Dilaudid (Hydromorphone) Drug Classification & Schedule

Dilaudid is a schedule II opioid drug. The drugs listed under schedule II have a high potential for abuse and addiction.

Hydromorphone (brand name Dilaudid or Exalgo) is a schedule II drug according to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Dilaudid belongs to a class of drugs known as opioids.

Dilaudid, or hydromorphone, is a legally manufactured prescription drug used to treat moderate to severe pain. However, hydromorphone is a potent opioid analgesic that has a rapid onset of side effects.

Dilaudid Drug Schedule

Dilaudid is a schedule II drug. The drugs listed under schedule II have a high potential for abuse and addiction.

In addition to hydromorphone, other schedule II drugs include:

  • Vicodin (hydrocodone/acetaminophen)
  • cocaine
  • methadone
  • methamphetamine
  • Ritalin
  • Adderall
  • oxycodone
  • fentanyl
  • meperidine
  • Dexedrine

Dilaudid (Hydromorphone) Drug Classification

Dilaudid is a pain medication belonging to a class known as opioid agonists.

Other medications in this category include:

  • oxymorphone
  • hydrocodone
  • oxycodone
  • codeine
  • fentanyl

Hydromorphone can be used as a tablet or as an oral liquid. Dilaudid-HP is an injection for use in opioid-tolerant people only. There are also extended-release tablets that are primarily used to help treat chronic pain.

How Hydromorphone Works

Hydromorphone works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain. This medication comes in various dosage forms and strengths.

Dilaudid acts as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. This means it works as a sedative and is used for pain relief, but may also cause side effects as well.

Side Effects Of Hydromorphone

Hydromorphone use and abuse can cause a number of side effects, including:

  • dry mouth
  • itching
  • headache
  • drowsiness
  • loss of appetite
  • lightheadedness

  • constipation
  • nausea
  • paranoia
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • blurred vision


Before taking this medication, there are a number of precautions you must take, as a variety of drug interactions and adverse reactions may occur.

In fact, you’ll need to inform your doctor if you are:

  • taking serotonin-reuptake inhibitors such as escitalopram (Lexapro), citalopram (Celexa), or fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • taking pentazocine (Talwin)
  • taking buprenorphine
  • using pain medications containing mixed opioid agonist/antagonists such as nalbuphine, pentazocine, or butorphanol
  • breastfeeding, as neonatal withdrawal syndrome can take place
  • suffering from a curving of the spine (kyphoscoliosis)
  • suffering from breathing problems such as sleep apnea
  • suffering from a disease that restricts the urethra such as gallbladder disease or thyroid disease
  • suffering from paralytic ileus, a condition where food doesn’t move through the stomach
  • suffering from Addison’s disease, a condition where the adrenal gland produces less hormone than normal
  • suffering from a head injury
  • suffering from any condition which affects your airway or lungs

Dangers Of Hydromorphone Abuse

Based on its schedule and classification, Dilaudid has a high potential for abuse. Those who take hydromorphone also have a high potential of developing severe psychological and physical dependence to the drug.

Hydromorphone is dangerous when used not as prescribed and can cause life-threatening conditions.

Combining Medications

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that combining medications can be dangerous, especially those that contain opioids.

Serious side effects can occur if you combine Dilaudid with other CNS depressants. Benzodiazepines, muscle relaxants, and alcohol should be avoided.


If a person is under heavy sedation from Dilaudid abuse, they may experience an overdose. Symptoms of a Dilaudid overdose can include:

  • breathing problems such as respiratory depression
  • muscle weakness
  • dizziness
  • hypotension
  • clammy skin
  • sleepiness
  • fluctuations in blood pressure

A fatal overdose may occur when you take a high dose of hydromorphone or mix it with other CNS depressants.

The medication naloxone can be used to help reverse the effects of an overdose. However, naloxone may be less effective if the opioid was combined with other substances.

Withdrawal Symptoms

When stopped abruptly, Dilaudid can cause a number of withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • restlessness
  • runny nose
  • joint pain
  • sleep problems
  • fast heart rate
  • stomach cramps
  • anxiety
  • irritability

An addiction specialist or healthcare professional can help you find treatment options for opioid withdrawal. Your body may need nourishments in the form of vitamins and supplements.

To learn about our outpatient treatment options, please contact us today.

Written by
Northeast Addition Editorial Team

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This page does not provide medical advice.

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