Hydromorphone is a prescription opioid medication, one with a notable feature: It can stay in a person’s body for a comparatively long time.
How long can hydromorphone linger in your system? And what are some consequences of taking this powerful drug? Let’s examine these important questions now.
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What Is Hydromorphone?
To start, hydromorphone is a semi-synthetic opioid analgesic. That means it’s a strong pain reliever, partly natural and partly manufactured. And it’s a drug that a doctor would only prescribe for extreme pain.
Hydromorphone comes in two basic forms: fast-acting and slow-acting. The fast-acting form starts working about a half hour after you take it, and it’s at its most potent after an hour.
By contrast, you’d begin feeling the effects of the slow-acting version in six hours or so, and it’s at its most effective within nine hours of consumption.
Those two hydromorphone categories can be divided into subgroups. There are fast-acting and slow-acting oral liquids, oral tablets, and suppositories, all of which vary as far as how quickly they work. Injections are available as well, and they belong to the fast-acting group.
The short-acting form of hydromorphone can be a generic drug, or it could be sold under the brand name Dilaudid. Hydromorphone suppositories, however, are always generic. The long-acting form of this medication is also generic in all cases, although it once carried the Exalgo brand name.
Note that, in some patients, hydromorphone can cause side effects such as dizziness, nausea, vomiting, heavy sweating, dry mouth, and constipation.
The Half-Lives of Hydromorphone
Whenever we talk about taking medications, an important concept is the half-life. A drug’s half-life is the length of time it takes your body to break down half of it.
People typically need five half-lives to totally expunge a medication from their system.
Fast-acting hydromorphone has a half-life of two or three hours, so it could stay within your system for as long as 15 hours.
For its part, slow-acting hydromorphone has a half-life of 8 to 15 hours. Therefore, it could remain in your system for a little more than three days.
But how does your body get rid of this drug — or any drug, for that matter?
First, the medication you take enters your bloodstream, and it circulates throughout your body. As the drug passes through your liver, that organ breaks it down chemically. And, after that process takes place, the drug can be expelled through the urinary tract.
Of course, your liver can only work so fast. There’s nothing you can do or take to speed up the hydromorphone breakdown process.
In addition, the lengths of these half-lives depend on various factors. For one thing, the more hydromorphone you take and the more often you take it, the longer your body will need to eliminate it.
Also, a person who’s in good health overall should be able to process this medication faster than someone with medical problems — someone with kidney issues in particular.
Age can play a role here, too. It often takes older people more time to flush out this drug.
Drug Testing and Hydromorphone
Keep in mind that drug tests can detect hydromorphone. In fact, remnants of this drug may be found in your blood for almost four hours after you take it and in saliva for as long as two days after consumption.
On top of that, traces of hydromorphone can remain in urine for up to three days and in hair samples for as many as 90 days.
With all of that in mind, if you’re ever getting a drug test while you’re on hydromorphone, tell the administrator you’re taking this medication. It might also be a good idea to bring your prescription.
A Truly Addictive Medication
The main problem with hydromorphone isn’t that it stays in the body for so long. Instead, the real problem is that, like all opioid drugs, it’s highly addictive.
For this reason, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies hydromorphone as a Schedule II controlled substance. Some people even buy it illegally on the street.
Moreover, if you take a substance that depresses your central nervous system — alcohol is an example — it can make an opioid medication even more addictive. Therefore, before you start taking this drug, tell your doctor how frequently you consume alcohol or any other substances.
After a while, your body will become accustomed to this medication, and it will expect the dosages to continue. As such, if you stopped taking the drug all at once, you’d probably experience an intense withdrawal period. That’s why a gradual lessening of your dosages is a better approach, one your doctor can help you with.
Indeed, an opioid medication can become addictive even if you carefully follow your prescription and keep checking in with your doctor. And, not only is it easy to become addicted to such a drug, it’s easy to overdose on one. Opioid addictions so often end with devastating tragedies.
If you suspect that you or someone you love might be struggling with an opioid addiction, we at Recreate Life Counseling can help. Our facilities — which are located in Boynton Beach, Fla. — are open day and night.
We offer a safe and supportive environment along with customized and effective treatment plans. Our caring and dedicated staff members are experts at helping people reclaim their lives, one step at a time.
For more information, please get in touch with us at Recreate Life Counseling at any time.