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Dilaudid Detection Time – How Long Does Dilaudid (Hydromorphone) Stay In Your System?

Dr. Alan Weiner MD

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Alan Weiner, MD

February 18, 2019

Dilaudid can stay in a person’s system for one to three days. Detecting Dilaudid during this time frame depends on the type of drug test, along with personal factors such as dosage, age, weight, and overall health.

Dilaudid (hydromorphone) is a medication used to treat pain, and can stay in a person’s system for one to three days. The half-life of Dilaudid is about four hours, which means that after this time, only half of the dosage will remain in a person’s body.

It’s difficult to know the exact amount of time that Dilaudid will remain in a person’s system. Several factors contribute detection time, including the type of drug test, and a person’s weight, age, and overall health.

How Is Dilaudid (Hydromorphone) Metabolized?

Dilaudid is a semi-synthetic opiate analgesic, and can be administered orally through a pill or liquid. In medical settings, Dilaudid may also be given in a vein through an IV drip.

Once a person receives a dose of Dilaudid, the systems of the body begin to process the drug. Dilaudid is predominantly processed by the liver.

More than 95 percent of each dose is metabolized to hydromorphone-3-glucuronide and other metabolites. Small amounts of unchanged Dilaudid can be passed through the urine, but most of the dose is changed to metabolites.

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Dilaudid (Hydromorphone) Detection Time

Dilaudid levels peak in the bloodstream about 30 to 60 minutes after dosage. This is also the time period that a person experiences the strongest side effects of Dilaudid, which can include euphoria, itching, and slowed breathing.

Once the liver begins to metabolize Dilaudid, peak levels decrease and the drug becomes more difficult to detect.

Even if a person is no longer feeling the effects of Dilaudid, traces of the drug and its metabolites can still be found in the person’s body.

Drug test types that detect Dilaudid (hydromorphone) include:

  • Blood: Dilaudid can be detected in a person’s blood for up to 24 hours after a dose.
  • Urine: Dilaudid shows up in urine screenings for one to three days after last dosage.
  • Saliva: Saliva tests can detect Dilaudid for up to 36 hours after ingestion.
  • Hair: Hair testing is typically used to detect long-term patterns of drug use. Dilaudid can be detected on head hair 7 to 10 days after last dose, and this test can show Dilaudid use from the past three months.

Dilaudid is associated with reduced cross-reactivity in the body, meaning this drug generally reacts as expected. This reduced cross-reactivity could result in a shortened detection window for Dilaudid, compared to other drugs.

Factors That Influence How Long Dilaudid (Hydromorphone) Is In Your System

In addition to the type of drug test used, there are several factors that can affect the detection time of Dilaudid.

Since Dilaudid is processed by the liver, detection times can be influenced by the overall health and functionality of the liver. For example, if a person’s liver is damaged or functioning at a lower capacity, it could take longer for the body to metabolize Dilaudid.

The longer it takes the body to metabolize Dilaudid, the longer the drug is in a person’s system. This could lead to Dilaudid being detectable for a longer period of time.

Additional factors that influence how long Dilaudid stays in your system include:


The older someone is, the slower their body tends to metabolize substances (including medications like Dilaudid).

As a person ages, the detection time is lengthened due to the natural slowing of a person’s metabolism. This means that an older person could experience a longer detection time than a younger person that has a quicker metabolism.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

A person’s BMI will affect the general speed of their metabolism. If a person has a lower BMI, their metabolic function tends to be higher.

Conversely, individuals with higher BMIs tend to have lower metabolic function. This means that their body won’t process Dilaudid or other drugs as quickly as someone with a low BMI.


The higher the dose of Dilaudid, the longer it takes for the body to process the drug. Dilaudid is a powerful drug, often prescribed in small doses.

Some people may enjoy the side effects of Dilaudid and increase their dosage, but it’s important to take this medication exactly as prescribed.

Frequency And Duration Of Use

The length and extent of a person’s Dilaudid use can play a large role in detection time. Traces of the drug can build up in the body, and larger doses of Dilaudid take longer for the body to process.

Dilaudid is generally prescribed for a short amount of time, following a surgery or painful illness. Taking Dilaudid long-term could lead to slower processing within the body, and an increase in detection time.

Other Drug Use

Drinking alcohol or taking additional prescription or illicit drugs can amplify the effects of Dilaudid. These other substances can also slow the body’s metabolism of Dilaudid, leading to a longer detection window.

It’s important to note that polysubstance use, or using more than one drug at a time, is a sign that a person may be struggling with physical dependence and addiction.

Dilaudid (Hydromorphone) Abuse And Addiction

Like many opioid medications, Dilaudid can be extremely addictive. Because this drug can cause feelings of pleasure and euphoria, some people take Dilaudid more often, or in higher doses, than prescribed.

This can lead to physical dependence, as well as addiction. When a person becomes physically dependent on Dilaudid, their body requires the drug in order to function normally. If a person stops their use suddenly, they may experience painful withdrawal symptoms.

If a person is concerned about Dilaudid detection time or withdrawal, they may be battling an addiction to Dilaudid.

Treatment For Dilaudid (Hydromorphone) Addiction

Individuals suffering from Dilaudid addiction can find help in the form of quality addiction treatment. Inpatient treatment centers provide a stable, substance-free environment for those struggling with Dilaudid addiction.

In an inpatient rehab center, individuals participate in detox programs that assist them through the uncomfortable withdrawal period. Once a person successfully detoxes, they are able to begin treatment with research-based recovery therapies.

In group and individual therapy, clients practice sober living skills and learn to overcome personal obstacles. Each client is ultimately empowered to create a new vision for life after addiction.

For more information about Dilaudid detection and personalized addiction treatment, reach out to one of our specialists today.

Johns Hopkins Medicine: Pathology - Opiate Medication Table

U.S. Food & Drug Administration - DILAUDID® and DILAUDID-HP® INJECTION

U.S. National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus - Hydromorphone

U.S National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health - Laboratory Testing for Prescription Opioids

U.S National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health - OBJECTIVE TESTING – URINE AND OTHER DRUG TESTS

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