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Demerol Addiction

Demerol Addiction and Rehabilitation


Demerol is a powerful opioid painkiller used to treat moderate to severe pain. It is used most frequently in clinical settings and only for short-term use largely because of its potential to cause addiction, toxicity and serotonin syndrome. When abused, Demerol produces numerous adverse effects typical to the opioid class, including overdose and death.

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demerol addiction

What Is Demerol

Demerol is actually just a brand name. The actual prescription drug itself is meperidine and it is a class of opioid analgesic pain medications. It’s a Schedule II (C-II) controlled substance that binds to receptors on your cells’ surfaces to stop your body from sending your brain pain signals.

Some common names of meperidine include:

  • Demerol
  • Pethadol
  • Isonipecaine
  • Dolantol
  • Pethidine

Street names for Demerol include:

  • Dust
  • Smack
  • Dillies
  • D
  • Juice

There are other street names being used, but these are the most common.

Why and How Demerol Is Prescribed

Demerol is prescribed for moderate-to-severe pain and is generally a short-term treatment. It can also be prescribed for pain relief following childbirth and to induce sleep before you have surgery. Forms it’s available in include:

  • Oral tablets
  • Oral syrup
  • Injectable solution
  • Compounding powder
  • Intravenous solution

This drug comes in 50mg to 100mg tablets, vials of injectable liquid containing between 25 mg to 75 mg, or as a solution that is 100 mg per milliliter.

However, if you’re prescribed this drug and have never used it before, you’ll likely be started at the lower 50mg dose to take every four hours for pain, as you need it. You shouldn't exceed more than 600mg in a 24-hour period unless instructed by your doctor.

What Common Substances Are Paired With Demerol?

While you shouldn't pair Demerol with other substances, people often do. A common pairing is Demerol and alcohol. People who are abusing the drug often use other drugs to amplify the buzz they get from Demerol. Some common drugs used are downers like alcohol or benzodiazepines, in an attempt to increase feelings of pleasure.

demerol abuse

Further, drugs like cocaine and other stimulants can often come with unpleasant side effects. Individuals sometimes use Demerol to reduce these effects.

Combining other drugs with Demerol can lead to serious negative health consequences, such as stroke, cardiovascular collapse, heart attack, accidental overdose and death.

Demerol Addiction and Abuse Statistics

Anyone can develop an addiction to Demerol no matter what their cultural, racial or socioeconomic background is. Because of this, opiate addiction is a huge problem in the U.S. today. In fact, in the year 2010, prescription opioid accidental overdose deaths had quadrupled from 1999. This number surpasses those from cocaine and heroin together. Additionally, more than five percent of the population in the United States in 2012 who were 12 years old or older had used opioid pain relievers recreationally and without a prescription.

The number of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) cases in pregnant women also increased between 2000 and 2009 by 300 percent in the U.S. because of prescription pain reliever abuse. If those numbers aren’t staggering enough, opioid pain reliever abuse caused 13,652 unintentional deaths in 2010, which was over 82 percent of all prescription drug unintentional deaths.

demerol addiction recovery

Is Demerol Connected to the Increase in Heroin Abuse?

There were three studies that surveyed young people who currently injected heroin. About half of these people reported that they abused prescription opioids before they began abusing heroin. Many claimed they made the switch because heroin was easier to get and much cheaper than prescription opioids.

What Makes People Abuse Demerol?

A number of factors could initiate meperidine addiction in your life. Some possible influencers of Demerol drug abuse include triggers that are psychological, biological and social in origin. Psychological triggers could be an underlying trauma. Biological triggers could be if you’re already genetically predisposed to substance addiction, and social triggers could include your living conditions, surrounding environment or if you were exposed to Demerol early on from family and friends.

It's not surprising that many people fall victim to Demerol addiction because of the feelings it provides. This narcotic drug gives you feelings of giddiness and pleasure, which is why many people turn to it for nonmedical reasons.

Therefore, when you abuse Demerol for recreational purposes outside the scope of normal treatment protocols, it can cause you to lose control of your life. Sure, you get a blissful Demerol high initially, but then the longer you abuse the drug, your body starts to become psychologically and physically dependent on it. That means when you decide you want to stop using the drug, you experience withdrawal symptoms that can be very intense.

What Are the Common Demographics of a Demerol Abuser?

There really aren’t any common demographics for Demerol abuse, and that’s because nobody is immune to painkiller abuse and addiction.

