Demerol, also known as meperidine and pethidine, is a narcotic analgesic used to relieve moderate to severe pain. It has fallen out of favor with many prescribing authorities in recent years but is sometimes prescribed as a replacement for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Manufacturers of this fast-acting opioid recommend an adult dosage of 50 mg to 150 mg orally every 3 to 4 hours. Demerol is supplied in the following forms:

  • Pill
  • Syrup
  • Injection

Like all opiates, Demerol can be a fast and effective solution to pain, but it's not without potential risks. The most important thing that medical experts suggest to patients taking opiates is that they be taken as directed.

Take Note: Important Information If You've Got A Prescription For Demerol

Opiates are subject to misuse, abuse and dependence. Demerol is classified in the U.S. as a Schedule II Controlled Substance. This is based on the government's guidelines for the ability that drugs have to become habit-forming and lead to abuse.

Some people take opiates including Demerol for the sedating or euphoric effects they can produce. This type of opiate misuse is especially dangerous. Some people who misuse it or take it at therapeutic levels report feelings of confusion, foggy thinking and impaired motor function. For this reason, the manufacturer urges patients to see how it affects them before driving or performing other tasks that can be potentially dangerous.

Specific Demerol Risks That Can Put You In Harm's Way

Demerol produces opioid tolerance in people who take it for a prolonged period. What this means is that the current dosage becomes ineffective over time. This means that prolonged use or abuse will result in the need for higher and higher dosages.

This drug may not be appropriate for people with certain conditions and can interact with other substances. Opiates depress the central nervous system, essentially affecting breathing. Using other drugs and substances that have this effect, in combination with Demerol, can have fatal consequences. These combinations can compound the problem of troubled breathing, causing patients to stop. People who already have trouble breathing should talk to their doctor before beginning therapy with Demerol or other opiates. Other substances that should not be used with Demerol include:

  • Other opiates
  • Alcohol
  • Sedatives
  • Tranquilizers
  • Muscle relaxers
  • General anesthetics

Demerol Side Effects Are Short-Lived For Most People When They Begin Taking It

Taking Demerol can lead to side effects, some which can be mild. Others can cause a good amount of discomfort. It all depends on the person, the dosage and other factors. Most side effects pass quickly as a person's body becomes used to Demerol. Many people report opioid induced constipation while taking opiates. In fact, this is often one of the most commonly reported side effects of these drugs. Others are:

  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Weakness
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Itching
  • Problematic urination
  • Loss of interest in sex

The drug's manufacturer says patients who experience any of the following symptoms should contact a doctor: shallow breathing, slow heart beat, severe agitation, hallucinations, seizures, cold or clammy skin, involuntary muscle movements, changes in mood, abnormal weakness, fast heart rate, fever and fainting. You will also want to share with the doctor if you are nauseous, vomiting or experiencing diarrhea while taking Demerol.

The following symptoms are serious and indicative of a Demerol allergic reaction. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek emergency medical help right away: Rash, hives, difficult breathing and swelling in the face, lips, tongue or throat.

Is Demerol OK For Everyone To Take?

Some people may not be able to take Demerol. This can include people who are allergic to the medication or have certain medical conditions. People who take certain medications may also be discouraged from taking Demerol. For instance, this drug is contraindicated for people who have severe respiratory problems.

Leaflets accompany every prescription of the drug and include detailed information about this.

Demerol Abuse

This is a serious issue that can lead to bigger issues. The problem of prescription painkiller abuse in the U.S. has gotten progressively worse over the last several years. Misusing these medications can lead to dependency, addiction, overdose, and in some cases, death.

Abuse can be characterized in a number of ways. It can include taking too much Demerol, taking it in a higher dosage than recommended, altering the drug (chewing, snorting, injecting) or mixing it with substances that will heighten its effects or cause a "high."

