Hydromorphone was synthesized in Germany in 1924 and was mass marketed shortly thereafter under the trade name Dilaudid®. As a member of the opioid class, hydromorphone is a potent semi-synthetic analgesic (pain reliever) and antitussive (cough suppressant) that has been compared to hydrocodone for the similarities between them, and morphine, its derivative. It is available in the form of tablets, rectal suppositories, oral solutions and injectable formulas under several trade names including Hydal®, Sophidone®, Hydrostat®, Laudicon® and Palladone®.
Hydromorphone is used medically as an alternative to morphine for pain relief and can be prescribed for relief of dry bronchial irritation following influenza, fungus inhalation. 3-4 times stronger than morphine, hydromorphone is considered one of the most potent cough suppressant medications on the market. Its effects are very similar to that of morphine except for its euphoric effect, which is more comparable to codeine.
Hydromorphone has significant abuse potential for a number of reasons. Not only does hydromorphone have minimal side effects, wherein the possibility of nausea, vomiting and sedation is negligible, it is a very potent medication with a euphoric rush that is very similar to that of heroin. Additionally, it is extremely effective in the pain relief of the terminally ill, making it one of the most prescribed opioids on the market. The most efficient administration of hydromorphone is done intravenously, where the onset of action occurs within 15 minutes and can last up to 5 hours, whereas hydromorphone taking orally can take up to 30 minutes to take effect.
Side effects for hydromorphone are very similar to other opioid analgesics, such as morphine. Short-term side effects may include euphoria, respiratory depression, mild sedation, nervousness, restlessness, dry mouth, nightmares, constipation, sweating and dizziness and a loss of appetite. Continued use of this narcotic can result in physical dependence within 2 weeks, even if used as directed. Overdosing on hydromorphone can lead to respiratory failure, circulatory system collapse or death. Like most opioids, the long-term side effects of hydromorphone use may result in tolerance with a certain risk of abuse and dependence if used continually for more than 2 weeks.
Withdrawal symptoms for even low dose hydromorphone users can be far worse than that of morphine users. Those taking over 40mg a day can experience a painful withdrawl that can last up to two weeks and consist of shaking, body cramps, cold sweats, diarrhea, insomnia, vomiting, and muscle pain.