However, women have seen an increase in painkiller use in recent years. Teenagers also might begin using prescription drugs as early as middle school, with almost three percent of students in 2011 claiming they had misused them.

How Is Demerol Typically Used by Abusers?

respiratory failure from demerol abuse

Demerol abusers may take the drug in liquid or pill form. They may also decide to snort or inject the drug to more quickly experience an enhanced high. The intent is to heat or crush the drugs and either shoot up or snort them to experience maximum euphoric effects. This causes an immediate effect when you compare it to taking a pill.

As you abuse the drug more and more, you begin to build a tolerance to it, which requires you to take even more of the drug in larger doses to achieve that same euphoric effect. This also increases your chance of harming your internal organs and experiencing adverse health issues. Even though Demerol doesn't come in a controlled release formulation, there is still the risk of overdosing or death due to respiratory failure when you crush it up to snort, smoke or shoot it up.

There was a 111 percent increase in emergency room visits in the years 2004 and 2008 because of painkiller abuse, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Out of this percentage, many were injecting the drugs or shooting up, which greatly increased their likelihood of becoming addicted as well.

How Demerol Works and How It Affects your Brain

Demerol doesn’t affect your brain in the same manner as many other types of opiates. Demerol actually tricks your brain to replace pain with feelings of pleasure. When you use the drug for an extended period of time, you can become addicted to it and have physical and mental dependence.

However, if you’re prescribed Demerol, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take the drug for pain relief if needed. When you’re legitimately using the drug for this purpose only, it’s not likely you’ll become mentally dependent on it. If you do have a physical dependence, the doctor can taper you off the drug slowly to reduce the withdrawal effects of coming off the drug.

demerol affect on the brain

How You Become Addicted to Demerol

Demerol belongs in the strong opioid narcotic class and is used mostly for treating pain that is moderate to severe. Since it’s a strong narcotic, it’s very addictive and is usually only used for a short period of time in the hospital where healthcare professionals can monitor you carefully.

It can, however, be prescribed as a home prescription, and sadly, many patients who use this drug at home end up developing an addiction to it — particularly when they aren't monitored carefully and their treatment is ongoing.

Abusing Demerol can be very dangerous, and there is a high chance of overdose. Additionally, since it's hard to obtain, many people who become addicted to this drug try to obtain it any way they can — whether it’s stealing it from a family member or friend, or participating in other dangerous activities. It doesn't take long for this drug to destroy your life.

Out of the many popular prescription drugs in the U.S, Demerol is one of the most highly addictive opioids. Over the last decade, prescription opioid abuse has been steadily increasing in the United States. Because prescription drugs don’t carry the dangerous stigma of street drugs, people assume they are safer — but that actually makes them even more dangerous.

Even if your doctor prescribes Demerol, that doesn't make it safe to use it in any form other than how they directed you to use it. Not to mention, having it legally prescribed to you also doesn't guarantee you won't form an addiction or overdose on it. This all depends on how you use the drug, though. It's not the drug itself that is dangerous, but rather how you use it that is. For instance, you can create an addiction problem with the drug if you:

  • Use it in a way that is not prescribed (crush up pills to inject or snort them).
  • Combine the drug with other substances or alcohol.
  • Take it in larger doses that what was prescribed to you.
  • Take it more often than what was prescribed to you.

In all of these cases, you’re not safely using Demerol, and it can put you in serious danger since you’re no longer following your doctor's orders of how to take it safely. Additionally, if you become dependent on it, you might begin shopping around for other doctors to obtain more of it. This results in you no longer being in the safe care of your own prescribing doctor, and that can lead to trouble.

If you’ve resorted to injecting or snorting Demerol to enhance your high because you’ve become addicted, you might turn to heroin since it gives you the same type of high, and it's much cheaper and easier to obtain.

Signs of Demerol Dependence

Whether you believe you’re struggling with Demerol dependence or have a loved one who might be, there are certain signs you can look for which include:

  • Nodding out: When abusing Demerol, you (or your loved one) will have difficulty focusing and appear to be in a fog or daze.
  • Obsessed with obtaining Demerol: You’ll spend most of your time compulsively looking to get your hands on the drug.
  • Relationship problems: When addicted to this drug, you’ll likely have problems in your personal life. The drug takes control of your life, and it affects your relationships with others.
  • No regard for how you get Demerol: If you’re addicted to the drug, you’ll do whatever you can to get more of it, whether you fraudulently try to get more prescriptions or begin stealing it from friends or family. Other signs might include stashing the drug around your home, in your car or at work. You might stop engaging in activities you once found pleasurable or neglect your home or work responsibilities. You may take other's prescription drugs as well.

