Demerol Abuse, Addiction And Treatment Options
Demerol is the brand name for the substance meperidine, which belongs to a class of drugs called opioids. Opioids are powerful substances prescribed to treat pain, and account for over one hundred drug-related American deaths each day.
What Is Demerol?
Demerol is prescribed to provide moderate to severe pain relief. As an opioid, Demerol works by changing how both the brain and nervous system respond to pain. The potency of Demerol is similar to the potency of morphine. Like morphine, Demerol is a DEA controlled substance in the schedule II category, meaning it has high potential for abuse.
First used in the United States in 1942, meperidine (Demerol) was once the go-to drug to treat severe pain. Since then, Demerol has also been used to treat patients before and after surgery, but doctors have scaled back because of the inherent dangers and potential for abuse.
Coming in tablet or liquid (syrup) form, Demerol is directed to be taken orally. The tablets should always be swallowed whole, and never be broken, crushed or chewed. The syrup comes with careful instructions to take with a dosage spoon, not a common household spoon. Because of the high potential for abuse, Demerol is prescribed with caution.
Demerol can be habit forming and may lead to abuse and addiction. Abuse occurs when a person takes Demerol but doesn’t have a prescription, takes more than directed or in a different way than the recommended route of administration. Demerol is commonly abused by snorting, injecting and swallowing.
As a powerful opioid, Demerol is likely to produce intoxicating and euphoric effects. Due to the powerful effects of Demerol, there will likely be many signs and symptoms of Demerol abuse and addiction.
Signs And Symptoms Of Demerol Abuse And Addiction
Taking Demerol in ways other directed will likely result in an increase of intoxicating effects. Symptoms of intoxication may include confusion, euphoria, extreme calm and sedation. A person is likely to appear relaxed, dazed and abnormally sleepy.
A person suffering from Demerol abuse and addiction may show abrupt changes in mood and appear distracted. They’re likely to show signs of typical drug seeking behavior, which may include neglecting responsibilities at home, work or school. Taking Demerol may be their top priority, and they may continue to use Demerol despite harm to themselves or others.
Physical symptoms of Demerol abuse are likely to arise when a person takes too much too often. Physical symptoms may include:
- changes in vision
- dry mouth
- flushed skin
- stomach pain
Taking Demerol for nonmedical reasons may increase the risk of serious side effects. Serious side effects may include agitation, fever and hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there). While many side effects are uncommon, a person abusing Demerol is likely taking an unsafe amount which can lead to health risks.
Taking too much Demerol may also result in erectile dysfunction, shivering, diarrhea and loss of coordination. If a person shows an increase in side effects, a doctor should be contacted immediately. There are many dangers of Demerol abuse and addiction.
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The Dangers Of Demerol Abuse And Addiction
Prolonged use of Demerol may cause adverse health effects. Although rare, a person abusing Demerol may experience difficulty urinating, rash, hives, abdominal bloating and respiratory depression (slowed breathing).
Abusing Demerol by crushing, chewing, snorting or injecting may result in the uncontrolled delivery of opioids, which is extremely dangerous because taking too much Demerol may lead to overdose and death. Overdose may happen on purpose or by accident.
Symptoms of Demerol overdose may include:
- blurred vision
- cold and clammy skin
- extreme sleepiness
- loose or floppy muscles
- nausea and vomiting
- slowed breathing
- slowed heartbeat
The risk of overdose is increased when a person mixes Demerol with other substances like alcohol and benzodiazepines (Xanax). Combining Demerol with central nervous system (CNS) depressants (alcohol, Xanax) is dangerous because both can potentially cause breathing problems, the main cause of death during a drug overdose.
If someone is overdosing on Demerol, 9-1-1 should be contacted immediately. A medication called Narcan may be available to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, potentially saving a life.
Even people with Demerol prescriptions are not immune to developing an addiction. Research shows around 25% of all people prescribed opioids misuse them, increasing the chances of abuse and addiction. What’s more, a Demerol addiction could lead a person to abusing more illicit drugs, like heroin. Most people suffering from heroin addiction started off misusing a prescription drug like Demerol.
Although abusing Demerol may lead to many dangers, including death, stopping use can be difficult. Once a person becomes dependent to Demerol, they’ll likely experience uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal when they stop use.
Demerol Withdrawal And Detox
As a DEA schedule II substance, developing a dependence to Demerol is likely when the drug is misused. Dependence means a person will experience a period of sickness and discomfort when they stop use. This period is called withdrawal, and symptoms are likely to include:
- increase in blood pressure and heart rate
- insomnia (difficulty falling or staying asleep)
- involuntary shaking of body parts
- joint pain
- watery eyes
Even when suffering from abuse and addiction, it’s not recommended a person quit using Demerol ‘cold turkey,’ or without professional help or medication. Opioid addiction may cause severe symptoms of withdrawal, and a person may need a medically supervised detoxification, or detox, to help quit using Demerol.
A medically supervised detox likely occurs in a hospital or inpatient treatment center. Once there, staff can monitor a person’s progress, administer medications if necessary, and provide a safe and comfortable environment for the pain and discomfort of withdrawal.
While detox is a necessary step towards recovery, a medically supervised detox is not treatment for addiction. For the best results, a person should enter rehab or recieve treatment immediately following detox. There are many treatment options available for a person suffering from Demerol abuse and addiction.
Treatment Options For Demerol Abuse And Addiction
The most effective treatment for addiction involves the combination of medications and behavioral therapy. Currently, there are three government approved medications that may be used to treat Demerol abuse and addiction: methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone.
Medication assisted therapy, or MAT, will likely use these medications to help with intense drug cravings and symptoms of withdrawal. It’s a common misunderstanding that using these drugs during treatment switches one addiction for another, but this is false. These drugs are used in treatment because they do not produce intoxicating effects that lead to abuse and addiction.
Although these medications can help with treatment, MAT is likely ineffective for treating addiction long-term. To give a person the best chances for recovery, MAT should be used along with behavioral therapy.
Behavioral therapy aims to change a person’s thinking and attitudes towards drugs. There are many forms of behavioral therapy, and may include one on one therapy sessions, group therapy, or other more intensive therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
Therapy will likely be tailored to the needs of the individual, as no one treatment is right for everyone. Effective treatment must address all the tough issues a person faces, including mental illness or emotional trauma, to adequately manage a substance use disorder (SUD).
Staying at an inpatient treatment center is likely the best course of action because a person will find all the effective components of treatment in the same place. Effective components of treatment include withdrawal support, medications, treatment for other physical or mental disorders, peer support and behavioral therapy.
Call now for more information on Demerol abuse, addiction and treatment options.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration—Demerol (meperidine) Drug Label
National Institute on Drug Abuse—Opioid Overdose Crisis
National Institute on Drug Abuse: TEENS—Prescription Pain Medications (Opioids)