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Demerol Abuse and Addiction Signs, Symptoms, and Recovery

Demerol is an opioid like oxycodone and morphine. In most cases, it is only used when someone is in the hospital and in need of pain control. However, there are times when this drug is prescribed to patients receiving outpatient care for a medical condition.

While it is not as commonly abused as other opioids, it is still used for illicit reasons and can have serious repercussions for those who abuse it.

Facts About Demerol

Demerol is an opioid that doctors might prescribe for moderate-to-severe pain. Common side effects of this drug include dizziness, nausea, sweating, drowsiness, vomiting, and headache. These often go away with continued and proper use of this medication.

Certain side effects warrant immediate medical attention, according to the University of Michigan. They include:

Side Effects of Demerol

  • Shallow or weak breathing
  • Severe drowsiness or feeling faint
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Confusion, agitation, mood changes, or hallucinations
  • Uncontrollable muscle movements, tremors, or seizures
  • Nausea, appetite loss, weakness, vomiting, and tiredness

In some cases, this drug can cause someone to experience serotonin syndrome. This condition can be life-threatening. It can cause the following symptoms, according to MedlinePlus:

Symptoms of Serotonin Syndrome

  • Restlessness or agitation
  • Diarrhea
  • Hallucinations
  • Coordination loss
  • Overactive reflexes
  • Abnormal eye movements
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased body temperature
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Rapid blood pressure changes

This drug produces its effects by binding to central nervous system opioid receptors. There are different administration routes, including oral and injection, that people might use when using Demerol properly or abusing it.

Addiction Signs and Symptoms

When someone abuses Demerol, or if they are addicted to it, there are specific symptoms they might experience. These symptoms are typically noticeable to the person abusing the drug and the people around them. The physical signs directly associated with Demerol may include:

Physical Signs of Demerol Addiction

  • Frequently nodding off
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Disorientation
  • Constant itching
  • Constant fatigue
  • Profuse sweating
  • Slowed breathing
  • Unusual sleeping patterns

It is also important to understand the behavioral signs that can occur when someone is abusing or addicted to Demerol. They include:

Behavioral Signs of Demerol Addiction

  • Relationship difficulties
  • Getting into legal trouble
  • Sudden changes in friends or activities
  • Engaging in risky behavior
  • Showing suspicious behaviors
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Unexplained financial problems
  • Increased drug tolerance
  • Not having control over drug use
  • Days revolving around drug use
  • Needing to use more drugs to reduce withdrawal symptoms
  • No longer engaging in things the person once loved to do

Addiction Recovery

Those abusing or addicted to Demerol need to undergo detox to make the withdrawal process more tolerable. From here, different elements of treatment may help people to find recovery.

During the detox process, a person may be given a partial opioid agonist, such as buprenorphine. This can help to reduce withdrawal symptoms and make the person more comfortable. Research shows that when someone takes buprenorphine during the detoxification process, they are more likely to stay in treatment longer and be more comfortable during the detox process, according to research published in Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience.

Other elements of treatment usually involve therapy and complementary services to help the client holistically. The following are considered to be elements of a comprehensive addiction treatment program, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

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Important Elements of Addiction Treatment Programs

  • Vocational services
  • Medical services
  • HIV/AIDS services
  • Financial services
  • Family services
  • Childcare services
  • Mental health services
  • Educational services
  • Legal services
  • Housing and transportation services

The therapies that are available vary depending on the chosen treatment center. Individual and group talk therapy are both the most common forms of therapy used at most addiction treatment centers. These types of therapy help people to talk through their troubles and adopt a positive way to deal with the problems they encounter in life.

Complementary therapies vary greatly from center to center. Some possibilities include adventure therapy, art therapy, music therapy, mindfulness meditation, and massage therapy.

Demerol Addiction FAQs

Whether someone is experiencing an addiction to Demerol, or they have a loved one who is suffering, they usually have many questions. Here, we’ve answered common questions about Demerol addiction.

HOW LONG DOES WITHDRAWAL LAST?

The length of time it takes to withdraw from this drug is the same as with other opiate substances. Withdrawal symptoms from Demerol can start about eight hours to 24 hours after the person’s last dose, and they usually continue for four to 10 days, according to information published in Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings. Various personal factors affect the exact withdrawal timeline.

How much Demerol someone is taking and if they are abusing other substances play a role in when withdrawal starts and how long it lasts. For example, if someone combines this drug with other opiates, it could potentially enhance the withdrawal symptoms.

It is possible to still have some cravings and a depressed mood for a few months following withdrawal. The severity of these symptoms varies from person to person.

In a medical detox program, professionals will work to control withdrawal symptoms. Replacement medications, like methadone or buprenorphine, are often used.

WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF WITHDRAWAL?