Demerol Addiction Symptoms to Look for

demerol addiction symptoms of abuse

Demerol abuse symptoms can vary depending on your genetic makeup, how long and how frequently you have abused the drug and your level of addiction. Common Demerol side effects of this drug addiction include:

  • Depression
  • Agitation
  • Impulsiveness
  • Intense mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Craving the drug
  • Constipation
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Kidney problems
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Sedation
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis
  • Death

Now, some of these Demerol addiction symptoms can mimic symptoms of other substance abuse issues or conditions. If you’re truly addicted to the drug, you’ll experience severe withdrawal symptoms upon stopping the drug.

If you’re unable to get more of the drug or have decided to just stop, you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms shortly after your last use. However, just because you experience withdrawal symptoms, doesn’t mean you have an addiction. To be an addiction, you must have a psychological dependence to the drug as well, like cravings or compulsive attempts to get more of it, for instance.

What Is a Demerol Drug Addiction Like?

Being addicted to the drug can lead to negative consequences that can impact your life for both the short-term and long-term. Your life can be affected in the following ways:

  • Physical impact. Using Demerol recreationally can disrupt normal mechanisms and cause damage to your body physically. You can overdose easily, and death is quite possible.
  • Psychological impact. Again, using the drug recreationally and abusing it can harm your emotional and mental well-being. It can cause depression, anxiety, alter your perception of reality, and give you mood swings.
  • Social impact. Demerol addiction can harm your relationships with your family and friends. You become so obsessed with your drug addiction that you begin to isolate yourself. You may stop participating in social functions, which ultimately hinders your chances of maintaining a healthy relationship with other people.
demerol abuse

Remember, being addicted to Demerol doesn't just affect you physically, although this is a big part of the addiction. When you’re struggling with dependence to this drug, it can damage all aspects of your life including relationships, financial responsibilities, social life and your psychological health. You’ll continue experiencing these negative consequences until you seek help and get the right treatment — such as what you would receive at 12 Keys Rehab.

Types of Permanent Damage Demerol Drug Abuse Can Cause

Not only does this drug produce short-term effects, but there are also long-term consequences as well, such as anxiety, mood changes, seizures and kidney failure. Other long-term effects that can impact your body and brain include:

  • Brain damage
  • Hypoxia (not enough blood and tissue oxygenation)
  • Addiction
  • Depression, anxiety and other psychological problems
  • Physical dependence

Taking Demerol for a short time period as instructed by your doctor has a very small effect on your brain that goes away once you stop taking it. However, long-term use of the drug can change your brain.

When there are extreme shifts in your reward and withdraw cycle and your brain is constantly being hyper-stimulated to these shifts, it deactivates your opioid receptors in an attempt to balance the ups and downs. This is where you begin to develop a tolerance to the drug.

As you continue increasing your dosage to get that sense of euphoria, eventually you begin to suffer with things like depression and fatigue. Then, instead of taking Demerol to achieve that buzz, you end up taking it so you can feel normal again. It’s at this point your body is dependent on it.

effects of demerol

In addition to this, your abuse of the drug results in a change in the part of your brain that involves decision-making and reasoning. When this happens, your ability to make reasonable decisions becomes clouded, even to the point where you are unable to accept the fact that you have an addiction. Combine this with months or even a year's worth of cravings for Demerol, and you likely have some serious health challenges.

Does Demerol Cause Liver or Organ Damage?

As you know, Demerol falls under the opioids class. Opioids generally don't cause drug-induced liver disease. They also haven't been implicated in causing acute liver failure, liver injury or chronic hepatitis. But, there have been cases linking Demerol overdose to acute liver injury and early symptoms of hepatic failure.

It's thought that opioids are not the direct cause of liver toxicity, but rather, they lead to ischemic liver injury caused by cardiovascular collapse, respiratory failure, anoxia and shock that occurs with an overdose of opioids.

