Demerol Addiction and Abuse

What Is Demerol?

Demerol is a medication prescribed to help deal with different forms of pain. It belongs to a class of pain medications known as narcotic analgesics, which function by binding to the same receptors on cell surfaces where opium normally binds and acting in the brain to increase pain tolerance. Demerol is a fast-acting drug and you can begin to feel its effects within 15 minutes.

Demerol can be habit-forming, even if you are only taking it in regular doses. In addition, misuse of narcotic pain medication can result in addiction, overdose or even death. Never take Demerol in amounts larger than those recommended by your doctor, so as to avoid severe or life-threatening consequences.

Other names for Demerol

Demerol is known by other names like Meperidine Hydrochloride, Meperitab and Pethidine. In addition, Demerol also is known by street names such as ‘Smack’, ‘Dust’, ‘Juice’, ‘D’, ‘Demmies’or ‘Dillies’.

What is Demerol used for?

Demerol is an opioid pain medication used to treat moderate to severe pain associated with different medical, dental, obstetrical and surgical procedures. It is a narcotic pain reliever similar to morphine and acts on selected areas of the brain to give pain relief.

When Demerol is used for a prolonged period, mental or physical dependence may occur. Demerol is available in three main dosage forms: syrup, solution and tablet.

Get Confidential Help Now

Call our admissions line 24 hours a day to get help.

Causes of Demerol Addiction

A Demerol addiction can be as a result of a number of factors present in your life, which could be social, biological and/or psychological in nature. Social causes of Demerol addiction may include your living conditions, early exposure to the drug from family and friends, and your surrounding environment. Abuse and underlying trauma are the main psychological factors that could cause an addiction.

Biologically, you may already have a genetic pre-disposal to drug addiction, and using Demerol may initially begin as a way to treat pain. However, prolonged use – combined with an inherent tendency to abuse Demerol – results in building a tolerance to the drug.

Addictive properties of Demerol

Demerol is a highly-sought drug because of the intense and pleasurable effects it provides. While it is sometimes used to legitimately treat some forms of pain, it also has a high risk of abuse. Demerol is often abused for recreational purposes, and this kind of use frequently leads to negative consequences, including addiction.

If you have a Demerol use disorder, you may have tried to get ‘high’ by snorting or swallowing the drug. However, continuous use of Demerol can cause you to become addicted. As a result, you may experience severe withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop using, leading to a return to abusing the drug.

Methods of Demerolusage

Demerol can be taken by snorting, injecting or mixing it with other drugs in order to increase its effects.  Demerol should always be used as prescribed by a doctor. Always carefully follow the directions on your prescription label. Since Demerol can slow or halt your breathing – especially when you begin usage – it should not be taken for longer than prescribed. If you can no longer feel the effects of relieving pain, tell your doctor.

If taking the drug in liquid form, measure with the dosing syringe provided, a special dose-measuring spoon or medicine cup. Do not attempt to suddenly stop using Demerol after prolonged use, in order to avoid severe withdrawal symptoms. Your doctor can let you know the right way to stop using.

What does it mean to be addicted to Demerol?

Addiction describes a chronic, relapsing disease of the brain that involves compulsive drug-seeking and usage, in spite of destructive consequences. Having an addiction to Demerol is considered a brain disease because the substance changes your brain and also alters how it works. The results from such changes can be long-lasting and can bring about a range of potentially self-destructive behaviours.

When you’re addicted to Demerol, the areas in your brain responsible for decision making, behaviour control, learning, judgment and memory, are each affected. These changes can be used to explain the compulsive and harmful behaviours you may exhibit from time to time.

Spotting Demerol Abuse

You can save yourself or a loved one from a life of addiction by learning to spot the signs of Demerol abuse. Some signs include:

  • Changes in appearance – negative changes in appearance, such as looking sick or tired
  • Inability to concentrate – abusing Demerol may cause difficulty concentrating or lead to a lack of motivation to keep up with responsibilities
  • Lack of energy – an unusual pattern of drowsiness or lack of energy
  • Changes in behaviour or relationships – keeping a different circle of friends
  • Increased secrecy – hiding substance use disorder inevitably leads to secretive or sneaky behaviours

Demerol Abuse: Signs and Symptoms

The following signs and symptoms can be used to identify Demerol abuse in you or a loved one:

  • Compulsive interest in obtaining and using Demerol
  • Making serious, often unnecessary attempts to obtain prescriptions, in addition to stealing and other fraudulent methods
  • Difficulty in maintaining personal or work-related relationships
  • The appearance of physical side effects such as severe mood swings, paranoia, blackouts, depression and insomnia
  • Inability to concentrate on a task or follow a conversation

Health Risks from Demerol Addiction

Painkiller drugs like Demerol are often prescribed to help you find relief from pain and function normally. However, an addiction to Demerol will cause certain risks that can significantly impact your health. Using Demerol recreationally can result in physical damage to your body, including deterioration of your cardiovascular system and to the blood vessels inside the brain.

