How Long Does Dilaudid (Hydromorphone) Stay in Your System?

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What is Dilaudid (Hydromorphone)?

Dilaudid is a brand name for hydromorphone, a prescription opioid medication that is used to treat severe pain. Dilaudid comes in oral tablet or liquid injection form. As an opioid, it binds to opioid receptors in the brain and alleviates pain.

Hydromorphone is classified as a Schedule II Controlled Substance due to its high potential for abuse and addiction. The drug itself is derived from morphine but is far more potent, and is one of the strongest opioids aside from heroin and fentanyl. As a result, it is most commonly used in hospital settings, but it can also be obtained via prescription.

Common side effects of Dilaudid include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Sweating
  • Flushing (warmth, redness, or tingling in the skin)
  • Dry mouth
  • Itching

When abused, Dilaudid can produce feelings of euphoria, warmth, and well-being, but it can also be highly addictive with the potential to cause overdose.

How Long Do the Effects of Dilaudid Last?

Dilaudid is most commonly administered via IV or given as an oral tablet. When administered intravenously, the effects are felt within seconds, peak after a few minutes, and can last for about 4-6 hours. When taken orally, the effects can appear within 15-30 minutes, peak within the first hour, and may last up to six hours. Dilaudid is sometimes given in extended-release formulations which start to work within six hours of ingestion and can last more than 9-10 hours.

What is the Half-Life of Hydromorphone?

There are several factors that influence how long a drug stays in your system, with one of them being the half-life. The half-life is a measure of how long it takes your body to metabolize a single dose of a substance. It usually takes 4-5 half-lives for a drug to leave your system completely.

The half-life of short-acting hydromorphone is 2-3 hours, so it can stay in your system for up to 15 hours. The half-life of long-acting hydromorphone can be between 8-16 hours depending on various factors, so it can stay in your system for three days or more.

Even though Dilaudid only stays in the body for about three days, the liver breaks hydromorphone down into metabolites which are excreted from the body via urine, and these metabolites can stay in your system longer. Having these metabolites in your system will result in a positive drug test.

Factors that Influence How Long Hydromorphone Stays in Your System

Several factors affect the half-life and how long drugs stay in your system. These include:

  • Dosage – Taking Dilaudid in higher doses will cause it to build up in your system, requiring more time for your body to eliminate it.
  • Short-acting vs long-acting Dilaudid – Short-acting Dilaudid will leave your system quicker than long-acting formulations.
  • Frequency of use – Taking Dilaudid more frequently will cause it to stay in your body longer than if you only took it once.
  • Health factors – Age, body composition, biological sex, metabolism, hydration, diet, and overall health can all influence how quickly your body metabolizes and eliminates Dilaudid.
  • Other substances – Sometimes, taking Dilaudid with alcohol or other drugs can increase the amount of time it stays in your body.
  • Method of use – Taking Dilaudid orally may cause it to stay in your system longer than if you injected it.

These factors can also affect the severity and duration of Dilaudid withdrawal symptoms upon sudden cessation.

Will Dilaudid Show Up on a Drug Test? Dilaudid Detection Times for Urine, Blood, Saliva, and Hair

Dilaudid will show up on most standard drug tests. Each type of drug test has a different detection window.

  • Urine tests – The most popular type of drug test is a urine test. They are easy to administer, accurate, and affordable. Dilaudid can show up on a urine test for about three days.
  • Blood tests – Blood tests are only used in medical settings because they are more invasive and must be performed by a medical professional. Dilaudid can show up on a blood test for up to 24 hours after the last dose.
  • Saliva tests – Similar to urine tests, saliva tests are cheap and easy to administer. Dilaudid can show up on a saliva test for 1-4 days after the last dose.
  • Hair tests – Hair tests have an exceptionally long detection window, and they can detect Dilaudid for up to three months after the last dose.

How to Get Dilaudid Out of Your System

If you have an upcoming drug test and have a valid prescription for Dilaudid, you have nothing to worry about. However, if you’ve been abusing Dilaudid or are addicted to it, it may be time to seek professional help. To explain, the only way to get Dilaudid out of your system is to stop taking it, but abruptly stopping Dilaudid after periods of abuse can result in painful withdrawal symptoms. Dilaudid withdrawal can be so uncomfortable that many people continue using the drug simply to avoid going into withdrawal. But when you seek help from a medical detox center, they can help you detox with comfort and ease.

Common symptoms of Dilaudid withdrawal include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle aches
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Runny nose
  • Yawning
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dilated pupils
  • Goosebumps
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure

These symptoms can vary in intensity and duration based on factors such as the dosage, duration of use, and individual differences.

Get Help for Dilaudid Addiction

Dilaudid addiction can be extremely difficult to overcome, especially if you experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking it. But with the right treatment and support, recovery is possible.

At New Jersey Addiction Interventions, our team of addiction specialists works with the most trusted rehab centers in the country, helping clients find the best treatment program for them. We approach each individual with empathy, discretion, and respect, allowing us to address each person’s situation with the utmost care and confidentiality.

To learn more about your treatment options or to get started with a confidential, risk-free assessment, please contact us today.

Medically Reviewed: December 18, 2023

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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