What is Hydromorphone?
Hydromorphone is an opioid analgesic 2 to 8 times more powerful than Morphine. It is prescribed by doctors to treat moderate to severe pain in adults. Its extended release form is used specifically to control all-day pain commonly associated with cancer and cancer treatments as well as other chronic pain conditions and is not used for mild discomfort or on an as-needed basis for acute or short-term pain.
Street Names: Dust, Juice, Smack, D, Footballs
The analgesic or pain-relieving effects of hydromorphone can be felt quite rapidly within 15 minutes following administration through injection and 30 minutes when given orally. The analgesic effect typically lasts over 5 hours. Currently, there are just a few branded products and a generic version of from Actavis on the market.
- Hydromorphone Hydrochloride
Hydromorphone Side Effects and Addiction
Hydromorphone should always be taken exactly as prescribed by a physician to avoid serious side effects and potential overdose. Misuse and abuse of this substance can lead to substance dependence and addiction. If overused or taken in large doses, hydromorphone can slow or stop your breathing and lead to death. Like any opioid pain medication, hydromorphone carries the risk of substance dependence and addiction.
Hydromorphone side effects include but are not exclusive to:
- Abdominal pain
Call your healthcare provider if you have any of these symptoms and they are severe.
Get emergency medical help if you have:
- Trouble breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Fast heartbeat
- Chest pain
- Swelling of your face, tongue or throat or hands
- Extreme drowsiness
- Light-headedness when changing positions
- Feeling faint
- High body temperature
- Trouble walking
- Stiff muscles
- Mental changes such as confusion
Is Hydromorphone an Opiate or Opioid?
Hydromorphone is a semi-synthetic opioid derived from naturally-occurring morphine obtained from the opium poppy plant and modified in the lab to be commonly used in the form of its salt hydromorphone hydrochloride for pharmaceutical purposes.
It is similar to but more potent than morphine with powerful pain-relieving effects. As with other opiate analgesics, it works by attaching to the opioid receptors in the brain and changing the brain's perception of pain. Hydromorphone has similar side effects and withdrawal symptoms to other drugs of the opiate class such as oxymorphone, hydrocodone, and morphine of course.
The distinction between an opiate and opioid is whether the entity is derived from a natural source (opium poppy plant) versus synthetically developed to mimic and act like the natural substance. Hydromorphone is semi-synthetic because it is a hybrid containing naturally occurring morphine (from the opium poppy) and synthetic components manufactured in a lab. Technically it would be classified as an opioid.
Hydromorphone ER is only prescribed for round-the-clock, severe pain relief and in cases where other opiate analgesics are not effective.
Hydromorphone is classified as a schedule II controlled substance under the Federal Controlled Substances Act. It exhibits the same strong addictive, physical dependence, and abuse potential profiles as other schedule II opioid analgesics such as hydrocodone and oxycodone.
Apart from analgesia or pain-relieving effects, other pharmacological effects of the opioid analgesic drug class include:
- Euphoria or a “high”
- Feelings of relaxation
- Calming and anxiety relieving effect
- Respiratory depression
- Myosis or constriction of the pupils
- and in some cases cough suppression
Abrupt discontinuation of hydromorphone and similar schedule II opioids like oxymorphone after extended use can result in the patient experiencing symptoms of opioid withdrawal.