Demerol, the trade name for meperidine, is an opioid medication prescribed to treat moderate-to-severe pain. WebMD writes that the effects of Demerol are similar to those of morphine, another opiate. It works quickly, which could be why it’s been used to relieve pain for women in labor and delivery.
This medication can start to take effect within 30 minutes to an hour of the dose, and those effects can last between four to six hours. Some users may feel its effects for up to 10 hours.
Demerol is designed for short-term pain treatment. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises that this drug not be taken for chronic pain. It should not be taken in larger doses or for longer periods than prescribed because it is addictive. Even those who have been prescribed the medicine by a doctor are advised to be careful as they can become physically dependent on it.
Demerol’s Abuse Potential Is High
Demerol is thought to have lower dependence liability than morphine, but the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has classified it as a Schedule II controlled substance, which indicates its high abuse potential.
Demerol abuse includes crushing, chewing, snorting, or injecting the dissolved product via needle (intravenously) per the FDA. Using Demerol, along with other addictive substances, is also a form of abuse. It can react dangerously with antidepressants, muscle relaxants, benzodiazepines, and alcohol.
Using too much Demerol can bring on seizures, as well. This can happen when too much of the meperidine metabolite, normeperidine, builds up in the user’s system.
According to an article in The Journal of Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Demerol’s half-life is between two to five hours. However, normeperidine metabolite can last much longer in adults — anywhere from 15 to 30 hours.
What Are the Signs of Demerol Addiction?
Opioid abuse can lead to adverse effects that can make one ill or raise the chances of an addiction- forming as well as an overdose occurring. Mental and physical effects happen once someone has developed a physical and psychological dependence on Demerol. People who abuse this medication may experience side effects, such as:
- Nausea, vomiting
- Decreased urination
Abusing Demerol can lead an increased tolerance for it, and a person can come to depend on it more than they should once routine or frequent use starts. People who try to stop using the drug but find that powerful cravings or drug withdrawal symptoms blocked them from doing so may have formed a physical or mental dependence on it.
If Demerol addiction is a concern, some common signs that it is forming are:
- Loss of interest in usual hobbies, activities
- Inability to meet obligations
- Increased isolation
- Strange sleep schedule
- Irregular weight changes
- Erratic behavior
Because of its short half-life, Demerol works quickly, which means its effects wear off quickly. It also means it’s easier to build up a tolerance level to it. Using more of it than needed can cause the brain and body to come to rely on it to function normally.
What Is Involved In Demerol Addiction Treatment?
Some will find that despite trying to stop using Demerol, they can’t on their own. This is when they may want to consider entering a treatment program that can help them address their substance use disorder.
One should never stop abruptly taking Demerol after prolonged use. Doing so can send the body and brain into shock as they try to adjust to the change. Withdrawal can be uncomfortable and painful; it can also be dangerous and unpredictable. Medical emergencies can arise that require specialized care, and relapse and overdose can occur as a person returns to using to make withdrawal symptoms stop.
Medical detox is the best place to start if Demerol dependence or addiction has started.
Opioid withdrawal is seldom fatal, but many people find it extremely challenging to get through it without medical treatment. During this time, the substance and toxins are removed from the body to help the individual regain medical stability.
What Happens After Detox?
After detox, the next step is to find suitable treatment options that address the psychological reasons for a substance use disorder. Clinicians can recommend facilities that provide therapies and other programs that can put users on the path to sobriety.
Severe cases may require residential treatment, which requires an extended stay of up to 90 days (or longer if needed) at the facility. During that time, the person receives medical care and participates in therapies in a distraction-free setting.
Outpatient treatment programs are available for people whose substance use disorder is less severe, as well as people who have been through higher levels of care but now need to maintain their sobriety.
People in this group usually live off-site as they attend therapy sessions for a certain number of hours weekly. An intensive outpatient treatment program requires nine or more hours a week.
Outpatient services keep people in recovery connected to their commitment to live substance-free and ensuring they get the guidance they need to ensure they stay true to their new life.