Prescription painkillers come in many strengths and combinations. For people with severe chronic pain, Dilaudid is a popular narcotic that can provide pain relief. Because there are many prescription opioids with a similar makeup, many patients wonder if one narcotic could be more potent than the other. Let’s explore how strong Dilaudid is compared to other drugs to help you better understand how it works.
What Is Dilaudid?
Dilaudid is the brand name for hydromorphone. It’s a potent narcotic that can help treat moderate to severe pain. Categorized as a Schedule II controlled substance, it works in the brain to change how the body feels and reacts to pain. Hydromorphone is often a substance with a high risk for addiction and dependence, due to its high potency.
Hydromorphone is a standard prescription narcotic used to treat serious injuries, cancer, and chronic pain. Nonetheless, it’s most often used as a short-term treatment due to its high risk for misuse and addiction.
How Strong Is Dilaudid Compared To…
Dilaudid is usually the most potent narcotic when compared to equivalent doses of other substances. For example, narcotic medications are often used to treat post-surgery and cancer pain. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), they separate narcotics into a three-tier ladder for cancer pain treatment. The first tier consists of non-opioid medications. The second tier would be mild opioids, like codeine. Finally, the third tier is the use of potent opioids, such as hydromorphone or oxycodone.
By comparison, Dilaudid and Percocet (oxycodone) are very similar. Both are available in similar forms and belong to the same tier of strength, according to WHO. However, Dilaudid is faster-acting compared to oxycodone, which makes it carry a higher potential for abuse. All in all, Dilaudid is considered stronger than Oxycodone (in both Percocet and OxyContin presentations).
Dilaudid is approximately eight times stronger than morphine. On the surface, Dilaudid is chemically similar to morphine. However, Dilaudid is stronger than morphine since people actually require a smaller quantity of hydromorphone to receive the same pain-relieving effects of larger doses of morphine. However, because Dilaudid tends to have fewer side effects and physical effects than morphine, it’s often prescribed to treat chronic pain instead of morphine.
Methadone, although it’s considered a narcotic, is also used in medication-assisted treatment to manage opioid addiction. Methadone can help lessen the effects of withdrawal symptoms to help patients focus on recovery. Overall, methadone and Dilaudid have the same strength. However, because they accumulate in the body, methadone can potentially be more strong when abused.
Fentanyl is a strong, synthetic narcotic very similar to morphine. However, morphine is almost ten times more potent than fentanyl when injected. Fentanyl is considered one of the most potent painkillers alongside oxycodone and buprenorphine. Compared to Dilaudid, fentanyl is undoubtedly more powerful and only prescribed for people with severe pain for which alternative treatment options are not available.
Dilaudid Is the Strongest Narcotic
Out of all narcotics available, Dilaudid is one of the strongest ones. Usually, doctors only prescribe these medications after surgery or to treat chronic pain for short periods. Even though most patients won’t have a problem taking medicine as prescribed, there’s always the risk of dependence and addiction.
As one of the most potent synthetic opioids out there, users can develop a tolerance to the substance in as little as three weeks. Once tolerance occurs, people feel the need to take pills more often or in higher quantities to experience the same effects. When this happens, the risk of opioid overdose increases significantly. Symptoms of an overdose include:
- Weak pulse
- Bluish lips
- Shallow breathing
- Stomach spasms
- Muscle twitching
If you or someone you may know is experiencing any of these symptoms, call 911 and seek emergency medical attention immediately. High doses of Dilaudid or combining Dilaudid with other substances such as alcohol can cause slow breathing and low blood pressure.
If you are using Dilaudid or other opioids for recreational use or believe you are struggling with dependence, it’s essential to seek help. Even if you decide to quit the drug, it can result in severe withdrawal symptoms that require medical supervision and care. There are different treatment options for opioid abuse, including behavioral health therapies and medication-assisted treatments that can help treat a substance use disorder.