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What’s Stronger — Methadone or Dilaudid?

doctors standing in hallway

Opioids have different levels of strength and various purposes in medical settings. The medicines used in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) count as opioids, but they interact with the body differently than other opioids. How do these medications differ in strength and usage? We can compare two opioids, methadone and Dilaudid® (hydromorphone), as an example.

Why Only a Doctor Can Determine the Amount You Should Take

Before reading this guide to hydromorphone and methadone, remember that you should rely on your doctor to manage your medications. This and other online resources can provide general information about opioids and help you better understand these drugs and how doctors use them to treat health conditions. However, only a medical professional can determine a safe amount of opioids to take. Do not try to change your treatment plan without your doctor’s help.

About Methadone

The field of addiction care has more than 50 years of history with methadone. This medicine fulfills the brain’s need for opioids when a patient tries to recover from addiction, but is administered daily in a highly structured environment where the patient and their dose are closely supervised. As a result, the medication lessens the effects of withdrawal to make it easier for patients to focus on recovery skills. When included in a MAT program with therapy and support services, methadone has a high success rate. It also has a secondary — but much less common — use as a painkiller.

What Is Dilaudid?

Hydromorphone also counts as an opioid medicine and attaches to the brain’s opioid receptors. Dilaudid, a branded hydromorphone medicine, comes in the form of a tablet or oral solution. Unlike methadone, hydromorphone and other similar medications don’t act as a treatment in MAT programs. Instead, they have the primary purpose of relieving severe pain. Doctors prescribe Dilaudid and hydromorphone when other painkillers can’t relieve symptoms effectively.

How Do Health Professionals Measure Hydromorphone and Methadone’s Strength?

Professionals in healthcare use morphine milligram equivalents, or MME, to measure an opioid’s strength. One MME has an equivalent of one milligram of morphine’s effects. When an opioid has an MME conversion factor higher than one, it has a stronger effect than morphine. Medical professionals use this conversion factor to find the right amount of medicine when transitioning a patient to a different opioid. An opioid’s strength varies depending on its method of administration and the way it attaches to opioid receptors.

According to the CDC, hydromorphone and methadone have the same conversion factor when someone takes methadone in small amounts. However, methadone’s conversion factor increases as the amount taken gets higher. For example, a number up to 20 milligrams of methadone a day has a conversion factor of four. Meanwhile, between 21 and 40 milligrams has a conversion factor of eight. When it comes to Dilaudid versus methadone’s strength, the answer depends on the amount of methadone taken. In any case, the methadone dosage for a patient in an MAT program is adjusted until the patient achieves a therapeutic dose. That dose is reached when the patient is no longer experiencing withdrawal symptoms and pain, but also doesn’t feel euphoria or a “high” from the medication.

Get Help From MedMark Treatment Centers

Let the professionals at MedMark Treatment Centers help when you need more information about opioids or assistance with an opioid addiction. To learn more about topics like hydromorphone or methadone, visit our blog page. Potential patients can schedule their first appointment at a MedMark location near them by contacting our team online.

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