Demerol Addiction | Effects, Abuse, Warning Signs, & Treatment

If you or a family member is struggling with Demerol addiction, professional treatment can help you safely come off Demerol.

Demerol Addiction | Effects, Abuse, Warning Signs, & Treatment

Demerol is the brand name for meperidine, a prescription opioid used to treat moderate to severe pain. Demerol and other opioids are associated with drug abuse because of their pleasurable effects. Demerol abuse can lead to tolerance, dependence, and opioid addiction.

If you or a family member is struggling with Demerol addiction, professional treatment can help you safely come off Demerol. Behavioral therapy and other forms of evidence-based treatment can help you achieve long-term recovery.

Effects Of Demerol

Demerol is a prescription painkiller available as an injection, a liquid, and a tablet form. Different forms of the Demerol can affect how quickly it works, the intensity of its effects, and how long the effects last.

Demerol acts on opioid receptors in the central nervous system (CNS), which are areas of the body involved with pain and pleasure.

Demerol can relieve severe pain and may cause a rush of euphoria. However, opioids also depress the CNS, which can result in a slow heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing.

In addition to its analgesic (pain relieving) effects, Demerol may cause several unwanted side effects.

Side-effects of Demerol may include:

  • drowsiness
  • constipation
  • lightheadedness
  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • dry mouth

Demerol Overdose

Heavy Demerol use can result in serious adverse effects, including opioid overdose. An opioid overdose can result in severe sedation, difficulty breathing/respiratory depression, and loss of consciousness.

Additional signs of opioid overdose include:

  • choking sounds
  • bluish skin tone
  • pinpoint pupils
  • clammy skin
  • shallow breathing
  • coma

If you suspect an opioid overdose, call for emergency help immediately to reduce the risk of brain damage and death. If available, naloxone (Narcan) is a medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

Demerol Abuse

Demerol and other opioid pain relievers can be safe if taken as prescribed by a healthcare professional. However, Demerol is a schedule II controlled substance with a high potential for abuse.

Misusing a prescription drug can interfere with pain management and increases the risk of dependence and addiction.

Substance abuse may involve:

  • taking the medication in ways other than how it is prescribed (crushing pills, snorting, injecting)
  • taking it more frequently than prescribed
  • using Demerol for its euphoric effects
  • taking opioid drugs to cope with symptoms of mental illness

Demerol Dependence & Withdrawal

Taking Demerol for a long period of time can result in opioid tolerance, which means you may need increasingly higher doses to feel its effects. Tolerance increases the likelihood that your body will start to rely on opioids to function, known as dependence.

If you become opioid-dependent, you may experience withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop using opioids. Opioid withdrawal can be mild to severe, depending on how much and how often you were using Demerol.

Demerol withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • intense cravings
  • runny nose
  • goosebumps
  • diarrhea
  • restlessness
  • yawning
  • sweating
  • anxiety
  • difficulty sleeping

Although opioid withdrawal isn’t life-threatening, cravings can lead to further drug use and an increased risk of overdose. A medical detox program provides 24/7 support and medications to ease severe symptoms.

Warning Signs Of Demerol Addiction

Opioid dependence increases the risk of developing a substance use disorder (SUD), also known as addiction.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), addiction can result in changes in the brain that cause compulsive drug seeking that can interfere with several areas of life.

Knowing some of the common warning signs of addiction can help you determine if it may be time to reach out for help. Signs of drug addiction may include:

  • doctor shopping (seeking prescriptions from multiple doctors)
  • compulsive drug use, despite a desire to stop using opioids
  • isolating from family and friends
  • tolerance and dependence
  • neglecting responsibilities or hobbies

Demerol Addiction Treatment

Although opioids can be difficult to stop on your own, a drug addiction treatment center can help you change unhealthy behaviors, learn coping skills, and improve quality of life. A treatment provider can help you develop a personalized treatment plan that fits your needs.

Opioid addiction treatment options may include:

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

MAT programs provide FDA-approved medications, like methadone, that can reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. When used alongside behavioral therapy and other forms of treatment, MAT medications can be effective for long-term recovery.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment is a highly structured treatment program with an individualized daily schedule of therapeutic activities. During inpatient treatment, you may be involved with group therapy, support groups, individual counseling, and behavioral therapy.

Outpatient Treatment 

Outpatient treatment offers services similar to inpatient rehab, except you live at home and travel to the program for treatment sessions. Depending on your needs, outpatient care may be an effective alternative to inpatient treatment.

For some individuals, outpatient rehab is beneficial as a step-down level of care to ease the transition out of treatment.

Northeast Addictions Treatment Center offers a wide range of outpatient treatment options that can be effective for addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. If you or a loved one would like to learn more about our treatment programs, please contact us today.


Is Demerol A Controlled Substance?

Demerol is a controlled substance. It’s classified as a schedule II controlled substance, which means it has a high potential for abuse and can lead to physical or psychological dependence.

Learn more about Demerol Drug Classification & Schedule

What Happens When You Inject Demerol?

A Demerol injection, in medical use, changes how the body senses pain and provides an overall calming or slowing of central nervous system activity (sedation).

With illicit abuse, a Demerol injection can be used to get high, despite the increased risk of addiction and overdose effects.

Learn more about Demerol Injection

Can Pregnant Women Use Demerol?

Demerol (meperidine hydrochloride) should not be taken during pregnancy. If Demerol is taken during pregnancy, the opioid medication may be absorbed through the placenta. If this happens, the baby may develop life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.

To learn more, read Is It Safe To Use Demerol While Pregnant?

How Long Does Demerol (Meperidine) Stay In Your System?

Meperidine, Demerol’s main ingredient, can stay in your system for about 25 hours after the last use. Normeperidine, a potentially toxic metabolite of meperidine, can stay in your system for about 150 hours after the last use.

To learn more, read How Long Does Demerol Stay In Your System?

Written by
Northeast Addition Editorial Team

©2023 Northeast Addition Center | All Rights Reserved

This page does not provide medical advice.

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