Demerol Withdrawal

Definition

Demerol withdrawal is a normal, predictable physiological outcome of using Demerol for a long time and then discontinuing it abruptly. Withdrawal from Demerol is a physical process caused by physical dependence on a substance, whereas addiction to Demerol is a behavioral problem. Demerol withdrawal is extremely uncomfortable, even painful, and prevents many people from quitting drug abuse.

Facts

Fear of withdrawal symptoms prevents many people from seeking rehabilitative care. The severity of symptoms of withdrawal from Demerol depends upon how much opioid the individual has been taking, as well as the length and the route of administration. Intravenous users may suffer stronger symptoms of withdrawal for a longer time than a person who consumed Demerol pills. While the symptoms of Demerol withdrawal are extremely unpleasant, they are typically not life threatening. Nonetheless, Demerol withdrawal can worsen other conditions. It is always best to undergo withdrawal under a doctor's supervision.

Causes

An individual who uses Demerol for a long time may become physically dependent upon this opioid, which is to say he needs to take Demerol to feel normal. If the level of Demerol in his system drops, he will feel unpleasant symptoms of withdrawal as his body tries to stabilize itself chemically. Symptoms from Demerol withdrawal usually set in within six hours of the last dose. A person can suffer withdrawal symptoms if he has been taking Demerol to get high for a long time or has used the substance to treat a chronic disease. Dependence on Demerol and the ensuing withdrawal syndrome is not an unusual occurrence among individuals treating chronic pain.

Symptoms

Physical and psychological symptoms of Demerol withdrawal are potent and sometimes overpowering. These symptoms typically last seven to ten days for the average person in treatment; patients who try self-detoxification or those with acute dependencies may suffer these debilitating symptoms for weeks. Symptoms of withdrawal are the primary reason for most failures among individuals trying to quit abusing drugs.

Physical

Insomnia, stomach and muscle spasms, and simultaneous shivering, sweating, and shaking are common the first few two or three days after discontinuing Demerol. Tremors, or DTs as they are sometimes called, cause shaking hands that can make eating or daily hygiene difficult. Reports of stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, insomnia and backache are common. Other physical symptoms include stuffy or runny nose, watery eyes and yawning. Some individuals may experience increased blood pressure, fast breathing and rapid heart rate.

Psychological

Severe anxiety, nervousness and irritability are common during Demerol withdrawal. Severe anxiety and nervousness may give way to paranoia. This psychological manifestation of Demerol withdrawal is sometimes overpowering enough to disrupt rehabilitation.

Possible Complications

Overpowering symptoms of Demerol withdrawal can severely hamper an individual's efforts to stop using opioids. Physical symptoms of Demerol withdrawal are uncomfortable and prohibit the individual from working, going to school or taking care of his personal responsibilities for days or even weeks at a time. Psychological symptoms are demoralizing, potentially leaving an individual too despondent to seek help.

Treatment options

Treatment for Demerol withdrawal focuses on the safe reduction of symptoms during detoxification before participating in behavioral modification therapy to address issues that may have lead to or been exacerbated by Demerol withdrawal.

The first step in treatment always involves detoxification and management of withdrawal symptoms. Some people attempt this step alone in a process called self-detox, or more commonly, quitting cold turkey. These individuals endure nearly intolerable physical discomfort for days or even weeks as their bodies try to recover from Demerol withdrawal. Overpowering Demerol withdrawal symptoms frequently prohibit even the strongest, most determined individuals from quitting Demerol.

Some try to reduce these withdrawal symptoms with homemade recipes including medications to reduce the physical symptoms of withdrawal. The Thomas Recipe is one such remedy that includes medications to induce sleep, prevent diarrhea, reduce fatigue and even includes hot baths to relieve body pain and muscle aches associated with Demerol withdrawal. While these home remedies work for a few, participation in professional rehabilitation offer the best hope for recovery from dependence and withdrawal from Demerol.

Outpatient care may be the best option for some individuals struggling with Demerol withdrawal. Many of these outpatient programs prescribe replacement therapy as a way to overcome Demerol withdrawal without admission to a hospital. Physicians typically prescribe buprenorphine to patients with a physical dependence on Demerol. The theory behind the practice is that buprenorphine gives the body what it needs to remain chemically stable while the individual discontinues Demerol use. Outpatient replacement therapy prevents withdrawal symptoms enough for the individual to carry on with his normal life.

During professional inpatient detoxification, physicians administer drugs to hasten the removal of Demerol from the body and medications to reduce the symptoms of Demerol withdrawal. One medication reduces anxiety, another eases nausea and more drugs relieve diarrhea and adrenaline imbalances. Treatment speeds the withdrawal phase to just a few days, as compared to a few weeks without medical intervention. Speeding Demerol withdrawal symptoms improves an individual's chances of successful cessation and rehabilitation from drug abuse.

Rapid detox speeds Demerol withdrawal to a few hours. During rapid detox, specially trained physicians administer the standard detoxification and anti-withdrawal medications along with sedatives and anesthesia, so that the patient dozes comfortably through Demerol withdrawal. When she awakens, she has no memory of uncomfortable Demerol withdrawal. Free from demoralizing effects of Demerol withdrawal, the individual is ready for rehabilitation.

Participating in professional rehabilitation offers the best chance of successful rehabilitation. Individuals who go through medically assisted withdrawal but do not participate in rehabilitation show the same patterns of drug abuse as those who have not received medical treatment. Inpatient or outpatient behavioral treatment enhances the benefits of medications and helps patients maintain abstinence longer. During rehabilitation, the patient addresses issues that led to or were a result of her dependence upon and subsequent withdrawal from Demerol. Behavioral therapy reduces the risk for relapse.

Outpatient rehabilitation facilities offer a variety for programs to individuals who visit the clinic at regular intervals. Many of the programs involve personal or group counseling. Inpatient rehabilitation clinics offer treatment plans that last for six to twelve months, depending on the severity of the substance abuse. Patients who have a problem with relapse and continued bouts with Demerol withdrawal can benefit greatly from such long-term inpatient therapies.