In addition, constant needle usage exposes you to contracting HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis and other viral diseases. Demerol addiction can also lead to the disruption of your psychological and emotional well-being. Mental health risks include an altered perception of reality, increased depression, anxiety and mood swings.

Short-Term Effects of Demerol

In addition to the painkilling effects of Demerol, it can also cause an extremely pleasurable feeling of euphoria that can lead to abuse. Demerol usage is associated with different short-term effects such as drowsiness, constipation, low blood pressure, nausea, confusion, low body temperature, slowed breathing, slurred speech and slowed movement.

Demerol acts on the reward centres of the brain to cause undesirable side effects like sweating, muscle weakness, dry mouth, changes in mood and vision changes. In addition, combining Demerol with other drugs and alcohol can increase your likelihood of experiencing harmful effects.

Long-Term Effects of Demerol

The longer you use this medication, the more serious they become. Demerol causes certain long-term effects such as:

  • Seizures
  • Skin rashes or hives
  • Hallucinations
  • Urinary retention
  • Difficulty with breathing
  • Losing consciousness

Withdrawal effects of Demerol abuse

As an opiate drug, Demerol abuse can result in physical dependence. At this stage, if you try to cut down, quit or sharply reduce your dose, you may experience some severe consequences known as ‘withdrawal effects’. Withdrawing from Demerol can be challenging to deal with, especially if you do so‘cold turkey’.

Some of the most common withdrawal effects of Demerol abuse include insomnia, agitation, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, cravings for Demerol, profuse perspiration, cramping, watery eyes and runny nose, diarrhoea, depression and fever.

Co-Occurring Disorders

If you develop an opioid use disorder involving Demerol, you may also experience one (or a combination of) the following co-occurring disorders:

  • Other substance use disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Cost of Demerol Addiction

Using Demerol can be very costly, especially when used without a prescription. The price of Demerol addiction is even more severe when you consume the medication in larger amounts than prescribed. One of the main problems associated with being addicted to an opioid drug like Demerol is the risk of respiratory depression and overdose.

Respiratory depression is a dose-dependent, normal response to the abuse of opiates like heroin and in the same manner, prescription opiate painkillers. Severe respiratory depression can lead to an inadequate delivery of oxygen throughout your body and may cause multi-organ failure and in some cases be fatal. Do not wait for this to develop into something worse than abusing your medication; help is available.

Get Confidential Help Now

Call our admissions line 24 hours a day to get help.

The Effects of Demerol Abuse on the Brain and Body

Even if you’re taking Demerol for legitimate medical reasons, you may find yourself abusing it by taking the drug in larger quantities over time. This occurs because of a need to compensate for the tolerance you’ve built towards the drug, and to intensify its effects. However, this pattern of Demerol abuse can have some significant effects on your brain and body.

Some of these effects include:

  • Brain damage
  • Physical dependence
  • Addiction
  • Hypoxia (inadequate oxygenation of blood and tissues)
  • Psychological problems, such as anxiety and depression

The Relationship between Demerol and Other Substances

Demerol can interact with other medications you’re taking, which can influence the adverse side effects of either of those substances. You should let your doctor know about all prescription, non-prescription, nutritional, herbal, recreational or dietary drugs you are taking. Also, you must exercise caution when taking Demerol with drugs like phenytoin, ancyclovir, ritonavir, cimetidine, and other opioid analgesics. Other drugs that have serious interactions with Demerol include potassium citrate, K-Phos (potassium chloride) and Zyvox (linezolid).

Using Demerol combined with other central nervous system depressants like hydrocodone, morphine and buprenorphine, can result in severe side effects such as respiratory problems, coma and even death. To safely use Demerol with other substances, you may need to adjust your dose or receive closer supervision by medical professionals. In addition, using Demerol with naloxone (in an injectable formula) can reverse the effects of Demerol.

Demerol Overdose explained

Demerol overdose can occur as a result of having an unknown condition that raises your sensitivity to the drug. Intentionally or accidentally taking more than the prescribed dosage also increases your risk of overdose. Your body becomes more or less sensitive to Demerol, depending on whether you take the drug with other substances such as alcohol, other opioids or illicit drugs. Demerol overdose should always be avoided because of the risk of apnoea, circulatory relapse and even cardiac arrest.

