How Long Does Dilaudid Stay in Your System?

Yellow dilaudid pills spilling out of a prescription bottle

Dilaudid is a powerful opioid that is often prescribed for severe pain. If you or a loved one are taking Dilaudid, you may wonder about its effects on your body and how long it lasts. Because there are so many forms of Dilaudid available, it is important to know what form you are using to understand how long it stays in your system.

Duration of Effects of Dilaudid

How long Dilaudid lasts depends on which form of the drug is being used. Dilaudid, or rather its parent drug hydromorphone, comes in a few different dosage forms. Some are quick acting and have an almost immediate onset, which generally means their effects wear off quicker. It is important to note that not all of them are sold under the Dilaudid label, although they all refer to the same drug. 

Dilaudid exists in many forms, including:

  • Quick-Acting Oral Liquid: The highest levels of the drug in the blood are between 30–60 minutes
  • Quick-Acting Oral Tablet: Maximum drug in the blood takes between 30–60 minutes
  • Quick-Acting Injection: Starts working within 15 minutes and lasts for more than 5 hours
  • Quick-Acting Suppository: Is somewhat longer acting than other forms and can last up to 8 hours
  • Long-Acting Oral Tablet: The onset takes up to 8 hours, with maximum amounts of drug in the blood by 16 hours. The peak level of Dilaudid in the blood lasts for up to 24 hours

The long-acting form of the drug was previously sold under the brand name Exalgo. As of now, it is available as a generic drug only. Likewise, the suppository is only available as a generic drug. All other forms of the drug are sold as either brand-name Dilaudid or as generics.

Dilaudid Half-Life

Much as the effects of Dilaudid depend on the form, the half-life also depends on which drug form you are taking. By dosage form, the average half-life for the drug is:

The half-life of Dilaudid also depends on the bodily fluid in which it is found. In blood, the quick-acting drug’s half-life can range from 2.5–4 hours. In saliva, the quick-acting half-life is just over two hours.

How Long Will Dilaudid Show in Drug Tests?

Dilaudid can show up in drug tests for varying amounts of time, depending on what is being tested. Generally, the quick-acting oral and injectable forms of Dilaudid are the ones that have been tested. It is unclear if the long-acting form of the agent has been evaluated in drug tests.


Dilaudid can show up in urine tests anywhere from two to four days after use. However, if you have only taken one dose of Dilaudid, it may only show up in urine for 11–24 hours after ingestion.


Over the past few years, the technology used to measure Dilaudid in blood has improved. In some recent animal studies, Dilaudid has been found in the blood as many as 10 hours after use.


Dilaudid shows up quickly in saliva, especially when injected. Saliva can show traces of the drug for about six hours after use.


Dilaudid is detectable in hair drug tests. In general, a 1.5-inch hair sample shows the past 90 days of drug use.

Factors Affecting How Long Dilaudid Stays in Your System

Several factors can impact how long Dilaudid stays in your body, including:

  • Amount Used: A larger amount of Dilaudid means more work for your liver getting rid of the drug, which can make the drug last longer in your system
  • Frequency of Use: Frequent Dilaudid use can lead to the drug staying longer in your body as the drug builds up in your system
  • Method of Use: A short-acting form of Dilaudid will often leave your body more quickly than a longer-acting form of the drug
  • Age: Older people may have a harder time getting Dilaudid out of their system, especially if they have kidney problems
  • Overall Health: Someone in better overall health may be able to clear Dilaudid from their system more quickly than someone in poorer health

False Positives for Dilaudid

Several substances can cause false positives for Dilaudid in urine tests, like:

  • Poppy seeds
  • Some antibiotics such as rifampin, rifampicin, levofloxacin and ciprofloxacin 
  • The opioid reversal agent naloxone
  • The opioid replacement agents Suboxone and Subutex        
  • Morphine

How Dilaudid Is Broken Down in the Body?

Once you take Dilaudid and it gets into your bloodstream, your liver starts working to remove it from your body. More than 95% of the drug is processed by the liver in this way. After the liver breaks the drug down, it leaves your body in urine.

How to Get Dilaudid Out of Your System

Dilaudid needs to be processed by your liver before it can leave your body. When the liver breaks the drug down, the breakdown products are released in the urine. Because your liver needs to first process the drug, there is no way to speed up the process of getting Dilaudid out of your system.

Key Points: How Long Does Dilaudid Stay in Your System?

Important points to remember about how long Dilaudid stays in your system include:

  • Different dosage forms of Dilaudid exist and they last slightly different lengths of time
  • Dilaudid can show up in drug tests for hours or days and can last for months in the hair
  • You cannot speed up your body’s process of getting Dilaudid out of your system

If you or a loved one struggle with Dilaudid use and are trying to stop the drug, we are here to help. Contact our caring staff at Ridgefield Recovery to learn how we can help you lead a Dilaudid-free life.

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Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.