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Medically Reviewed

How Long Does Dilaudid Stay in Your System?

- 5 sections

Medically Verified: May 24, 2022

Medical Reviewer:

Sahil Talwar, PA-C, MBA


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

Dilaudid is the brand name for a substance known as hydromorphone. This medication is also sold under the name “Exalgo.” As an opioid medication, this substance is known to have psychoactive effects that can lead to the development of dependency and opioid addiction.

According to research, “Hydromorphone is structurally related to morphine but is approximately 5 to 10 times as potent.”[1] Being more potent than highly addictive morphine, it’s easy to see how individuals become addicted to Dilaudid.

While hydromorphone is effective in treating moderate to severe symptoms of pain, the way it is metabolized can cause significant harm to the liver. Additionally, the length of time Dilaudid stays in your system is important to know, as overdosing on this substance is an extreme risk.

How Long Do the Effects of Dilaudid Last?

Dilaudid is an opioid, which means it is a mind-altering substance that can provide pain relief when used medicinally. However, people abuse this drug for the additional effects it provides such as euphoria and an overall feeling of calmness.

The common effects of hydromorphone include:

  • Headache
  • Euphoria
  • Feelings of relaxation
  • Small, pinpointed pupils
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Feelings of anxiety
  • Lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness or sleepiness
  • Muscle, joint, and back pain
  • Itching
  • Abdominal pain
  • Depression or low mood

How long the effects of Dilaudid last depends on the method of administration. While swallowing a pill may take longer, intravenously injecting the drug causes the effects to begin faster.

  • Oral administration – begins working in 15 minutes and reaches peak effect in 30 minutes to an hour.
  • IV injection – begins to take effect in 5 minutes.
  • Intramuscular injection – takes effect in 15 minutes.
  • Rectal administration – takes effect in 30 minutes.

How is Dilaudid Metabolized?

Once Dilaudid is consumed, it enters the bloodstream by binding to plasma proteins in your blood. Then, the body begins the metabolization process as the hydromorphone travels to the liver. Within the liver, this substance is broken down into the metabolites that drug screenings search for.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), “hydromorphone is extensively metabolized via glucuronidation in the liver, with greater than 95% of the dose metabolized to hydromorphone-3-glucuronide along with minor amounts of 6-hydroxy reduction metabolites.”[2]

Only a small percentage of hydromorphone remains unchanged to be excreted through urine. Most of the substance turns into hydromorphone-3-glucuronide and 6-hydroxy reduction metabolites and is eliminated from the body.

The half-life of Dilaudid is 2-3 hours, as this substance is a short-acting opioid. It takes 4-5 half-lives for a substance to leave the body completely, so hydromorphone may take up to 15 hours to be removed from your system.

How Long Can Dilaudid Stay in Your Urine, Blood, Saliva, and Hair?

If you are prescribed hydromorphone, you should be aware that this is a controlled substance that will show up on a drug test. Even though the medication is metabolized fairly quickly, it will leave behind trace metabolites in your body that can be detected on a drug test.

The amount of time this substance remains detectable in your system depends on the type of drug test that is used.

How long is hydromorphone detectable on a drug test?

  • Urine – 2 to 4 days after last use
  • Blood – 1 to 2 days for most individuals
  • Saliva – 1 to 4 days after the last dosage
  • Hair – up to 90 days (3 months) after last use

Factors That Influence How Long Dilaudid Stays in Your System

Because the length of drug detection time is based on how it is metabolized in your body, a number of personal variables influence how long Dilaudid stays in your system.

How long hydromorphone stays in someone’s system depends on:

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Liver and kidney health
  • Dosage they take
  • Overall health

Dilaudid may stay in your system longer if you are older. This is because older individuals tend to have health problems as well as a slowed metabolism.

Additionally, individuals with hepatic impairments tend to experience longer half-lives. According to the National Library of Medicine, “hepatic diseases, such as liver cirrhosis, affect drugs eliminated via the liver. Compromise of phase I and II metabolic pathways could lead to increased half-lives of long-acting drugs, contributing to toxicity.”[3]

The same goes for individuals who struggle with kidney impairments. The National Library of Medicine explains, “renal disorders, such as chronic kidney disease, can reduce renal function hindering drug excretion. As kidney function declines with age, drug excretion becomes less efficient, and dosing adjustments may be needed. Other than direct renal dysfunction, pathologies that impact renal blood flow or urine flow can affect drug elimination as well.”[3]

Medical Detox for Dilaudid Abuse and Addiction at Charlotte Detox Center

Dilaudid abuse and addiction can severely impact an individual’s life. If you or a loved one suffer from hydromorphone use disorder, you must attend a medical detox program to safely manage the symptoms of withdrawal.

At Charlotte Detox Center, we provide our patients with cutting-edge treatments and medications that help them overcome the symptoms of Dilaudid withdrawal with ease. Contact us today for more information on our medical detox program in Charlotte, North Carolina.