Demerol Overdose Possible If The Narcotic Medication Is Abused

An opiate overdose can be fatal. This can happen if a person takes too much Demerol or mixes it with substances such as alcohol or some other drugs. Altering the dosage and method of administration can also lead to overdose because the drug can rapidly flood the body.

Call for emergency medical help immediately if you or someone else experiences any of the following while taking Demerol:

  • Extreme weakness or drowsiness
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Confusion
  • Trouble breathing
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Passing out
  • Coma

Demerol Addiction

If abuse is involved, Demerol addiction can sneak up very quickly. It is characterized by the presence of both physical and psychological opiate dependency. Opiate addiction can make people do things that seem to be out of character. Many people who are addicted feel so compelled to continue that they will stop at nothing to obtain the drug.

Signs of Demerol addiction can include:

  • Impaired control over the use of this drug
  • Continued use despite negative physical, social or financial consequences
  • Strong physical and psychological cravings
  • Evidence of diversion or "doctor shopping"
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Behavioral changes
  • Ups and downs in mood
  • Questionable or risky behavior

What Is Demerol Withdrawal?

Another sign of Demerol addiction is the evidence of withdrawal. A person may try to stop taking Demerol many times. When he or she does, it will result in the development of an opiate withdrawal syndrome. The person in question will appear very sick. Some people call this "dope sick."

Symptoms of opiate withdrawal include:

  • Severe, flu-like symptoms
  • Restlessness
  • Cramps
  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Escalating agitation
  • Cold sweats

Going through an unsupervised Demerol withdrawal can be dangerous and unbearable. The sickness associated with this condition is often enough to propel people into Demerol relapse. The best odds for long-term recovery lie in the thoroughness and support offered by professional opiate detox programs.

Making The Decision For Demerol Treatment Could Be The Best Thing You Ever Do

If you have ever tried to stop taking opiates on your own after becoming dependent, you likely know how difficult it can be. Unfortunately, the relapse rate for opiates is high. The right treatment, however, can safeguard against this and provide a measure of safety and support during a hard time.

Professional opiate detox is the way to go. There are both inpatient and outpatient options that can help you stop using Demerol, but you have to first decide what's best for you.

  • TRADITIONAL DETOX: This refers to inpatient treatment in a facility that may use various approaches and therapies to help clients get sober. This can include detox, pharmaceutical assistance to manage withdrawal, therapy, group meetings, behavioral modification and alternative practices.
  • OUTPATIENT DETOX WITH OPIATE REPLACEMENT THERAPY: This method of treatment is often the go-to for people looking for a solution that allows them to avoid the brunt of withdrawal. Medications such as Suboxone, Subutex or methadone are prescribed to "replace" Demerol or other opiates. These replacements are thought to be less risky but are still opiates. This treatment can be fairly long-term. The downside is that people who want to become completely free of opiates cannot do so right away. Also, these drugs can cause dependence and are subject to abuse.
  • RAPID OPIATE DETOX: Rapid detox for Demerol is a medically-based procedure that can offer a quick, yet long-term solution to painkiller addiction. Programs that offer reliable and safe treatment will do so in the security of an accredited hospital. There, patients can undergo medical testing to rule out underlying causes and treat physical damage from opiates. The procedure itself involves the use of intravenous medication under sedation to address the physical opiate dependency. Withdrawal is accelerated and plays out while patients are under deep sedation. The whole process can take less than two hours and patients are generally in the hospital 3 to 5 days.

Opiate Treatment Should Include Some Form Of Aftercare

People who go through the process of Demerol detox will have their physical dependency addressed. But treatment should not stop there. The psychological aspect should be addressed too. This is where aftercare comes in. People who go in for inpatient treatment or take opiate replacements should still enroll in some type of ongoing counseling or transitional programming.

Going through Demerol dependency, addiction or withdrawal can seem like a daunting task. It's important to understand that this type of addiction is treatable and there is reason for hope. Choosing a treatment program that is safe, effective and humane can make all the difference in the world.