Millions of opioid prescriptions, including Demerol, are abused every year in the United States. Opioid prescriptions have high rates of abuse and which can rapidly turn into addiction.
Addiction to opioids like Demerol can pose real health risks due to the highly addictive nature of the drug. Individuals addicted to Demerol may form a physical dependence, undergo withdrawal, or risk overdose, which can be fatal.
Treatment programs for Demerol addiction focus on treating both physical and psychological aspects of health for a well-rounded approach to recovery.
What Is Demerol And How Is It Abused?
Demerol is the only brand for the opioid narcotic, meperidine, and is typically prescribed for moderate to severe pain or during surgery.
Demerol is available as pills, tablets, liquid syrup, and injection. Typically, pills, tablets, and syrup are prescribed for the treatment of chronic pain.
Those abusing Demerol may try to crush and snort the powder or mix it into a solution to inject for faster onset of effects. Demerol is a more potent opioid, so this can lead to dangerous side effects and can quickly result in addiction.
How Demerol Abuse Leads To Addiction
Demerol is a potent opioid, powerful enough to effectively treat chronic pain, such as in individuals with cancer. This means that a person can become addicted to Demerol after only a short time.
For this reason, Demerol is typically not prescribed as a long-term solution to pain but to help alleviate chronic pain for a few days at a time.
Demerol works in the brain by over-activating the receptors and causing an excess of feel-good chemicals, such as dopamine.
Any abuse of Demerol can rapidly lead to addiction, as the drug works to change the way a person’s brain responds to pain.
Signs And Symptoms Of Demerol Addiction
Demerol abuse leads to euphoria (excessive happiness), drowsiness, and a sense of calm and relaxation. Opioids are central nervous system depressants, so Demerol can also lead to slowed breathing, heart, and blood pressure rates.
Initial signs of Demerol addiction may be enhanced or worsened side effects especially slowed body functions and excessive drowsiness.
Other signs and symptoms of a Demerol addiction may include:
- using Demerol even after recognizing adverse effects
- doctor shopping, or seeking Demerol from multiple physicians
- lying about or hiding Demerol use
- experiencing strong cravings for and urges to use Demerol
- undergoing withdrawal symptoms when not using the drug, such as sweating, headache, or nausea
Why Do People Abuse Demerol?
Most people taking Demerol are in severe pain and may not mean to abuse the medication at first. If a certain dose of Demerol is not working fast enough, or if the medication does not help the pain, a person may increase the dosage to try to get faster or better results.
Others may abuse Demerol if they develop a tolerance to it, which can happen even with directed use. Once tolerance occurs, a person may increase their dosage or change method of administration of Demerol to ensure the medication gives the desired effects.
Those who take Demerol and also struggle with other issues, such as depression or anxiety, may take Demerol in order to self-medicate, or in an attempt to treat their own symptoms.
However, no abuse of Demerol is safe, given the potency of the drug and Demerol abuse comes with multiple side effects.
Side Effects Of Demerol Abuse
Demerol works to change the way a person responds to pain by depressing functions of the central nervous system, so most short-term side effects of Demerol abuse are related to this characteristic.
Common short-term side effects of Demerol abuse may include:
- feelings of calm and relaxation
- flushed skin
- dry mouth
- constipation and stomach cramps
- nausea and vomiting
- vision changes
- mood changes
Continued abuse of any opioid, including Demerol, is dangerous due to the greatly increased risk of overdose.
Other possible long-term effects of Demerol abuse can include:
- slowed breathing, trouble breathing
- dangerously slowed breathing
- shaking hands
- muscle tremors
- chest pains
- vision troubles
- hives or itching
Risks Of Long-Term Demerol Abuse
Demerol is a highly potent opioid and long-term abuse of it greatly increases a person’s risk of overdose. Overdose from Demerol can occur if a person takes too much of the drug at once or has an excess chemical buildup in the body from continuous abuse.
Demerol abuse can lead to addiction which often results in physical dependence, or reliance on the drug to function.
If a person becomes dependent on Demerol and tries to stop the use of it, they will experience harrowing withdrawal symptoms which make it very difficult to quit without help.
Because Demerol works to slow breathing and heart rates, abusing the drug can cause these rates to slow or stop. Left untreated, these conditions can lead to severe damage to health, or even be fatal.
Signs And Symptoms Of A Demerol Overdose
Demerol overdose can be fatal, and anyone abusing Demerol is at risk of overdose. Opioid overdose is often caused by slowed or stopped breathing, which results in lack of oxygen to the brain and body.
Demerol overdose symptoms may include:
- shallow or stopped breathing
- low heart and blood pressure rates
- “pinpoint” pupils
- loss of consciousness
- extreme lethargy
- bluish tint to skin or nails
- mental confusion
Opioid overdose can be fatal if left untreated. All cases of Demerol overdose should be treated as a medical emergency.
Rehab Programs For Demerol Abuse And Addiction
Demerol abuse can rapidly lead to addiction but can be treated with an intensive rehab program, such as residential treatment or intensive outpatient programs.
Several forms of treatment have been proven effective for opioid treatment, and one of the best includes medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
MAT involves medication to treat withdrawal symptoms combined with therapy and counseling. This way, those struggling with Demerol addiction can safely withdraw and learn to manage in recovery.
For more information on Demerol addiction treatment programs, or to find a rehab center that matches your needs, contact us today.
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- University of Michigan Medicine — Meperidine
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration — Demerol
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Meperidine Injection