Demerol Addiction and Treatment

Did you receive drugs during childbirth or another extremely painful event? If so, you may have taken Demerol, a drug used to treat pain.

Demerol is a common brand name for the generic pain medication meperidine. Other brand names for meperidine are Demerol HCl and Meperitab. It comes in a powder form that has a bitter taste and dissolves in liquid easily, and can then be injected into the body or administered through an IV. You can also take Demerol orally as a liquid or in the form of tablets. Some people using the drug illegally crush these tablets into a fine powder that they snort or inject.

The drug is synthetic or man-made. Doctors have used it since the 1930s to treat the pain of childbirth, leading to jokes about women saying they screamed for Demerol in these instances.

While Demerol is an analgesic or pain reliever, it is also a sedative, a medication that relaxes and makes you fall asleep. Since Demerol relieves pain and induces relaxation, it can be a useful, powerful tool in medical situations. Used incorrectly, this powerful tool can become a dangerous weapon. Like other pain relievers and sedatives, Demerol, when used incorrectly, can cause addiction and harmful side effects. If you or a loved one is addicted to the drug, you must get help before suffering from these side effects.

Demerol Addiction and Abuse

Demerol is an opioid. An opioid is a drug that attaches to receptors on your spinal cord, brain, and other parts of your body. When the opioids attach to these spots, your sensation of pain decreases.

Narcotics are another name for opioids. Narcotics are drugs that minimize pain and induce sleepiness. They can also be addictive. Meperidine, the generic term for Demerol, produces effects similar to another narcotic pain reliever, morphine.

While regular doses of meperidine can be habit-forming, higher levels can be even worse. If you use a great deal of meperidine, you can become physically and mentally dependent on it. You might become used to using such high levels of the drug that it no longer has the same effects. As a consequence, you would then have to use more and more meperidine to feel its effects. When you become accustomed to the effects of drugs, you are experiencing a condition known as drug tolerance.

Because it is so powerful, it’s important to follow your doctor’s orders when taking meperidine/Demerol. Read and follow the information on the label of your prescription, don’t take more than the prescribed amount, and don’t take it for longer than the prescription indicates.

Not surprisingly, the powerful nature of narcotics like meperidine means that they are restricted drugs. You cannot obtain them unless you have a prescription and cannot re-sell them or give them away. State and federal narcotic laws control who distributes and receives narcotics, while agencies and courts enforce these laws and punish people that break those laws. So if you use meperidine and narcotics incorrectly, you are not only hurting yourself physically and mentally. You can also get into a great deal of legal trouble.

Now is the Time to
Seek Help

Call us today.

Signs and Symptoms of Demerol

If you suspect a loved one of being addicted to Demerol, look for the following external signs of Demerol abuse:

  • Irritability
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Dry mouth
  • Headaches
  • Constant fatigue & Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Slowed breathing
  • Constant itching
  • Depression
  • Intense mood swings
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Dry mouth
  • Headaches

Furthermore, the person addicted to Demerol may be craving the drug when it’s unavailable,  seeking doctors to give the prescription and even forging prescriptions.  They may also be stealing or borrowing money to buy the drug.

Side Effects of Demerol

Demerol, a brand name for the drug meperidine, produces many short-term side effects for its users, including nausea, sweating, drowsiness, and dizziness. Like other opioids, Demerol can cause constipation as part of a condition called opioid-induced constipation, or OIC.  Long-term use of the drug can produce seizures and increase the overall toxicity of the drug.

Researchers are still studying other potential effects of Demerol. They have conducted studies to determine the effects of Demerol use during and after childbirth. One study found that mothers who had opioids such as meperidine in their breast milk had infants with a higher tendency to suffer from apnea (breathing difficulties). However, researchers concluded that breast milk typically contains such low levels of meperidine that ending breastfeeding entirely would do the infants more harm than good.

Overdose Symptoms of Demerol

Meperidine/Demerol can produce a host of serious side effects. One of the most serious consequences is that the drug can seriously impair your breathing. It can slow your breathing rate or cause you to stop breathing entirely, which could be fatal. Other serious effects include extreme drowsiness, coma, and hypothermia (low body temperature).

Other side effects include seizures, hallucinations, vision changes, confusion, fainting, weakness, and tiredness. Like other drugs, meperidine/Demerol can affect the heart by producing palpitations and an irregular heartbeat. In severe instances, this can lead to cardiac arrest and death. Strangely enough, the drug can also have the opposite effect, as it can cause a slow heart rate and low blood pressure.

You can also discover you have an allergy to Demerol/meperidine. Symptoms of this allergy can be very dangerous. They include swelling of the tongue, lips, or face swelling, itching or hives, or a skin rash. If you are experiencing these side effects, it is a good idea to seek immediate medical attention or call before your symptoms progress.

People in certain groups and experiencing certain conditions should be careful about using meperidine/Demerol. Fevers, exercising, and hot weather intensifies the effects of the drug. Elderly people and children are also more sensitive to the effects of the drug, so you should monitor their use of the drug. Since it can make breathing difficult, you should not take it if you have asthma or other breathing problems. Do not take the drug with alcohol; don’t take it if you have taken an MAO inhibitor in the past two weeks. An MAO inhibitor is an antidepressant that blocks substances in the central nervous system.

