Every drug is unique in its chemical make-up, and in how it affects the user’s brain. Every individual reacts differently to different medications and substances, but hydromorphone is a highly addictive drug because it is six to nine times more potent than morphine. It is a synthetic drug, derived from from morphine, and its pain relieving effects begin in as little as fifteen minutes. It remains potent for up to five or six hours after being administered.
Dilaudid, as it is known, interferes with the receptors in the brain to block pain and create a sense of euphoria, which is known as the high. It also attaches to the gastrointestinal tract and spinal cord, working to dull pain. This can be extremely addictive in patients who have a history, or even a family history, of addition. The addiction can manifest in both a physical sense and a psychological sense, where the patient believes they need pain relief but really don’t. At this point, they have become addicted to it. Even patients with no history of drug addiction or substance abuse can become addicted in as little as two to three weeks.
Because hydromorphone is a legal drug, and is prescribed by doctors for legitimate use, it has different accessibility than other substances such as heroin and cocaine. While it can be bought on the street, many people resort to attempting to defraud the medical system to obtain more Dilaudid. Addicts will practice “doctor shopping”, where they visit multiple doctors in an effort to receive multiple prescriptions. They will also force prescriptions, steal prescriptions, and steal pills from family members with prescriptions. Some people even resort to robbing pharmacies to get their next fix. Obtaining Dilaudid is, in some ways, easier than other drugs, and in other ways, not.
Some people will sell their legitimate hydromorphone prescriptions to addicts as a way to make some easy money. This is dangerous because the user then might not know the dosage of the pills they are buying, or if the drugs have been laced with other drugs such as heroin. Obtaining illicit hydromorphone poses all kinds of risks to the user.
As the user’s tolerance builds, they require more of the drug to get high, meaning they will go to more extreme measures to get their next fix. This can mean intentionally mixing hydromorphone with other drugs, or will alcohol, which can be highly dangerous and even fatal. It can also mean overdosing on amounts that far exceeded what was necessary to achieve a high. As drug abusers spiral down the path of addiction, they are also willing to try higher risk delivery systems, such as injecting. Dilaudid can be injected when tablets are dissolved in water. Intravenous drug use poses addition risks because of the use of dirty needles, which can lead to HIV, Hepatitis B and C, and other diseases. It can also lead to death if the person is inexperienced at administering needles, or too unwell to do it properly.
While hydromorphone is prescribed for legitimate medical reasons, and can be an effective pain killer when administered effectively, it can be a seriously risky and fatal drug in the hands of an addict.