- Generic Name or Active Ingridient: Meperidine
Demerol is a Schedule II controlled narcotic, which means it carries a similar risk for abuse as morphine. This abuse can lead to physical and psychological dependence or addiction to Demerol. Addiction and dependency are separate and distinct from one another.
The definition of addiction
Addiction to Demerol is a treatable disease, requiring a multidimensional approach. Medical professionals define addiction as a "a primary, chronic, neurobiologic disease, with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. It is characterized by behaviors that include one or more of the following: impaired control over drug use, compulsive use, continued use despite harm, and craving."
Addiction versus Dependency
Both addiction and dependence cause real changes in your body and brain but addiction and dependence manifest themselves in different ways. Addiction and dependence on drugs are independent from one another: you can be addicted to something without being physically dependent on it and vice versa.
When an individual takes an opioid such as Demerol for a long time, his body becomes dependent upon that drug to feel normal. If he were to stop taking Demerol, his body chemistry would grow unstable and he would feel physical symptoms of withdrawal. Symptoms of withdrawal include nausea and vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea, chills, body aches and mood swings.
Addiction is a chronic disease in which individuals compulsively seek out and use Demerol even though they know the harm abusing this opioid can cause. Addiction is characterized by compulsive use, using Demerol to get high and seeking out drugs.
Addiction: What Family Members Should Know
While scientists do not yet know the exact cause of drug abuse and dependence, many specialists agree genes may play a role. Scientists at the American Society of Addiction Medicine state that genetic factors account for about half the likelihood that an individual will develop an addiction.
Other environmental factors such as peer pressure, emotional distress, anxiety, depression and environmental stress contribute to dependence or addiction. Family members should know that these same genetic and environmental stresses increase the risk for drug abuse and addiction for all family members. Since genetic factors cannot easily be overcome, individual family members should seek to reduce environmental factors that may lead to or exacerbate drug dependence and addiction.
Apart from genetic influences, researchers are beginning to see that children who grow up in an environment where illicit drug use is acceptable are more likely to develop addictions.
Addiction Symptoms: Physical and Psychological
Scientists have noted some common physical and psychological symptoms of addiction common to individuals addicted to Demerol, including an inability to consistently abstain from Demerol use and cravings for Demerol. An individual may also crave other experiences that deliver intense rewards, like participating in crimes or dangerous behavior. She may have trouble controlling her own behavior in general. There may also be a diminished capacity to recognize significant personal or relationship problems; she is unable to tell when she is acting inappropriately or is in an unhealthy relationship. Furthermore, she may have a dysfunctional emotional response in which she responds to things inappropriately or not at all.
Addiction to Demerol causes changes in brain structure and function, especially in those areas of the brain associated with reward. Specifically, addiction alters the nucleus accumbens, anterior cingulate cortex, basal forebrain and amygdala. Addiction also changes the way the brain remembers rewards.
Addiction and gender: how women and men are affected differently
Addiction affects men and women differently. Several studies indicate females are more likely to abuse prescription drugs and are more apt to abuse multiple substances than are males. Men and women come to drug addiction along different pathways.
Women are more likely than are men to abuse prescription drugs. This may be because physicians are more likely to prescribe mood-altering drugs to women, especially female alcoholics, than to men because doctors perceive a female's complaints to be due to depression, nervousness or some other emotional difficulty rather than from a physical ailment. Women are also more likely to combine prescription drug abuse with other substances, such as marijuana, cocaine or other drugs.
There seems to be a strong social stigma surrounding women and addiction to drugs such as Demerol. This social constraint may cause more women to seek drugs by going to a doctor rather than buying them illegally; it may also prevent women from seeking treatment for their addiction to Demerol. Women addicts have lower expectations for their lives when compared with males with addictions. Addicted men are more likely to engage in drugs socially, whereas an addicted woman tends to abuse drugs in private.
Female Demerol addicts are more likely to come from homes where illicit drug use was acceptable. Addicted women are more likely to have a partner or spouse with an addiction. Women with addictions frequently come from families in which they carried too much responsibility; these women have also reported more disruption in their families than did their male counterparts.
Even though women may engage in prostitution or petty theft to support their drug habits, men are more likely to finance their substance abuse through criminal activity, such as robbery, con games and burglary.
Males with addictions to Demerol exhibit social disorders, such as criminal activity, whereas addicted females are more apt to experience mood disorders.
