withdrawal.

Hydromorphone Withdrawal

Hydromorphone withdrawal is quicker and more intense relative to withdrawal from other opiates. The intensity and duration are mainly dependant on the amount used and individual metabolic factors. Hydromorphone has a shorter half-life than morphine, making it a more harsh, albeit not so drawn-out, withdrawal period. Withdrawal symptoms typically begin within a few hours of the last dose.

Physical Symptoms Include:

  • Cramps
  • Chills
  • Tremors
  • Perspiration
  • Priapism
  • Tachycardia
  • Itch
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Rhinitis
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness

Psychological Symptoms Include:

  • Dysphoria
  • Malaise
  • Cravings
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Depression

Symptoms peak between 14-21 hours and are drastically reduced within 36-72 hours. People who are taking high doses (over 40 milligrams) will usually experience acute withdrawal symptoms for nearly two weeks.

Hydromorphone Overdose

Hydromorphone and other opiates can cause fatal overdoses. If a person goes unconscious while under the influence of hydromorphone, or seems drowsy or inebriated, has cold or clammy skin, shallow breathing and/or a weak pulse, immediate medical attention is necessary. To decrease the risk of overdose, do not break, chew, dissolve or insufflate the pills. Avoid alcohol, depressants and amphetamines as the combination is dangerous and in some cases, fatal.

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