Telltale signs of a Demerol overdose include hypotension, cold and clammy skin, respiratory depression (shallow, low or no breathing), low blood pressure, stomach or intestinal cramps, vomiting, constipation, bradycardia, excessive drowsiness and fatigue, weak pulse and convulsions.

What to Do if You Need Help Quitting?

If you are experiencing Demerol withdrawal symptoms and need help quitting the substance, it is best to seek Demerol addiction treatment in the safety of a professional rehab centre. A Demerol rehab centre usually provides additional treatment methods that can help you during the detox process. Such methods include maintaining a healthy diet, taking part in cognitive behavioural therapy and attempting alternative options such as acupuncture.

There are literally thousands of Demerol rehab centres to choose from. The key is to find one that is best suited to your individual needs

Demerol Withdrawal

One of the effects of becoming addicted to Demerol is that when you decide to stop or reduce your use of the medication, you’ll have a number of uncomfortable symptoms to deal with. These occurring symptoms are what make up the process of Demerol withdrawal.

Withdrawal from Demerol should normally take place under the close supervision of professional medical help because complications sometimes occur along the way. In certain cases, doctors may prescribe some drugs to help you deal with the symptoms faced during withdrawal. One such drug is Clonidine, which is commonly used to combat the symptoms of cramping, muscle aching, anxiety and any agitation that may arise.

Symptoms of Withdrawal

Demerol withdrawal can be very uncomfortable, with symptoms ranging from mild to extreme pain. Typically, withdrawing from an opiate-like Demerol is not dangerous, but in rare situations, dehydration and electrolyte imbalances can occur as a result of diarrhoea and vomiting. In addition, if you have an existing heart issue, you may need to be closely supervised by a medical professional to avoid complications during withdrawal.

Symptoms of withdrawal will vary depending on how much Demerol you’ve used, and the length of time for which you’ve been taking it. Some of the symptoms you can expect during withdrawal include nausea, vomiting, insomnia, restlessness, runny nose and eyes, hallucinations, increased blood pressure, dry mouth and chills.

Duration of Withdrawal

The duration of the withdrawal period is different for everyone, as your experience will depend on you, the length of time you abused the drug and the severity of Demerol addiction. For most people, withdrawal symptoms begin to appear within the first 24 hours after the last dose. For others, it may only take three hours after quitting before starting to experience the symptoms.

Generally, your symptoms can peak after a few days, and last for one or two weeks. If you are withdrawing via a treatment programme, you’ll have access to the resources you need to ensure a safe withdrawal. Therefore, you may be held in the detox programme for up to a week or at least until improvements begin to show.

Get Confidential Help Now

Call our admissions line 24 hours a day to get help.

Demerol Withdrawal Timeline

First 24 hours

Withdrawal symptoms start about three to 24 hours after your last dose. The first symptoms to appear are usually irritability, nervousness and anxiety.

Day 2 – 5

Withdrawal may peak over the next few days. You may begin to experience feelings of uneasiness, alarm or even fear. Paranoid thoughts may also set in, as well as physical symptoms such as muscle aches and sweating. You may also develop forceful cravings at this stage.

Day 6 – 14

Your symptoms can be expected to fade away over the next week or so. In addition, whatever symptoms are still present will be in a mild form.

Day 15 and onwards

Your cravings for Demerol may still be present. However, almost all the other symptoms of withdrawal should subside.

Demerol Addiction Treatment

Abrupt cessation of Demerol is not recommended, as it can lead to severe side effects like seizures and coma. If you are addicted to Demerol, a better option would be to seek a step-down approach to treatment. The primary option for treating Demerol addiction is by slowly reducing your dosage over a long period of time. This treatment approach ensures your withdrawal symptoms are not as severe and you can eventually stop taking the drug.

You can find this treatment at inpatient or outpatient centres. However, an inpatient Demerol treatment centre is the most effective option for rehab, as your access to the medication is limited, which will reduce temptation and the chance of relapse. If you feel inpatient treatment is unsuitable for you because of your lifestyle or work commitments, another good option is to gradually transition to a benzodiazepine medication before you start to reduce your Demerol intake.

Therapy for Demerol Addiction

Therapy for Demerol addiction is part of a comprehensive treatment. You will have the opportunity to play an active part in your recovery. Different forms of therapy you may be exposed to during treatment include:

Individual therapy usually occurs on a regular schedule, or on an as-needed basis. You can discuss one-on-one with a qualified counsellor to address issues about your addiction and treatment experience.

Group Therapy typically involves a small number of people undergoing treatment and one to a few experienced professionals. This form of therapy offers immense benefits to you because you can learn from the experience of others as you recover from Demerol abuse and addiction.

Family Therapy is where your parents, siblings, spouse and other family members can be affected by your substance abuse disorder. Family therapy helps them to understand what you’re going through and learn how to best support you in recovery.

