Dilaudid vs Morphine

Dilaudid is a brand of hydromorphone manufactured by a US pharmaceutical company (Rhodes Pharmaceuticals). This medication is used to help relieve moderate to severe pain. Hydromorphone belongs to a class of drugs known as opioid analgesics. It works in the brain to change how your body feels and responds to pain. If you have severe pain and haven’t found relief with certain medications, you may have other options. On the other hand Morphine, the main alkaloid of opium was first obtained from poppy seeds in 1805. It is a potent analgesic, though its use is limited due to tolerance, withdrawal, and the risk of abuse. Morphine is still routinely used today, though there are a number of semi-synthetic opioids of varying strength such as codeine, fentanyl, methadone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, meperidine, and oxycodone.


Dilaudid vs Morphine are they different?

Both medications belong to a class of drugs called opioid analgesics, also known as narcotics. They work on the opioid receptors in your nervous system. This action changes the way you perceive pain to help you to feel less pain.

Dilaudid and morphine each come in several forms and strengths. The oral forms (taken by mouth) are most commonly used. All forms can be used at home, but injectable forms are more often used in the hospital.

Both drugs can cause severe side effects and can be addictive, so you should take them exactly as prescribed. If you’re taking more than one pain medication, be sure to follow the dosage instructions for each drug carefully so you don’t mix them up. If you have questions about how to take your medications, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist.

The chart below further describes the features of both medications.

Dilaudid Morphine
What are brand names for this drug? Dilaudid Kadian, Duramorph PF, Infumorph, Morphabond ER, Mitigo
Is a generic version available? yes yes
What does this drug treat? pain pain
What is the typical length of treatment? decided by your healthcare provider decided by your healthcare provider
How do I store this drug? at room temperature* at room temperature*
Is this a controlled substance?** yes yes
Is there a risk of withdrawal with this drug? yes† yes†
Does this drug have the potential for misuse? yes¥ yes¥

* Check the package instructions or your healthcare provider’s prescription for exact temperature ranges.

** A controlled substance is a drug that’s regulated by the government. If you take a controlled substance, your healthcare provider must closely supervise your use of the drug. Never give a controlled substance to anyone else.

† If you’ve been taking this drug for longer than a few weeks, don’t stop taking it without talking to your healthcare provider. You’ll need to taper off the drug slowly to avoid withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, sweating, nausea, diarrhea, and trouble sleeping.

¥ This drug has a high misuse potential. This means you can get addicted to it. Be sure to take this drug exactly as your healthcare provider tells you to. If you have questions or concerns, talk with your healthcare provider.

A key difference between these drugs is the forms they come in. The table below lists the forms of each drug.

Form Dilaudid Morphine
subcutaneous injection X
intravenous injection X X
intramuscular injection X X
immediate-release oral tablet X X
extended-release oral tablet X X
extended-release oral capsule X
oral solution X X
oral solution concentrate X
rectal suppository* * *

*These forms are available but not FDA-approved.


Dilaudid vs Morphine  Side Effects

Dilaudid and morphine work similarly in your body. They also share similar side effects. The chart below lists examples of more common side effects of Dilaudid and morphine.

Both drugs Dilaudid Morphine
dizziness depression Same common side effects as for both drugs
drowsiness elevated mood
nausea itchiness
vomiting flushing (reddening and warming of your skin)
lightheadedness dry mouth


Is Dilaudid Stronger Than Morphine?

Both Dilaudid and morphine are very strong pain medications. They work in similar ways and have a lot in common, but they do have slight differences in:

  • forms
  • dosage
  • side effects

If you have questions about these drugs, talk with your healthcare provider.

They can answer your questions and select the drug that’s best for you based on:

  • your health
  • current medications
  • other factors

Each drug can also cause respiratory depression (slow and shallow breathing). If taken on a routine basis, they each can also cause dependence (where you need to take a drug in order to feel normal).


Drug interactions

Here are several drug interactions and their effects.

Interactions with either drug

Dilaudid and morphine are narcotics that work in the same way, so their drug interactions are also similar. Interactions for both drugs include the following:


Using Dilaudid or morphine with one of these drugs raises your risk for severe constipation and not being able to urinate.

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors

You shouldn’t take Dilaudid or morphine within 14 days of taking a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI).

Taking either drug with an MAOI or within 14 days of using an MAOI can cause:

  • breathing problems
  • low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • extreme tiredness
  • coma

Other pain medications, certain antipsychotic drugs, anxiety drugs, and sleeping pills

Mixing Dilaudid or morphine with any of these drugs may cause:

  • breathing problems
  • low blood pressure
  • extreme tiredness
  • coma

You should talk to your healthcare provider before using Dilaudid or morphine with any of these drugs.

Each drug may have other drug interactions that can increase your risk for serious side effects. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider about all prescription drugs and over-the-counter products that you’re taking.

Use with other medical conditions

If you have certain health issues, they may change how Dilaudid and morphine work in your body. It may not be safe for you to take these drugs, or your healthcare provider may need to monitor you more closely during your treatment.

You should talk to your healthcare provider before taking Dilaudid or morphine if you have breathing problems such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma. These drugs have been linked with serious breathing problems that can cause death.

You should also talk about your safety if you have a history of drug abuse or addiction. These drugs can be addictive and increase your risk of overdose and death.

Examples of other medical conditions you should discuss with your healthcare provider before taking Dilaudid or morphine include:

  • biliary tract problems
  • kidney issues
  • liver disease
  • a history of head injury
  • low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • seizures
  • gastrointestinal obstruction, especially if you have paralytic ileus

Also, if you have an abnormal heart rhythm, talk to your healthcare provider before using morphine. It may make your condition worse. SEE: 5 Morphine Derivatives Killing Young People

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