Is Hydromorphone Stronger than Morphine?

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Hydromorphone is actually stronger than morphine, which raises its abuse potential and makes it slightly more dangerous. Call 800-584-3274 now if you or someone you love has been struggling with a hydromorphone use disorder and needs professional help.

Hydromorphone Use and Abuse

Hydromorphone is considered one of the stronger opioid drugs available for prescription as a pain relief medication. It is a Schedule II drug, which means it should only be used by those to whom a doctor has prescribed it and that doctors writing prescriptions for it must be mindful of their patients and help them to avoid misuse. Unfortunately, though, hydromorphone is abused and diverted to the black market just like every other opioid.

Hydromorphone vs. Morphine: Which Is Stronger?

Hydromorphone Stronger

Hydromorphone is stronger than morphine, making it even more dangerous to abuse.

Hydromorphone is actually stronger than morphine. The former drug is a semi-synthetic substance that was created to have a higher potency than morphine, which is a natural opioid that comes from inside the poppy plant. Still, the relative strength of hydromorphone does not mean it is much more dangerous than any other opioid in an abuse situation, as all opioid drugs can potentially be abused and cause addiction.

According to a study in the medical journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, the abuse liability of hydromorphone, oxycodone, and hydrocodone are all about the same, even though the former most drug is the strongest and most potent. And the Drug Enforcement Administration has stated that the dependence and abuse liabilities of hydromorphone is about the same as any other Schedule II opioid, which includes morphine.

What Does This Mean?

Essentially, although hydromorphone is a stronger drug than morphine, the abuse of either type of opioid could quickly lead to addiction and should be considered equally as dangerous. There are several reasons for this:

  • A person who becomes addicted to opioids will often use whichever type of drug they can obtain in order to get their fix. As a result, some people who are used to morphine will sometimes use hydromorphone and vice-versa.
    • However, the transfer from one drug to the other could potentially cause an overdose if the individual does not realize hydromorphone is stronger and, therefore, slightly more potent.
  • Many people start out using milder opioids like oxycodone and then turn to a stronger drug like morphine or hydromorphone. In addition, some individuals turn to heroin abuse as a cheaper, easier to obtain substitute for their prescription opioid addiction.
    • According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly half the heroin addicts questioned in two recent surveys admitted to using prescription drugs before turning to heroin.
  • Any opioid drug, no matter how weak, can cause an addiction syndrome if taken often and frequently without a prescription.

The Signs that Someone You Love Is Abusing Hydromorphone (& What You Should Do About It)

Therefore, you should always be vigilant when using opioids and should understand that, even when one is stronger than the other, addiction can still occur.

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