Possible Complications

In addition to the normal signs of addiction to Demerol, such as physical symptoms (tremors, nausea, anxiety and stomach cramps) and behavioural symptoms (falsifying prescriptions and illegal purchasing of Demerol), the possible complications are also signs of addiction. You may experience constant pains and strong drug cravings when trying to withdraw from Demerol.

It’s also possible that you’ve built up a tolerance to Demerol, which means your body will require more of the medication in order to feel the effects. The possible complications with Demerol addiction can even reach a point where you’ll willingly undergo medical procedures (including dental work) just to obtain a Demerol prescription.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Leaving your addiction to a prescription drug like Demerol untreated is not an option. There’s a very high risk of death from overdose or an accident whilst under the influence. In addition, your addiction will begin to affect your personal relationships and friends until you feel like there’s nothing left. The longer you wait to contact a medical professional, the more likely it will be that the short and long-term effects of addiction take over your life.

Demerol can be beneficial when it is used in moderation. However, if it becomes a substance of abuse, it can spin into a habitual cycle that results in deadly consequences. This is why it is crucial to recognise the signs and symptoms of Demerol addiction as soon as possible and to contact a medical professional. By receiving the help you need, you can eventually overcome your addiction.

Demerol Recovery Plan

Deciding to quit Demerol abuse and addiction is not an easy task. However, if you’ve decided to choose a new and drug-free life, you can plan recovery by taking the following into consideration:

  • Research addiction rehab centres, including the types and levels of care provided. You’ll need to decide on the best treatment that will suit your needs. Try to identify programmes that provide the type of care you require and plan to discuss with representatives of your shortlisted choices.
  • Share your decision with your loved ones or a close friend. You’ll need some support during the withdrawal and detox stage, and have someone you trust can be of huge help. They can also accompany you to the clinics and help you make your decision.
  • Prepare by getting your affairs in order, so that you can take time to undergo treatment without worrying about your family, work, etc.

Demerol Abuse Detox

Trying to stop or quickly reduce your Demerol abuse without the help of professionals can be difficult. If you have been unable to rid your body of this potent opioid, you can complete a medically monitored detox at a rehab centre, before starting an inpatient rehab programme.

Rehab centres offer a safe experience, with 24-hour supervision by certified medical personnel who can help ease some of the painful effects of withdrawal. After you’ve completed detox (which may take anywhere from three to seven days), you can seamlessly move into a residential rehab.

Medical detox for Demerol

Many health professionals make use of some medications during detox to minimise your withdrawal symptoms and lessen discomfort. Methadone is one of the most common medications that specialised clinics offer. It may be used as a long-term treatment for dependence or gradually tapered over time. Buprenorphine is also administered to decrease cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

The pleasurable effects you feel from Demerol can be blocked blocked using naltrexone, in order to ensure your abstinence during treatment. Also, clonidine may be prescribed, because it is effective when combined with other medications to treat distressing symptoms such as insomnia and muscle and bone pains. Please, never self-medicate with either as they can have dangerous effects if taken in excess and without medical supervision.

Demerol Addiction Statistics

Demerol addiction occurs in people from different backgrounds. Statistics about Demerol usage can help in understanding the addiction and improving treatment outcomes.

The following are statistics about Demerol addiction:

  • The number of dosage units of Demerol that were reported lost or stolen in the U.S. increased 16.2% between 2000 and 2003, from 32, 447 to 37,687.
  • Between 1997 and 2002, reports of the dangerous use of Demerol declined.
  • Between the years of 2004-2008, the number of emergency room visits as a result of overuse of Demerol and other painkiller drugs increased by 111%,


What is Demerol?

Demerol is an opioid analgesic, with effects on the body that resemble what opium and morphine provide.

How is Demerol used?

It is a pain medication used in the treatment of moderate to severe pain.

What does Demerol look like?

Demerol tablets come in a round form and are white in colour. You may notice a ‘W’ on one side and an ‘M’ with a 35 or 37 on the other.

Is Demerol addictive?

Like other opioid drugs, Demerol can potentially cause addiction.

Who abuses Demerol?

Many people are prescribed Demerol deal with pain in some form. Continuous usage can, however, result in abuse.

How can I spot Demerol addiction?

Demerol addiction can be spotted through signs and symptoms such as tremors, nausea and vomiting, paranoia and hallucinations.

Is Demerol harmful?

Demerol can be harmful if you use the medication outside the recommendation of your doctor.

Where else can I find help?

There are many places to find help once you are ready to fight your addiction. Contact an addiction helpline to find the best treatment for you.

External Links List

Get Confidential Help Now

Call our admissions line 24 hours a day to get help.