Men are more prone to report current drug abuse than are women, according to the 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Historically, women have a lower rate for admission to treatment facilities, staying in treatment and completing rehabilitation than men. Social stigmas, economic barriers and family responsibilities prevent addicted women from seeking or completing treatment programs.
Signs of addiction: For those around
Addiction to Demerol changes a person's behavior, thinking patterns, emotions and interactions with others. Drug addiction alters the way a person relates to family members, co-workers, friends and members of the community. Addictions modify an individual's executive functioning, or ability to make sound judgments. These changes manifest themselves in problems with perception, learning, impulse control compulsivity and judgment. Addiction to Demerol changes the way a person behaves, thinks and feels.
Addiction to Demerol alters an individual's behavioral patterns. He may use drugs or alcohol excessively or participate in other addictive behaviors, such as gambling, more frequently and at ever-increasing intensity. This escalation in frequency and intensity often accompanies an expressed intent and attempts to control behavior. He may promise that this is the last time he will use Demerol, even as he is consuming a large dose. He continues using Demerol even though he knows it will have a negative impact on his life. A person addicted to opioids loses excessive time pursuing, using or recovering from Demerol abuse to the exclusion of everything else. He may seem unable or uninterested in quitting.
Demerol addiction makes physical changes to the brain to alter the way a person thinks. A person addicted to Demerol may be preoccupied with substance abuse; she may spend more time talking about drugs than the average person. She may also have an altered perception of the benefits and risks of Demerol abuse, minimizing dangers or overemphasizing the positive nature of the opioid. She may deny that Demerol abuse causes problems, or blames her problems on people or events.
Addiction to Demerol takes emotional tolls on a person. An individual is likely to feel increased anxiety, sadness and emotional pain. He may also be more sensitive to every day pressure, expressing sentiments such as, "Things seem more stressful." He might even have trouble identifying his emotions or expressing them to others.
When left untreated or poorly treated, addiction to Demerol can cause disability or premature death. The American Society of Addictive Medicine suggests that recovery from addiction is "best achieved through a combination of self-management, mutual support, and professional care provided by trained and certified professionals." Rehabilitation from Demerol addiction usually includes several phases of treatment, beginning with detoxification.
Many individuals try to self-detox, or go cold turkey, and suffer through uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms without the help of medicine and trained professionals. Others self-detox by taking recipes concocted to reduce the symptoms of withdrawal; the Thomas Recipe is one well-known method of self-detox. Withdrawal symptoms may last for several days or even weeks without the assistance of a medical professional.
Some individuals participate in outpatient drug rehabilitation programs to get their Demerol addictions under control. These programs may administer replacement drugs, such as methadone or buprenorphine, to reduce the risk for relapse. The downside to replacement therapy is that is replaces one drug addiction for another.
Acute intoxication or overdose requires emergency, sometimes lifesaving treatment that includes rapid detoxification and sometimes life support measures to counter the effects of respiratory depression associated with opioid overdose. Emergency detoxification always takes place in a hospital or inpatient setting. Detoxification is a therapy that reduces the level of Demerol in the body and eases the subsequent symptoms of withdrawal.
During detoxification, physicians administer medications to cleanse the body of toxins and drugs to reduce withdrawal symptoms. Physicians administer one medication to reduce nausea, another to ease anxiety, a drug for diarrhea and even a form of adrenaline to help with overpowering fatigue. Even with medications typically administered during standard detoxification, withdrawal symptoms can last for several days.
Rapid Detox is the new standard in humane Demerol addiction care. During rapid detox, physicians give the usual medications for detoxification and withdrawal along with anesthesia and sedatives. The patient sleeps lightly through the worst parts of withdrawal and then awakens unaware of the physical discomfort and emotional downturns normally associated with Demerol withdrawal. Rapid detox cuts the duration of withdrawal symptoms from a few days to a few hours, improving the changes of individual success during the rehabilitation phase.
Rehabilitation addresses any issues that may have lead to, or were exacerbated by, Demerol addiction. Family stresses, economic pressures, social inequities and legal problems can contribute to addiction to opioids such as Demerol. The typical inpatient rehabilitation program usually requires a 28-day stay, while other long-term facilities assist addicts for six months or longer.
Long-term recovery is possible with teamwork by the individual, his physician, family members and friends. Residential treatment programs, including personal, family and group counseling are an important tool for long-term recovery from Demerol addiction. . These programs include behavior modification programs and provide peer support. Demerol addiction is a life-long, chronic condition that requires vigilance and determination. Notify all physicians and healthcare providers of your history of addiction to Demerol before taking other pain medications.