Although there isn’t much readily available data on organ damage from Demerol, it can affect certain conditions. You should always discuss these conditions with your doctor to ensure you receive special monitoring. Some of these conditions include:

  • Abdominal conditions. Meperidine can make diagnosing abdominal conditions challenging, and it can make these conditions worse.
  • Asthma and other respiratory conditions. If you’re experiencing an acute asthma attack, have chronic emphysema or bronchitis or other conditions where your breathing is affected, Demerol can increase the breathing difficulty you’re already experiencing.
  • Head injuries. This drug can lead to increased pressure in your head, or if you have a condition or acute head injury that already increases pressure in your head, Demerol can make it worse.
  • Kidney function. If you have reduced kidney function or kidney disease, these conditions can lead to meperidine building up in your body, which isn’t good for your other organs.
  • Medical conditions. If you have Addison's disease, hypothyroidism, urethral strictures or an enlarged prostate, Demerol can make the symptoms of these conditions worse.
  • Seizures. Demerol, if taken above the prescribed levels, can cause seizures and worsen a seizure disorder you already have.

How Long Does It Take to Withdraw From Demerol?

When you’re dependent on this drug and suddenly quit using it, you’ll experience physical and psychological withdrawals. When you stop using, your body begins adjusting to not having the drug in its system. That’s when you’ll begin going through unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, like agitation and anxiety. Other withdrawal symptoms might include:

  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle aches

Although these withdrawal symptoms are typically not life-threatening, they can make you feel like they are. They can be painful, and the best way to get through them as comfortably as possible is in a medical environment.

Aside from this, symptom duration is different for everyone. Typically, you start feeling the onset of symptoms within 24 hours of taking your last dose. You can, however, begin feeling them as early as a few hours after your last dose.

Demerol Withdrawal Stage Timeline

Your withdrawal symptoms generally peak after two or three days and can last for up to two weeks. You'll remain in the detox stage of your treatment until you start showing improvement with your symptoms.

Again, this timeline can vary between individuals, but the typical timeline for Demerol withdrawal looks something like this:

First 24 Hours: You’ll begin experiencing symptoms usually within three to 24 hours after your last dose. The first set of symptoms you’ll experience are usually irritability and anxiety.

Days 2 to 5: After your next few days, your symptoms will begin to peak. You might feel alarmed, fearful and uneasy. You could experience paranoia as well as physical symptoms such as muscle aches and sweating. You’ll likely have strong cravings at this point as well.

Days 6 to 14: Your symptoms will begin fading during this time, and all other symptoms you experience should be mild.

Days 15+: Most of your symptoms should be gone at this point. However, you might still crave the drug a little.

It’s not recommended to quit using Demerol without assistance and without the help of a detox program like 12 Keys Rehab. Your symptoms are going to be difficult to go through alone, and relapse is very likely if you attempt to detox by yourself.

Helping a Loved One Recover From Demerol Abuse

There are ways you can help a loved one stop using Demerol. Below are some tips to follow when you decide to approach them:

  • Don't judge them and be supportive.
  • Stay receptive, open and don't isolate or threaten them. Try to understand that what they are going through is very difficult.
  • Continue encouraging them to seek treatment.
  • Stay involved with their treatment as much as you can.

In some cases, an intervention might be needed if your loved one refuses to admit they have a Demerol addiction problem and won’t accept help. During an intervention, you and any other family members and friends of your loved one will confront them in a gentle and compassionate manner, expressing how you feel about their addiction and letting them know the negative impact it’s causing the entire family.

intervention for demerol abuse

Co-Occurring Disorders That May Be Present With Demerol Addiction

It’s important to know that about 50 percent of people who already have a serious mental disorder also abuse drugs or other substances.

Dual diagnosis treatments are crucial if you’re addicted to Demerol and also suffer with a co-occurring disorder. In order for you to recover from your addiction, you’ll need both disorders treated. If you only have your addiction treated but not your co-occurring disorder, you risk having a relapse. Dual diagnosis treatment at 12 Keys Rehab integrates treatment for both conditions, allowing you to get a handle on both at the same time and in one setting.

co-occurring disorders with demerol abuse

Individuals who become addicted to Demerol and other opiate narcotics often have an underlying mental illness that has been undiagnosed or untreated. Some of the most common co-occurring disorders with a meperidine addiction include:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Alcoholism
  • Other substance addiction
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

It's important to receive dual diagnosis treatment if you have any of these disorders in addition to your addiction to Demerol regardless if it’s an underlying condition in itself or one that was caused from you abusing the drug.

Anxiety Disorders

It's normal to feel anxious once in awhile. You could be anxious about work-related problems, having to make an important decision or having a big test coming up. These are all legitimate reasons to be anxious. When it comes to anxiety disorders, however, there's much more to it than this. The distress you feel with an anxiety disorder affects how you’re able to cope with normal life situations. In many cases, you lose your ability to cope at all.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder causing unusual shifts in energy, activity levels, mood and your ability to perform your daily tasks. It's also called manic-depressive illness. Your moods can range from being intensely elated, feeling up and displaying energized behavior (having manic episodes), to being down, very sad or feeling hopeless (having depressive episodes). When you have manic periods that are not so severe, it's called hypomanic episodes.

