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Demerol: Side Effects, Withdrawal, Addiction & Treatment
Have you ever heard of Demerol? It’s a prescription painkiller that is often used to treat moderate to severe pain. Although it can be effective in treating pain, Demerol also comes with several risks and side effects.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss what Demerol is, what it’s used for, and some of the potential side effects of taking it. We’ll also cover how to safely take Demerol and when it’s appropriate to use it. If you’re considering taking Demerol or are currently taking it, this blog post is for you!
What Is Demerol?
Demerol is a brand name of a prescription drug under the class of opioids. The generic name of this drug is meperidine. Its major function is to treat light to medium pain such as from giving birth, and after surgery, and it is also used to induce sleepiness.
This prescription drug gained approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1942. Likewise, this drug is known by other brands, generic, and street names. The two brand names of this drug are Meperitab and Demerol.
Aside from those brand names, this drug also comes with some popular street names to hide its true identity during illegal transactions. Some of its popular street names are Dust, D, and Dillies. Furthermore, its street names can vary depending on the culture of the area.
In terms of strength, it is weaker than morphine where its potency is just 0.1 to 0.5 times that of morphine. Eventually, to experience a similar effect from taking 10 mg of morphine, one needs to ingest 100 mg to 200 mg of Demerol.
What Does Demerol Look Like?
It is easy to spot this drug in stores and pharmacies because of its pill identifier. This prescription drug is mostly available in tablet forms with varying strengths: 20 mg, 50mg, and 100 mg.
All tablets of varying strengths are white and have a pill imprint of “W” on one side. Meanwhile, their major difference lies in their numerical pill imprint on the other side. For instance, 50 mg has a pill imprint of “D 35” while 100 mg has “D 37”.
What Is Demerol Used For?
In terms of medical use, this prescription drug is often used along with anesthesia. It is applied to patients before undergoing certain medical operations such as colonoscopy, reconstructive surgery, biopsy, and endoscopy.
How Does Demerol Work?
This prescription drug works in the same way as other opioid drugs. Once ingested, it mixes with the blood and targets the brain. In the brain, it binds itself to the opioid receptors to inhibit pain sensations from being detected by the brain. At the same time, it induces a feeling of highness through the stimulation of the brain to secrete huge amounts of dopamine.
Dopamine is both a hormone and neurotransmitter which is responsible for the control of body movements and motivation in the brain. This hormone is also called the “happy or feel-good hormone”.
How Long Does Demerol Stay in Your System?
Demerol can be detected in a drug test. The typical method used to detect this drug is urine tests. However, different factors can affect how long Demerol stays in your system.
These factors include the following:
- The frequency and amount of dosage taken
- The user’s metabolism
- The age of the user
- The general health condition of the user
Here are estimated duration of how long this drug stays in your system
- Urine – 2 to 4 days
- Blood – up to 5 hours
- Saliva – up to 2 days
- Hair – 90 days
What are the Short and Long-term Effects of Demerol?
Once a person starts to use this medication, they report side effects caused by the drug. Some of its common short-term effects include stomach pain, sleepiness, hypotension, smaller eye pupils, slower heartbeat, and breathing pattern.
Meanwhile, the general impact of its long-term effects is paralysis and death to the person. The common long-term effects of using this drug are dependence, cerebral nerve damage, anxiety, depression, unbalanced behavior, and less oxygen dissolved in the blood.
As mentioned, this drug is dangerous when taken along with other incompatible substances such as Parnate, Matulane, Marplan, Nardil, and others. The general result is a sudden drop in blood pressure and extreme weakening of the lungs which can lead to sudden death.
In addition, this drug is also not compatible when mixed along with alcohol and grapefruit juice. The alcohol magnifies the sedation effect of the drug while grapefruit juice slows down the metabolism of this drug in the body. A slower rate of metabolizing this substance can lead to accumulated concentration levels in the blood which can lead to death.
Is Demerol Addictive?
