Uses, Abuse, and Risk
Uses, Abuse, and Risk
What is Demerol?
Demerol, the brand name for meperidine, is a prescription drug used to treat moderate to severe pain. It is listed as a Schedule II drug by the DEA because it is a narcotic opioid pain killer with a potential for abuse and addiction, sometimes requiring detox at a treatment facility.
A Brief History of Demerol
Meperidine is a man-made substance first invented in 1939. 1 It was first going to be used as a drug that blocked certain nervous system activity. Meperidine was to be used to treat conditions such as asthma or allergies. Then, the pain-killing properties of meperidine led to a switch in focus, and it was viewed as a good alternative to morphine.
Currently, most health regulation agencies recommend meperidine use for only short periods of time (less than 48 hours). This makes Demerol a good fit for sedation before or during surgery.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH),2 the prescription names are Meperidine (generic) and Demerol (brand). Street names include Demmies or Pain Killer.
Many people believe that because a drug is given by a prescription, it is not dangerous, or it is less dangerous than street drugs. This is not true. Drugs from a pharmacy can be just as deadly as street drugs. The chance of prescription pill overdose is higher, especially when mixed with alcohol or other drugs.
According to the CDC, during 2017:3
More than 15,000 people died from heroin-related drug overdoses.
Among 70,237 drug overdose deaths, 47,600 (more than 67%) involved opioids.
Uses and Abuses
Demerol is typically not the first choice in pain management because it wears off quickly (2 – 3 hours). Morphine and hydromorphone are the two most popular choices for acute pain management in the United States today.
Demerol is avoided by medical professionals, because once it is in the body, it produces a neurotoxin that increases the risk of delirium, seizures, and restlessness.
Legally manufactured Demerol comes in the forms of tablets, syrups, and IV solutions.
Besides relieving pain, Demerol can create pleasurable euphoria and giddiness. These effects lead some people to take Demerol for non-medical reasons. Taking too much Demerol or taking it too frequently can be dangerous and deadly.
Demerol abuse can be from looking to escape problems, for numbing emotional pain, or as a coping mechanism for stress.
When Demerol is misused or abused, it can lead to tolerance and be highly addictive. Most people with a Demerol abuse problem require professional treatment for recovery.
Narcotic Painkillers Abuse by the Numbers
The non-medical use of narcotic painkillers is an epidemic health crisis in the United States.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) report that from 2004 to 2008, 4 visits to the emergency room that were related to the recreational use of narcotic pain drugs rose by 111%.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2009 reports:
About 2 million people in the United States were dependent on or abusing prescription painkillers. This is five times more than the number of people with a heroin addiction.
Opioid and opiate drug addiction was the number one type of abuse or dependence among all prescribed drugs.
The trends for these epidemic numbers continue to grow. The 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported data on people misusing prescription pain relievers for the first time in the past year. 5
About 316,000 children ages 12 to 17:
That is an average of 900 adolescents each day.
Approximately 465,000 adults ages 18 to 25:
That is an average of 1,300 young adults each day.
An estimated 1.2 million adults ages 26 or older:
That is an average of 3,400 adults each day.
Health Risks, Withdrawal, and Treatment
Demerol can have serious adverse effects on people with kidney problems. People with chronic kidney disease should avoid it.
Other less serious side effects of Demerol include:
Loss of appetite
Sex drive changes
The more serious side effects of Demerol that will need medical care include:
Contact a doctor or go to an emergency room immediately if any of the following occur:
Weak or shallow breathing
Cold and sweating skin
Uncontrolled muscle spasms
Elevated heart rate
If Demerol is misused and the person suddenly stops taking the drug, this could trigger withdrawal symptoms. Demerol withdrawal comes along with physical and psychological symptoms. To avoid severe withdrawal symptoms, a medically supervised detox can help.
Demerol withdrawal symptoms may include:
If you or a loved one is experiencing Demerol withdrawal or addiction, treatment at a drug rehab facility can help. Professional and medically trained staff can provide a safe and supervised detox from Demerol.
Demerol Addiction Treatment
Once a medically supervised detox is completed, the physical side of addiction has been addressed. Residential or outpatient treatment then starts to address the psychological issues using therapy and counseling. Aftercare services like demerol therapy then follow.
Finding the Right Help
If you or a loved one are dealing with Demerol abuse or addiction, it’s important to get help right away. Misusing Demerol is dangerous and can be deadly. Talk with your doctor or contact a reputable treatment center. Healthcare professionals have the education and training to help those struggling with addiction. Start your journey to recovery today by contacting someone who can help.