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What is the Difference Between Dilaudid and Morphine?

Opioids are a class of drugs that are used to treat moderate to severe pain. While they are effective in managing pain, they are known to be highly addictive. Unfortunately, if you are addicted to opioids, you are at a high risk of experiencing a life-threatening overdose.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), opioids were responsible for 81,806 overdose deaths in 2022.[1]

Dilaudid and morphine are both prescription opioids that are used to treat pain. Both substances are considered Schedule II drugs, as they pose a high risk of abuse and addiction. While they have many similarities, there are some differences to be aware of.

For example, Dilaudid is the brand name for hydromorphone, while morphine is the generic name for a variety of medications. Additionally, Dilaudid is considered to be two to eight times more powerful than morphine.[2]

In this article, you will learn:

  • What Dilaudid is
  • What morphine is
  • The differences between Dilaudid and morphine
  • How the two medications are similar

What is Dilaudid?

Dilaudid is the brand name for an opioid called hydromorphone. It works by binding to opioid receptors in your nervous system to relieve pain. This medication might be prescribed for moderate to severe pain and among individuals with chronic pain conditions.

The side effects of hydromorphone include:[3]

  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Sedation or fatigue
  • Difficulty with sleep
  • Excessive sweating
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Stomach aches
  • Mood changes like anxiety or depression
  • Itchiness and flushing

Dilaudid is an opioid, and misusing it could lead to addiction. If you take more than you are prescribed, you might experience a euphoric and drowsy high. Additionally, taking large doses of hydromorphone could trigger a fatal overdose.

What is Morphine?

Morphine is an opioid that is available by prescription under various brand names, including MS-Contin, Oramorph SR, MSIR, Roxanol, Kadian, and RMS.[4] Doctors prescribe it to treat moderate to severe pain and chronic pain conditions. While it is effective in managing pain, it is not intended for long-term use as it may lead to dependence and addiction.

The possible side effects of morphine include:[5]

  • Constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tiredness or sleepiness
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Itchiness and flushing
  • Difficulty sleeping

If you or a loved one frequently takes morphine, you could develop an addiction. You should never take more morphine than you are prescribed, as large doses could lead to an overdose.

Dilaudid vs Morphine: Understanding the Differences

While Dilaudid and morphine are both opioids that treat pain and can lead to addiction, they are not exactly the same. There are some key differences between the two.


Dilaudid is two to eight times more potent than morphine.[2] This means hydromorphone is more dangerous to misuse in large amounts because it is stronger. It also means Dilaudid might be favored over morphine for severe cases of pain.

Length of Effects

Dilaudid tends to provide pain relief for three to four hours before it begins to wear off.[6] On the other hand, morphine can work for up to six hours.[7] Despite Dilaudid being more potent, morphine works for a longer amount of time, making it ideal for chronic pain.

Active Ingredient

Dilaudid is the brand name for hydromorphone, which is the active ingredient that causes pain relief. In contrast, morphine is the active ingredient and has a variety of brand names it is prescribed under. This means that while they are both opioids, hydromorphone and morphine are two different active ingredients.


Lastly, Dilaudid and morphine are available in different forms. This means they are available in different variations like tablets, capsules, injections, and liquid solutions.

You can be prescribed hydromorphone in the following forms:

  • Subcutaneous injection
  • Intravenous injection
  • Intramuscular injection
  • Immediate-release oral tablet
  • Extended-release oral tablet
  • Oral solution (liquid)

Doctors might prescribe morphine in the following forms:

  • Intravenous injection
  • Intramuscular injection
  • Immediate-release tablet
  • Extended-release tablet
  • Extended-release oral capsule
  • Oral solution
  • Oral solution concentrate

What are the Similarities Between Morphine and Dilaudid?

The main similarity between morphine and Dilaudid is that they are prescription opioid pain relievers. They are prescribed for the same types of conditions, including moderate to severe pain and chronic pain.

Since they are both opioids, morphine and Dilaudid share similar side effects. You can expect to experience nausea, itchiness, drowsiness, and even sedation when taking either medication.

Additionally, both morphine and Dilaudid are considered Schedule II drugs. This means that while they have medicinal uses, they have a high potential for abuse. You can become addicted to both substances when you misuse them or take them longer than recommended.

Lastly, both morphine and Dilaudid pose a significant risk of overdose. If you take large amounts of either substance, you could experience life-threatening effects. The main signs of an opioid overdose include respiratory depression, clammy skin, blue-colored fingernails or lips, and gurgling or choking noises.

If you or a loved one experiences the signs of an opioid overdose, contact 911 immediately. Without professional intervention, a morphine or Dilaudid overdose could quickly become fatal.

Find Help for Opioid Abuse and Addiction

If you or a loved one suffers from opioid addiction, it’s time to seek help. At the Mandala Healing Center, we offer both evidence-based treatments and a compassionate approach to addiction care. In other words, we will help you overcome your substance use disorder in a healthy and safe environment that makes you feel comfortable opening up about your struggles.

Contact us today to learn more about our opioid addiction treatment center in West Palm Beach.


  1. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): Drug Overdose Death Rates
  2. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA): Hydromorphone
  3. Medline Plus: Hydromorphone
  4. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA): Drug Fact Sheet: Morphine
  5. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA): Morphine Sulfate Label
  6. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA): DILAUDID® and DILAUDID-HP® INJECTION
  7. Common questions about morphine