When someone is withdrawing from Demerol, there are early symptoms and late symptoms, according to MedlinePlus. Early symptoms may include:

  • Yawning
  • Runny nose
  • Increased tearing
  • Anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle aches
  • Agitation

Late symptoms may include:

  • Vomiting
  • Goosebumps
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Abdominal cramping

How severe these symptoms are depends on the person, how long they abused Demerol, and how much Demerol they were using when they stopped taking the drug.

Again, medical detox is recommended for opioid withdrawal. Without appropriate medical care, it is likely that the person will return to Demerol use when the withdrawal symptoms get intense.

WHAT ARE THE LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF ABUSE AND ADDICTION?

Abusing Demerol on a long-term basis poses the risk of potentially significant health effects. It is important that all people understand what these are to see what abusing Demerol is doing to their body.

With continued use, a person can develop a tolerance to opioids that will require them to gradually increase their dose to experience effects from the drug. With time, dependence will form, and they will need to take the drug to prevent being sick and to achieve the high they want, according to the Foundation for a Drug-Free World.

The effects that this drug may have on the body with long-term abuse may include:

  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Chronic constipation
  • Hypoxia-related brain damage if respiratory depression occurs
  • Drug dependence
  • Abdominal bloating and distention
  • Liver damage
  • Increased tolerance, prompting higher dosages and increasing the likelihood of overdose

Overdose is perhaps the most serious risk of long-term use. Overdose can result in serious health issues, including death.

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF DEMEROL OVERDOSE?

A triad of symptoms can occur when someone experiences a Demerol overdose. According to the World Health Organization, these are unconsciousness, pinpoint pupils, and respiratory depression.

The risk of overdose increases when someone uses a sedative medication, another opioid, or alcohol with Demerol. This is because all these drugs can cause respiratory depression.

Other symptoms that may occur when someone experiences an overdose include:

  • Unresponsiveness
  • Inability to talk despite being awake
  • The skin becoming bluish or ashen, depending on the person’s skin tone
  • Limp body
  • Choking sounds
  • Nails and lips that appear bluish or purplish
  • Clammy or pale face
  • Erratic, absent, or slow heartbeat

HOW DOES OVERDOSE OCCUR?

There is not a specific dose of Demerol that might be fatal. Those who are of low weight, people under age 18, and those who are medically frail are at a higher risk of an overdose. In some cases, an overdose can occur with just one dose of this drug.

For someone who is not naïve to opioids, it may take a higher dose to experience an overdose, but this is not always true. Someone may also be at a higher risk for an overdose if they are using alcohol or other drugs with Demerol.
Ultimately, it can be very difficult to predict what dosage will trigger an overdose. The only way to prevent an overdose is not to use this drug.

HOW IS AN OVERDOSE TREATED?

Because Demerol is an opioid, naloxone can be used to help someone experiencing an overdose. This is a drug that is classified as an opioid antagonist, and it is capable of rapidly reversing an overdose on Demerol and other opioids, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

It is important that this drug is given as quickly as possible after someone shows the symptoms of an overdose. Some people will need more than a single dose to overcome the overdose.

There are other things that should be done when a person is experiencing an overdose. Any person who is with the person who has overdosed should immediately call 911 to get medical attention. Turn the person on their side to prevent them from aspirating since this could be fatal. If the person is not breathing, provide rescue breaths.

HOW IS ADDICTION TREATED?

Several therapies and methods might be used to treat an addiction to Demerol. The first step is usually going through the detox process to help the person withdraw safely from the drug. This can include medical supervision and medications to keep the person comfortable as they go through the process.

Once someone has gone through detox, they have to decide if they will undergo inpatient or outpatient treatment. With inpatient treatment, clients live at the facility while undergoing treatment. An outpatient center makes it possible for someone to live their life and remain at home while they go through the treatment process. Both forms of treatment can be effective, but a strong support system and safe home environment are needed for outpatient treatment to be a good choice.

Treatment facilities typically provide multiple therapies. These can include individual and group talk therapy, treatments to help people improve their social skills, and therapies that work to help people integrate into society as a sober person.

HOW DO YOU CHOOSE A TREATMENT FACILITY?

It is important that the facility can provide the therapies and other services the specific client needs. For example, if the client has a mental health disorder in addition to a substance use disorder, the facility must be able to treat both conditions simultaneously. Inquire about the accessible offerings, areas of expertise for doctors and therapists, and complementary therapies that are available.

The facility should have immediate openings so the person can enter treatment without delay. They should also be able to walk you through the process of using insurance and detail other financial specifics.

Ultimately, comprehensive addiction treatment can help those struggling with Demerol abuse to achieve a new life in recovery. Without professional help, relapse is highly likely even if detox is successful.