Hydromorphone belongs to a class of drugs called “opioids,” which includes morphine. It has an analgesic potency of two to eight times that of morphine, but has a shorter duration of action and greater sedative properties. Street names include D, Dillies, Dust, Footballs, Juice, and Smack. Hydromorphone comes in tablets, rectal suppositories, oral solutions, and injectable formulations. Users may abuse hydromorphone tablets by ingesting them. Injectable solutions, as well as tablets that have been crushed and dissolved in a solution may be injected as a substitute for heroin.

When used as a drug of abuse, and not under a doctor’s supervision, hydromorphone is taken to produce feelings of euphoria, relaxation, sedation, and reduced anxiety. It may also cause mental clouding, changes in mood, nervousness, and restlessness. It works centrally (in the brain) to reduce pain and suppress cough.

Hydromorphone use is associated with both physiological and psychological dependence. Hydromorphone may cause constipation, pupillary constriction, urinary retention, nausea, vomiting, respiratory depression, dizziness, impaired coordination, loss of appetite, rash, slow or rapid heartbeat, and changes in blood pressure. Drugs that have similar effects include heroin, morphine, hydrocodone, fentanyl, and oxycodone. Acute overdose of hydromorphone can produce severe respiratory depression, drowsiness progressing to stupor or coma, lack of skeletal muscle tone, cold and clammy skin, constricted pupils, and reduction in blood pressure and heart rate.

Severe overdose may result in death due to respiratory depression. Hydromorphone is a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act with an accepted medical use as a pain reliever. Hydromorphone has a high potential for abuse and use may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. Hydromorphone is legally manufactured and distributed in the United States. However, abusers can obtain hydromorphone from forged prescriptions, “doctor-shopping,” theft from pharmacies, and from friends and acquaintances.

(SOURCE: DEA www.getsmartaboutdrugs.com)