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How Long Does Hydromorphone Stay in Your System?

Hydromorphone is a prescription opioid drug that is used to treat moderate to severe pain. The brand name for hydromorphone is Dilaudid. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), hydromorphone is 2 to 8 times more potent than morphine.[1]

While hydromorphone is effective in managing the symptoms of pain, using this substance long-term or in high doses can result in addiction. As a result, most doctors only prescribe the substance for short-term use.

If you or a loved one abuse hydromorphone, you might be wondering how long it stays in your system. While short-acting hydromorphone stays in your system for up to 15 hours, the long-acting version of Dilaudid can remain in your body for three days. Additionally, drug tests can detect the metabolites of hydromorphone in your system for a longer period.

How Long Do the Effects of Hydromorphone Last?

People often abuse hydromorphone because it can cause a drowsy and euphoric high. Typically, the effects of Dilaudid last a little over 5 hours, depending on the dose you take and your metabolism.

The effects of hydromorphone include:[1]

  • Euphoria
  • Feelings of relaxation
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Respiratory depression
  • Sedation
  • Constipation
  • Pinpointed pupils
  • Cough suppression

While hydromorphone has medicinal uses, it is known as a drug of abuse. It is considered a Schedule II drug in the United States, indicating a fairly high risk for abuse. If you or a loved one abuse Dilaudid, a drug rehab facility can help you regain control over your life.

How Long Does Hydromorphone Stay in Your System?

The half-life of a drug explains how long it takes your body to eliminate half of the substance. Typically, it takes 4 to 5 half-lives for a drug to be completely ridden from your body.

For short-acting Dilaudid, the half-life is 2 to 3 hours, meaning it can stay in your system for up to 15 hours. On the other hand, long-acting hydromorphone has a half-life of 8 to 15 hours, which means it can stay in your system for up to 3 days.[2]

However, the metabolites of Dilaudid can remain in your body longer. Each type of drug test has a different window of detection.


Urine tests are the most commonly used drug tests to detect hydromorphone because they are minimally invasive, relatively cheap, and reliable. Urine tests can tell if Dilaudid is in your system for up to 3 days after your last dose.


Saliva tests are slightly less common than urine tests as they provide a shorter detection window. Typically, these tests are used by law enforcement to determine if you are under the influence. Saliva tests can find hydromorphone in your system for up to two days after your last dose.


Blood tests are usually only used in hospital settings to determine if a drug is contributing to your symptoms. They can only detect Dilaudid for up to four hours after you last used it.


Hair tests are not commonly used because they can be expensive to send off to the lab for testing. However, jobs that require security clearances or sensitive information might require a hair drug test before offering employment. These tests can detect any drug in your system for up to 90 days after your last dose.

Factors that Affect How Long Hydromorphone Stays in Your System

While most people follow a general timeline for how long hydromorphone stays in their system, some personal factors can affect this. For example, if you were abusing Dilaudid at high doses for a year, you might test positive on a drug test longer than a first-time user.

Other factors that affect how long hydromorphone stays in your system include:

  • Whether you are taking long or short-acting Dilaudid
  • The dosage you consume
  • How frequently you are taking it
  • Method of administration (i.e. orally or intravenously)
  • Your age
  • Your body composition and sex
  • Your overall health
  • Whether you take other medications
  • Hydration and nutrition status

While these factors can affect how long hydromorphone stays in your system, it is important to note that there is no way to flush the substance out of your body faster. For example, detox drinks that are sold in stores are not going to help you test negative faster. The only way to ensure you pass a drug test is to avoid using hydromorphone.

Find Help for Hydromorphone Abuse and Addiction

If you or a loved one suffers from hydromorphone addiction, it’s time to seek professional help. Long-term abuse of this drug can lead to an array of adverse effects, including life-threatening overdoses. Thankfully, drug rehab programs like Mandala Healing Center can offer you the tools and support you need to achieve long-term sobriety.

To learn about our opioid addiction treatment center, contact Mandala Healing Center today.


  1. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA): Hydromorphone, Retrieved December 2023 From
  2. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA): Dilaudid Label, Retrieved December 2023 From,019892s037lbl.pdf