Depressive Disorder

This disorder is characterized by persistent sadness that is severe enough to interfere with your ability to function properly. It often decreases your pleasure and interest in activities. There is no known exact cause, but it likely involves changes in your neurotransmitter levels, heredity, psychosocial factors and altered neuroendocrine function.

Schizophrenia

This disorder is a severe and chronic mental disorder affecting how you think, feel and behave. You might feel like you've lost touch with reality. It's not as common as other conditions, but it does present disabling symptoms.

Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a disease that leads to:

  • Loss of control (unable to stop drinking after you've started)
  • Craving (feeling as though you need to drink)
  • Tolerance (having to drink more to achieve the same effect)
  • Physical dependence (having withdrawal symptoms once you quit drinking)
side effects of alcohol and demerol

Usually, drinking alcohol moderately isn't harmful to most adults. However, when you’re struggling with alcoholism, drinking can cause harm and distress.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

This is a disorder you might develop if you've been through a dangerous, shocking or scary event or trauma. It's normal to feel distressed after you've been through a traumatic event, but you recover naturally from your initial symptoms. However, with PTSD, you continue to feel frightened and stressed even after you’re not in a dangerous situation anymore.

Why You Shouldn't Quit Demerol on Your Own

The problem with detoxing on your own without professional supervision is that if you do it improperly, it can kill you. If you have been abusing the drug for a long time, your body has become adapted to it and quitting cold turkey can have a seriously negative effect on your heart rate, blood pressure and/or body temperature.

At 12 Keys, your detox is safe since you’ll be under the constant supervision of our trained and experienced staff. We can recognize potential problems and take immediate action so you stay comfortable, healthy and safe.

How Do You Safely Detox From Demerol?

We take your withdrawal symptoms very seriously and ensure your discomfort and pain is managed safely. We provide you with round the clock care during your initial detox stage, and our staff members are by your side to help manage any distress or pain you experience during detox. We offer a holistic detox program where you’re not just supported with your physical needs, but your emotional needs as well.

Demerol Addiction Treatment

Detoxing from the drug is not enough. This is because you’re not learning about and dealing with the deeper and underlying issues that caused your addiction in the first place. Your Demerol addiction is a very complex challenge that has physical, mental and spiritual aspects. Our Demerol abuse rehab addresses each of these thoroughly as part of your treatment.

We provide what we call the 12 Keys Model for recovery to help you gain control of your life and get back to living completely fulfilled. This model is what sets us apart from other rehab treatment centers. We understand that one size doesn't fit all when it comes to recovery, and we tailor your treatment plan for your specific individual needs. We also offer the solid support and aftercare that is so crucial in recovery.

We also involve your family, since they have been affected by the addiction as well. We get their feedback so we can understand completely what we need to do for your individual case to facilitate change.

Our 12 Step Rehab Program offers some of the following treatment techniques:

  • Mental health
  • Spiritual
  • Pharmacological
  • Trauma
  • Biofeedback
  • Family dynamics
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Experiential
12 step program

When you start treatment with us, some of the goals of your treatment will entail:

  • Knowing and accepting that you have no power over your addiction
  • Understanding and accepting that remaining abstinent will require help
  • Staying healthy and clean by living the 12 steps each day

To safely withdraw from your Demerol addiction, you need our help.

Why a Demerol Drug Recovery Treatment Center like 12 Keys Rehab Is So Important

The most important reason why you need a treatment center is because it’s going to take you a great deal of hard work to achieve the state of not physically or emotionally depending on the drug. Even after your body gets rid of the toxins, you’ll still have a hard time resisting the temptation to use again.

At 12 Keys Rehab, we help you gain the skills required to adjust to living without your drug addiction. You missed a lot of important time while you were abusing Demerol where you could have been managing your money, networking, building your work history, establishing financial responsibility and living your life.

Your time here at 12 Keys Rehab will help you learn and develop these skills so you can return to your life equipped with the ability to deal with common everyday challenges without having to use drugs. If you're finally ready to give up your addiction to Demerol and embrace a brand new, clean lifestyle, it's time for you to come see us at 12 Keys Rehab. Contact us online or call us at 866-480-4328.

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