Yes, Demerol is highly addictive. As an opioid, it has a high potential for abuse and addiction. The main reason for its high addiction potential is because of its effect on the brain’s reward system.
This drug is categorized as a Schedule II controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Schedule II means that this drug has a high potential for abuse which can lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.
What are the Withdrawal Symptoms of Demerol?
Once a person gets addicted to this drug and decides to quit, they will experience withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms can be mild to severe depending on the level of addiction.
Users often feel an intense urge to keep on using it despite its negative effects just to avoid these withdrawal symptoms.
Some of its common withdrawal symptoms include the following:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle pain and cramps
- Cold flashes with goosebumps
- Intense cravings for the drug
What Causes Demerol Overdose?
An overdose occurs when a person takes more than the prescribed dosage of this drug. This can happen intentionally or accidentally and can be life threatening. Intentional overdose often happens to people who are trying to commit suicide. Meanwhile, accidental overdoses often occur to first-time users or to those who have relapsed after a period of abstinence.
Overdose can also happen if the drug is mixed with other substances such as alcohol and other narcotics. As mentioned, these substances can magnify the sedative effects of this drug which can increase the risk of overdose and death.
An overdose of this drug can be fatal. Some of its common symptoms include the following:
- Trouble breathing or other breathing problems
- Weak pulse
- Clammy skin
How Do You Treat Demerol Overdose?
If you think that someone has overdosed on this drug, it is important to seek emergency medical help immediately.
The first thing that a medical professional will do is to assess the person’s vital signs. They will also try to determine how much of the drug was taken and when it was taken.
From there, they can use Naloxone, which is an antidote for opioid overdose, to try to reverse the effects of this drug.
How Do You Treat Demerol Addiction? Detox & Treatment
Before allowing the patient to undergo any treatment program, there are a few things to be done to ensure effective recovery from this addiction.
First, the patient must have self-awareness of having the addiction and the acceptance of needing help from others to recover from this condition.
The first step in any treatment program is detoxification and abstinence from using the drug. Flushing out these harmful substances in the body can be done through stomach lavage, oral ingestion of activated charcoal, or blood dialysis. These methods can help in removing huge amounts of these substances from the body.
Abstinence, whether gradual or abrupt, always leads to certain withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms can induce great discomfort in the patient, especially when done instantly and not gradually. Some of the common withdrawal symptoms include uncontrolled shaking of the body, nervousness, chills, stomach pain, difficulty sleeping, highly irritable, excessive sweating, and more.
In terms of medication, the common prescription drug to counter the effect of opioids is Suboxone. This medicine contains buprenorphine and naloxone. Both have a similar effect but slightly differ in how they work.
Buprenorphine attaches itself to the opioid receptors in the brain where it decreases the effects of the opioid substance. Whereas, Naloxone blocks the opioid receptors so that these opioid substances cannot bind to that specific area in the brain.
Overall, these medications cure the biological aspect of addiction. However, behavioral consequences must be fixed by allowing the patient to undergo therapy. There are three therapies commonly used for treating addiction: Reward System, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Group Counseling.
In the Reward System, the therapist will orient the patient about the rewards one can attain from doing a positive behavior or abstinence from the drug. The main key to this therapy is motivation through the reinforcement of rewards.
In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, the therapist will assist the patient in identifying disruptive thoughts and risk factors that trigger the craving for the drug. Afterwards, the therapist will help the patient formulate positive coping mechanisms to counter these risk factors.
In Group Counseling, the patient will be part of an anonymous group where all members share the same condition. The first goal of this intervention is to bring back social responsibility by letting the members do community extension services. Then the second goal is to enhance the social communication skills and insight learning of all the members.
Final Thoughts: Addressing Demerol Abuse and Addiction
If you or a loved one is struggling with Demerol abuse or addiction, it is important to seek professional help.
While there are many ways to treat this condition, it is best to consult with a medical professional to devise a treatment plan that is best suited for your individual needs.