Prescription opioids can be an effective way to treat pain immediately after surgery or in patients with cancer. However, taking opiate painkillers over the medium or long term can cause significant problems, including opioid abuse and addiction. Demerol is a commonly prescribed opioid for acute pain, but its highly addictive potential makes it an unsafe choice for many people. Learn about the risks of Demerol addiction as well as Demerol treatment options.
What Is Demerol?
Demerol is the trade name for the chemical meperidine hydrochloride and is available in tablets as well as an oral solution. The oral solution is manufactured to taste like bananas to make it more pleasant to take. Demerol is can also injectable. Doctors often prescribe Demerol injections to patients undergoing surgery or other medical procedures.
Demerol travels throughout your body, binding to any opioid receptors it finds along the way. Opioid receptors are found throughout your brain and body. When activated naturally (such as with the release of endorphins), they trigger a euphoric feeling and have a painkilling effect. Demerol is an opioid agonist, meaning that it binds to opioid receptors and triggers them to respond. Because Demerol is about ten times more potent than morphine, it has powerful analgesic (painkilling) and euphoric effects. As a result, the strength of this opioid drug is part of what makes it so appealing to people who abuse this medication.
Demerol Side Effects
Demerol comes with a host of side effects. Some of these are minor, while others may be life-threatening. The most common side effects include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sedation or fatigue
- Loss of appetite
- A headache.
- Dry mouth
- Itching sensations
- Flushed face or skin
- Less frequent urination
- Loss of interest in sex
- Slowed breathing
Demerol can also affect your mood. Many people who take the drug report feeling euphoric immediately after taking it. However, longer-term use can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mood symptoms.
Anyone who takes Demerol or other opioids for an extended period of time will develop a dependence on the drug. Opioid dependence refers to tolerance, in which you need a higher dose to get the same effects, as well as withdrawal symptoms, in which you have troublesome symptoms when Demerol is no longer available. Additionally, tolerance to Demerol can develop within weeks or months, and dependence will grow stronger the longer a person takes this drug.
Withdrawal symptoms are a sign that you have become physically dependent on meperidine. The most common Demerol withdrawal symptoms include:
- Aching muscles
- Restlessness or feeling “keyed up.”
- Watery eyes
- A runny nose
- Excessive sweating
- Frequent yawning
- Difficulty getting to sleep
- Diarrhea and abdominal cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pupil dilation
- Blurred vision
- Rapid heartbeat
- Elevated blood pressure
These symptoms begin within 24 hours of stopping meperidine, and they can continue for days. Withdrawing from Demerol can be dangerous, particularly for older adults or people with certain medical conditions.
Demerol is also highly addictive. Addiction is slightly different than drug dependence. Demerol dependence refers to your body’s tendency to get used to the presence of the drug, leading to tolerance and withdrawal symptoms. Addiction, on the other hand, is a behavioral syndrome in which a person develops a craving for the drug. A person addicted to Demerol may spend large amounts of time trying to obtain the drug or recover from it. Addicted individuals may also fail to meet obligations at work or home, isolate themselves from loved ones, get into legal trouble, or engage in risky behaviors.
Finding the Best Treatment for Demerol Addiction
Professional Demerol addiction treatment is the best way to ensure you or your loved one achieves a healthy recovery from this drug. The first step is to undergo Demerol detoxification. Because Demerol is such a potent drug, detoxing from it can be unpleasant. That is why medical detox is so necessary.
In a Demerol detox treatment, doctors will provide medications that clear the excess opioid molecules from your body. With the help of sedation or other drugs, you can go through withdrawal from Demerol in a safe, supportive, and comfortable environment. More importantly, medical professionals are on site to intervene should you develop severe medical complications during withdrawal.
After successful detoxification, it is time to address the root causes of Demerol addiction. People suffering from addiction often begin using drugs because of underlying physical or emotional pain. That is particularly true for opioids such as meperidine. Additionally, depression, anxiety, trauma, loss, or other emotional distress often fuel the addiction, and opioids feel like the only way to cope.
Participating in a supportive aftercare program after undergoing detox is the best way to foster a healthy recovery. Furthermore, the focus of aftercare is to learn how to deal with cravings for Demerol and to employ new coping strategies to deal with life’s challenges. Scientific research shows that this combination of medical detox and behavioral treatment in aftercare is the best way to treat opioid addiction.