Demerol Withdrawal and Detox

Meperidine/Demerol can have a powerful effect on your body when it is in your system. It makes sense, then, that removing it from your body can create a profound absence. When your brain experiences this absence, it can put your body into withdrawal symptoms. If you have been using meperidine/Demerol for a long time, you should not stop using the drug immediately and go cold turkey. Instead, a doctor can lower your dosage gradually, so you do not suffer any side effects.

To alleviate the effects of an overdose, doctors carefully administer drugs known as narcotic antagonists to neutralize the effects of meperidine/Demerol. They take this measure when you are having trouble breathing. Depending on your symptoms, doctors can also treat your overdose by administering IVs, oxygen, and vasopressors, which are drugs that raise your blood pressure.

It takes drugs, then, to counter the effects of other drugs. Using these drugs correctly requires medical help. You can receive medical help in a detox facility. Detox facilities use drugs and other types of medical care to detoxify, or detox, your system. You will have to enter a detox facility before you can undergo other types of drug rehab. Consider staying at a detox facility inside an inpatient rehab center. This can eliminate a little stress for you during a stressful time.

These potential withdrawal symptoms are not meant to scare you but to help you realize the seriousness of your addiction and the potential dangers of quitting Demerol abruptly. This is why we recommend inpatient drug treatment for someone addicted to Demerol, so they can be closely monitored by medical professionals during the withdrawal and detox experience.

Our inpatient rehab centers have drug detox treatment in their facilities that allow you to remove these toxins.

Demerol Treatment and Rehab

A good inpatient rehab center could help you with this detox process. You do not need to worry about finding a center. Call a rehab placement agency to help you find an inpatient rehab center that specializes in treating addictions to narcotics like Demerol. Attending such a center will give you the specialized medical help you need to safely withdraw from the drug.

This inpatient rehab center will also provide psychological help to confront your meperidine/Demerol addiction. It might offer individual counseling, 12 Step programs, and Non 12 Step programs to help you during your stay and help you develop strategies to prolong your recovery after you leave.

Such a center could also include group therapy sessions. These sessions could allow you to compare stories and coping strategies with others who have gone through the same things. These meetings and other treatments thus could provide practical information and emotional support.

Although your addiction treatment options may vary, there is a general step to recovery that we can fill you in on to ease your nerves.

  • Step 1: Intake – When you arrive at your facility, you will be assessed by the medical professionals to determine your treatment through detox, as well as your rehabilitation program.
  • Step 2: Detox – After your assessment or intake, you will be taken to your room, where you can rest and be monitored while you withdraw your drug of choice. Detox can range from 1 day to a week, depending on the drug of choice and the user.
  • Step 3: Rehab – After you finish detox, you will be ready to begin your addiction treatment, which can range from various options. This is when you can meet others, attend lectures, participate in group or individual counseling, and learn the tools you need to stay clean.
  • Step 4: Aftercare – When your time at the facility is over, you will have to return to your life. This can be challenging for many people, but part of your treatment includes aftercare. This is usually outpatient counseling in a group or individualized setting, where you are slowly reintroduced to your life and responsibilities.

The steps to recovery are tough, it is difficult, and scary but also exciting. By going to treatment, you are giving yourself a second chance at life and freeing yourself from your addiction.

Addressing Demerol Addiction

If you or someone you know has become dependent on meperidine/Demerol, it is part of your daily life. You do not think that this use is a problem. Luckily, there are ways to spot and address this problem.

Coming to Terms with Your Demerol Addiction

One way to examine your meperidine/Demerol use is to compare your life before you started using the drug to your life after you started using. Since you began using, are you doing the same things you once did? Are your relationships the same? Is your performance at work or school the same? If your life has gotten noticeably worse (especially in multiple areas) after you started taking meperidine/Demerol, your drug use could be the reason.

Helping a Friend or Family Member Address Their Demerol Addiction

Similarly, you can help friends and family members examine their pre-and-post drug lives. You could do this examination during an intervention. In an intervention, you could explore how meperidine/Demerol has affected the lives of your friends and family members and discuss how to handle this use.

During your conversations, you might uncover aspects of your friends’ pasts. This might include coping strategies that worked for your friends in the past, strategies they could use instead of turning to drugs. This knowledge of the drug users is why it is important to include people who know the users well in your intervention. These people will know the people before and during the drug use. They can help provide support during their treatment and beyond.

Payment Options for Demerol Abuse Treatment

An addiction to a powerful narcotic such as meperidine/Demerol can be extremely dangerous, even deadly. The strength of the drug and its power over users means that it is important to seek qualified professional treatment. This treatment can come from various programs, outpatient treatments, and inpatient rehab centers.

Are you worried about finding an inpatient treatment center? Are you worried about paying for it? Call us. We can help you. We will work with your insurance company to find what it covers and place you in the right rehab center to help you break free from the grip of Demerol.

Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

Sunshine Behavioral Health Facilities


Chapters Capistrano


Monarch Shores


Mountain Springs


Willow Springs


Lincoln Recovery

Find out more about our admissions process