Demerol (meperidine) is an opioid painkiller prescribed to treat moderate to severe physical pain. As a Schedule II narcotic, Demerol has a high potential for abuse and addiction, so care should be taken to take as directed.
As a potent pain killer, Demerol works well in reducing the feeling of physical pain. Most of the time, people take the drug as prescribed by their doctor for help curbing pain after surgery or to minimize chronic pain symptoms. However, some people do abuse the drug for its relaxing, euphoric feeling, taking more of the drug than prescribed. This is very dangerous and can result in an overdose causing death.
What Are Demerol Withdrawal Symptoms?
Whether you are on Demerol as prescribed by a physician, or you’re taking the drug recreationally, you can become easily dependent on it. As your body gets used to the dosage you’re taking, you might not feel the same effects as you normally do. This means your body has gained a tolerance to the drug, needing more to feel the same effects. This can lead to an addiction to the drug. When you try to stop taking Demerol, you end up having to face some uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, such as:
- Large pupils
- Increased anxiety
- Body aches
- Runny nose
- Stomach ache
- Watery eyes
What Are the Stages in the Demerol Withdrawal Timeline?
Getting through the withdrawal symptoms is necessary to get free from Demerol’s addiction. The problem that some people have is that they are not prepared to endure the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and are likely to relapse. They may try to get through the symptoms alone, which can be dangerous and lead them right back into using again.
The time frame for Demerol withdrawal can vary from person to person, depending on various factors, such as:
- Overall health condition
- Dosage of the drug
- How long you’ve been using the drug
- The severity of the addiction
- Social support
- Polydrug use
- The function of the kidneys
- Dietary habits
On average, anyone withdrawing from opioids can expect to face about a week of mild to moderate symptoms, while some symptoms can linger on for weeks or months depending on how severe their addiction was.
Generally, the timeframe for withdrawal is as follows:
Early Stage – Symptoms may start to be felt within one or two days after the last dose. Early symptoms reported are nausea, anxiety, restlessness, and shaking.
Acute Stage – This stage is where some symptoms will peak, becoming more intense. Some people report symptoms such as stomach and body aches, flu-like symptoms, insomnia, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Post-Acute Stage – By the end of the first week, many or most of the symptoms will have diminished. However, some may linger on for another week or two, depending on the factors mentioned above. By the end of two weeks, most report that they are feeling a lot better and only struggle with minor psychological symptoms like anxiety, depression, or intermittent cravings for several more weeks. For those that were heavy users, severely addicted, some symptoms may linger on for months or a year.
Why Should I Detox?
When taking opioids, the body gets used to having the drug in the system. It builds a tolerance to the drug. Therefore, when someone tries to stop using the drug, such as Demerol, the brain sort of goes into shock, thinking, “Where is this drug that I need?” This can set off the withdrawal symptoms because the brain wants another dose of that drug.
Detox is important because the body must get rid of the toxins associated with the drug to stop craving it. However, trying to get off Demerol cold turkey at home can be dangerous and is not recommended. Generally, detoxing from an opioid should be done under the care of a physical or addiction specialist, preferably in a treatment center.
What Is the Next Treatment Step?
Once you are on your way to getting through the detox process, continued treatment is recommended to assure you of long-term recovery. Just detoxing is not enough to really get free from addiction. Usually, there are underlying issues or root causes to contend with, as well as learning valuable relapse prevention skills. A detox may help with the physical aspect of addiction, but continued treatment can help you psychologically. This is best done in an inpatient or outpatient treatment center.
Combining behavioral therapy and medication to combat opioid withdrawal is usually a protocol for getting free from Demerol addiction.
During the detox process, medication can help you get through the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Then, later on, when you are feeling better, you’ll be able to come off the substitute medications.
Common Medications Include:
- Methadone – An opioid substitute that will decrease cravings for Demerol. It is usually used as a long-term maintenance drug to curb opioid addiction and will be tapered gradually over time.
- Buprenorphine – A partial opioid agonist that helps limit cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
- Naltrexone – blocks the euphoric effects one would feel if they took Demerol.
- Clonidine – Helps reduce some withdrawal symptoms.
For heavy Demerol users, treatment at an inpatient facility is recommended for anywhere between 30 and 90 days. The heavier the addiction, the more likely you will want to stay in treatment for a longer duration. At an inpatient facility, you will reside at the center, which means there is around-the-clock monitoring by substance abuse professionals. You will also be able to see a therapist, attend group therapy, receive helpful medication, and learn a lot about addiction and underlying factors that could have led you to addiction in the first place.
If you are unable to leave home and live at the treatment center for the duration of treatment, attending an outpatient center is the next best option. This way, you will get to continue to attend work or take care of your family, while still attending a certain number of therapy sessions per week. You may decide to attend anywhere from three to seven sessions throughout the week, depending on your treatment needs and schedule.
You will receive much of the same treatment that you would if you attended an inpatient treatment center, including counseling, support groups, and access to medication that can help decrease cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
Start Your Journey To Recovery Today
If you or a loved one is addicted to Demerol and you would like to get free from this addiction, please know that effective treatment is available. It is challenging for some people to reach out for help because they feel bad about becoming addicted to a drug. Rest assured that compassionate professionals are willing to help you determine the best treatment route for you.