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How Long Does Dilaudid Stay in Your System?

Dilaudid is an opioid, so the potential for abuse is high. Knowing more about how long this drug stays in someone’s system is important for getting the facts about tolerance and dependence.


Also called hydromorphone, Dilaudid comes in several forms, including as long-acting tablets, as a liquid, and in injectable form. The following are relatively common side effects:

  •  Headache
  •  Dry mouth
  •  Drowsiness
  •  Back, joint, or muscle pain
  •  Back, joint, or muscle pain
  •  Anxiety
  •  Itching
  •  Trouble sleeping
  •  Lightheadedness
  •  Heavy sweating
  •  Stomach pain
  •  Flushing
  •  Depression

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There are reasons why someone may be screened for drugs. Knowing how long Dilaudid stays in the body can help people to determine if their screening will be negative or positive. Opioids are generally not present in the blood or urine for long, but they can stay in the hair for quite some time.

On average, someone can expect to find this drug in their urine for about three to four days after their last dosage, according to information published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology. Urine tests are the most common types of drug tests used.

If someone requires a blood test to look for this drug, it will be present for about 24 hours following the last dose. Due to their invasive nature, blood tests aren’t as frequently used.

If someone has a hair drug test, Dilaudid may stay in their hair for as long as 90 days. However, some information says it is possible for opiates to remain in the hair for up to six months.

This drug may also be found if someone orders saliva drug testing. It remains in the saliva for about two to three days.

Ultimately, the above numbers are just averages. Several factors are at play when it comes to how quickly this drug is eliminated from a person’s body. The following all work to determine how long this drug says in a person’s system:

  •  If the person uses alcohol or other drugs
  •  Their weight, sex, and age
  •  The person’s level of liver and kidney function
  •  How much body fat the person has
  •  How the person took the Dilaudid, such as via injection, snorting, or orally
  •  The dose and volume of the drug the person took
  •  Their metabolic rate

Those who are improperly using Dilaudid are at risk for overdose and other potentially serious consequences. Seeking treatment for abuse of this drug is important. Even if you can pass a drug test, long-term use of opioids can result in a wide range of serious issues affecting all areas of life.


It is possible to overdose on this drug. The following are possible signs of an overdose:

  •  Clammy and cold skin
  •  Severe drowsiness that can make the person unresponsive
  •  Pinpoint pupils
  •  Slow heartbeat
  •  Troubled or very slow breathing
  •  Change in consciousness
  •  Seizures
  •  Blue or pale fingernails, lips, or skin
  •  Inability to speak
  •  Weak muscle tone

Once these symptoms are apparent, it is considered a medical emergency. People who overdose on Dilaudid are at risk of death without medical intervention.

The risk of overdose is higher when someone uses Dilaudid with other drugs or alcohol. This is especially true when the person is using substances that can depress the respiratory system.

This is because it increases the chances that someone might stop breathing.

The exact dose that can lead to overdose varies per person. Those who are smaller in stature, and people who do not take drugs, often tend to be at a higher risk compared to people who are heavier and not naïve to opioid use.

For people who do not take opioids, the oral starting dose is typically 2 mg (milligrams) to 4 mg every four hours.

Because of this, an opioid-naïve person could be at risk for overdose if they take larer amounts.


Knowing the half-life of this drug is important for understanding how long it may stay in your system. The half-life of a drug describes how long it takes for half of the dose to be metabolized and then removed from the bloodstream.

For example, if someone takes a 4 mg dose of Dilaudid, within two to three hours, about 2 mg will have been metabolized and removed from their body.

The half-life of this drug is two to three hours, according to the Australian Prescriber. This drug is rapidly absorbed by the body.

When someone takes an oral dose of this drug, the bioavailability becomes 25 percent due to first-pass metabolism reduction.

Drug testing strips on a pile of papers with writing on them.

 Because of this, people with liver issues should not take this medication.


Someone who abruptly stops taking Dilaudid may start to experience withdrawal effects in 12 hours to 48 hours, according to information published in Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings. The symptoms of withdrawal can last for an average of 10 days to 20 days.

Someone going through withdrawal may experience several symptoms such as:

  •  Vomiting and nausea
  •  Restless arms and legs that are unbearable and intense
  •  Lack of appetite
  •  Irrational thoughts
  •  Depression
  •  Worsening of pre-existing pain
  •  Seizures
  •  Diarrhea
  •  Sweating
  •  Emotional instability
  •  Insomnia
  •  Flu-like symptoms
  •  Bone and muscle pain
  •  Thoughts of suicide

The withdrawal process for this drug can be challenging. Because of this, it is generally recommended that people go to a medical detox facility. These facilities will monitor clients during the detox process to ensure they remain safe. They often use medications to reduce withdrawal effects so that the person is more comfortable as they go through the process. Medical detox also reduces the likelihood of relapse, offering support to the individual so that they are more likely to complete the withdrawal process.

While opioid withdrawal is not typically life-threatening, certain complications can be. People may become dehydrated since diarrhea and vomiting can deplete the body of water. In the most serious of cases, dehydration puts someone at risk of:

  •  Not urinating or passing very dark urine
  •  Confusion or irritability
  •  Rapid heartbeat
  •  Sunken eyes
  •  Shock due to the limited blood flow throughout the body
  •  Shriveled and dry skin
  •  Lightheadedness and dizziness
  •  Rapid breathing
  •  Listlessness
  •  Delirium or unconsciousness

Since medications like buprenorphine are often used during opioid detox, it’s common for the overall withdrawal timeline to be prolonged. Once the person is stabilized on the replacement medication, dosages are slowly lowered over time until the person is no longer taking any drugs. Oftentimes, this type of tapering schedule can take months.


Hydromorphone. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved December 2018 from

Hydromorphone. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved December 2018 from

Withdrawal Management. Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings. Retrieved December 2018 from

(April 2000) Hydromorphone. Australian Prescriber. Retrieved December 2018 from

Dehydration. MedlinePlus. Retrieved December 2018 from

(September 2012) Excretion Profile of Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, and Norhydrocodone in Urine Following Single Dose Administration of Hydrocodone to Healthy Volunteers. Journal of Analytical Toxicology. Retrieved December 2018 from

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