Demerol is an opioid analgesic, or pain medication. These types of medications block pain receptors in the brain, as well as affect the nervous system’s response to pain. Like many opioids, Demerol is addictive, even when taken from a doctor’s prescription. Demerol abuse can lead to dependence and addiction.

What Is Demerol?

 Demerol, also known as meperidine, is closely related to morphine, and typically used for pre-surgery anesthesia, as well as the treatment of moderate to severe pain. It is often used in labor and childbirth, and used in the prevention of pain from severe accidents, heart attacks, cancer, and other issues.

Demerol is taken in tablet form, or syrup, and is taken with or without food, every two to three hours. It is important to take this medication exactly as prescribed. Since meperidine is addictive, it is not recommended to take for any longer than a few weeks. If taken for any longer, a doctor will help to gradually decrease the dosage in order to prevent addiction.

Opioids are a highly addictive class of drugs. The function of opioids is to block the body’s pain signals to the brain. In addition to this, Demerol can create a feeling of euphoria when used, as opioids trigger a release of neurotransmitters to the brain, and activate the brain’s reward pathways.

Opioid analgesics are usually prescribed in low doses, because dependence can occur, even in small amounts. Demerol specifically should be used for pain when other opioids cannot be tolerated by the patient, or are not available for use.

Signs And Symptoms of Demerol Abuse and Addiction

When suffering from Demerol abuse or addiction, an individual may begin to display abnormal behavior. They may neglect typical responsibilities such a work or school, avoid friends and family, purchase the drug illegally, go out of their way to consume the drug despite harmful symptoms, and more.

Individuals addicted to Demerol might find themselves craving the drug to such a degree that they experience serious anxiety without Demerol. They may behave compulsively—or use whenever they have the impulse.

When Demerol is used, the most common side effects are:

  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain or cramps
  • Dry Mouth
  • Mood Changes

If any of these side effects are experienced to a greater degree, medical attention should be sought as soon as possible. When used differently than recommended by a medical professional, the risk for dangerous side effects and the potential for abuse is greater.

Though Demerol’s side effects are common when taken as prescribed, Demerol abuse can heighten typical side effects.

The most common side effects of Demerol abuse include:

  • Anxiety or stress when unable to use Demerol
  • Mood changes, such as euphoria
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Coordination problems
  • Using the pills differently than instructed (e.g. crushing or snorting)
  • Stealing money or pills from family and friends
  • Purchasing pills without a prescription
  • Withdrawal from responsibilities such as school or work

The Dangers of Demerol Abuse And Addiction

As with other opioids, it is highly dangerous to mix Demerol and alcohol. When mixed, can produce symptoms such as vomiting, dizziness, nausea, headache, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, dizziness, disorientation, and blurry vision.

Some users of Demerol may choose to drink alcohol while taking the medication because alcohol can heighten the effects of the drug. Since both alcohol and opioids work on similar parts of the brain, mixing the two drugs can heighten the effect of euphoria, as well as pain-relieving qualities of the drug.

Demerol abuse also presents the risk of overdose. Demerol overdose symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Slow heart rate
  • Slowed breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Inability to speak
  • Pale, clammy skin
  • Loss of coordination
  • Blue or purple tint to fingernails and lips

If overdose occurs, it is crucial to seek medical attention as soon as possible, as there are specific medications (such as naloxone) and medical procedures that can prevent more dangerous symptoms from occurring. If the person who has overdosed is awake, a poison control center can be contacted as well.

Severe symptoms of overdose can include severe drowsiness, slowed breathing, coma, and even death.

When an individual has decided to cease the use of Demerol, in order to stop the physical dependence on the drug, they will have to go through a process known as withdrawal, which is the period of time in which the drug will leave the body. Due to the difficulty of withdrawal, many users of Demerol go back to abuse, in order to avoid the uncomfortable symptoms.

Demerol Withdrawal And Detox

When an individual becomes dependent on a drug, such as Demerol, this means they cannot function physically without using. It can be very difficult to quit on one’s own once dependence has developed. Symptoms of dependence include the inability to stop using the drug even after repeated attempts, going out of one’s way to acquire the drug, abandoning typical responsibilities, and using despite negative consequences or harm to others.

When one attempts to quit using Demerol entirely, they will go through a period of time known as withdrawal.

Symptoms of Demerol withdrawal include:

  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Tremors
  • Restlessness
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Elevated heart rate

Symptoms of withdrawal can be very difficult to undertake on one’s own, as the process includes painful symptoms. Because of this, it is recommended to undergo the detoxification process in a professional facility. In an inpatient treatment center, medical professionals will administer medications (when necessary) and monitor physical symptoms. This provides a comfortable environment while the body detoxifies itself of Demerol, and promotes healing from Demerol abuse and addiction.

Though the detoxification process will successfully remove the toxins from the body, this is not where treatment ends. An inpatient treatment center will help an individual to successfully recover, and prevent continued addiction.

Treatment for Demerol Abuse And Addiction

In order to treat substance abuse, the use of medication in conjunction with therapy in a recovery setting is the best method for a successful rehabilitation.

When necessary, treatment begins by slowly decreasing the dosage of the drug over a period of time, until stopping entirely. However, simply stopping the use of the drug is not where recovery ends.

Behavioral therapy is another important element of recovery, in which positive coping mechanisms are taught in order to shift self-destructive or harmful behaviors. In behavioral therapy, a therapist will work with a patient to shift the negative response of using drugs or alcohol as a compulsive coping mechanism.

Treatment centers will typically offer both detoxification treatment and inpatient treatment. In order to overcome Demerol abuse and addiction, both are necessary to a successful recovery.

Detoxification and behavioral therapy are not the only elements offered in a recovery setting. Treatment centers will often offer 24-hour medical support, group therapy, and exercise as well.

When the process of withdrawal can bring about highly dangerous symptoms, it’s important to not fight Demerol addiction alone. With the process of withdrawal and detoxification, completed at an inpatient treatment center, you’ll be heading toward an effective recovery.

Sources

DEA- Meperidine

MedlinePlus- Meperidine

RxList- Demerol Side Effects

American Pain Society- Pain Treatment 

Everyday Health- Demerol